In early February, Sun Microsystems had released a second preview release of Project Indiana. For those out of the loop, Project Indiana is the codename for the project led by Ian Murdock at Sun that aims to push OpenSolaris on more desktop and notebook computers by addressing the long-standing usability problems of Solaris. We were far from being impressed by Preview 2 as it hadn't possessed any serious advantages over a GNU/Linux desktop that would interest normal users. However, with the release of OpenSolaris 2008.05 "Project Indiana" coming up in May, Sun Microsystems has today released a final test copy of this operating system. Our initial experience with this new OpenSolaris release is vastly better than what we had encountered less than three months ago when last looking at Project Indiana.
In the Tour of Project Indiana Preview 2, we had summarized our findings at the time with:
"So what do we think of OpenSolaris Developer Preview 1/08? Well, it looks like a basic GNOME desktop found in many Linux distributions, but Sun engineers (and the OpenSolaris community) have done a great job at making Solaris a more viable operating system for the desktop but frankly they still have a ways to go in accomplishing their goals and until then we cannot see its mainstream adoption. Project Indiana still lacks a charisma or really anything to make it very exciting to a simple desktop user. Sure, D-Trace, ZFS, and the other Solaris technologies are great for a technologist, but a normal desktop user just won't care -- Project Indiana has yet to even include a word processor. We are looking forward to the OpenSolaris release in March, but we don't expect any major changes until the OpenSolaris "Jericho" release that is coming six months later."
With the test version of OpenSolaris 2008.05, this statement is now partially outdated and in this article we will go over some of the new highlights. If you want to look back, there is also Project Indiana Preview 1.
Once the OpenSolaris LiveCD had booted, we were immediately greeted by a new theme that was vastly different from before. The background is nice and the colors have been improved. OpenSolaris 2008.05 is shipping with GNOME 2.20.2 but not the newer GNOME 2.22 release (Eight Interesting Improvements In GNOME 2.22). However, OpenSolaris 2008.11 "Jericho" should ship with GNOME 2.22 or ideally GNOME 2.24.