SysAdmin's Journey

Back to Linux for My Desktop

Well, it’s been just over a month since I’ve converted my main workstation over to OpenSolaris. Unfortunately, I’m going to abandon the project, and switch back to Linux as my choice as primary desktop OS. The main reason? Cost in productivity. It’s not that I can’t build things from source, or tweak config files, but I just don’t have the time to anymore. Unlike OpenSolaris, dual-head works as expected on Linux. I had to do voodoo to make the home and end keys work in the gnome-terminal. Little things, like gcc being the first compiler found in PATH, but most binaries on the system being compiled with SunStudio cc cause larger issues like CPAN not working correctly. Certain things just aren’t even there yet, like virtual consoles, which are invaluable when troubleshooting Xorg issues. Each one of these issues is fixable, but the key is that they don’t exist in the first place when I use Linux. The lack of graphics acceleration for my card turned out to be more of an issue that I would have thought (you want your desktop environment to be snappy). Also, not being able to use the AHCI mode on my SATA controller killed disk I/O. Since OpenSolaris has far fewer adopters than Linux, binary-only applications often don’t release binaries for OpenSolaris (Dropbox for example). The community is growing, and is very helpful, but it’s not near anywhere as massive as the Linux community. Often times, Google searches result in no hits when troubleshooting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I dislike OpenSolaris, or the direction it’s going. The opposite is true - I love it! ZFS is truly incredible, and SMF is a godsend. IPS, while a long ways from being as fast and comprehensive as apt-get, is a huge improvement over the old way. In fact, one of the first things I plan on doing in Linux is installing VirtualBox and installing OpenSolaris within it. To summarize, when using OpenSolaris as my primary desktop OS, the “you gotta be kidding me”’s and the “dammit”’s far outnumbered the “ooh”’s and “ahh”’s. By using Linux as my desktop OS and OpenSolaris as a VM, I can isolate myself from the negatives. I just can’t afford the impact to my productivity right now. As long as Oracle doesn’t muck too much with the current state of affairs, there’s a good chance that in a year or two, I’ll try again and have much better luck. Until then, OpenSolaris will be on my VM’s and Servers, but won’t be on my workstation.