Installing OpenSolaris on my laptop

My private laptop came delivered with Windows (of course), but I wanted a UNIX/Linux like OS as well. Running a lot of computers with Linux (Ubuntu, CentOS, Slackware, Debian and others) I decided I wanted something else.

I came up with the idea that it should be Solaris, to experiment with the fantastic ZFS. But the real Sun Solaris lacks support for my laptop, so I thought I could run OpenSolaris, which has better hardware support.

I downloaded the 2008.11 version from the OpenSolaris website.

After repartioning the hard disk, giving Windows only 15GB and the rest (100GB) to Solaris I started the installation.

I was deeply impressed with the simplicity of the installation. Just fill in some standard things and after about 30 minutes it was up and running.

I had sound, network, ZFS, Grub for dual boot, NVidia video drivers and a nice default Gnome desktop.

I thought that everything worked, but I was wrong there. I did have network, but not through the UTP kind of way. My wireless worked out of the box, but the cable part lacked support. Digging into this (using the Device Driver Utility) I found that I had a Marvell Yukon 88E8001 Gigabit Ethernet Controller. OpenSolaris does not have support for this, because of the proprietary driver. So I downloaded the skgesol_x86v8.19.1.3.tar.Z and installed it. Reboot and …. nothing. Only wifi.

The driver utility also showed that the ethernet cards ID is pci11ab,4320. I searched the file /etc/driver_aliases for this driver, but it was not there. So I added a line to this file like

skge "pci11ab,4320"

rebooted and then I did have the network card running.

Now I do need to get the network manager switch between cable and wireless, but it’s not a big deal if that doesn’t work. And I want my webcam to work. It’s a BisonCam and it looks like there is no support for it (yet).

If I get it working I’ll be back on that.

Now the playing with ZFS can start.


See also