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Time Slider: OpenSolaris 2008.11 Killer Feature

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Other than that I work for Sun and that I believe in the "fly your own plane / eat your own dog food" principle, I've never had a reason to seriously consider using OpenSolaris. Why? Because I'm a very happy Ubuntu user, especially since the latest release, Intrepid Ibex, version 8.10, as I described about a month ago in Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex): Very Impressive!

However, two days ago I attended an OpenSolaris Install Fest, organized by Roman Strobl and other OpenSolaris guys in Prague, admittedly with a degree of scepticism (and more than anything else for the consumables promised after the session). There was a lot of talk about what OpenSolaris is and so on, etc. Roman did a very visual demo (watch it on-line here), basically going through the main features of OpenSolaris, focusing on the improvements in the latest release. (I particularly liked it when he revealed that one can now use the "sudo" command in OpenSolaris too!)

But, for me (and others I talked to after the presentations were over) the absolute killer feature is the "Time Slider". Roman showed it in a split second but could have spent several minutes on it, in my humble opinion. I pretty much immediately set up VirtualBox (for the first time... and it was pretty intuitive) and then installed OpenSolaris through VirtualBox (also intuitive). By the time I had set up the JDK and NetBeans, I had several installers on my desktop:

I created a new folder and put them all into that, as you can see when I move the slider further along the scale:

Not bad, right? Stuff I deleted reappeared when I moved the slider into the past. Time travel... now possible with OpenSolaris. And in a really cool and fun way too. I might have to move out of VirtualBox, abandon Ubuntu altogether, and switch to OpenSolaris. Especially now that all my drivers seem to be supported.


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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Geertjan Wielenga.


Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 8:59am

Nice work! Kudos to Sun for such an interesting feature. Looks like I will be downloading OSolaris for evaluation too..

Pity about Eclipse not being supported on Solaris, it seems only has the 3.3 version...I know Sun is a big Netbeans fan (obviously) but I think it would be pragmatic to offer Eclipse for Solaris too.


Daan van Etten replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 9:03am

Nice! Looks a bit like Apple's Time Machine feature...

Hantsy Bai replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 10:23am

Cool feature.

But it is not avaiable in Linux ( Fedora 10 gnome) 

Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 10:29am in response to: Hantsy Bai

Uhm... Solaris != Linux :-)



Amr Lafi replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 10:49am

Solaris 10 is a pleasant OS , It has excellent volume management,mature codebase and UNIX momentum ! 

My new year's wishes :

- more user-friendly OpenSolaris and Up2Date packages.

- the $300 for each solaris Test is not a good idea ,and they are still putting SPARC questions !! a discount would be very much appreciated  

Eitan Suez replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 11:02am

thanks for the post.  indeed a killer feature.  i have a 2008.5 install on a virtualbox from a couple of months ago.  overall i was fairly impressed.

 the problems i see with opensolaris: 

 1. why does one have to have insider knowledge to find out about such features?   they should be displayed prominently somewhere on the website. 2. the web site is seriously flawed:  a visitor would be hard pressed to be able  to get the answer to the question:  what's the current release of opensolaris?  the site looks like it hasn't been updated since the 2008.5 release.  the download  though points to 2008.11.  nowhere can i get screenshots, find out what exactly  comes with 2008.11, when the next release is slated, what it will be called:  basic  information that enable an end user to make a decision:  do i want to install this? i think the site needs to be maintained and needs a community.  like ubuntu has.ubuntu has live forums, a live wiki, and a live web site.  perhaps i'm missing something buti can't find these for opensolaris. i'm curious to know: did 2008.11 come with jdk6u10 or did you have to install that separately?  thanks again, / eitan 

Eitan Suez replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 11:06am in response to: Eitan Suez

[answering my own question] from the screenshot it looks like you had to install jdk6u10 separately.  that's a bad sign.  seems negligent.  ubuntu 8.10 came preinstalled with jdk6u10 if i recall correctly.

Roman Strobl replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 11:25am

Hi, Eclipse 3.4 has been added to the OpenSolaris package repository just recently :)

Btw I believe what we have in OpenSolaris is better than time machine because a) you don't need to use an external disk, b) the snapshots are immediate and don't consume extra space other than differences from your current disk contents c) you don't have to activate the backups, they happen automatically. So you also get more granular access to history. This is the first version of the feature so we plan to improve it in the next release.

Roman Strobl replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 11:27am

Eitan, we are currently updating the website for 2008.11, please stay tuned.

Roman Strobl replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 11:28am

Also make sure you visit which is the OpenSolaris distribution website (not - which is the project website).

Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 11:31am in response to: Roman Strobl

Can you add a BitTorrent download option? that would be great...

ludo Champenois replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 11:32am

Yes, OpenSolaris 2008.11 IPS repository will contain the JDK 1.6 Update 10 (liveCD only has JRE), NetBeans 6.5 (including kiiler PHP support), Web Stack (complete Apache, MySQL, PHP, Python, Ruby, etc etc) with Dtrace Probes that can be used in a NetBeans Dtrace GUI plugin, PHP debugger, GlassFish v2 Java EE 5 application server, sudo, OpenOffice 3.0, and...yes: Eclipse 3.4

So *no* need to download external NetBeans or JDK bits: just use the graphical packagemanager, or the pkg cli.


Eitan Suez replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 12:03pm

nice!  thanks for the quick answers.  i look forward to the site update and to trying out 2008.11. / eitan


Roman Strobl replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 12:04pm

Here's the bittorrent link:

I will ask our web team to add it to the download page.

Ian Skerrett replied on Thu, 2008/12/04 - 8:57am in response to: Roman Strobl


Hi, Eclipse 3.4 has been added to the OpenSolaris package repository just recently :)



This is great to hear.  Is there documentation availabel anywhere online?  I'd be happy to promote this to the Eclipse community, if that is useful.

replied on Thu, 2008/12/04 - 3:14pm

Two questions please.

1) Multimedia, audio and video. Can I play popular content (win media, mp3, real-audio/video streams) out of the box?

2. Will it respect my Linux partitions and properly install itself for dual-boot without overwriting my grub boot info and/or linux partitions?

And in the "it would be nice" department: kde?




Shane Johnson replied on Thu, 2008/12/04 - 7:28pm in response to: Ian Skerrett

Indeed, what repository has this been added to? I just searched the package manager for 'eclipse' and nothing came back. I checked the other new repositories that were supposed to have been created for the 2008.11 release and they either don't exist yet (contrib) or do not have eclipse either.

ludo Champenois replied on Thu, 2008/12/04 - 7:44pm in response to: Shane Johnson

I guess you did not read completely my post regarding  "will contain ...":-)

Please, be patient while the repos are getting updated... (I am as impatient as you are of course)



Roman Strobl replied on Thu, 2008/12/04 - 8:03pm in response to: Ian Skerrett

Hi Ian,

looks like I have installed Eclipse from the testing repository - it will get uploaded the the release repository soon. I'll update this thread when I see it there.

Shane Johnson replied on Thu, 2008/12/04 - 8:40pm in response to: ludo Champenois

I'm glad to hear that. I've been using NetBeans since installing 2008.11 and I am quite happy with that too! However, it was rather confusing that all of the OpenSolaris 2008.11 new release pages have been explicitly stating that Eclipse is *now* in the repository. It would be much clearer if they would just state that it is coming soon. It was also helpful to hear that the other commenter had been using the test repository. Here I was starting to think I was blind or otherwise missing something. I am really liking 2008.11 so far.

Roman Strobl replied on Fri, 2008/12/05 - 1:03pm in response to: Shane Johnson

Looks like Eclipse just made it into the main repo.

Try searching for Eclipse here:

Mike Bailey replied on Wed, 2008/12/10 - 4:44pm

Love the demo, I have been using ZFS to manage a large portion of the SAN attached storage in our Solaris server environment for a while. I was wondering if ZFS is now bootable in opensolaris ?


ludo Champenois replied on Wed, 2008/12/10 - 5:27pm

Yes, opensolaris uses ZFS end to end, from boot disks to extension disks.

Carlos Padron replied on Thu, 2008/12/11 - 12:09am in response to: Roman Strobl

Hi is there going to be a sparc version?

Brian Leonard replied on Thu, 2008/12/11 - 1:41pm

SPARC support will come with the next version due out this Spring. /Brian

Kristian Rink replied on Tue, 2008/12/16 - 2:24am in response to: Roman Strobl

IMHO Time Slider actually _is_ better than time machine for one reason - the Time Slider UI is less "spectacular" yet more straightforward. ;)

Geertjan Wielenga replied on Thu, 2008/12/25 - 11:23am in response to: Kristian Rink

Plus, Time Slider is on OpenSolaris, which is free, while Time Machine is on the Mac, which is not free!

pedro lastorgas replied on Tue, 2009/10/13 - 9:12am

Excellent demo! So cool!!

I'm gonna start studying this feature ASAP!

Jussa Jackson replied on Thu, 2010/04/22 - 10:35am

don't have to activate the backups, they happen automatically. So you also get more granular access to history. This is the first version of the feature so we plan to improve it in the next release.

dbelles (not verified) replied on Wed, 2010/08/18 - 12:07pm

Time slider is definitely very cool! Time machine is free, if you have a mac, of course (which you need to run it anyways). Its nice to have a decent competitor though. Ubuntu has shown lately to be a very competitive backup tool (and looks good too!) Plumbing the depths of your hard drive is a bit easier with Ubuntu.

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