Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Jun 2007 11:50 UTC, submitted by Michael
Sun Solaris, OpenSolaris "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. 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?"
Order by: Score:
useful ?....
by csousa on Tue 26th Jun 2007 12:26 UTC
csousa
Member since:
2006-02-04

...I don't think so.

Solaris/Fedora is a devel of server OS, managed by sysadmins, then installation is not a issure.

To the public that this article is target there is a complete waste of time, sorry :-(

Reply Score: 5

RE: useful ?....
by jmansion on Tue 26th Jun 2007 13:40 UTC in reply to "useful ?...."
jmansion Member since:
2006-02-20

As someone who recently had a gripe about the installation experience of b64a, I disagree.

Sun presumably wants to increase the community of people who have tried Solaris, to avoid slipping further into the 'mindset mire' of UNIX==Linux in the perception of the masses.

To do this, they give us SXCE and SXDE to play with - but that's next to useless if you have to be an experienced Solaris admin to install the darn things.

As it happens, I tried b66 last night and it was much better on my setup than b64a, though it was slightly confusing in the way it initially presented disks and partitions that were already there. And I still needed to manually resize the slices to get a decent headroom in /. And the installation was slow.

It does need improvement, simply so that anyone with a spare partition can give it a go without having a negative first impression - which *will* count. Once its installed, its pretty nice after all, and shows off NetBeans/Studio/StarOffice well enough in a workstation setting.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: useful ?....
by gpierce on Tue 26th Jun 2007 16:08 UTC in reply to "RE: useful ?...."
gpierce Member since:
2005-07-07

Agreed. Sun is trying to find a wider a audience/user base for Solaris. Their installer is OK, but still very rudimentary. This may well be because their customer base has traditionally been UNIX users/administrators and likely previous customers who are well versed with their installer.

It may interest your readers to know that even their pre-installed Solaris can be problematic. I bought a Sun Ultra 40 (AMD) machine from Sun two months ago. First, upon turning on the machine, I get an error that no os was found. I check the bios and I realize it is set to boot from USB only. Then the installer hangs after a prompt for a hostname! This was on a machine with Solaris pre-installed! I have tried a number of Linux distros as well as 64-bit Vista and I am pretty sure it was not a hardware issue.

Solaris has a great reputation which is probably deserved, but for someone who is a mere tinkerer, it can be something of a challenge to install. Had I been more determined I probably could have succeeded, but other than the novelty of running Solaris I didn't know of any benefit for an ordinary user-hobbyist.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: useful ?....
by psychicist on Tue 26th Jun 2007 16:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: useful ?...."
psychicist Member since:
2007-01-27

It's a little annoying that released versions of Solaris are not as good as you'd like even on their own hardware. I have had better experiences with Solaris Express (Nevada) builds, which installed flawlessly even when Solaris 10u3 wouldn't install.

So I'm confident that at the time Solaris 11 is released, probably later this year, hardware support will have improved tremendously. Free operating systems are getting better all the time in contrast with closed ones, which sometimes regress a lot both in stability and hardware support (Vista).

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: useful ?....
by gpierce on Tue 26th Jun 2007 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: useful ?...."
gpierce Member since:
2005-07-07

"Free operating systems are getting better all the time in contrast with closed ones, which sometimes regress a lot both in stability and hardware support (Vista)."

Very true! I was a little surprised by the problems with Solaris, but it may well have been just me--maybe I overlooked something or unintentionally skipped a step? I have been using Linux since ~2000 and it is amazing how much more hardware is supported and the increasing ease of the installation. Even the display problems are increasingly becoming a thing of the past as screen resolution is dynamically detected. With regards to Vista, apart from its cost and the well-described DRM issues, it is not as bad as people report. 64-bit Vista runs stably and reliably. A 32-bit IE is installed along side the 64-bit version so that you can use flash and the java plugins. Office 2007, in spite of what you may have read, is actually a pleasure to use. The ribbon organizes features in a very logical way and makes finding them simpler. If you enjoy trying out OSes and you have an extra hard-disk around, it would be worth a try.

Reply Score: 3

RE: useful ?....
by segedunum on Tue 26th Jun 2007 13:50 UTC in reply to "useful ?...."
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Solaris/Fedora is a devel of server OS, managed by sysadmins, then installation is not a issure.

