OpenIndiana Snapshots Viewed From Nautilus

OpenIndiana (OI) is a distribution of illumos, which is a community fork of OpenSolaris. And OpenSolaris itself was the open source version of Solaris, before it (OpenSolaris) was discontinued by Oracle, after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, Inc., in January 2010. Before OI’s base was switched to Illumos, it was based on OpenSolaris. I know this all sounds convoluted, but that, in summary, is the history of OI.

Compared to popular Linux distributions, OI is a relatively young distribution, with a very small development community whose members are mostly based in Europe. OI Build 151a is the latest development release, and the third so far. A stable edition is slated for release before the end of this year.

OI Build 151a has a desktop edition and a server edition. This review is based on the desktop edition, and marks the first time any distribution that can be traced back to Solaris, has been reviewed on this website.

The boot menu is shown below. The fuzzy text is original; it is not an artifact of the screen grabbing software.
OpenIndiana Boot Menu

Installer and Installation Process: But there is nothing fuzzy about the installer, which sports a simple, easy-to-navigate interface. The disk partitioning step is shown in the image below. It shows that the installer has an automated (disk) partitioning tool, which should make installation a lot easier for those not familiar with the Solaris disk partitioning scheme. The default file system is ZFS.
OpenIndiana Disk Partition

The user account setup step, shown below, is like that of any Linux distribution’s. Though GRUB Legacy (GRUB 0.97) is the boot loader, the installer does not give the opportunity to choose where it is installed. Something to keep in mind when attempting to setup up a dual-boot system.
OpenIndiana User Account Setup

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This video shows all the steps involved in the installation process.
[youtube width=”600″ height=”400″][/youtube]

Desktop: The default desktop environment on OI is GNOME 2 (GNOME 2.30), and that is the only usable (by new users, anyway) desktop environment available for OI out of the box. GNOME 3 is not in the picture yet, and while Xfce is installable, on my test installations, Xfce was barely usable. KDE packages are also available, but the first time I installed KDE, a bug made it very annoying to use. That bug manifested in the startup sound looping for ever.

A screenshot of the default desktop is shown below. Looks just like any other GNOME 2 desktop. Underneath, however, lies a very powerful system, one that you will not find in a default installation of any Linux distribution. It also comes with its share of bugs. Keep in mind that this release, like all previous OI releases, is a development release, so bugs should be expected.
OpenIndiana Desktop

One of those bugs, is one that you can “fix” easily, and it involves the root password that you specified during installation. It is not something that is apparent until you attempt to use an application that requires authentication as root. The application will not start. Only when you try to su to root, from the command line, of course, that the system informs you that root’s password has expired. This image shows how I stumbled on it, and the “fix.” Note that this is a known bug. It just was not fixed for this release.
OpenIndiana Root Password Reset

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Once the password was changed (renewed), a graphical application that I was able to use is the Time Slider, designed for managing system snapshots. This shows the application in its default state.
OpenIndiana ZFS Time Slider

A snapshot, by definition, is a read-only, time-defined version of a file system or volume. If snapshotting is enabled, the system will, by default, take snapshots of the system, or whatever file system you specified, at regular time intervals. When enabled, Time Slider’s interface looks like this:
Time Slider Setup

With Time Slider enabled, it is then possible to manage system snapshots from Nautilus, the file browser. Once Nautilus is started, clicking on the clock icon reveals the snapshots that the system has taken.
ZFS Snapshot Browsing

This is what it looks like. At the time this screenshot was taken, Time Slider had been enabled on the test installation for two days. Clicking on a snapshot makes it possible to view the data on the system at the time the snapshot was taken.
View ZFS Snapshots

While viewing a snapshot, it can be deleted just as easily as as new one can be created. This is powerful stuff, made easy to use. The last screenshot in this review, on the last page, shows snapshots from a system with Time Slider enabled for three days.
Managing ZFS Snapshots From Nautilus


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15 Responses

  1. Hi,
    Everytime that I turn on KDE Manjaro, it asks for password to be connected to my wireless network.
    Any ideas? Why? What can I do to fix it?
    Thanks for your help,
    Michael O.

