Thursday, June 19, 2008


My OpenSolaris LiveCD arrived yesterday and I've had a chance to get a first brief look at it. I ordered it as part of my search for a LiveCD that I can use as a development environment for my high school computer class. I chose OpenSolaris in part because it's not already represented in the school's computer lab (I try to expose my students to as many different OSes as I can), I like Solaris in general (ever since it got over its teething pains after the change from SunOS), and I figured there'd be a high likelihood of the JDK being pre-installed on it.

It started up fine on my iMac (Core2Duo), and presented me with a very nice desktop. It's got some nice apps installed. The audio didn't work, even though it claimed to have a driver for it, and neither the ethernet or wireless networks had compatible drivers, which was disappointing.

No JDK? On a Sun OS? Really?

A bigger disappointment was the lack of a JDK. The JRE was there, but no JDK. In fact, I didn't find any development tools on the disk at all, except for python.

I realize that the space on a CD is pretty limited when delivering a modern OS, but it seems to me that if there's room for lots of media-related apps and sample media for them on a disk, there's room for some developer tools, too.

Certainly you'd think Sun would want to make the Java SE's JDK the 21st-century's equivalent to BASIC or K&R C? I guess python's got that role, it's just a shame that python doesn't address more of the system without having to use platform-specific APIs.

Keep Looking

Well, OpenSolaris isn't entirely out of the running for my class. This particular LiveCD is, but after some searching for a LiveCD that contains the JDK I turned up BeleniX. I downloaded the latest ISO last night, hopefully I'll have time to burn it and give it a spin soon. The list of packages claims that it has the JDK version 5 (presumably 1.5), which is good enough for a beginner's class, though I'd prefer 1.6. At least I'll have the Scanner class.