It is an issue. For a sys admin, with almost all Linux distributions, you can have it installed and configured as a server (with a full-on software RAID and/or LVM set up as well) in absolutely no time - better than Windows as well. A straightforward, quick and easy installation process saves time, effort and also reduces the risk of silly problems and mistakes.

This is a problem that Sun has had for some time. Even when they tried to peddle Network Computers and JavaStations on to people, it was quite clear they had no idea how to create a usable graphical system.

Edited 2007-06-26 13:51

Reply Score: 4

RE: useful ?....
by Duffman on Tue 26th Jun 2007 14:14 UTC in reply to "useful ?...."
Duffman Member since:
2005-11-23

I don't agree. A lot of work is done to make the unix systems more accessible even for small enterprise.

Just check the leitmotiv of Mac OS X Server: "Open Source made easy".
Linux distributions are more and more easy to install/maintain.
I mean, even AIX 6 will come with a graphical intallation in order to help people to install it.

The unix world is trying to conquer the windows server world on their lands: the ease of use.

When you talk with windows sysadmin/users, the main critisism is that Unix is to hard to maintain/install because of lack of graphical tools.
For a lot of people, once your unix system is installed with what you choosed/configured during installation, it is enough.

Those tools will help them for that.

Reply Score: 1

RE: useful ?....
by Frobitz66 on Tue 26th Jun 2007 16:13 UTC in reply to "useful ?...."
Frobitz66 Member since:
2007-06-26

Interesting however, you missed a few critical distinctions.

First of all, there's the obvious question of intended audience. For the serious SysAdmin there are typically two ways on installing Solaris.
1) JumpStart - can't be beat once you know what kind of image you want. JumpStart is the norm in most enterprise Solaris installatons.
2) Text-mode installer - since you aren't always running on a headed system anytime you have to do an install and you can't use JumpStart, then text-only mode is your friend.

Now switch audiences and look at your developers and casual users. This is an audience that Sun REALLY wants to win back. For these folks you can fairly say that the graphical installer SUCKS. The Solaris development team knows it. Jonathan is keen to win back developers and he knows it.

Finally, as for comparisons, look at how Apple and Ubuntu have chosen to implement their installers. IMHO this is the way to go for the developer / casual user audience.

Anyway, my 2˘.

Cheers!

Reply Score: 2

Murdock
by lazywally on Tue 26th Jun 2007 12:32 UTC
lazywally
Member since:
2005-07-06

The good thing is Sun recognizes these "stagnations" in Solaris and thats why Ian Murdock is now a Sun employee. Lets see what improvements he brings about.

Waiting in anticipation.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Murdock
by binarycrusader on Tue 26th Jun 2007 13:07 UTC in reply to "Murdock"
binarycrusader Member since:
2005-07-06

There was a new installer project in progress long before Murdock came around.

See here:
http://www.opensolaris.org/os/project/caiman/

There were *many* new projects in progress to improve different aspects of Solaris *before* Murdock was hired.

Please don't assume that every new project or improvement is the result of Murdock. In fact, very few things will be.

This is one of the things I fear, that existing Sun employees will not be credited for the great work they've done because people will automatically assume that great improvements are the result of Ian Murdock.

Ian was not hired because of any "recognized stagnation." He was hired for drive *marketing strategy* for their OS platforms.

Edited 2007-06-26 13:08

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Murdock
by taos on Tue 26th Jun 2007 14:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Murdock"
taos Member since:
2005-11-16

Yes! For example, Dave Miner is one of the leaders and has been the public face for this new installation project for long time.

If you have followed the mailing lists, a lot of hard work are under way for months or even years now in order to improve the usability.

Project Indiana, if done right, will hopefully give those projects more priority and in the end leverage those work.

Reply Score: 4

OpenBSD
by Bink on Tue 26th Jun 2007 13:23 UTC
Bink
Member since:
2006-02-19

While I concur that the Fedora installer is a lot prettier, one really questions the usefulness of this “eye candy” to a system administrator—as I don’t expect a “Windows user” to be playing video games on Solaris anytime soon. For a truly Spartan installer (that makes the Solaris installer look “sexy” by comparison) that strictly does the job of an installer by very quickly getting the OS on a hard drive and nothing more, the author might want to check out OpenBSD—and I hope the OpenBSD developers continue to craft a secure OS instead of spending lots of time on an eye candy-based installer.

