Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Jul 2009 19:16 UTC
Sun Solaris, OpenSolaris The Linux desktop has come a long way. It's a fully usable, stable, and secure operating system that can be used quite easily by the masses. Not too long ago, Sun figured they could do the same by starting Project Indiana, which is supposed to deliver a complete distribution of OpenSolaris in a manner similar to GNU/Linux. After using the latest version for a while, I'm wondering: why?
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binarycrusader
Member since:
2005-07-06

OpenSolaris is a tightly-integrated operating system comprised of a kernel, drivers, system libraries, management frameworks, and other technologies.

...which is a tiny portion of all the software installed in a common distro, and pretty much all desktop software doesn't really care about "management frameworks" (except everything about hardware management, which is abstracted properly in HAL/DeviceKit). They care about basic POSIX operations. In fact they don't even care about that, most of them can run/will run on Win32. The fact that many FOSS apps are so portable shows how irrelevant kernels have become - there is nothing on linux or solaris or any other kernel that "ties" the app to that specific kernel and makes impossible to port the app to other systems.

At the end of the day, what you have is the Firefox/Evolution/Nautilus/Openoffice GUI. Users press buttons and the apps do something. There is nothing special in kernels these days that make the buttons better, and they can't improve sucky aplications either. The last time I saw kernel changing something on the desktop was with the nautilus "snapshot" functionality that only works in ZFS systems - and that can be emulated with LVM and the corresponding NT equivalent...


Management frameworks, etc. matter more than you want to admit. Management frameworks deal with things like network failures, configuration, etc. which obviously *do* matter to users -- as just one example.

Another item is the audio subsystem, Boomer, which unlike Linux-kernel-based OS distributions has fully virtualized audio much like (apologies for the comparison) Windows 7 or Vista. And depending on your hardware, it can support surround sound as well.

So management frameworks and subsystems do matter, and a key differentiator for OpenSolaris is that many applications have been tightly integrated with those management frameworks and subsystems. As opposed to the usual GNU/Linux approach, which is to cobble together a disparate set of software components without tightly integrating them.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Kalessin Member since:
2007-01-18

All of the lower level stuff like management frameworks and subsystems definitely matter. A bad kernel is going to result in a slow and/or buggy system overall. However, the kernel is not what users see. Your truly average desktop user doesn't even know what a kernel is. The average linux user might, but even then, what they generally care about is the applications. The kernel and all of the low level packages on a system are things that the user generally just wants to want and not care about. The more techy and geeky a user is, the more they're going to care about it and whatever nice features it may have, but they low level stuff isn't really what the user sees and cares about.

So, while the low level stuff is very important, it's not what users generally care about. What they care about are the desktop applications that they directly use. So, to the average user, management subsystems don't matter - as long as they work well enough not to cause them any problems anyway.

And if OpenSolaris is using the same desktop and applications as a linux distro, then it's as good as another linux distro to most people. There are plenty of people who care about things like ZFS and the various cool features in OpenSolaris stuff, but the average user really isn't going to.

Reply Parent Score: 2

binarycrusader Member since:
2005-07-06

So, while the low level stuff is very important, it's not what users generally care about. What they care about are the desktop applications that they directly use. So, to the average user, management subsystems don't matter - as long as they work well enough not to cause them any problems anyway.


Your point is valid, but does not coutner what I said at all ;)

In particular, my point was that the underlying management framework and kernel can have a drastic effect on applications and the desktop.

For example, the new audio subsystem in builds 117+ provides fully virtualized audio allowing multiple applications to use the sound device at the same time. While this was solved by sound servers, PuleAudio, etc. in the past, OpenSolaris has a fully native implementation. It should be obvious why users indirectly care about this.

And if OpenSolaris is using the same desktop and applications as a linux distro, then it's as good as another linux distro to most people. There are plenty of people who care about things like ZFS and the various cool features in OpenSolaris stuff, but the average user really isn't going to.


Except it isn't, because OpenSolaris fully integrates additional OS-specific functionality into the "same desktop and applications." For example, because of zfs, GNOME Nautilus has a time slider feature that is not present on GNU/Linux distributions.

So again, the underlying technology matters when it comes to OpenSolaris. Many of its technologies can have a fundamental effect on applications and how they are used.

Reply Parent Score: 2