Ubuntu, OpenSolaris, or PC-BSD

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Its that time again. Every so often I feel the need to try out a new OS. For the last year I have been running Hardy Heron on my trusty ThinkPad T61p. It was my first ThinkPad, and now I’m thinking it won’t be my last. After all, they have quad core ThinkPads now. Although, I’ve seen more and more colleagues becoming infected and turning in to Mac zombies. I wonder how long I can avoid infection.

For several minor and not so minor reasons, I may need to move off of Ubuntu. Although, I could try out Intrepid Ibex before I do. In the meantime I have installed OpenSolaris and PC-BSD images in VirtualBox. I tried to run them (I did get them installed) in VMWare, but there were issues with both. To be honest, there are still some minor issues with VirtualBox and PC-BSD. Namely, I haven’t been able to get the guest additions installed in PC-BSD. Nor can I seem to run it at a resolution greater than 1024 by 768 or at a color depth greater than 16 bit.

Despite all that (and the fact that they are running in virtual machines), I feel like both operating systems run quite fast. I’m considering dual booting in the short term to get a better idea of just how fast they’ll run. In particular OpenSolaris feels extremely responsive. I think it is more responsive in a virtual machine than Hardy Heron is as my host OS.

Performance aside, I need to figure out if either of these can be practical for a Java development environment. It turns out that Eclipse is not officially available for OpenSolaris. Technically, I can build it locally using a custom build script though. However, seeing as this is Sun we’re talking about, NetBeans is available.

Here is a list of tools that I would need and/or prefer. I’ll update this as I find out which ones are available where.

Tool OpenSolaris PC-BSD
Java 5/6    
Maven 2    
Eclipse (Ganymede)    
Tomcat 5/6    
Flex 3 SDK    

And then I’ll have to make sure that some web applications deploy and run fine.

Web App OpenSolaris PC-BSD
Day Communique 4/5    
Alfresco 3    

Finally, I’ll have to make sure that the necessary Eclipse plug-ins work too.

Plug-in OpenSolaris PC-BSD
Flex Builder    
Eclipse WebDAV    

I guess that is about it. I’ll update this list if I come across more. Perhaps my requirements aren’t so bad after all.

So until next time, good fight, good night.

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Shane Johnson

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