on the edge

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Greg Black

gjb at gbch dot net
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If you’re not living life on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

FQE30 at speed

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Worthy organisations

Amnesty International Australia — global defenders of human rights

global defenders of human rights

Médecins Sans Frontières — help us save lives around the world

Médecins Sans Frontières - help us save lives around the world

Electronic Frontiers Australia — protecting and promoting on-line civil liberties in Australia

Electronic Frontiers Australia


(Coming soon…)

Software resources

GNU Emacs


The FreeBSD Project

Tue, 01 Dec 2009

Second Thoughts on OpenSolaris

After my recent post about migrating to OpenSolaris, I’ve had cause to re-think. For me, there was one really significant argument in favour of the move and one rather significant other argument. The biggie was ZFS, the other was dtrace. They are both compelling, but the more I push against all the things that make OpenSolaris painful the more I think that it’s not worth the pain.

I had been thinking of writing at length about the reasons for turning away from OpenSolaris, but I think I might defer that (at least unless I see significant interest in my thoughts).

That leaves the question of which way to jump. I’m a long-term FreeBSD user and FreeBSD does have ZFS and dtrace—so there’s some incentive to go back there. But the truth is that many of the things that make OpenSolaris a pain also apply to the BSD camp. Again, I can expand on that if people care.

When I first went to FreeBSD, it was the early days of Release 2 and Linux was far from ready for prime time. Linux is still not ideal, but it has enough people working on it to ensure that big nasty things like Gnome and Firefox and OpenOffice are as up-to-date as one might reasonably hope for; and it has lots of people writing software aimed at Linux that becomes painful to port to other systems. So, for what it’s worth, I think Linux is the path of least pain. On top of that, all my VPSes in the USA run on Debian and so I need to have Linuxisms burned into my fingertips anyway.

Which Linux? I’ve had just enough experience with Ubuntu that I think that will be my choice for boxes that have a desktop function and I’ll stick to Debian for my servers for now.

One benefit from this decision is that I expect to be able to power down most of the 7 computers that pump heat and noise into my office at home while consuming many kW of power. There will inevitably be things to regret in this plan, but I think I can live with that. I will keep at least one powerful box with 4 disks in it for temporary installations of alternate operating systems for those occasions when I want to check some software on various platforms, but I’ll only power it up when I’m actually using it.