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
- 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,
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:
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.