Cheers.

Reply Score: 5

RE: OpenBSD
by gpierce on Tue 26th Jun 2007 23:13 UTC in reply to "OpenBSD"
gpierce Member since:
2005-07-07

I don't think anyone was complaining about the lack of eye candy. Solaris is not marketed to the masses for regular desktop usage. It is just that it is different enough from even text-based Linux installers to make it a pain for those not versed in the peculiarities of Solaris. OpenBSD is an altogether different beast with a different set of challenges. Speaking as a hobbyist, I actually got further along installing OpenBSD than Solaris. Not an issue for professionals obviously.

Reply Score: 2

Solaris installer
by zizban on Tue 26th Jun 2007 13:32 UTC
zizban
Member since:
2005-07-06

The Solaris installer was never intended to be sexy; it was either installed on a server by sysadmin or on a workstation by the IT department. The shift to the desktop is relatively recent in Solaris history but the installer hasn't quite kept up with the times.

Reply Score: 5

As far as I can see...
by twenex on Tue 26th Jun 2007 13:55 UTC
twenex
Member since:
2006-04-21

...The only big flaws in the Solaris installation program that Phoronix pointed out were:

(a) You have only a limited amount of time to choose a non-console installation;

(b) The keyboard and timezone settings were more difficult than they need to be.

I agree that it's nice to have a map instead of having to drill down for a list for timezone settings, but OTOH that might be easier for people who don't have as much fluency with mice. How about investigating (at minimum) the possibility of being able to choose from a list of options using the mouse (via something like GPM, which may or may not be a "Linux thing")?

For me, the joint number one things that makes a decent installer (and here I'm going to controversially exclude the Ubuntu installer from that category) are: (a) The ability to customize; and (b) clear explanations of what you are doing. "Automated" installations like Windows' and Ubuntu's are fine if you have a stock configuration, but unless they hide a decent, well-explained, multi-choice installer they just end up being annoying.

Reply Score: 5

RE: As far as I can see...
by gpierce on Wed 27th Jun 2007 04:34 UTC in reply to "As far as I can see..."
gpierce Member since:
2005-07-07

There are other problems. The timezone issue is a non-issue. I think the article's author just stopped here because he decided to go no further in testing Solaris.

To me, the most surprising thing is that there is no prompt to create an ordinary user during installation.

There is an administrative tool, smf (?)--not sure about the exact name--that can be called from the root account once installation is complete which provides a GUI for establishing a regular user account, but why not establish one from the get go. Instead you have to log in as root, and then you open terminal which gives you access to zsh (not bash) and rummage about in man files or on the web to figure out how to create a regular account. I gave up about here and said f-- it, I can't see the benefit. Usually I persist out of sheer stubbornness, but not this time.

I may try it again when I am in a better frame of mind. I would like to hear other people's experiences, especially if you succeeded and on what kind of hardware.

Greg

Reply Score: 2

(mostly) works well for me
by project_2501 on Tue 26th Jun 2007 14:13 UTC
project_2501
Member since:
2006-03-20

i've been testing and deploying solaris x86 going back to the early "test" nevada builds ... right though to the current official solaris 10 and the parallel solaris express developer edition.

the installs used to be slow, painfully slow. many improvements have gone in - mainly to the package management system ... which have sped up the install. its much quicker now.

if you have the right hardware it all works - nvidia, ipw2100, dell laptop, usb storage and input ...

the trend with the installer has been that they seem to ask you fewer and fewer questions ... but i hasn't appeared to break my systems .. networking cam now be done using the gnome sysadmin tools if that makes it easier for you.

they've simplified the adminisatration files - the used to be crazy ... you needed to copy /etc/nsswitch.dns to /etc/nsswitch.conf and /etc/resolv.conf didn't exist, and there were at leas 2 locations for what looked like a /etc/hosts file ...

they're currently undergoing an effort to make the various /bin/ directories saner ../usr/ucb/bin or /usr/ccs/bin or /usr/xdg/bin or /usr/sfw/bin ... crazy!

in summary:
* the installer itself is not confusing
* the installer itself has improved, by asking fewer useless questions and getting faster at installing packages and getting better at configuring hardware
* the system files are being made saner as an ongoign effort

-

in the latest solaris express developer edition - i had to manually disable their network-magic daemon as it kept killing my ethernet in favour of wireless.

