What is OpenIndiana and why does it matter?

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Linux History is full of victories and defeats, as well as defeats that turned into victories. Countless open source projects are created, some of which die. However, that doesn’t mean projects are dead forever — some of them are given a second chance because the project was awesome.

There is another reason why some projects fail. They’re bought by a company that drives them into the ground or drives away open source users.

An example of the latter is when Oracle acquired Solaris and renamed it Oracle Solaris. Given the company’s history with open source solutions, a large portion of that community refused to work with or use products developed and maintained by Oracle.

Further: How to Choose the Right Linux Desktop Distribution

However, some time ago, a group of developers created a free, open-source Illumos distribution that is a Unix-derived System V SVR4 operating system.

The project was actually spun off from OpenSolaris, which was discontinued by Oracle. That OS is really just now getting some much-needed attention.

Name Open Indiana The project takes its name from Indiana, which was the codename for OpenSolaris at Sun Microsystems, before Oracle acquired the project. OpenIndiana was originally developed by a small group led by Alastair Lumston, but is now run by the Illumos Foundation.

OpenIndiana’s goal is to become a true OpenSolaris-based platform for production servers used by enterprises that require regular (and free) security updates and bug fixes.

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TL;DR version: OpenIndiana is an open source operating system that you can use for servers for free.

Recently, the developers released the latest version of OpenIndiana, which includes the following updates:

  • Initial support for mounting installation media via NFS.
  • Nvidia drivers are updated to the latest product branch version.
  • LibreOffice has been updated to 7.2.7 and is now a 64-bit application.
  • Firefox and Thunderbird have been updated to the latest ESR releases.
  • Updated to Mate Desktop 1.26.
  • Replaced with older Perl versions 5.34 and 5.36.
  • Python 2.7 was removed and replaced with 3.9.
  • Both gcc-10 and gcc-11 are included.
  • Clang now defaults to version 13.

The big question is, is Open Indiana a viable solution? We can find out.

Initial impressions

First, the installation of OpenIndiana is very simple, thanks Let us know. It’s a complete point and click affair that anyone can handle. If you’ve ever installed an app that uses a wizard for you, you can install OpenIndiana.

I’ll be honest, it’s been over a decade since I installed Solaris, and those initial installations weren’t always easy. So the illumos installation tool makes this a breath of fresh air.

Once the installation was complete, I rebooted and logged into the Mate desktop. Not surprisingly, OpenIndiana Desktop hearkens back to those early days of Linux. It’s not as ugly as the CDE desktop, but it’s certainly far from modern.

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However, this is a server operating system, so the desktop should actually work.

Default OpenIndiana desktop.


OpenIndiana’s desktop is very simple and easy to use.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The next thought came with the software installation. One of the first things I do on a new operating system is to see how the packages are installed. These days, I always look forward to a GUI for the task, but with OpenIndiana, it’s all command-line interaction, and (at least for me) the process isn’t nearly as smooth as I’d hoped.

First, I need to find out what package manager OpenIndiana uses. Turns out, it is pkg So, I opened a terminal window and tried to install LibreOffice with the command:

sudo pkg install libreoffice


Meaningful. The thing is, OpenIndiana doesn’t use sudo, so standard users can’t install the software. To successfully install the software, I had to go old school and switch to the root user with the command:

Now, the Install pkg libreoffice The command went off without a hitch. The only caveat is that installing software on Open Indiana can be a slow process. Another problem is that in some cases, you need to know exactly the name of the software you want to install. For example, to install MySQL Server, I first had to search for the name:

In the publication, the following are listed:

pkg:/database/[email protected]


This is an outdated package, but it is possible to install. To install that package, the command would be:

pkg install pkg:/database/[email protected]


It’s not that simple, as the saying goes. sudo apt-get install mysql-server -yBut it does the job.

Beyond initial impressions

Once I got past the initial impressions, OpenIndiana started to feel like a real server platform that anyone who’s been using Linux for a while will need some learning.

The operating system has features such as:

  • ZFS file system and volume manager.
  • Dynamic Tracing Framework (for debugging kernel problems).
  • Crossbow Network Virtualization and Resource Control.
  • Service management facility for managing services.
  • Fault management architecture.
  • A common multiprotocol SCSI target.
  • kernel virtual machine.
  • OS-level snapshots and rollbacks.
  • Role-based access control.
  • IP Networking Multipathing.
  • Data link multipathing.
  • Time Slider is a GUI for creating ZFS snapshots.

So things are starting to look a little better for this Solaris-based operating system. In fact, if you’re willing to climb the learning curve from your current Linux distribution (or if you’re a former OpenSolaris user), I’d say OpenIndiana is a great choice for you. Server requirements.

Further: Not just for Linux developers and command line pros

But I won’t dive right in and start using this in a production environment. Before you take that step, you’d be better off getting up to speed with OpenIndiana as a virtual machine. Once you get a feel for it, you can deploy it on a production machine and see how things go.

I can’t say I’ll replace Ubuntu Server with OpenIndiana, but I’ll either use Ubuntu or Rocky Linux Doesn’t work, I’ll definitely keep this server OS in mind.


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