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I'm thinking about knocking together a Solaris box at home to act as a combination server and learning exercise.

What are the minimum hardware specifications I can throw at it such that it'll be actually usable? I'd be cobbling the machine together from a stack of various x86 PC spares/leftovers. What is the experience with Solaris at the lower end of the spectrum? The Sun site, for example, claims it'll run with as little as 255 MB of RAM, but is it worth the exercise with less than 1 GB? Will my old Pentium II 450 be good enough? (I'm willing to throw a couple of dollars (at PriceWatch/Mwave.com/Newegg on this, but if I need to build a better rig than my main PC, I may not bother.)

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4 Answers 4

System Memory: 512 MB minimum

Disk space: Recommended least 10 GB

Source

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Right, but will that actually work well enough to use? –  Electrons_Ahoy Dec 13 '09 at 22:56
    
and the PII 450 MHz should be OK, i'm running a PIII 600 MHz and it's 'flyin' it'. :) –  Molly7244 Dec 13 '09 at 23:00
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please define 'well enough' ... GUI is out of the question, but for tinkering around with and basic server tasks it sure will do. but then again, before investing money in such an old clunker, i'd certainly buy something better for a few quid at a yard sale. –  Molly7244 Dec 14 '09 at 2:37

I've been fooling around with OpenSolaris and ZFS and it's not zippy. I have an old Athlon X2 with 1gb RAM and it's painfully slow at times. I wouldn't bother with your current rig, but I definitely recommend spending some time with OpenSolaris.

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AMD platforms are known to have issues with Solaris. –  Molly7244 Dec 13 '09 at 23:04
    
@Molly - can you offer more info? –  Joe Internet Dec 13 '09 at 23:12
    
i couldn't install Open Solaris on a (single core) Athlon at all, just couldn't get it to work, and when i ran it on a Turion laptop it was actually slower than on the PIII plus the fan was running at full speed constantly. –  Molly7244 Dec 13 '09 at 23:32

You should tell what Solaris version and updates you are targeting. In any case, 256 MB is too less for any installation to succeed on x86. Current values are between 768MB an 1 GB. OpenSolaris is more demanding than Solaris 10. The installer(s) will fail if you have not enough RAM but after the installation a minimized OS will run with less RAM.

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I've tried OpenSolaris on a 600 MHz Celeron machine (Pentium 3 based) with 512 MB of memory and 64 MB onboard graphics. Far from "fast" is my explanation of the install process (measurable in hours). Don't even think of a GUI environment. If you only plan to tinker with the command line, you should be fine though. If you want to use the GUI in a reasonable manner, I'd recommend something along the lines of:

  • 1 GHz processor
  • 1 GB memory
  • 64 MB or more video memory.

For a good idea on how it will perform, I'd set up a virtual machine environment with VirtualBox or similar, and try booting with limited resources based on your other hardware. Increase certain aspects such as memory to see how it responds. This will give you a good idea of what will improve performance best.

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