Solaris 11.2 beta: feedback

— door Evert Mouw


Earlier, I have written The sad story of getting a computer connected to the network. The computer works all right now, so I continued with installing and configuring the operating system. Oracle recently released the beta version of Solaris 11.2. Solaris is a great server operating system, with an unrivaled filesystem: ZFS, including build-in encryption. I wanted to try it.

Except for some problems with UEFI and how Solaris 11.2 beta handled that, it was a smooth experience. Installation is easy and fast. I love the terminal / console font (Sun Gallant Demi).

sun solaris console; Sun Gallant Demi

Solaris typically runs on servers of big businesses. It has quite a few advantages over Linux (Windows is not a serious player in this market), one of them being ZFS with native encryption.

Sun, before being bought by Oracle, open sourced their Solaris operating system under the name OpenSolaris. One of the main killer features was ZFS — Zettabyte FileSystem. ZFS is better than RAID — it is more flexible, offers better data protection, and is easier to administer. It is both your disk (kinda RAID) administration and your filesystem. All sysadmins love it. Oracle dropped OpenSolaris, but today many successors keep the open source development branch alive onder the illumminos cooperative effort. Well-known distributions are SmartOS from Joyent, OmniOS and OpenIndiana. Also, ZFS is available for FreeBSD and even for Linux.

All good and well, but all those open source systems still work with an older ZFS version that has no build-in encryption. Sure enough, one can use ZFS on top of a virtual encrypted disk, but that defeats many of the ZFS optimizations. Oracle has continued the Solaris development and their ZFS version, which is no longer open sourced, had native encryption.

Solaris is expensive, but can be downloaded for free if you intend to use it for personal testing and development. No business use is allowed. These restrictions do not conflict at all with my purposes, as I really wanted to experiment with the real Solaris in my home environment.

I wanted to try it using a bunch of harddisks, a simple CPU and a quite recent motherboard, an Asus Z87-K.

a bunch of disks


I was only interested in Solaris as a fileserver, so I have not yet tried advanced and interesting features such as Zones (fast, lightweight virtualization) and OpenStack integration.

Below, I have documented a few shortfalls that did come with the beta version.

Boot: grub menu timeout

Please set the default timeout somewhat shorter!!

UEFI BIOS and fdisk active partition

I was bitten by this one, costed me some time…

Please, please set the fdisk active partition, even for UEFI systems.


Please include htop by default.


This would be nice to add to the .profile

Ethernet link speed

Why is it no longer possible to disable advertised link speeds?

root@solaris:~# dladm show-linkprop -p adv_10hdx_cap net0 LINK PROPERTY PERM VALUE EFFECTIVE DEFAULT POSSIBLE net0 adv_10hdx_cap r- -- -- 0 1,0

root@solaris:~# dladm set-linkprop -p en_10hdx_cap=0 net0 dladm: warning: cannot set link property 'en_10hdx_cap' on 'net0': operation not supported

(motherboard integrated Realtek RTL8111/8168B)


I love it. Boot time is short, installation is easy, filesystem administration is clean.


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