in the city
I regularly install lots of different operating systems for testing purposes. Yesterday I installed OpenSolaris 2008.05; I had high hopes for this one, since the stated goal was to bring a modern interface to the Solaris kernel and goodies like DTrace and ZFS.
So I went to assign it a static IP, so I could access it over the network reliably. Great, I thought, a Gnome interface; I know what to do with that. I click System→Administration→Network, only to see a dialog box that basically just says “this doesn’t work”. Okay, okay, so I follow the directions to disable network auto-magic and let me have control again. I start the network administration panel again, set up the network address, then click “Enable interface.” Nice and straightforward. (On later reflection, this may not be what I wanted to do, as taking manual control in this way entails setting lots of other things, too, like the fact that I now have to tell Solaris that it should be using DNS to resolve hostnames to IP addresses; it’s been over 15 years since I last had a computer where I didn’t want DNS resolution to work, and that’s because I only had one computer and no Internet connection at home.)
Well, except for the fact that it didn’t work. The network interface had actually disappeared. Fine, so I’ll reboot on the theory that OpenSolaris has a half-assed Gnome install just like Solaris 10 did — but there is no reboot option, and I’m not about to fumble around trying to figure it out from the command line, so I just hit the shutdown option instead, wait 5 minutes for it to give me any feedback that it’s doing anything, watch the error message about being unable to unmount /export/home because it’s in use go by, before it finally shuts down.
Restarting and logging in again presented me with an error about not being able to resolve my hostname, and suggested adding it to /etc/hosts. That’s weird – I explicitly added it in the network administration app; I went back and checked, but it’s gone now. Trying to add it there just doesn’t work. I guess that means it’s vi from the command line again.
Starting the package manager reveals more oddities; there is at least a GUI package manager now, but it’s … not as good as the command line. Finding the package I want to install is nearly impossible, because every program is named SUNWfbar or something like that. Dr Sn, dnt y knw ts vry hrd t rd wth n vwls, lt aln srch fr smthng? Seriously, I thought the days of such cryptic filenames went away with DOS.
Some time ago, BBC Top Gear went back in history and tried to find the first car manufactured with a steering wheel and pedals in the now conventional locations; while looking for it, they found a bunch of real oddities. OpenSolaris still has a spark advance lever and a choke knob and a steering tiller; upgrading the engine from a V8 to a V12 is nice, guys, and the leather seats are a nice touch, but I still can’t drive it.