I’m really excited about ZFS, the revolutionary filesystem developed by some geniuses at Sun. Of course, it has already been implemented by FreeBSD and since 7.1-release I’m running my main working desktop with FreeBSD completely on ZFS (ok, nearly completely. There’s still a small UFS partition needed for /boot). Besides some minor performance issues it works just great.
However, playing with ZFS has almost naturally directed my attention to Opensolaris. I’ve played around a bit with 2008.11 a few months ago and mostly liked it a lot. It has great features, mainly due to ZFS: you can create so called ‘bootenvironments’, that are automatically available via GRUB; Nautilus offers ‘Time Slider’, which is basically a visualization of ZFS snapshots; xorg and a nice looking GNOME-Desktop are working ‘out-of-the-box’ (something you can’t say for FreeBSD) etc.etc.
But there were some huge drawbacks, mainly due to the missing software packages. I usually prefer XFCE as desktop environment, Opensolaris doesn’t offer it. I tried to install it via compiling the source, but that was a pain and I could only make version 4.2 running. Bad. Even worse was the lack of gvim (my favourite editor) and most (my favourite pager) in the original sun-repositories. So, despite all the great features Opensolaris didn’t qualify as a desktop replacement for FreeBSD (well, this will perhaps never happen) or even just Ubuntu (on my laptop).
Nevertheless I continued to watch the development and the community. Yesterday I could spent some time to give it another try inside a VirtualBox. 2009.04 is not released yet, but there is of course a development branch. So I switched the preferred software repository to http://pkg.opensolaris.org/dev/ and updated the system by simply doing (as root):
pkg image-update -v
This created a new bootenvironment and makes the newest software packages available. And voila, now there are native packages for gvim (SUNWgvim) and most (SUNWmost). Still no xfce, but after configuring gnome a bit I think I could live with that. So, Opensolaris is really on a good way and I’m really looking forward to trying the next release. The next step for me will then be to try an installation on my laptop, because since kernel 2.6.24 Ubunutu refuses to work with my intel 3945G wifi chip. In the end hopefully Opensolaris can replace Ubuntu.