The Solaris Installation Experience
Phoronix: The Solaris Installation Experience
There's a problem with Solaris and Sun knows it. The installation experience of Solaris (along with other areas) could be greatly improved. The installer doesn't "suck" as it's easy and known to Solaris administrators, but for a Linux or Windows user it could prove to be a bit challenging. In the Linux world it's no longer a challenge to install a Linux distribution on your hard drive, especially with the excellent work that the Ubuntu team has done in improving the user experience for a desktop installation. However, in this time while Linux has become just as easy to install as Microsoft Windows (if not easier), Solaris has not really evolved to make the experience easier and attractive to potential customers. After Ian Murdock had joined Sun earlier this year he had begun to expose these weak points about Solaris and how he wants to make sure that Solaris is the "better Linux than Linux" through Project Indiana. Ian views these existing problems of the installation and packaging experience as a "usability gap", which he hopes to address. Over time we have found out that Ian's Project Indiana will be an OpenSolaris distribution that combines the best out of the Solaris and Linux worlds. This distribution will be licensed under the GPLv3, of course. For those of you that have never tried out Solaris, what we've decided to do is to show you this "usability gap" with the installation process in Solaris compared to Linux. Is the experience really that bad?
The thing that really threw me with the Solaris Express Edition installation was the inability to customize the package selection.
My first (and so far only) attempt at a Solaris install was to set up a VM so I could explore cool technologies like ZFS and dtrace. Yet I had no choice but to install the NetBeans IDE, Sun Java Desktop, CDE, at least two Java servers (Tomcat and Sun J2EE I think) and god-only-knows what else. It left me with a feeling that Sun was using Solaris to try and push their full Java development stack onto me.
The virtual disk size directly after install was bigger than windows XP (something like 6GB) and I got rid of it rather quickly to free up some space.
Is there any "hidden" way to customize installed packages that I somehow missed? I didn't see any indication of this in your article either.
Hopefully either Nexenta or Project Indiana fix problems like this. I finally understand the quote (paraphrased) "Solaris has an awesome set of technologies -- now if only someone would create an OS out of it".
Last edited by ltmon; 06-25-2007 at 10:59 PM.
Yes, the installer sux big time. Its known and its worked on.But!
The reasons that you showed are not really my concern. I dont care about pretty pictures or if the size of a package is displayed at the time it is installed, i care about that it works.
You can customize the packages, ofc you can. Dennis Clarke from blastwave.org did a great installation how-to for Solaris 10u3: http://www.blastwave.org/docs/s10u3_howto.html
While this one is for Solaris 10, it can be applied mostly to SXCE/SXDE.
On this screen http://www.blastwave.org/docs/step-047.html you chose "custom install" so at the next screen after choosing the locals you will get this : http://www.blastwave.org/docs/step-054.html if you then choose a software group you can choose to modify it.
Atm i can only recommend "entire group plus oem". You might want to get ride of StarOffice, but thats it. If you dont know the system, dont edit anything at this time, serious. Dependencies are some how atm a real issue.
Back to the installer and what really sucks about it.
Its based on installing SVR4 packages, adding them all to a package database etc. On my laptop thats about 1172 packages with about 60-80 of those third party packages.
While installing a single SVR4 package those not take that long, installing the whole base system in these way is just madness.
On this you have to know that in the classic deployments for solaris a dvd/cd installation is not a common rollout method. You most likely will have Jumpstart server from that you will install a pre modified version via network. This will decrease the installation time drastic!
The most pressing issue for me is that the installer is not ZFS aware jet. This prevents easy upgrades of systems with zones on zfs etc. It also will need a new installer to install a system on zfs root.
jlerch said it all, and did a great job.
Though I'm 98% Solaris Sparc-based I have to agree about the GUI installation on PCs. It's pretty simple and bla!
But remember, the roots of Solaris don't come from an x86 platform, but Sparc. Sparc-based architectures have always provided a simple, yet very powerful way of installing software and generally communicating with the OS. The serial port.
I find it extremely convenient to "tip" into the serial port using a laptop or another machine, not only install from CD, but get right down to the PROM (BIOS) level of a Sparc box if needed. That's a great feature too.
This serial capability even comes in handy with non-sparc based architectures, like Engenera BladeFrames (http://www.egenera.com). Once again, I can install Solaris, Redhat, or even Windows 2003 using a "simple" text base installation via my favorite web-browser. "I don't need no stinky GUI".
And remember, Solaris is continuing to move out of the "enterprise" and in the hands of regular cool PC-junkies.
Hopefully in time, if it's really necessary, the installation screens will get better, as long as there's always an ACSII-based option, which there will be.
What's more, I can take the same installation DVD I use to install my little Sparc workstation and use it to install my $1,000,000 SunFire 15K server with 48 CPUs. Now that's pretty cool. No "additional" licensing required.
Oh yeah, Blastwave does truly rock!