01 July, 2007

Another day of SUNshine

What, again?

Yes, only this time I had a little more room than before. The previous hard drive only had 3.2GB of space on it in total, so I had to leave some packages off the hard drive from the full install of Solaris 10. A few days ago, a friend of mine offered to send down two complete computer cases with motherboard and CPUs if I were to pay the postage. Funnily enough, zoombuggy agreed, as the idea was that she’d get her own computer back, with its own hard drive, and without any of my schlock on it. So we got them sent down, and I had a play.

They’re quiet, Jim

Yes, they’re quiet, and they’re also custom. The little ENS Compaqs quite often are. These machines are no exception, as they have Pentium-II motherboards, but they have Pentium-III CPU cards in them. Weird. One’s a 600 MHz CPU, the other is a 450 MHz CPU, so they're both slow, but not totally crawling. They also have (almost) tool-less cases. Again, weird, but I could get used to it. The main disadvantage is: there is only 128MB of memory in each machine, in two 64MB SDRAM sticks. So I’m now waiting for an awful lot of 128MB or 256MB SDRAM sticks that I can put into three computers. To make it worse, Kubuntu 7.04 doesn’t like having less than 256MB, and is running as slow as water on fire - personally I’ve found it runs okay with 384MB.

So now what happens?

Well, each of the computers had a 10GB drive. As one drive already had a complete Kubuntu 7.04 set up on it, I just moved on in, and got zoombuggy’s data shifted over. It seems funny, but I’d been wanting to upgrade her rather old Hoary Hedgehog installation (where do they come up with these names, anyhow?) for a while, and here I was, boom - up one distribution already, and without having to download a CD or DVD image. That was zoom and zoombuggy all jacked up, and I was up by one 4.3GB drive - that’ll probably have NetBSD put back on to it. The other machine (the 450 MHz) got the hard drive ripped out of it, which I used in fatty for the new Solaris install. Meanwhile (yes, I’ll get back to Solaris in a minute, Laura - just hold your horses) to make actual use of the machine and not have it lying around without a purpose, I put the Plan 9 drive into it. It works really REALLY well, in fact I’m frankly astounded. So, now my Plan 9 install has a machine all to itself. Once I corrected the IP I was using, and changed the hostname, it was good to go. I just wish it could get more use, but screens are at a premium here—I’ve only got two working screens, and I have to repair the third.

And now, the story about Solaris?

Yes Laura, on to Solaris. Well, as I said in the first paragraph, I had nowhere near enough room on the original drive, so I took the DVD writer out of brick and stuck it into fatty, so I could install Solaris on to the 10GB drive, and finally install everything off the DVDs that I had. I had to migrate a wee bit over from the original drive, such as the beta for Flash 9 player (yes, there IS one for Solaris x86), and the OSS commercial sound driver software - more on that in a bit. Now I’m the happy owner of a Solaris install that actually has all of its bits and isn’t missing anything. I also added Sun Studio 11 (it already had GCC) and NetBeans 5, but found the machine simply wouldn’t run the Java Studio Creator without bogging down. I guess that 256MB really isn’t enough, as I read the requirements afterward and found that 1GB would have been more like it. Of course, Solaris comes with Star Office 7, and a reasonably complete Motif 2.1 install, so I’ll at least have a bit of stuff to learn - and, it even has a complete install of Java SE5, so that I can start learning Java from that Bruce Eckel Java Book that I got from Amazon.com back in February or so. I’ve also added several packages from the Sun Freeware project, and several packages from the Solaris Companion disc. And Firefox, of course. So I’m happy, kind of.


Yes, there’s a “but”. Currently the support in Solaris for sound is somewhat ... patchy. I have two ISA soundcards that don’t want to work under Solaris, even with the commercial OSS software that I downloaded. So for the moment at least, I ain’t got no lovin’ feeling ’bout that. If I happened to have an on-board AC97 sound chip, this would not be an issue, as:
  1. the sound card would be on the PCI bus, and not the ISA bus, and
  2. there's a AC97 sound driver in the Solaris kernel.
I know that works, as it worked somewhat under brick when I was running Solaris 3/05. So sound is the only issue I have, aside from memory (which could be worked on once I get some more 256MB memory sticks) and machine speed (probably requiring a motherboard upgrade).

And that's a wrap

Sure is. I'll have to do some more experimenting with Solaris, play with things a while. Frankly the version of Gnome I have here is ancient, to say the least. There are several aspects that have already been fixed in later versions of Gnome, such as the ability to change keyboard shortcuts. However, it does work, mostly. I don't have a whole lot of space left, but I have enough room in which to do some stuff, at least.