Friday, March 06, 2009

OpenSolaris, ZFS, Dvorak and VI

Been experimenting with OpenSolaris to try out ZFS. OpenSolaris is not a pleasant experience even after using an average Linux.

Its termcap and terminfo databases don't include complete information for xterm as implemented by the very gnome-terminal it defaults to, much less gnome-terminal itself; nor does it include any entries for rxvt derivatives (so I have to export TERM=xterm upon ssh in from Cygwin). Thus, there is much fun with Del, Home, End, PgUp, PgDn etc. brokenness: Ctrl+A/E instead of Home/End, Ctrl+D instead of Del, f/b in less rather than PgUp/PgDn, etc. The terminfo DB is spartan even by comparison with Cygwin, and termcap rather, eh, antique:

solaris$ find /usr/share/lib/terminfo/ | wc
    1716    1716   58553
cygwin$ find /usr/share/terminfo/ | wc
   2544    2544   79257

solaris$ grep 1982 /usr/share/lib/termcap
# From research!ikeya!rob Tue Aug 31 23:41 EDT 1982
# From jwb Wed Mar 31 13:25:09 1982 remote from ihuxp
# Extensive changes to c108 by arpavax:eric Feb 1982

Also, there is apparently no text-mode Dvorak layout shipped with OpenSolaris. I managed to patch something rudimentary together reverse engineering the contents of /usr/share/lib/keytables and applying with loadkeys. Within X, xmodmap can load an appropriate translation, but getting that working before gdm comes up for the login and password screen is tedious. Getting a vnc server session running gdm is easier.

Finally, I have to resort to using vi to edit basic files. Vi is a line editor masquerading as a text editor. Now I feel like I'm living in the 80s. The early 80s.


Epowell101 said...

You have justexperienced what led to the nexenta project: ubuntu user space plus solaris kernel. Server focused

Anonymous said...

We're about to migrate our client/server environment to Windows terminal servers. For some reason, the Powers That Be are convinced that Sun manufactures the best hardware and software under the sun, and thus we're going to use Sun Rays on the client side, which of course requires an intermediate Solaris server. Although it works quite well technically, it didn't exactly provide a noteworthy user experience. (Sun evangelists will reply that it wasn't made for that. Which reminds me of some old Klingon developer jokes.)

Regarding the editor, I admit that I was happy with the default editor in Sun's JDE, which happened to be gedit :)

Anonymous said...

You can try out FreeBSD with ZFS