PermaLink It's official: Solaris x86 runs like crap under Sun xVM VirtualBox06/04/2008 11:40 AM
I wasted an entire evening last night farting around with Solaris for Intel.  Don't do what I did.

You'd think that when they were deciding to put out their own version of VirtualBox, xVM, Sun would have optimized at least one or two operating systems to run well as a guest under the xVM virtualization. You know, like, maybe, Solaris? Solaris for Intel, since the x86 build of xVM seems to get the most action on their website?

Well, I downloaded all 2.1 gig of Solaris 10/05-08 (the most recent release) for x86, and set about putting it up as a guest on xVM on my MacBook Pro.

First, the installer takes for frickin' ever. It took well over an hour to complete the installation, whether I did it in character mode or graphical. The first try had to be aborted and redone because apparently a 16Gb virtual drive wasn't enough for the partitioning routine, it complained that 6Gb (uncompressed) of code wouldn't fit on a 16Gb virtual drive. I reran it and gave it 30Gb, and it shut up and went ahead with the install.

Second, whenever Solaris x86 is actually running in the virtual machine, it essentially sucks all the CPU cycles out of the machine. Twitter slowed to a complete crawl, demanding about two minutes before I could get its attention and another full minute to post a small tweet. Not post it, really, but just to catch up with my typing.

Third, once installed, it had a hard time dealing with Sun's only available virtual network adapter. Mind you, this isn't one I picked, it's the one Sun picked. Thus, I couldn't talk to anything else on the network.

Fourth, once the default Java graphical interface loaded, it ran like crap. Slow, stuttery, with the mouse pointer making quantum leaps all across the screen rather than nice, smooth motion. Windows took their time to load (like, five minutes for the Configuration Agent). Once loaded, they responded like a drunken moose.

The whole thing ran like some old G3 Mac running XP under Virtual PC, or maybe like PearPC.

I shut it down. When I get home tonight, that virtual machine is getting axed. I have an XP guest that works OK, I have a Windows 98 guest that supports only 640x480, but it works (I use it because the Bentley manual CD for my 1996 Passat diesel will not work at all under anything newer), and I even installed DOS 6.22. I haven't tried putting Solaris 10 x86 up under VMWare or Parallels because I just can't seeing actually using it. It'd be one thing if IBM supported Domino on Solaris for Intel, but they don't and probably never will. But really, there are no apps that run only on Solaris that I have any interest in running at all.

For the record, there really aren't any end-user Linux apps that I want to run, either, but at least you can get Domino to run on several distros of Linux and thus they're likely to work in a virtual machine.

But Solaris... well, I guess I learned something.

By the way, my OpenSolaris free CD is also on its way. Not sure what I'll use that for, but it's worth experimenting with, if only because it fits on a single CD instead of an entire trio of DVDs, as the full Solaris 10 set requires.

So, if you're reading this, find something else to do with your evening tonight. Don't bother putting Sun's premier OS on Sun's premier virtualization platform. It's garbage.

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