OpenSolaris 2008.11 on Acer AspireOne (Part I: LiveCD)

Somehow, in early 2009, I’ve been interested exactly on rumors spread over the internet about latest version of OpenSolaris & finally I made an experiment on my AspireOne. Better late then never, this is my first experience to face with this free Sun OS product based on Unix family in x86 machine (UMPC), even not a truly SPARC one. But at least, I was too curious to try or need to figured it out & compared to others Unix based OS such as Linux or Mac OS.

OpenSolaris 2008.11 available for free download from It comes with single ISO’s CD (687MB). However, I was succeeded grabbed it for almost 2 days from my office computer. Actually, my first plan is try to create a portable LiveUSB, but obviously this method also offered from Belenix, another OpenSolaris distribution community. One else important things is, I was too sick to get different fresh USB ISO one. So, here I go, steady still with LiveCD instead.

At first, I wonder if I can make a way to boot the ISO from AspireOne without external CD/DVD drive. But unfortunately, none of my thought was did. The plan to bundled the ISO to USB flash has failed. Another plan to boot from an existing Fedora 7 partition with GRUB also didn’t worked. Last plan to load native ISO from GRUB was too far. So, I end up doing more crazy things with an external DVDRW plugged on it after burning the ISO on a blank CD. Pretty dumb to wasting too much times ha ha...

Anyway, in minutes, I’m ready to boot from LiveCD. This LiveCD completes with GRUB loader & nothing fails from hardware detection initializing. At the end of loading process which I thought it was completed to show a desktop, but it only show a text mode console login. So, where the hell is my desktop? It must be a trouble with VGA card, a common equal problem as Linux happened when startx failed to executed. From this point, I then login as user (user: jack & password: jack, default LiveCD user) & started to verify the log. I found that the trouble raised when LiveCD tried to load intel driver. If you meet the same problem as I did, then login as root to generate a representative xorg.conf to change the driver to vesa from intel.

Password: (default password for root is opensolaris)
# /usr/X11/bin/Xorg –configure

This procedure should create /jack/ Edit this file using vi text editor, search for Device Section & modify the Driver line to:

Driver “vesa”

Still stay in root mode & try to lunch GNOME desktop manager (I couldn’t find any desktop manager except this on OpenSolaris LiveCD):

# /usr/X11/bin/xinit /usr/bin/dbus-launch gnome-session -- \/usr/X11/bin/Xorg –config /jack/ :0

And… voila, here we’ll see the GNOME desktop. Until this, everything is much similar to Linux than Mac OS. LiveCD image looks fine, really decent and pretty impressive.

Check out a "Device driver Utility" icon on the desktop. If you think any of your hardware device is not working, check out from here that whether driver support for that device is available or not. For example below, my wireless on Acer AspireOne recognized but it need 3rd party driver to work properly. Though, I couldn’t resolve how to activate built-in webcam & both of MMC readers has failed when I tried to insert 1GB of SD Card.

Anyway, this is still “a work progress” since I have not yet finished the configuration of all devices. Come back soon for more detailed version.

Available General Hardware

Hardware Components
CPUIntel Atom 1.66Ghz - Chipset Intel Mobile 950
No problems
GraphicsIntel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
Using driver "vesa" as default, read above
LCD Panel8.9" WXGA 1024x600
Stick around with 1024x768 resolution
Disk StorageSATA 100 GB - 5400 RPM
With native OpenSolaris ZFS file system
EthernetBroadcom Corporation Netlink Tigon3 PCI Express 10/100/1000Base
Identified with rge0 as default
WirelessIntel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG - 802.11 a/b/g
Need 3rd party driver
SoundIntel Corporation 82801G - High Definition Audio
Built-in Card ReaderMemory Stick reader, SDcard, Xd Card, MMC
Testing failed while I plugged in 1GB SD card

In a while, enjoy that root’s GNOME desktop for a bit. I’ll continue my next post for the installation process in a short.

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Eko Wahyudiharto
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