--

i should add that the installer has rarely had any effort to make it pretty - the target audience either installed from images or build managers, you weren't expected to sit through 1000 interactive istalls!

edit: also agree with the earlier post - solaris partitions are confusing from linux/windows land .. less confusing for BSD uers. the installer does choose the strangest initial configuration though.

Edited 2007-06-26 14:16

Reply Score: 4

From my experience ...
by Ookaze on Tue 26th Jun 2007 14:32 UTC
Ookaze
Member since:
2005-11-14

these guys had a really easy time.
I had to install Solaris 10 on x86 and Sparc for performance tests purpose, and the only thing I can tell is that I never want to do that again. While the installation on Sparc was hugely frustrating, the installation (with CD) on the x86 servers (DL380) was just unbearable. I installed countless OS, but this one was the worst of all my life. I made at least 30 installs before getting the workarounds for all the install bugs and flaws. The Solaris 10 version, though more recent than the servers, lacked the cciss driver, which made the all experienve even worse, as I had to use a floppy disk.
The normal installation, that used X, was crashing at the point of analyzing the disks (I don't know why), the console mode worked, but as I had to install the driver on floppy first, there was no way to go back to console install afterward (well, I found a way, involving Ctrl-C at some parts of it, pure hell).
I remember lots of the hell I went through : network settings not taken into account, package dependancies not automatically added, you have to add them by hand until it says there are no more dependancy problems, all of this through tedious curses (that's the same in X, only worse) menu with no quick hotkeys to parse the huge list of modules faster, password field not accepting characters like the dot which unfortunately I needed, install process that aborts after installing everything there is on the first CD, because it can't eject it, and installs the rest when the OS reboots, but only if you installed some modules, partition app completely unintuitive and messed up with a misleading process, choice of locale not taken into account, packages that I specifically asked to install that never got installed, ...

I don't even remember it all. Perhaps most of my pain was due to having to use CD instead of DVD, but I don't want to touch a Solaris 10 installation ever again.

Reply Score: 5

RE: From my experience ...
by Robert Escue on Tue 26th Jun 2007 15:09 UTC in reply to "From my experience ..."
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

What did you specify during the installation that caused a dependency issue? Did you get updated drivers from HP before you started the install?

I actually had more trouble installing Solaris 9 on a DL360 than Solaris 10, but I also had all of HP's updated drivers.

While a Solaris x86 install is not perfect, there is also a lot to be said about being prepared to install Solaris (or any other OS) for that matter.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: From my experience ...
by Ookaze on Tue 26th Jun 2007 19:49 UTC in reply to "RE: From my experience ..."
Ookaze Member since:
2005-11-14

There were dependencies from the start. I selected the core install, which is supposed to have very few packages.
The basic Java dependencies necessary for the installation of the other CD after reboot wasn't selected. It worked like package management on any Linux distro, except that it didn't resolve them, and I had to do it by hand.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: From my experience ...
by binarycrusader on Tue 26th Jun 2007 19:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: From my experience ..."
binarycrusader Member since:
2005-07-06

There were dependencies from the start. I selected the core install, which is supposed to have very few packages.
The basic Java dependencies necessary for the installation of the other CD after reboot wasn't selected. It worked like package management on any Linux distro, except that it didn't resolve them, and I had to do it by hand.


Which is why Sun only supports a full installation for many cases.

Their support documents clearly state that certain installation configurations cannot be supported by them.

They give you the power to make your life difficult ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: From my experience ...
by Ookaze on Tue 26th Jun 2007 19:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: From my experience ..."
Ookaze Member since:
2005-11-14

That's really sad, because I had to install, for my tests, RHEL servers too, and both RHEL 4 and RHEL 5 were a breeze to install compared to the Solaris 10.
I forgot the fact that I had to monitor all the installation process in order to not miss some steps, which use defaults after a time limit, if you're not there to change them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: From my experience ...
by Robert Escue on Tue 26th Jun 2007 21:22 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: From my experience ..."
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

The only things I am aware of that times out is the install method (which defaults to interactive) and the video card and mode used. After that, the rest of the installation with the exception of changing CD's in your case could be unattended.

