Trying to install Solaris in the past was one of those experiences that made me pine for a prebuilt virtual machine disk format. A new version of Sun Microsystems' OpenSolaris-based operating system, though, attempts to amend that.
As of Monday, Solaris Express Developer Edition is now in its third version, craftily named 9/07. Sun gave the installation routine, for the first time in 12 years, "a complete and massive rewrite," said Dan Roberts, director marketing for Solaris and OpenSolaris. The new installer has the same plumbing underneath, but presents a much less technically nitty-gritty interface. However, it's still a first crack and will develop, he added.
"We were seeing significant issues getting started using Solaris, especially for those not previously familiar with Solaris or other Unix operating systems--folks who grew up in a Linux or Windows culture," Roberts said. "They were looking at Solaris and finding it fairly dated in certain aspects."
Solaris Express Developer Edition is derived from the open-source OpenSolaris project, plus some proprietary bits such as fonts thrown in where necessary. Sun intends this version to be more usefully up to date than Solaris 10, fully production ready and supported for 12 years
It looks like Solaris Express Developer Edition will be superseded by Sun's Project Indiana in coming months. That version also is based on OpenSolaris and geared to be more palatable to a newer generation of Linux-steeped developers, but it's also intended to involve more outside programmers.
Of replacing Solaris Express Developer Edition with Indiana, Roberts said, "It is the natural evolution."
The new Solaris Express Developer Edition also includes the Gnome 2.18 (a generation (update: not two generations) behind the freshly released 2.20 version) graphical interface, more wireless network support, better support for Intel power management features, and more elaborate technical support for those who need it.