I’ve complained ad nauseam about the default shell within Solaris, which is both antiquated and primitive compared to newer shells, with little impact thus far. Most of the folks from Sun I speak with agree that it’s unfortunate, and that it should be fixed, but after several years of complaints nothing’s changed. The usual response is either a.) we can’t because of obscure booting or compatibility reasons, or b.) it’s easy to change it to bash, zsh or something less than several decades old. Either way, I think it’s hurting their ability to recruit new users to Solaris – particularly those coming from Linux.
For example, here’s something from today’s Statcounter weblog:
adsl-[IP REDACTED].dsl.sntc01.pacbell.net ([NAME REDACTED])
California, San Francisco, United States, 0 returning visits
Date Time WebPage
February 20th 2007 12:25:40 www.google.com/search?q=solaris bash word erase doesn%27t work&ie=UTF-8
tecosystems » Solaris-ing the New RedMonk Gear
It’s possible, I suppose, to interpret this differently, but in all likelihood this is someone Googling to find out why backspace doesn’t work on Solaris as it does on Linux, OS X, or Windows. The post they ended up at (I’m number five in that particular query) describes my distaste for the shell, but only indirectly how to set a user up with bash as an alternative. Based on the query, it seems safe to assume that this particular user appreciates the no-backspace “feature” about as much as I do.
What does one user matter? It’s easy, after all, to ignore me because I’ve publicly stated that I have no intention of migrating RedMonk’s business to Solaris, as I’m comfortable on Linux (Ubuntu, more specifically). Even if I hadn’t seen similar queries in the past, however, and I have, I’d care if I was Sun because the name I redacted was – unless it’s someone with the same uncommon name – one of the co-founders of a startup that just about everyone’s heard of.
I know it probably seems spectacularly unimportant to the Solaris engineers, but even little barriers to entry like this can deter would-be Solaris converts. Documentation, installation, and small decisions like the default shell can seem trivial when weighed against some of the technical differentiators within Solaris, but the historical popularity of Windows should be evidence enough that the volume market is more interested in ease-of-use than superior technology. Not learning from that would be a shame.
Disclaimer: Sun is a RedMonk client, Canonical – the corporate entity that funds Ubuntu – is not, although I will be speaking at UbuntuLive Day during OSCON.