If you are really looking at unattended installs, I would check out JumpStart and Solaris Flash. I routinely use both to provision servers and it beats the crap out of using either CD's or a DVD.

Reply Score: 3

Two populations of Solaris installers
by AndrewZ on Tue 26th Jun 2007 14:43 UTC
AndrewZ
Member since:
2005-11-15

The Solaris installation has to work for two very different populations: experienced sysadmins, and newbies. The installation is pretty reasonable for experienced users, it's us less experienced users who are having a difficult time.

The Solaris installation process could be greatly improved to encapsulate details for us newbies. There are several examples of fairly complicated systems with really good installations that don't require a large amount of upfront knowledge to make a good install. Lets expand the current installation process to be simpler on the front end.

I think this would go a long way in lowering the barrier of entry for Solaris adoption.

Reply Score: 2

Problem with Solaris
by Don T. Bothers on Tue 26th Jun 2007 14:48 UTC
Don T. Bothers
Member since:
2006-03-15

The problem with Solaris is that as a commercial OS, it is not hot enough. If you study the marketplace, there are plenty of Solaris jobs but most are for legacy server support. The marketplace always loves having two choices and a whole bunch of no choices and currently the two choices for server OS deployments are Windows and Linux. The trend is that most companies are moving away from it towards either/both Windows and Linux. I would suggest people focus their attention on these technologies, some shell scripting, Perl/Python, and Cisco technologies to get the most bang for the bucks.

The problem with Solaris as an open source OS is that it lacks a strong community. It is still completely dependent on Sun. It barely became open just a few years ago, which was way too late to market especially when you already have such interesting projects as the BSDs and Linux. The field is pretty crowded here too and I don't think Solaris will be able to displace anyone because it is not nor will it ever be a purely community driven/supported open source solution.

Why am I writing this? I don't think the lack of Solaris users is due to any "usability" gap. Trust me when I say that Solaris is very well designed and usable compared to other crap that I have had to learn. The reason why it is suffering is because 1) it became number three in the commercial space which means the majority of people don't bother to learn it for financial reasons and 2) it fails as an open source solution because it is not fully supported and kept alive why a diverse group of individuals.

Reply Score: 4

Interesting Read
by tweakedenigma on Tue 26th Jun 2007 14:53 UTC
tweakedenigma
Member since:
2006-12-27

*Disclaimer*Just putting up there right away im a Linux Guy so my views are a little slanted.

As someone that has Installed both Solaris10 some of the OpenSolaris distros and a great number of Linux distro's I would say that Linux doesn't have a big advantage over solaris other then the looks. That said I think its more Distro's like Ubuntu that are making Desktop linux come into its own that are going to make the real difference as we have learned over the years that who ever controls the desktop market tends to control everything. So the install I think is somewhat of a Moot point as even though some installs are harder then others its normaly how well people can agjust to using the OS in their day to day lives that makes the difference and IMHO that is where Solaris needs the most work.


On a side note I would like to see Solaris get better along with the BSD's and Linux cause we need as many options as we can get.

Reply Score: 3

Challenging for an linux user..
by riha on Tue 26th Jun 2007 15:12 UTC
riha
Member since:
2006-01-24

Can it really be that. All people are talking about is how technically good linux users are becuase they have their terminal and bla bla bla.

this is from the text: "...but for a Linux or Windows user it could prove to be a bit challenging..."

To bad for all linux users if they cannot install solaris and to bad for all windows users if it is the same for them.

Reply Score: 4

psychicist Member since:
2007-01-27

No it isn't. I have installed them all (Linux, BSD, Solaris) and I find them all pretty easy. You just have to know what you're doing, which can't be learnt from clicking around in Windows, Mac OS X or Ubuntu.

I am suspicious when people say they know Linux even if they can't even type the most basic commands to administer a system.

Edited 2007-06-26 16:21 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Only bad thing
by Jondice on Tue 26th Jun 2007 15:28 UTC
Jondice
Member since:
2006-09-20

Only bad thing for me was that I couldn't specify where to install grub during the install (it automatically assumes MBR). This was in the last dev release (64b I think).

