What is the process?
I have to ftp a lot of software off of ftp.gnu.org to my local MicroVax. From there I will download all of the software over my 9600 baud modem to the Sparc sitting in the living room of the house I am living in at the time.
It will take days, if not weeks to assemble all of the software and turn the machine into a working system. This was the state of the art at the time.
Today I take a similar system, install pkg-get and grab packages. What do I discover?
Half of them are out of date. So what do I do?
I could grab one of the package systems that are put together to make my life easier, but they won't play well with the stuff I have downloaded with pkg-get. Could I ditch pkg-get and just install the prepacked stuff I can find elsewhere but they too are incomplete.
I ftp packages off ftp.gnu.org and compile those into /usr/local.
Except unlike 16 years ago, half those packages will not compile any longer on Solaris. Between pkg-get and ftp.gnu.org I do make it work.
None of this will automatically update though, so I am stuck maintaining it. Open Solaris is not an option because it does not run on this system (and Open Solaris comes with a bunch of old compilers/libraries so it is just a different sort of hassle).
One other incredibly annoying thing, except for what I installed in /usr/local, the rest of programs/libraries it takes to compile anything is found across a half dozen directories in /opt and /usr. The entire structure is not GNU like, and GNU like is the model for other systems. There is nothing innovative about picking your own directory structure.
So what are the main differences 16 years later?
I was asked on Twitter if I would be supporting development for Drizzle on Solaris if I did not work for Sun.
The answer is "yes".
There are still quite a few Solaris users out there and I am very interested in seeing how well we perform on the T5240. It is an interesting piece of hardware because of the number of hardware contexts it provides us.
Now if I had a simple method for installing Ubuntu on it, would I still care about making Solaris work?
I honestly do not know. I am looking forward to finding the time someday to find out if Solaris or Linux runs best on one of the beasts. My T1000 is with Stewart now so I I don't have a way to test what Linux looks like on a working piece of Niagra based hardware that supports Linux currently. The T5240 does not yet run Ubuntu.
If I found that Linux ran better I would be mighty tempted to leave the Solaris porting to others. There are a lot of things that I could be doing to make better use of my time.
Tim commented on "What Sun Should Do". I have not been at Sun long enough to really make any broad comments on the future of Sun.
One thing is very certain in my mind concerning Sun's future. The problem I described above needs to have been fixed a decade ago, and is at the heart of the failure of Solaris. Many point to the failure of Solaris being CDDL and not being GPL. I believe this is an issue, but it is not the center issue.
My Mac has plenty of non-GPL code on it.
It is also a superior development environment to Solaris.
And why is that?
It just works.
It just works.
Someone needs to take a hard look at what is being done today and get it on track.