More thoughts on Solaris

As I have posted recently, I am in the process of installing Solaris 9.0. I have completed the installation and the OS is running fine; however, I have run into a major issue — package management.

One of the major challenge in running any version of *nix is managing the packages/applications. The issues is that many of these open-source packages are constantly changing and so it can be a challenge to keep up-to-date. Adding to the complexity is the fact that there are detailed dependencies between apps such that some apps require certain other apps and each app has to be a certain version. As you can imagine, the interplay between all of these packages can be extremely complex. This brings me to my problem with Solaris.

Solaris a great OS don’t get me wrong, but it does not have a robust package management system. (or at least one that I have found.) I have looked at two different systems: blastwave and SunFreeWare. The problem is that I not all that happy with either of these two services. The first site carries new versions of many software applications, but I am a bit concerned about the sites viability and its management of package dependencies. The second carries a very limited portfolio of apps, and I also uncertain of the robustness of its dependency management.Gentoo has a very robust package management system. It knows what packages depends on which and will automatically download and
installed all require packages. Furthermore, it installs with a basic suite of applications whereas Sun comes with a very limited set of apps.

This is contrast to my current favority Linux distribution(

The net result is that I am very seriously considering migrating my Sun box to Gentoo. Gentoo does natively support SPARC. The way I see it, I will get the robustness of Sun hardware with the power and flexibility of Linux; of course, this ruins my pursuit of Solaris, but I am thinking that the switch is worthwhile since the complexity of package management under Solaris will likely make the OS a non-starter for me.

Does anyone out there have any thoughts about this debate or any experience with either of the above two package management systems? Any thoughts or feedback would be appreciated.

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