Posts Tagged ‘opensolaris’

Unix on Jamie’s Laptop

In freeBSD, Linux, technology, ubuntu, Uncategorized on November 14, 2009 at 11:27 am

I wanted to install unix on Jamie’s new laptop for him. It is a wireless enabled notebook from Novatech with an AMD x64 processor.

I kept notes as I went along, unfortunately the windows box I was putting the notes on restarted, so the following is from memory.

The distros I tried were as follows:-

  • freebsd 7.2 and 8 RC2,
  • opensolaris 09 06
  • centos 5.4,
  • debian 5.03
  • fedora 11
  • gentoo 20091029
  • knopix v6
  • openSUSE 11.2 RC2
  • PC-BSD 7.1.1
  • Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10

The quick summary is that only a few of the distro’s installed at all, and almost all were unable to deal with the network card.  This is because the card driver is only available in the linux 9.   There is some info on the hardware and a how to at, but if it is your only machine you need to get networking set up before you can browse and find things.

The really bad

  • Centos – install crashed can not remember why now
  • Fedora – install crashed can not remember why now
  • PC-BSD – install got to the point after configuring disks and the could not mount the CD, that it had used to boot off

Installed, but did not have network card driver

  • Freebsd 7.2 – I was able to get an IP address that I could ping from another machine so probably me, could not get dhcp to work or to get it to look out at the world to download files
  • opensolaris
  • debian
  • gentoo
  • knopix
  • openSUSE
  • Ubuntu 9.04

Fully worked from install

  • Free BSD 8 RC2
  • Ubuntu 9.10

So the quick review of the various distros, starting with what worked and going downwards.

Working Distros

Ubuntu 9.10

This is definitely the easiest to install and use and just worked straight off, with a quick painless install.  There was a quick download of the wireless drive and make; make install, reboot and both wired and wireless networking were working perfectly.

This is what Jamie’s laptop is using.

Free BSD 8 RC2

Personally, I like the ugly text based BSD installs, because they work.  However they are a very long way behind Ubuntu if you are not a complete techi.

FreeBSD installed fine, DHCP worked with the wired network, and I was able to install everything from ports, apart from Open Office, which I downloaded.


  • I love ports, but compiling and installing X11, Gnome2, etc takes a long time.
  • Open office installed fine using the compiled version
  • Java is a real pain – because of sun licencing

Java on Free BSD

I installed wget, because the Gnome2 browser was a bit iffy about where it tried to save files.  Which was a problem for the various things that wanted me to accept licence terms around “very evil SUN” java.  I had to download somethings onto the windows box and scp them over.

I also needed to edit the make files and filelist since things had changed since the port was created, and I was not able to find the tzupdate file that was in the port.

By this time I had found the Novatech howto for the wireless side of things, and decided that Ubuntu would be much, much easier for Jamie.

Did not Support network card

Free bsd 7.2, Gentoo, Debian

Card was required to work for rest of install so did not get much further, all fairly similar text based working installers

Knopix, Open Suse, Ubuntu 9.04

Nice graphical working installers, and OS installed fine.  Just did not have network support built into kernal.


First time I have tried openSolaris, and it was really good.  It has a nice set of hardware diagnostics, that worked.  Unfortunately it did not support the hardware, and I did not try compiling the drivers.

Network Manager issues

Goes mad if network card not supported same issue across all linux distros that did not support the card in the kernel.


Ubuntu, has a more up to date kernel at the point when the laptop was updated, and this made it the only distro to install out of the box.  Free BSD also had kernal support for the system, however there was significantly more work to make it work and it was not appropriate as a starting form of Unix.