First off, thanks to Alan C. for adding some details about rendering issues with Sun SPARC machines; there is hope in that area, even though it would be nice if Qt could detect when PorterDuff composition is not available and fall back to something sensible once.

Second, thanks to Moinak Ghosh, for Belenix. I was casting around for an OpenSolaris LiveCD and spotted this one (and Moinak hangs around on #kde-solaris sometimes) which has XFCE and KDE 3.5.8 as default desktops. And it installs to a USB stick as well. So I figured that this would be an excellent opportunity to try out OpenSolaris on my Eee. And then I would spend some time as well on trying KDE4 on Solaris on an Eee as a kind of extremes effort: build on the biggest machine I can find and run on the smallest.

I’m actually quite content with the Eee as shipped: hotel wireless tends to work with it, I can run KMail, and my homedir is on an SD card I carry with me, so the Eee itself carries no personal data. But that doesn’t mean I can’t do pointless experiments with it. So Belenix it is.

The usbdump script included with Belenix 0.7 is buggy; in my attempts at using it, it did not clean up well after itself, then it wouldn’t prepare the USB stick properly (by using cp -rP@ which somehow seems to ignore the recursion) and then it ran out of space in my /tmp. There is good documentation available for generating boot USB sticks and I could read the script anyway, so after 20 minutes of futzing I did have a USB stick booting OpenSolaris on my Thinkpad. Moving that to the Eee was straightforward. I’m definitely not the first to do this, so there is plenty of documentation on what can and does go wrong.

I haven’t bothered sorting out networking yet; there’s a driver available for the built-in wireless and there is futzing to be done with the keyboard. Once I’ve got those two done, my aim might be to try out the KDE4 packages we have built, for the ‘smallest KDE4 Solaris desktop’ award.

Belenix itself is quite nice as well; there’s a pleasant kind of customization applied to the default KDE3 desktop; a wallpaper here, a tasty menu (reminiscent of kickoff; no idea how the geneologies go there) and some simple applications. If I were a straightforward KDE3 user wanting to get work done, this is as good a choice as, say, FreeBSD with KDE3. That’s a similarly pretty-much-stock KDE installation with just a few tweaks.

All in all I think this kind of experimentation – both on the KDE4 front and with the underlying OS – is important in improving portability and in stretching the limits of the usability of the software. Yes, we can write once and run anywhere.

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