Solaris Still Not User Friendly

    So this week I got a new Solaris server into our datacenter. I wanted to set it up to replace our ageing web application server which runs PostgreSQL, MySQL, Tomcat 5.5, and Apache 2. It's been a few years since I administered a Solaris box, but figured that I was up to the task. Boy! Was I wrong.

    First off, Solaris is nothing like the Linux that I have grown so spoiled by. There's no simple package manager by default (although there are 3rd party apps like pkg-get), so installing applications is not very straight-forward. It took me several hours to download, install PostgreSQL and get it running. Additionally, I couldn't easily set my default shell to Bourne-Again Shell (BASH) due to the file system structure. In fact, when I did it I ended up with a system I could not log on to until I had changed it back to Bourne shell.

    My next big challenge was the filesystem layout. When you install applications on Linux, the default is to install them into /usr and spread the libraries, executables, and other information across those subdirectories. When I installed PostgreSQL, it installed to /opt/csw/postgresql and the executables were not added to the PATH environment variable. This is a simple thing for a package manager (like pkg) to do, but Solaris does not do it.

    I'll admit that more experience and practice might make these tasks easier. I have been using Linux for so long now that I had forgotten what it was like to use Solaris and AIX. So, I'll restate what I said in the second paragraph: I am spoiled. Linux distributions let me be lazy. I like lazy, because the quicker I get things done, the more things I have time to accomplish. On Ubuntu, installing and configuring PostgreSQL takes about 5 minutes. Installing and configuring Apache 2 takes about 10 minutes (because of my detailed virtual host configuration). Sun could take a lesson from Mark Shuttleworth and start making Solaris much more user friendly. "Give be BASH or give me death", I say. Let me install packages as easily as "apt-get install blah". Give me a consistent file structure which allows me to easily find the commands I am looking for instead of spending 30 minutes running "find".



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