Opensolaris 2008.05 on a Dell inspiron 2650

Got this laptop just in time for the opensolaris install, let’s find out if we can get an usable system.

The dvd drive is REALLY noisy, but the livecd booted without a hitch. You get a boot menu (standard, console and boot from hdd), then a keyboard/desktop language selection text menu, and you’re ready to go.

The livecd boots into a nice desktop (and a big window containing the various licenses it’s under) with The Usual StuffTM (but there’s nmapfe as well). One really nifty things is the “Device driver utility”, it prints out everything it’s found out on your hardware, what drivers it’s using for it, and if there’s any driver missing (in my case: acpi and the crappy winmodem, I can live without em). And there’s even a “submit” button to send your configuration to them, with any comments you choose to write. I hope the hardware database will increase a lot with this.

I’m trying it on a relatively low end machine, but even the livecd seems quite snappy (for a gnome desktop of course).

Well, time to install. And with a big “Install OpenSolaris” icon on the desktop you cannot go wrong.

(btw, you can find step-by-step instructions here)

Unfortunately it seems Opensolaris is as temperamental as any unix around about cd drives, and this laptop’s one is a bit crappy, so the install hangs at “Finding disks”. Well, replacing it was not difficult, here are the instructions if you need them. The installer took its own good time getting to the disk selection this time, but at least we got there.

After the installation, it (slowly) boots the new system, it seems the default install is on zfs.

The installation it’s pretty standard, with the usual bunch of apps, notable additions include:

  • disk analyzer (why in the blazes / is 100% full anyway?)
  • nmapfe
  • an nvidia control panel

The package manager is nice, but some vital tools (wireshark for example) are missing, I’ll try with blastwave later.


  • a bunch of drivers for stuff I do not have
  • firefox and thunderbird localizations
  • guides in languages I do not know
  • evolution (nice to know the exchange connector is included by default however)
  • the gnome a11y stuff (text2speech etc)
  • gnome i10 messages
  • the iiimf (an input method switcher daemon) (NB: except the a11y libs, see below why)
  • vnc server
  • compiz & associated stuff (this video card cannot really drive it)
  • ftp server
  • sun firmware flash update tools
  • gnome digital camera tools
  • gnome cd ripper
  • gnome remote desktop aka vino
  • gnome sound recorder
  • tftpd (wtf?)


  • openoffice (420 Mb, ouch), wich got added right away in the menu
  • the gnome hex editor
  • vnc client
  • rdp client
  • cd burning utilities
  • cvs
  • netcat
  • vscan (I’ll probably get clamav too)
  • pgadmin, the postgresql visual manager (and of course I cannot find the mysql one… right…)

I was not able to manually configure the network until the “Physical network interface autoconfiguration” daemon (and since I’m fiddling with service i’ll disable stuff I do not need too, like ipv6)

The network-admin gnome tool does not work correctly (I liked it, since you can define locations), but usual cli management did.

# ifconfig elxl0 plumb
# ifconfig elxl0 netmask
# ifconfig elxl0 up
# echo "nameserver" > resolv.conf
# cp /etc/nsswitch.dns /etc/nsswitch.conf
# route add default

I’ve installed inetmenu and it’s definitely better, even if I cannot find a way of entering multiple dns servers.
# wget
# gunzip inetmenu-2.3.2.pkg.gz
# pkgadd -d ./inetmenu-2.3.2.pkg
# cd /etc/inetmenu
# cp SAMPLE home
# vi home

And here we go, just add Ginetmenu to your profiles in /etc/user_attr if you want to use it as non-root (btw, the user created during setup got root privileges, go figure). It also spits out an error message at boot warning me to execute it in an x session, but I’ll ignore it for now.

Oh, nice, if I lock the screen from the menu, when I try to unlock xscreensaver complains it cannot find the libloginhelper, and just sits there screensavering. Umh, seems deleting all of a11y was not such a good idea after all. Reinstalled SUNWgome-a11y-libs

Then there’s the nvidia tool. It seems the default install does not use the nvidia driver, and a message instructs me to run nvidia-xconfig as root, lessee…

It seems this machine is a bit too old for this, And I need the 96.43.xx legacy drivers (instead of the 169.12 I’ve got installed), which can be found here. So…
# wget
# sh

The installed drivers conflicts with the new ones, let’s fire up idm for the nth time today and nuke them. (the package name is NVDAgraphics btw)

Umh, x cannot find the glx module, even if it’s loading it, wtf?

# cd /usr/X11/lib/modules/extensions
# rm
# ln -s ./NVIDIA/

Well, this time it worked, even if I have a weird bug: starting the system my screen (after the nvidia logo) is all bunched up, after I ctrl-alt-backspace X11 it goes to normal… go figure.

And for now, that’s all folks

edit: no flashplayer, but you can get it from adobe and simply untar the two files in your ~/.mozilla/plugins/

6 Responses to “Opensolaris 2008.05 on a Dell inspiron 2650”

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