In the #kde-solaris channel we get one or two requests a day along the lines of “when is KDE4 going to be available for OpenSolaris?” Uncharitably I might suppose those requests are from people who can’t use a search engine. But if I take a step back and consider the majority of people who don’t want to install a compiler, patch it up and build from source, it’s actually a reasonable request. Add to it that the packaging we have (SysV) doesn’t match what is now used in the OpenSolaris distro Sun is spamming around, and it’s clear that some extra communication is needed.

OpenSolaris packages for KDE4 in IPS format are not forthcoming as of december 7th, 2008.

There, let search engines pick up on that one. Now why is that? The short answer is manpower. Manpower and time. Manpower, time and motivation. Cue the Spanish Inquisition scene. Actually motivation isn’t all that much of a problem.

Consider that OpenSolaris 2008.11 was released a few days ago. Since the KDE4 team is effectively outside the loop in releases, only once it comes out can we download the DVD, burn it, find a machine to install it on (and the OSOL live CD doesn’t do upgrades), optionally install the compiler and build everything, or alternately install SysV packages from our build machines and hope they work, then figure out how IPS works (none of the KDE4-Solaris team have used it before) and build images from that. Manpower, time and machines, that’s the issue.

So let’s repeat: packages will not be forthoming from the KDE4-Solaris team unless something magical happens to the number of hours in a day available for working on it. Building from source is fully supported and is the preferred, suggested and encouraged way of getting KDE4 for OSOL right now. The Techbase page for KDE on Solaris documents things as best we can (and it’s a wiki, so everyone can contribute). The sources are pristine upstream tarballs along with patches from and specfiles hosted in a Mercurial repo on bionicmutton.

Back to the question: does it work? I started looking around the house for a suitable machine to install OpenSolaris 2008.11 on; I settled on my Eee as the most suitable (maybe not hardware wise, but in terms of data on the machine, bootability, and how essential it is to my day-to-day work). That’s a blog entry of its own, just to get the hardware working fully.

But does the software work? Well, you need to realize that OSOL is pitched right now as a developer-oriented distro; it actually has the terminal as one of the default icons and in the desktop RMB menu. But it doesn’t come with Mercurial installed or GNU make. The former is much much stranger than the latter, since Mercurial is supposed to be the DVCS for OSOL development. Once you figure out that pkg search searches installed packages by default and you need -r, then getting the required build tools is quite straightforward. Install tools, fetch the spec files, download the package tarballs, unpack all that, run make install-all.

OK, so it’s a simple 17 step process. And pkg (the IPS tool) is slow as molasses in January on Ganymede, so installing all 0.22MB of GNU make takes two-and-a-half minutes. After that you get the SysV pkgadd tool, which is considerably faster (and less capable, but for simple package installs this is not an issue). Installing the 100-odd packages may take a while, and I’ve just noticed a bug regarding circular dependencies in our specfiles so it’s not an OOB experience yet (but I’ll fix that this afternoon).

Given that I’m finding some installation issues with the packages produced by the KDE4-Solaris team right now, I’m not going to carry on to a complete KDE4 desktop just now. Instead, I’ll limit myself to just Qt 4.4.1, which is the slightly outdated version we ship.

And yes, the Qt packaged and shipped by the KDE4-Solaris team does work, with the new C++ STL, built with Sun Studio 12, on OpenSolaris 2008.11. At least designer runs; I have not tried anything wilder than that. Real runtime testing is welcome. mbm@trolltech?

IPS packages are not forthcoming until someone points me to a dead simple 3-step process to setting up a package authority and simple tools for SysV to IPS so we can ship IPS packages off of bionicmutton. On the other hand, KDE4 works on OpenSolaris if you have the knack and all the undocumented required hacks memorized. I know. When I’m sitting on the beach I will spend two full days writing documentation, ok?

[[ PS. While waiting for my blog software, I installed kdebase-workspace, fixed one more bug in the packages and started plasma. Someone asked me earlier how to start plasma in a GNOME workspace: simple, you just run plasma from a terminal and you get the GNOME top panel and window manager combined with plasma as a background and its panel. So triple the message: KDE4 works on OpenSolaris 2008.11, and there are no simple-to-use packages yet. ]]

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