Reply Score: 3

Terrible Defaults
by deadmeat on Tue 26th Jun 2007 15:49 UTC
deadmeat
Member since:
2006-08-04

The thing that annoyed me was that the default partitions and their sizes were terrible.

It didn't tell me I needed to setup spare partitions for the live update process.

Lastly it didn't use zfs, which at the time was my primary reason for using Solaris over anything else.

It took me more than one attempt to install a usable server with solaris. The process was more frustrating than it needed to be.

Sometime in the next few months I have to repeat the process with another server. At least I should have better hardware support this time.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Terrible Defaults
by Robert Escue on Tue 26th Jun 2007 16:19 UTC in reply to "Terrible Defaults"
Robert Escue Member since:
2005-07-08

Prior to clicking OK to start the installation you can see what how the disks are going to be partitioned. You could of added partitions to prepare for LiveUpgrade, but it is not going to be done by default. Not everybody uses LiveUpgrade or has the ability to (hardware limitations, limited disk space, etc.), so it is better that it is not the default.

ZFS is not available for boot disks (yet).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Terrible Defaults
by jmansion on Wed 27th Jun 2007 12:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Terrible Defaults"
jmansion Member since:
2006-02-20

Sure, you can, but even that is painful.

I'd selected 'auto' because on FreeBSD and Linux it tends to make a reasonable crask at it, but the Solaris installer sets a very small size for / and puts the bulk of the free space in /export/home, not even carving out /var or /opt.

Also the initial display of discs is weird, correctly selecting the disk on which I'd created a Solaris primary partition for it to target, but showing the total disk size rather than the target partition size.
Which had me considering whether it was about to trash the whole lot. Only in the next screen did it list the actual partitions and sizes and give me some reassurance that my Ubuntu and FreeBSD partitions weren't about to be trashed.

Aside from an inability to put grub anywhere except the MBR (and I was wise to that - I bought a seperate disk for Vista) all the technology needed is available, it just needs reskinning. And why we have to have a huge bloated 'starting Java' business for very little usability value when a bit of murgaLua could probably do just as well would be a mystery if it wasn't Sun.

James

Reply Score: 1

Solaris installation
by ebasconp on Tue 26th Jun 2007 16:16 UTC
ebasconp
Member since:
2006-05-09

I do not see anything wrong with the Solaris Installer, ok, it is not so friendly and "eye-candy"-ed like the Fedora, Suse or Ubuntu installer, but it is extremely useful and does its work fine.

The only complain I have with the SXDE installer, is the mount of minimum memory required to proceed to the OS installation: 768MB is unacceptable for an installation process.

Reply Score: 5

Combersome
by tony on Tue 26th Jun 2007 17:52 UTC
tony
Member since:
2005-07-06

Another issue is how cumbersome the Solaris install is. Sure, it's functional, but there's lots of room for improvement, and just about everyone else has something easier, something that doesn't get in the way.

And Solaris, don't fall into the trap that Linux fanboys do.

"It's easy to use!"
"No it's not, I had to dig around in [insert config file here] to figure it out."
"Then you're just clueless n00b who isn't 31337!"
"I thought you said it was easy!"

Reply Score: 2

RE: Combersome
by shykid on Thu 28th Jun 2007 02:01 UTC in reply to "Combersome"
shykid Member since:
2007-02-22

Another issue is how cumbersome the Solaris install is. Sure, it's functional, but there's lots of room for improvement, and just about everyone else has something easier, something that doesn't get in the way.

Very well said.

It seems people are misunderstanding each other here. I don't think the people complaining want the Solaris installer to be grandma friendly; they just want it to be useful and conveinient. That definitely indicates a usability gap, but some people are assuming that "usability gap" means "my grandmother can't install it"--or, even worse, "not enough shiny glass buttons and prettiness".

From my own experience, the Solaris installer is broken. Badly. It's a shame, too, because the installer is the first impression you get of an OS. (That's why a lot of reviewers obsess over installers, even though it's seemingly illogical to do so since it's a relatively short, one-time process. At least ideally.) If the installer is dog slow and doesn't work as expected, it leaves a bad impression. Most people are not going to struggle for days to install an OS or get one litle thing to work, even the geeks won't. I've installed BSDs (DragonFly and OpenBSD) without a problem, but the Solaris installer made me want to pull my hair out.

