By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2006-10-23 Print this article Print

NexentaOS NexentaOS—or, as its sometimes called, GNU/Solaris—interestingly combines the Solaris kernel and system core with the userland applications of Canonicals Ubuntu. NexentaOS boots into a GNOME 2.14 desktop that looks just like Ubuntus Dapper Drake, and it comes with most of the same applications as its Linux-driven cousin. Most important, in our opinion, NexentaOS includes Debians software management framework, which is our current favorite on any platform.

During tests, we had good success overall locating the applications we sought from more than 12,000 packages in NexentaOS software repositories. We encountered plenty of snags as well. For example, Mono, the open-source implementation of Microsofts .Net Framework, was available in the repositories, but our favored note-taking application, the Mono-based Tomboy, was not.

However, we found that we could package up a piece of software on NexentaOS by following the same steps we would with Ubuntu. For instance, just as on Ubuntu, "apt-get install build-essential" got us the build tools we needed for Tomboy, and we used the graphical software management tool Synaptic to hunt around for the dependencies we needed to compile. We finished things up by using checkinstall to build a .deb package for installation.

Our Tomboy package compiled but didnt work, which is probably why it wasnt available in the repository. However, NexentaOS closeness to Ubuntu helped us get things done.

We did find that, at least for now, NexentaOS alpha tag is well-deserved. For example, in our tests, GNOME didnt operate reliably: The vital application gnome-session kept crashing, bringing down our GNOME sessions. We could use the Xfce desktop environment without any such issues, but broken dependencies stopped us from installing Xfces great file manager, Thunar.

In addition, there are many places where NexentaOS Linux roots clash with its Solaris core. The GNOME system monitor, for instance, listed all processes running on the system at 100 percent, and the subsystem HAL, on which various desktop-related Linux systems rely, isnt working right now with NexentaOS Solaris engine.

Wed like to see Sun contribute more heavily to the NexentaOS project, specifically in terms of manpower—right now, the projects site ( lists Sun as a hardware donor. Helping to solve NexentaOS GNOME-related issues would pay dividends to the official Solaris release, since GNOME is the default desktop environment for Solaris. In addition, once NexentaOS wrinkles are smoothed out, it could give Sun a viable competitor to Windows- and Linux-based desktop operating systems.

Next Page: Belenix.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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