Solaris and OS X

I loved Tom Yeager's article The next best thing to OS X. As several people have noticed at my talks over the past few months, I no longer carry a Mac laptop. As much as I love the Mac's eye candy, it really hasn't been keeping up as a developer's machine - their attention has clearly been elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Solaris folks have made huge strides in Solaris's usability on a laptop with recent Nevada builds: the latest Gnome is quite lovely. Firefox, Thunderbird and Lightning kick ass. The new installer is totally slick. The nwam (network automagic) service makes network hassles almost totally disappear. And Java, NetBeans and Glassfish go like the wind! It's amazing how fast things run.

And then there are all the cool Solaris goodies to take advantage of. I'm totally addicted to Zones and ZFS. For example: I have my laptop set up with ZFS managing the disk. Then I mirror the laptop's disk onto a USB drive. When I'm wandering around with my laptop disconnected, the filesystem runs in "degraded" mode - which simply means that the mirror isn't up to date - it's as fast as ever. But when I get back to my desk and the USB drive reconnects, ZFS magically updates the mirror and I have an incredibly fast backup. If I want to use backups for going back in time, ZFS snapshots are perfect and fast.

There is one area that's a problem: when I close the lid on my laptop, it keeps right on running. It doesn't suspend. I have to manually shut the system down. I've been bugging the Solaris folks about it for a while: they're working on getting there, but it'll take awhile. In typical Solaris fashion, they're going for a "solve world hunger" scale solution: last week I was at a talk about Tesla, the upcoming power management system. It'll be great when they're done.

And no, I don't use any of the virtualization/multiboot facilities: They all consume more performance and disk space than I'm comfortable with.

October 12, 2007