The installer should not lag with absolutely no feedback. Hell, the graphical installer should not be the default method of installation if it's slow and requires asinine amounts of RAM. The partitioner should not suggest absurd configurations and then be complicated to all but the wisest of Solaris gurus. The installer should allow for you to create one non-root user, not for grandma's sake, but because even the technically inclined enjoy convenience. A lot of us like GUIs and 'wizardry', just like the newbies, but for us it's because they're convenient and save time. We want to spend our time tinkering with the OS itself, not getting it to work.

If I'm going to install Solaris to play around with it, I'm not going to fight with it to get it to work. That's a waste of my time, and I can easily find another 'toy' to play with. And I'm certain that a lot of other people feel this way, and they are not by any means 'n00bs'.

While it may seem to the contrary on the face of it, most gripes with the Solaris installer have nothing to do with ease-of-use--it's regular ole usability. They're similar concepts, but there's a very distinct difference between the two.

Reply Score: 2

Multi-disc
by tony on Tue 26th Jun 2007 20:50 UTC
tony
Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't recall if Solaris had the problem where you couldn't do a fire-and-forget manual install, where it figured out what it needed, and only bugged you when it needed a new CD, instead of asking you stuff after every CD.

SCO UnixWare had that problem (I did a review a few years back), and it really bugged the crap out of me. I couldn't just fire and forget, and feed it CDs as it needed them. I had to answer stuff and configure stuff the entire time. Annoying.

Reply Score: 1

Solaris is not Linux
by trenchsol on Tue 26th Jun 2007 21:21 UTC
trenchsol
Member since:
2006-12-07

People who are looking for Linux replica might not find what are they looking for. Solaris does some thing Solaris way, not Linux way. OS comes with two working environments that offer full control over the system, CDE and JDS, CDE is based on Motif and JDS is based on Gnome. StarOffice is there, too.

Linux folks will be disappointed with a low number of binary packeges, compared to some Linux distributions. Anyway, the most important packages are there.

After Linux and FreeBSD, Solaris seems to be the best OS I ever used. I have very positive Solaris experience from the days when I was working as sysadmin.

Here are the problems I have encountered:

1. ACPI on some (not all) machines causes system to hang while booting. One line in grub.conf has to be modified with additional parameters to correct that. I got two machines and only one has the problem. There are quite a few articles on the Internet that deal with that bug. If the system hangs one should go to BIOS and disable ACPI. Once the OS is installed and grub line modified, ACPI can be enabled.

2. Mozilla that comes with Solaris 10 seems to have some bug with tabs and middle mouse button. If you open new tabs with middle click, it sometimes just dont work until the browser is restarted.

3. To my dissapointment IceWM package (not a part of distribution) is broken. One can't change theme and make it permanent. IceWM starts with IceDesert theme every time. My workaround was to rename IceDsert to some other name and make symbolic link called 'IceDesert' that points to theme that I like (metal2).

4. The good thing is that there is a command for everything, one seldom needs to edit a configuration file.

5. Installation program lacks colors and visual effects, it takes a long time, but I don't think that it is difficult, except for the ACPI bug.

6. I am not able to setup autologin. Some folks might not like the idea, but I couldn't care less. I have not logged in on my home computer for years, and I am not going to. If there is no way to achieve autologin, then, no matter how good it is, Solaris will have to leave my computer.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Solaris is not Linux
by ctl_alt_del on Tue 26th Jun 2007 22:20 UTC in reply to "Solaris is not Linux"
ctl_alt_del Member since:
2006-05-14

I concur about "Solaris is not Linux". I didn't care for Linux much when I first started using it, because I was much more familiar with Solaris. Now I can be equally frustrated with both ;)

Concerning #6 and autologin, you may be in luck.

Here are a couple of links that should help:
http://library.gnome.org/gdm/unstable/solaris.html.en
http://mail.cc.umanitoba.ca/dtautologin/

Looks like you'll need pam_allow.so.1, either compiled yourself or get it from Solaris Express.

