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I need to do a lot of work on Solaris 10 for the next few weeks. Is there an easy way to get the common packages installed so the machine is more "modern". A Fedora install comes with a lot more packages, and the missing ones are a ´yum install' away. I installed all of the packages from the Companion CD, but I'm still missing lots! For example, I'd like subversion, gcc, MySql 5.x, MySql Query Browser and Firefox 3 (yeah Solaris ships with 2). I downloaded FF3 but when I run it get complaints about needing Gtk+ 2.10 (ships with 2.4).

Unfortunately, OpenSolaris is not an option.

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The Solaris "desktop" environment leaves much to be desired. – Matt Jun 2 '09 at 18:42
Not sure what you mean by that. JDS/Gnome as the Solaris desktop has everything I'm looking for out of a desktop environment. What is it that it doesn't have that you're looking for? – Brian Knoblauch Jun 4 '09 at 16:46
Any typical Linux installation has thousands of packages ready to go. I want the MySql Query Browser, for example. How do I get it? I want Firefox 3, not Firefox 2. Repositories like OpenCSW are need to fill in the gaps. – anon Jun 4 '09 at 17:34
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Executive summary: Use OpenCSW.

A longer answer: There used to be two major providers of Open Source packages, of which one has forked, so the current number is three.

  • OpenCSW - a fork of Blastwave, run by one of its founders, Phil Brown. OpenCSW has the most advanced build system (mGAR), most of the manpower after the fork, and the newest packages. Its SourceForge projects are named gar (packages) and opencsw (tools).
  • Sunfreeware - I don't know of any code repository of theirs.
  • Blastwave - project started in 2002 by Dennis Clarke and Phil Brown, now being run by Clarke, uses a less advanced version of the build system (compared to OpenCSW), has does not have a publicly available code repository.

There are two package management tools, pkg-get and pkgutil. Both work with OpenCSW and Blastwave. pkg-get is written in Korn shell, pkgutil is written in Perl and has a bit more features than pkg-get does. Both pkg-get and pkgutil automatically resolve and download dependencies.

As far as Firefox is concerned, version 3 is not available from OpenCSW yet. There is a package bundle you can download from elsewhere.

If you use a non-standard keyboard layout, the thing you might miss is the setxkbmap command. A dodgy binary on a random blog was the best I could find.

Another thing you'll miss is the GNU userland. OpenCSW can provide you with all the GNU core utils, with names prefixed with a 'g'; sed is gsed, grep is ggrep, and so forth. For interactive sessions, you can create aliases along the lines of:

alias sed=/opt/csw/bin/gsed

If you happen to need to compile a piece of software, there is a free Sun compiler, coming with a bundle with Sun Studio. You should be able to find it on Sun's website.

Building new packages is a bit of a PITA, unless you have some sort of a framework. The packages format is relatively simple, but Sun doesn't provide convenient package creation tools. I personally use OpenCSW's build system which automates all that away.

Sound card support is poor. If you want to listen to music, have your mp3 player ready.

Acrobat Reader for Solaris x86 was released only recently, and the version released is 4.0 (sic!).

There is Flashplayer, but after you install Firefox 3, you'll need to make the symlinks manually to have Firefox pick up the plugin.

Generally, it would be an overstatement to say that Solaris can be a convenient desktop even for a sysadmin. Expect rough edges. Of course, there are benefits of running the same platform as your desktop and server.

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In my experience, Flashplayer causes Firefox to crash on Solaris. To use flash (e.g. YouTube), I use Opera, which is available on Solaris in the latest version and supports Firefox plugins. – automatthias Nov 22 '09 at 16:36 has a lot of packages that might be of use to you.

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sunfreeware will have lots of stuff you're looking for, and list dependancies (like GTk, libiconv, etc.) which will link to other packages on their page. Helps to make sure you have everything you need to install their packages. Plus they provide source code if you'd rather "do it yourself" – Milner Jun 2 '09 at 18:53
Where is sunfreeware's source code? Can you give the link? I looked for it many times and could never find it. – automatthias Nov 22 '09 at 16:37

Commenting automatthias statement:

Acrobat Reader for Solaris x86 was released only recently, and the version released is 4.0 (sic!).

This is incorrect, version 4.0 was released for Solaris on x86 in 1999. The recently released (march 2009) version was 9.1 and 9.2 is currently available for Solaris/OpenSolaris:

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Provide a link or it's not true. – automatthias Nov 22 '09 at 16:37
Huh ? I already did (click on the 9.1 in my previous reply) – jlliagre Nov 25 '09 at 2:45
and if your comment is about 4.0 for Solaris x86 in 1999, here is the link: – jlliagre Nov 25 '09 at 2:52

Another option is to run Solaris in a VM and export your DISPLAY variable to remotely access xterm/gnome-terminal/ sessions out to a more modern desktop environment like Ubuntu.

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If you can use OpenSolaris, their package system contains most of what I consider to be the "common" stuff.

The latest version is pretty nice.

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Yeah, it's pretty nice and unsupported for my application. – anon Jun 2 '09 at 19:08
"unsupported" has wide range of definitions. Solaris does a better job than any other OS I know of keeping backwards compatibility but being progressive at the same time. If you are using "unsupported" in the strictest tense of the word than I would STILL use OpenSolaris as your desktop environment and install your application in a Solaris 10 zone, both problems solved. – Trey Jun 2 '09 at 19:35
Unsupported means that I couldn't get my application to install in OpenSolaris and when I asked how to do it, they said "Unsupported". Can Solaris 10 GA be installed in an OpenSolaris zone? I'll look into this. – anon Jun 3 '09 at 3:16
Solaris 10 in OpenSolrais Zones is possible, of course. Branded Zones is your friend, here. See for reference. – juwi Feb 6 '12 at 18:52

I'd like subversion, gcc, MySql 5.x

gcc is already bundled with Solaris 10 in /usr/sfw/bin/gcc.

The last OpenSolaris dev update (build 127) includes Solaris 10 branded zone support. That means you can have the best of both worlds: your global zone running OpenSolaris with the latest and greatest freewares available and an automatic update/upgrade management and at the same time work on a Solaris 10 zone which is a requirement for your project.

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Use Solaris Express Community Edition you get Solaris 10 and Opensolaris to boot so you can have the new software you want and the old stability and compatibility

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Unfortunately, it's also discontinued/nonsupported now according to the website last time I visited. Are developers still able to get their hands on it? It was a nice compromise between Solaris and OS. – Brian Knoblauch Nov 16 '09 at 19:40

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