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10 Steps to OpenSolaris Laptop Heaven

July 17, 2009

If you have recently come into possession of a Laptop onto which to load Solaris then here are my top tips:

  1. Install OpenSolaris. At the time of writing the release is 2009.06, install that, parts of this advice may become obsolete with later releases. Do not install Solaris 10 or even worse Nevada. You should download the live CD and burn it onto a disk boot that and let it install but before you start the install read the next tip.

  2. Before you start the install open a terminal so that you can turn on compression on the root pool once it it created. You have to keep running “zpool list” until you see the pool is created and then run (pfexec zfs set compression=on rpool). You may think that disk is big but after a few months you will be needing every block you can get. Also laptop drives are so slow that compression will probably make things faster.

  3. Before you do anything after installation take a snapshot of the system so you can always go back (pfexec beadm create opensolaris@initialinstall). I really mean this.

  4. Add the extras repository. It contains virtualbox, the flash plugin for firefox, true type fonts and more. All you need is a sun online account. See and

  5. Decide whether you want to use the development or support repository. If in doubt choose the supported one. Sun employees get access to the support repository. Customers need to get a support contract. ( Then update to the latest bigs (pfexec pkg image-update).

  6. Add any extra packages you need. Since I am now writing this retrospectively there may be things missing. My starting list is:

    • OpenOffice (pfexec pkg install openoffice)

    • SunStudio (pfexec pkg install sunstudioexpress)

    • Netbeans (pfexec pkg install netbeans)

    • Flash (pkfexec pkg install flash)

    • Virtualbox (pfexec pkg install virtualbox)

    • TrueType fonts (pfxec pkg install ttf-fonts-core)

  7. If you are a Sun Employee install the punchin packages so you can access SWAN. I actually rarely use this as I have a Solaris 10 virtualbox image that I use for punchin so I can be both on and off SWAN at the same time but it is good to have the option.

  8. Add you keys to firefox so that you can browse the extras and support repositories from firefox. See

  9. Go to Fluendo and get and install the free mp3 decoder. They also sell a complete and legal set of decoders for the major video formats, I have them and have been very happy with them. They allow me to view the videos I have cycling events.

  10. Go to Adobe and get acroread. I live in hope that at some point this will be in a repository either at Sun or one Adobe runs so that it can be installed using the standard pkg commands but until then do it by hand.



From → Solaris

  1. berny permalink

    why would nevada be worse on a notebook? i’ve been running it on my notebook for ages without major problems. as my production boxes are all on sol10 i kinda like the closeness in handling between nevada and sol10.
    so why do you discourage the use of nevada?

  2. Nevada has no future. It will not become a product and as you will no doubt be aware live update is no longer being maintained for nevada and is problematic. My home server still runs Nevada while I await Sun Ray support but since a Lap top is not a Sun Ray server there is no reason to choose Nevada over OpenSolaris.

  3. Vasileios permalink

    11. Go to and install opera if you like
    What I really missed on OS2009.06 was a QtSDK like I have on my OpenSuse11.1
    hopefully Nokia changes its attitude. The funny part is that it is available for windows+mingw. I use it but in my lab I am the only one. A sunstudio +qtsdk would make also sense.
    I also Zimbra also changes its attitude and have a repository for Opensolaris for the opensource version.
    I also hope that google releases gadgets and chrome for opensolaris instead of losing its time with ChromeOS effort. OS2009.06 is a good stable chromeOS. I think they ‘d better focus on it and start developing on it (Bluetooth would be a good place). Oracle cannot be more silly than Google. And Os2009.06 supports Acer Aspireones/ Asus EEEPCs. They must be mad.

  4. brett permalink

    At no point have I seen any discussion or delineation about what goes into the support repository vs the regular repository and why. It would be great to see this documented somewhere, both in the specific as well as the policy. For Solaris, it was always very clear what patches required a contract and what the criteria were.

  5. Calum Mackay permalink

    Note that the initial snapshot is now done for you.
    This taken immediately after a fresh install (of b121 in this case):
    $ beadm list -s
    BE/Snapshot Space Policy Created
    ———– —– —— ——-
    opensolaris@install 52.50M static 2009-09-02 22:34

  6. Would love to add the extra repository, but I can’t login to – I even have a support ticket open at sun/oracle, but it seem to be a bigger problem. They are still on it for one month now…

    • chrisgerhard permalink


      Is this you can’t get a certificate or you have a certificate and still can’t get in?

  7. I can’t get a certificate, because I can’t login…

    • chrisgerhard permalink


      I just managed to create a Sun Online account and downloaded the certs for the extras package. Perhaps that would be a way forward for you in the short term while the problem with your account is resolved.

      • Great to hear. I tried to create a new account two weeks ago and had the same problem with it. So I just wanted to wait until sun / oracle fix it.

        Would be great if you can email me those certificates…

  8. chrisgerhard permalink

    I would love to but that is not allowed in the license (or at least my reading of it). I’m now puzzled as to why it would work for me and not you.

    • I’ll try to create another account. Maybe they fixed it for new ones…

      • Does not work. Did you create a new account to test that, or do you have an older one?

        Sun says they are still investigating the issue… 😦

      • chrisgerhard permalink

        I created a new account using a new email address and it let me generate new certificates. I suppose there may be some vestige of my other account in my browser in the form of cookies but I don’t think so as once I logged in using the new ID I could no longer access sunsolve.

      • Lucky me. They didn’t solve the login problem, but they sent me the two needed certificates. So I can access extra now. 🙂

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