Reply Score: 2

What I found
by hraq on Wed 27th Jun 2007 03:00 UTC
hraq
Member since:
2005-07-06

1. Solaris installation was very slow in comparision with every os on the palnet right now.

2. Solaris partitioner needs to improve alot to become helpful.

3. Solaris betas are different from each other on the same hardware; they will install on one build and not on another (Graphics/HDD reasons)

4. Solaris hardware support in scarse with power management close to none. (cannot turn off HDD after a while)

5. Multiuser experience is bad, because there are no multiuser switching GUI like in Windows or Mac, very similar from linux though.

6. No full integration of all the tools in one location for management like in windows devmgmt.msc or mac System Preferences or some linux distros like Novell

7. Very fast startup times, very close from mac but not better yet.

8. super fast disk access times and less Wait I/O operations than all linuxes out there. Even faster than mac journaled HFS.

9. No Decent software installer, unlike its cousin ubuntu which has excellent Add/Remove Programs or Synaptic Package manager for more advanced users.

10. Too much clicks on solaris installer especially for selecting Regions and language options and support area; please no drop down arows, hallo drop down menus.

11. No easy OS recovery option from the installation DVD; and no DVD Check sum unlike RHEL and OSX installation media integrity verifiers

12. I have to go

Reply Score: 1

Did we forget something???
by lord-storm on Wed 27th Jun 2007 05:56 UTC
lord-storm
Member since:
2005-07-12

Solaris 10 was primarily designed for installation over a console port. So two ways of installing solaris are needed. I would prefer a good easy way to install solaris from HDD and Jumpstart. Something like Windows XP where you can add switches to start install on another hard drive. Also I think installation via iSCSI would be a nice option or to externaly boot off iSCSI via a small bootloader placed on a floppy or flash disk.

Jumpstart is a unreal tool once you can use it and I think there are areas that need improvement far more than a installer. Yes I do agree that there are improvements that could be made like no need to have to have the window selected to input data (have mouse over window). This installer needs minor work only since it is easy enough for people to understand. Oh thats right we live in a world of you need a mouse to do everything even install a operating system these days..... maybe we should even make people control click...

Reply Score: 1

Changing Demographics
by tony on Wed 27th Jun 2007 13:33 UTC
tony
Member since:
2005-07-06

Sun is clearly attempting to change the nature of their target demographic, to include more than seasoned datacenter jockys, who either know the installation process like the back of their hand (and tolerate it) or do it often enough that setting up jumpstart is a big time saver.

Sun wants Solaris and Open Solaris to be what Linux is now. They want people to tinker with the code, to add improvements. They want hobbiests to run it as their primary operating system, they want the taste makers to push Solaris/OpenSolaris onto their bosses instead of LAMP.

So part of this is changing the product so that it better suits these users. To make it more accessible to more people, to make it a pleasure to use instead of a pain that it sometimes is. So critiques like this are great, they help instead of harm. The emperor's not naked, but he's got unmatched socks and his shirt don't match.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Changing Demographics
by kaiwai on Wed 27th Jun 2007 14:42 UTC in reply to "Changing Demographics"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

)this isn't specifically directed at you or your post)

Sun is making changes, I'm sure they are - but it takes time. There are competing voices; the established and winning new customers, moving foward whilst maintaining backwards compatibility.

There is a laundry list of things that I would like to see being fixed but to be completely honest, it may make people like be feel better by venting it on osnews.com, but ultimately, its nothing more than wasting of oxygen and doesn't change anything.

Reply Score: 2

Re:Solaris is not Linux
by AndrewZ on Wed 27th Jun 2007 15:09 UTC
AndrewZ
Member since:
2005-11-15

Those are some really good comments and I agree with many of them. This one is interesting:

>5. Multiuser experience is bad, because there are no multiuser switching GUI like in Windows or Mac, very similar from linux though.

I agree that the multiuser experience may be lacking but I would say that Solaris multiuser capability is probably one of the best, bar none. Solaris has really, really efficient context switching, which makes it very efficient at handling multiple users simultaneously. In times gone past one would simply 'su' to a different user. Having a GUI to do this would enhance the experience.

Reply Score: 1

Robert Escue
Member since:
2005-07-08

Then you might not want to follow this link:

http://blogs.sun.com/tiger/entry/setting_up_solaris_express_develop...

Funny, an 11 year old can install Solaris Express without too much pain!

Reply Score: 2