  2. in the beginning of your review you said “neck-and-neck with Antergos”.

    then, you start to tell us about deficiencies of manjaro (compared to ubuntu or your ideal destribution). manjaro can improve in those valid points, i agree.
    antergos is missing all of those features as well (and much more), except for the firefwall activation in it’s GUI installer.

    antergos is missing these things as well:
    – automated wireless network card driver installation
    – automated graphics card driver (free and non-free) installation
    – GUI package manager for AUR

    you fail to mention other things as well e.g. when you sit behind a router with a built-in firewall, you do not need a software firewall!
    the security effect of software firewalls is very questionable as well.

    overall, a nice review from a guy with a lot of linux experience!

    1. … When you sit behind a router with a built-in firewall, you do not need a software firewall!

      Anybody that subscribes to that has no idea what Defense (Security) in Depth means. And what is the percentage of broadband Internet users who have actually accessed their router to modify the security features?

  3. Having access to the Arch Respositories is a big advantage. Applications available rom them tend to run run very well on derivitives of Arch, like Manjaro. Manjaro Forums are active and Manjaro users are active and friendly. It’s one of my favorite Linux Distros that I have never-the-less been unable to get to boot. (So my experience with it is limited to running it as a live media).

    This article may have helped me understand why it won’t boot on any of my computers: The other distros I use ( Debian derivatives like Sparky and Solyd and openSUSE) install Grub2 to the MBR – at least that’s what I have chosen, and other Manjaro users have it installed on computers similar to mine).

    One thing should be mentioned: Manjaro is still in beta and will be until it reaches version 1.x But it is fast, stable and a semi-rolling distro that you will never have to re-install.

    (Written using Sparky Ultra Openbox 64 bit).

  4. Thanks for the comments and suggestions about non-free wireless firmware; after a bit of hunting around on the Manjaro forum, I was indeed able to find that the project intends to provide as many conveniences as possible to allow for an easy, clean installation, whether it involves strictly free components or proprietary additions that are helpful to complete the user experience. Appreciate all of the comments; thank you very much!

  5. I’m curious: does the current release of Manjaro include any wireless firmware, whether “free” or “non-free” in the GNU sense?

    I have one laptop, a Lenovo 3000 series Model Y410 that happens to have an Intel Pro Wireless 3945 network card, and that one is usually available because I believe that Intel freely provides at least the binary driver and possibly the source code, (and if so, it is “free”). But my other unit, a Gateway 2000 Series portable, comes with a Broadcom 4311 network card, which does not include source code, but it does have some “non-free” drivers available.

    How would these two units fare with the current release of Manjaro?

      1. My experience, however, is that some distributions include “non-free” firmware and others don’t. The B43 and B43legacy firmware drivers are readily available, but they aren’t always included. Distributions that don’t include firmware, well, you CAN get the firmware, but it makes for a less flexible installation. In my case, I have to move my hardware to the location of my network drop, which is not convenient, hence my question. So yes, I’m sure I can GET the wireless firmware I need somewhere. What I am interested in finding out, that I don’t (or haven’t yet found, either on the Manjaro site or here) is whether most wireless firmware is included. If it’s mentioned, it’s well hidden; I have not found any discussions yet about exactly what’s offered in wireless firmware on the installation media.

          1. Yes, Manjaro seems to have very good support for proprietary WiFI firmware. WiFI worked out of the box on all three of my laptops. Two are Intel “Centrino” laptops, and the other one is an 8 year old Dell with some of Broadcom WiFI that never used to work out of the box on distros a few years ago.

  6. Great review. I had a problem with my hp 4300 printer which is usb connected. Manjaro 0.8.9 wouldn’t recognize it and I tried everything to get it working ( ie..powerdown printer, unplug and replug usb cable ) and none worked. Reinstalled RoboLinux and all was well again.

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