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Sun Ultra 24 and OpenSolaris 2008.05 first impressions

I know, it's not near as sexy as an iPhone or MacBook unboxing, but I'm certainly digging my new box so I'm gonna blog it up.

What happened was, my old noisy as hell w2100z decided to burn down, fall over and sink into the swamp. Frankly, I wasn't that disappointed -- I had stopped using it in recent months because it wasn't all that much faster than my personal MacBook Pro. The next day I talked to my manager Tony Ng for something new, he pointed me to the catalog and after sizing things up, I ordered a Sun Ultra 24 with an Intel Core2 Quad Extreme processor, 6GB of RAM and two 250GB drives.

The out-of-box experience

I haven't bought a new PC in about 4 years, so I'm not sure how the Ultra stacks up against other boxes on the market. If you want a real review, then check this out: "Sun Shines with the Ultra 24 Workstation - built like a tank, yet offers toolless access to components." And I ordered the box from an internal system at Sun, so I'm not sure how my experience compares with the normal customer experience. My experience went pretty smoothly, despite the fact that the additional RAM and disk I ordered came separately. The case was very easy to open, the memory slots were easy to access and the new drive snapped into place with no cabling, no problem at all. Oh, and it's quiet. Very quiet.

Works great with Windows

The Ultra came with Solaris 10 installed, but I need OpenSolaris and Windows for my work. So, I booted up from my Windows XP disk, installed it into a partition on disk 1, installed the appropriate drives from CD that came with the Ultra. I verified that things were working by trying Spore Creature Creator at 1900x1200 resolution and it was mighty damn snappy.

And OpenSolaris too

Next, I booted from the OpenSolaris 2005.05 CD that I picked up at JavaOne and ran through the slick GUI installer -- just as simple and straight forward as Ubuntu. Once the install was complete I booted from the Ultimate Boot CD, installed the GAG Boot Manager so I can choose either OpenSolaris or XP on boot. Gotta say, OpenSolaris looks great. Much, much improved over the last build I tried (Nevada/b55 I think). The UI is essentially the same as Ubuntu, including the CompViz eye-candy.

Once I got settled in, I started installing the software I need for SocialSite and Roller development on OpenSolaris. I tried to use the new Package Manager UI for everything, but made some exceptions. Here's a rundown of the stuff I installed to get going:

  • Java SE 6 SDK because OpenSolaris only includes JRE. I downloaded it directly from Sun.com because it was not immediately obvious which option to take in the Package Manager UI.
  • Netbeans 6.1 downloaded directly from Sun, because Package Manager only had Netbeans 6.0. It included Glassfish v2 and Tomcat 6.0.
  • MySQL 5.0 from Package Manager and used the Services UI to start it up, not sure why it wasn't started automatically on install.
  • Subversion and CVS from Package Manager, no problems there.
  • Ant 1.7.1 downloaded from Apache (Package Manager only had 1.6.5)
  • Downloaded the Sun Punchin VPN client from an internal Sun site and set it up with a couple of pkgadd commands.
  • Downloaded and installed Virtual Box directly from VirtualBox.org

I think it's pretty cool how much Sun software is in that list. Anyhow... I've been using the new box and OpenSolaris for a week now and have no complaints. All and all a great experience for me and for my MacBook Pro, which is now getting some much deserved rest. Thanks Tony ;-)


Ahhhh.... that's called "Corporate blogging". Bloggers have to be marketing-whores for their company. Especially Sun's bloggers.

Posted by J. F. Martens on August 29, 2008 at 04:45 PM EDT #

Nobody asked or even hinted that I should make such a post and I think of it as more of a thank you note for a kick-ass new machine, but you can call me a whore if that's how you like to treat people.


Posted by Dave Johnson on August 29, 2008 at 04:53 PM EDT #

Hi Dave, is the Ultra24 also silent while busy? A colleague make a complaint to me, that's noisy when CPU is busy?

Posted by Thorleif Wiik on September 17, 2008 at 12:52 PM EDT #

I have a nightmare with my Ultra24... My XP is SP2, but the system refuses to get past the initial menu..... reports my disk is not a Valid XP version... SP 3 ripped from the Bittorrent works FINE.. Hmmm!!!!! a nightmare system... Chris

Posted by Not sooooo fast !!! on January 18, 2009 at 03:32 PM EST #

My Ultra24 is very silent when is busy :)) at-time-to-time i must clean from dust and all is fine . Windows xp is old and ugly. Windows 7 or Linux and all is great on this machine. Best regards

Posted by ky7en on January 12, 2010 at 09:29 AM EST #

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