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Monday, July 19, 2004

  10:27 PM - Linux no more
This weekend I finally killed my Linux box, which I have had since 1997. It was actually a dual-boot Windows 95 (later 98, later Me - sudder) and Linux (Redhat 4, later Mandrake 6, later Mandrake 8).

This weekend I started thinking: the Linux side is starting to become less stable / less comprehensible, as tends to happen over time when you combine RPMs with hand-configured tarballs. Maybe it's time to upgrade again. And maybe this time, since I have a good XP box now and absolutely despise Windows Me, maybe it's time to blow away the Windows partition as well.

But after that I realized, RPM based distributions are flawed; it should not be necessary to rebuild every two years. I thought about trying out Gentoo but decided it would be too time consuming, and might not run well on my vintage hardware. So then, finally, I knew what I had to do.

I had to blow away both Linux and Windows 9x, and put something else on it instead. (Well, what would you have done?) So then I got to learn a bit about Darwin, which I like but was not adventurous enough to try, and finally decided to install Solaris. I had a copy of Solaris 7 that I ordered about 4 or 5 years ago - Sun had an offer where developers could get it for the cost of shipping - but that I ended up not installing since it wanted to go on the primary partition. This was my main computer back then, and I couldn't afford to wipe out Windows 9x at the time. So I put the CD-ROM on a shelf and forgot about it until this weekend.

Installation went very smoothly. Since the computer is so old, it detected all the core hardware without any problems. It didn't come with a compiler, its Java and Web Browsers were of course out of date, and it lacked some important tools that I care about, but the excellent sunfreeware site is getting me going. It helps that I know Solaris fairly well from work. However, until now I've only used it on Sparc, not on Intel hardware. There are some slight differences e.g. in the boot sequence and in some of the devices, but the user interface, the commands, the '/etc' filesystem layout, are all familiar.

Call me lazy for skipping out on Darwin and Gentoo. I don't care; I just want an enjoyable system to hack on and, for awhile at least, this is going to be it. (That and WinXP + Cygwin/X, of course.) Sometime down the road maybe I'll seek redemption by converting an old Sparc to Linux.
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