There are multiple sources for add on packages for Solaris, blastwave, openCSW, Sunfreeware, and pkgsrc. Ideally, I'd like to stick as close as possible to a single packaging system, so which of these would you recommend I use? Or, should I ignore them, and roll my own?
OpenCSW has the most up to date packages of the three sites, unless you specifically want the full GNOME desktop stuff. We have all the gtk/etc basic libs up to date, and even firefox3. It's just that no-one so far has cared enough about the gnome desktop environment to update "the desktop".
Check out the packages page, for revs of what we have.
I think Sunfreeware is seen as the most stable and reliable source, although it often lags behind Blastwave with regards to recent versions.
In my shop, we employ Sunfreeware for our production packages, and Blastwave for development tools. This has the nice benefit that there is a physical and logical distinction between the two sets of packages, as Sunfreeware install under /usr/local and Blastwave installs under /opt/csw.
Hence, when we build and link software against /usr/local on our development machine, we are confidant that it closely replicates our production environment, whereas everything under /opt/csw is considered a kind of free zone, where all kinds of development packages and their dependencies are installed.
Blastwave also has a recent build of Trac - which is a blessing because building that from source on Solaris is painful.
PS: And no, you certainly should NOT ignore them, not only do they save huge amounts of time, they also have also been built by experts who know how to iron out various incompatibilities and issues that may exist. Dont be afraid to build your own either if there is good reason - you can often drastically cut down on dependencies by building 'lite' versions of packages (e.g. I build a version of PHP that excludes all XML related funcitonality). Ultimately you need to find a balance that suits your needs and environment.
If you're coming from an environment like Ubuntu or Debian where 99% of the time you're one
apt-get away from whatever package you want to install, then Blastwave is going to be a better fit. It comes with a tool that overlays
pkg-get that will take a package name, find it in the the network repository and install it.
On our Solaris Express machines, we use Blastwave almost exclusively. It's fast, easy and we haven't had any reliability issues with the packages (we run a 24/7 messaging service). Occasionally, there is a package Blastwave doesn't have, and we'll manually install that from Sunfreeware if its available or build from source.
Alternately, if you're just getting started with Solaris, giving Opensolaris a shot is also an option. Similar,
apt-get like experience for all packages (including system ones). The repos are not quite as large as Blastwave yet but getting there. We've migrated about 80% of our Solaris Express boxes over to Opensolaris 2008.11 and 2009.06.