Dic 10

Solaris vs. Solaris

Tag: SystemsJoaquim Anguas @ 8:18 pm

Most free tools used for computer forensics run on UN*X and most forensics distributions are based on Linux. At first they were based on Knoppix and later they started to use Ubuntu as a base. In the change we missed the ability to load the OS to ram. Now you need to hack it a bit to boot to ram, but I’ll talk about this some other day…

The fact is that sometimes I miss having a persistent UN*X installation.

I’ve always loved BSD flavor, partly because I’ve had good experiences with it. In 2004 we had to do video and multichannel audio transmission Montreal – Barcelona in the context of Artfutura 2004. Need to do firewall and traffic prioritization minimizing lag and without wasting the precious 100Mbps connection we got? OpenBSD + PF did the trick.

And I’ve had a long relationship with Sun operating systems since my college years, first with SUN OS and later with Solaris (you may not believe me, but once I was shutting down a SUN OS 4.1.X SPARCstation with “shutdown –g 0” and I got a message like “does it have to be now?” before the screen got black. It was an Easter Egg, I guess…)

In 2000-2001 I used to sysadmin some Solaris servers in USA. I remember flying to Denver with a Netra 1U server as carry-on: they fit exactly in overhead lockers! (of course it was before 9/11). By then I gained experience in Jumpstart installations and systems hardening which took me to security and computer forensics.

Well, enough nostalgia: the point is I like BSD, I like Solaris.

Some months ago I had a spare disk for my laptop ready to get a new operating system and I tried three different versions of Solaris: Solaris 10, Solaris Express and OpenSolaris.

Given the criteria:

  • Minimum command line interaction: at least graphical interface for useradd…
  • Graphical package management: I’ve had enough pkgadd in my life, thank you.
  • Maximum fanciness and chrome (see here): NVidia drivers and Compiz Fussion is a must.
  • Eclipse and StarOffice.
  • Reasonable boot/shutdown time.

That’s what I found:

  • Solaris Express has an awful boot time, OpenSolaris is best, then comes Solaris 10. OpenSolaris is best, but it takes ages to boot…
  • All include StarOffice, but only OpenSolaris allows you to install Eclipse without having to go through pdkgadd and dependency resolution.
  • All have NVidia drivers but only Solaris Express and OpenSolaris had Compiz Fussion.
  • Solaris Express and OpenSolaris manage users graphically. Solaris 10 relies on the plain old useradd thing.

So I decided to give OpenSolaris a chance…

Then one week ago I started working on a case that requires me to recreate an Oracle 10g environment and I miss a Solaris 10 installation.

But I guess you cannot have it all…