Tip of the Trade: BeleniX

Say you've read all the nice things about OpenSolaris and decided, well, hey, it's time to install and test this open source, free genuine Unix with all these advanced features everyone is raving about. So you dig up a test box, download OpenSolaris, and install it. Or try to, because the installation is one big, fat discouraging pain in the behind. And you really wanted to use that extra PC for testing Xen or something else new and cool, anyway. If installing OpenSolaris has you spinning, BeleniX is one way to get back on the road. The live OpenSolaris CD contains useful desktop apps and OpenSolaris goodies. It boots from any PC and be put through the paces with minimum hassle.

But fear not, you don't have to give up on OpenSolaris or write off a whole computer to test it. The ace Unix geeks at the India Engineering Center of Sun Microsystems in Bangalore, India have created BeleniX. BeleniX is a live OpenSolaris CD with an array of useful desktop applications like the Firefox Web browser, NVidia drivers and KOffice, plus all the usual OpenSolaris goodies — DTrace, ZFS, containers, and so forth. So you can boot it on any PC and get down to putting it through its paces with minimum hassles. There is even a USB drive installer, if a CD image is too last-millennium for you.

BeleniX gives you a choice of using the KDE desktop, XFCE, or no graphical desktop at all. See this helpful Solaris cheat sheet to get up and running quickly. Man pages are not included yet, but they are online. If you're running Solaris on x86 hardware, check out Solarisx86.org.

Once you've taken it for a test drive and decide you want to install it to a hard drive, no problem — just fire up the /usr/bin/hdinstaller utility.

And finally, the BeleniX developers have thoughtfully created a howto for creating a customized OpenSolaris live CD at BeleniX-Remaster-HOWTO.

This article was originally published on Dec 5, 2006
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