Review: Solaris 8/SPARC
Today, I received my copy of the Solaris 8 final edition “free” media
(actually $75 + shipping from Sun).
It came via UPS in two nice plastic CD folders (similar to what the Solaris
2.5 and 2.6 CDs are provided in, when you buy the full retail product; this
is unlike the simple “CDs in a paper folder” provided for the “freebie
Solaris 7″ program). There are two “folders”:
Solaris 8 Media – SPARC ™ Platform Edition:
- Solaris 8 – Installation (SPARC)
- Solaris 8 – Software 1 of 2 (SPARC)
- Solaris 8 – Software 2 of 2 (SPARC)
- Solaris 8 – Documentation
Bonus Software – SPARC ™ Platform Edition:
- Software Companion (SPARC/Intel) – this is the GNU stuff
- StarOffice 5.1 (SPARC)
- iPlanet Advantage Software vol. 1 – only included w/SPARC
- iPlanet Advantage Software vol. 2 – only included w/SPARC
- Oracle Migration Workbench – only included w/SPARC
- Oracle Enterprise Edition v220.127.116.11.0 – only included w/SPARC
Also included is a sheet of paper that tells how to start the installation, on
both x86 and SPARC systems.
I’m really impressed with Sun’s decision to include (even tho there is no
support whatsoever for the CD or its contents) pre-packaged/compiled/binary
versions of common GNU tools such as GCC, gmake, etc, along with the source
code to those programs. However, they should have included *more* – I can
see why they included the GIMP, but why
not GNU tar, or GNU wget? Also, the packages install using the VERY slow
“Installshield” interface. You can bypass this by installing the packages
using “pkgadd” from the command line. The only other problem is that all
of the GNU stuff is installed in /opt/sfw – I ended up symlinking /usr/local
to /opt/sfw for convenience’s sake (everyone I know installs GNU stuff in
One of the major changes with Solaris 8 is that installation of even the
basic OS is now a multi-CD install. Sun suggests you start an install by
booting up the system with the “Installation” CD in the drive, but the
InstallShield/WebStart install takes *forever* to start up and install, and
in my case, was *broken* and would *not* install. (see problem about DNS
and setup below; even after I told the setup procedure to use no naming
service, it said my configuration was bad and to start over).
I ended up tossing the Installation CD, and booting the system up with the
“Software 1/2” CD in the drive – this will go through a normal OpenWindows/
SunInstall-based install procedure (similar to Sol7 and below), although
once your system reboots, you’re stuck with the horrid WebStart interface
to spend half an hour installing the stuff off of “Software 2/2” if you
picked any of the developer options.
Install on my Ultra 1/200E with a (4x?) CD-ROM drive took about an hour
and a half (I think.. I actually fell alseep during the installation).
This is a HUGE difference from prior releases of Solaris – I prefer quick
installs to pretty pictures any day…
Obvious bugs – These were in the beta, and I dont see that they’ve
been corrected at all:
- If you select “DNS” as your naming service, but your nameservers arent in
the same Class C IP block as the system you’re installing, since there hasnt
been a default gateway setup, the system will attempt to do a lookup on your
hostname and fail. However, unlike Sol7, Solaris 8 gets stuck in a loop where
it will want you to put in “correct” nameserver information. The only way
around this so far is to select “none” for namng service, and then setup DNS
by hand, after the system is installed.
- “Web Start” only lets you choose “developer install”, “End user install”,
etc – it does not let you customize the packages you want installed, unlike
Solaris 7. If we’re being forced to use WebStart, I *want* to be able to
specify what goes on my systems, and not have to remove it later.
- Even if you ONLY pick one language to be installed on the system (English_US
/POSIX for example), you’ll still get a ton of Thai, Japanese, and Chinese
partial locales and packages installed.
- Perl 5.005_03 is now included with the base OS
- You can now choose “DNS” as a naming facility
- Install is via an InstallSheild-remisnicent dialog box
- (note: you can also do an old-style install by booting off software 1/2)
Forgot to mention, the “bash”, “tcsh”, and “zsh” shells are now included
as part of the Solaris 8 install. Along with the stuff off of the GNU
CD-ROM (gcc, libs, rxvt), all I need to do is download and compile SSH
to have a “minimum workable” Solaris box in my opinion, now. Having
bash available without having to download it first is nice.
The version of Perl5 that is included with Solaris 8 was
compiled with the Sun set of compilers, so if you try to add stuff to it
with CPAN, etc, some things will break if you’re using the GCC thats
included on the “Software Companion” CD-ROm. My suggestion is to pkgrm
SUNWpl5m, SUNWpl5p, and SUNWpl5u (the Perl packages), and then either get
a precompiled binary package (done with GCC) from www.sunfreeware.com, or
download the sources (www.perl.com) and compile it yourself with gcc.
(03/29/00) – from a reader:
I did a little hacking of perl and found that all of the compiler
options perl uses are in /usr/perl5/5.00503/sun4-solaris/Config.pm you
can change them to use gcc and the options you need.
– William J. Mittelstadt (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(06/27/00) – from an authority at Sun:
Please DON’T pkgrm the packages, even if you want to ‘roll your own’
perl. The reason for this is that the new kstat(1) command uses the
perl installed with the system, and if you pkgrm the perl packages you
will break the command. The level of breakage will increase if and when
we add more perl-based utilities to the OS. I have both the stock
5.005_03 (installed under /usr/perl5) and 5.6.0 (installed under
/usr/local) installed on my machine, and they coexist just fine. Just
make sure that the one you prefer is found first in your PATH.
Hope that helps,
Solaris Kernel Development, Sun Microsystems
(07/22/00) – Solaris 8 6/00 Update Received:
I just got the Solaris 8 6/00 release. If you’ve kept your
system up to date with patches and the MU1, the biggest change
you’ll see is the improvement of the “Software Companion” CD-ROM.
Whoever is in charge of this, needs to get a gold star and a pat on
the back – because I cant think of a single thing I need on what I
consider a “good basic ready-tot-work Solaris install” that is NOT
on this CD, except for the WindowMaker window manager (and lets not
even get into the argument about which window managers should be
A list of the included files (all also with source, for i386 and SPARC):
SFWaalib ASCII Art Library SFWaconf GNU autoconf SFWamake GNU automake SFWbison GNU bison SFWddd DDD SFWdiffu GNU diffutils SFWemacs GNU Emacs SFWenscr GNU enscript SFWflex GNU flex SFWfvwm fvwm virtual window manager SFWgcc GNU compilers SFWgdb GNU source-level debugger SFWgimp GNU Image Manipulation Program SFWglib GLIB - Librps JPEG software SFWlestf LessTif SFWmpage mpage - print multiple pages per sheet SFWmpeg The MPEG Library SFWncftp NcFTP SFWncur ncurses library SFWolvwm OPEN LOOK Virtual Window Manager SFWpftpd ProFTPD Server SFWpng PNG reference library SFWpppd pppd 18.104.22.168 Device Drivers SFWpppdu pppd 22.214.171.124 Daemon, Utilities, and Configuration files SFWpppdx pppd 126.96.36.199 Device Drivers (64-bit) SFWrxvt rxvt SFWsamba samba SFWsed GNU sed SFWslang S-Lang library SFWslrn slrn - An easy to use NNTP based newsreader SFWsquid SQUID SFWtexi GNU texinfo SFWtiff The TIFF Library SFWvim vim - Vi IMproved SFWwftpd FTP Server SFWwget GNU wget SFWxmacs XEmacs SFWxpm XPM library
Pretty complete, eh? The guys at Sun should get a bonus for this one..!