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SolarisGuide.com: Reviews: Solaris 8

Apr 17, 2000, 18:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jeffrey Meltzer)

By Jeffrey Meltzer, SolarisGuide.com

The day is here. After Solaris 7 was received with mediocre response, Solaris 8 has been released, and it is a great improvement. In addition to the four (yes, four) CD's containing the Solaris 8 Operating Environment, Sun is now shipping a 'Software Companion' CD with precompiled GNU software, as well as a copy of Star Office 5.1, and the usuall run of the mill demo software.

My guess would be that Sun is now shipping the GNU software to better compete with Redhat Linux. However, Redhat's support for the GNU software is far better than Sun's. There is no documentation book for the software amongst all the manuals shipped with Solaris 8, and there is minimal documentation on the CD. Furthermore, it took me a few seconds to locate the new GNU software after the installation finished. Instead of installing the software to /usr/local/, where I (and i'd assume most) people install their GNU and similar software, Sun installs the programs in /opt/sfw/.

Sun has moved away from the drab gray OpenWindows install screens to a more GUI friendly 'Install Shield' type installation. The install takes a little longer to startup, even though the startup is located on a CD that seems to have about .5MB of data on it. I've also been told that if you boot off the Software #1 disk, rather than the Installation disk, you will get the OpenWindows Install. I have yet to try, and confirm this.

Congratulations to Sun on finally recognizing the fact that not everybody uses NIS. There is finally a 'DNS' option as a Naming Service. However, Sun neglected to ask about your default router. So, if your nameserver is on a different network than your workstation, the installation will fail because it cannot resolve your hostname. It just tells you 'incorrect information' (nice, informative error). The solution is to just select 'none' as your Naming Service, and configure your /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/nsswitch.conf after the installation is complete, as most of us have had to do for previous versions of Solaris.

Now that i'm done praising Sun for adding GNU software, i'd have to recommend not installing (or un-installing) Sun's versions of GCC and Perl. I could not get certain things to compile with Sun's GCC, that, when I removed it, and downloaded and installed the GCC from sunfreeware.com, compiled cleanly. Perl looks like it was compiled in some type of non standard way, and most of the CPAN modules i've tried to add seem to break.

The LDAP included with Solaris 8 looks to be openldap. It works fairly well, and the ldap configuration file is the same as most open source versions of the protocol.

The Palm Pilot sync utilities included with Solaris 8 work right out of the box. They don't seem to be as configurable as some of the other open source versions, but it works fairly well.

That's most of the observations i've made after hacking around with Solaris 8 for about a week on both an Ultra 5 (360MHz/384MB/8GB) and an Ultra 1 (170MHz/128MB/2GB). All in all, Solaris 8 seems to work great. I've had some problems with Solaris 7, but 8 seems to be right back on track where Sun left off with Solaris 2.6.

On a side note, anybody else having trouble getting used to the fact that we're not in Solaris 2.x anymore? Well, we still seem to be in SunOS 5.x.....

....Til Solaris 9, SunOS 5.9, or whatever they decided to call it.

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