Gnome apes Windows
OpenSolaris is sometimes disparagingly dubbed things like “Project Copy Linux”. The comment has some truth in it: there are elements in OpenSolaris that “look and feel” much more like Linux than traditional Unix. I’d say that makes sense: in terms of convenience and friendliness, desktop-oriented Linux (eg Ubuntu) is clearly ahead of the competition: not only trad. Unix, but also Windows (obviously) and Mac (surprisingly to me). Put a Unix kernel and other Solaris goodies into a Linux-like desktop, and you have a pretty compelling system.
The heart of the desktop is, by default, Gnome (that’s the same default as in many Linux flavours). Whether you prefer Gnome itself to Sun’s Java desktop is a matter of taste; I’m happy with either, or indeed with KDE. Putting bash (by default) and other GNU stuff under the hood, and moving towards a decent packaging system and development environment improves it more, or will do once ‘bleeding edge’ features are ironed out.
But it’s not all good, and Gnome today has given me a classic demonstration of picking up bad habits. Having yesterday got hold of a blank DVD-RW, I inserted it to burn an SXCE boot disc. Gnome detected it, and opened a CD/DVD manager window for me – nice. Its help function tells me that to burn a CD, I right-click the blank DVD icon and select the write option from the menu. Great, I have the ISO image, so I’ll just burn that to the DVD, right?
Nope. After several seconds chugging away, it comes up with an error message, telling me to insert a suitable medium. Try again, same thing. Hmm, doesn’t it support the DVD? The hardware certainly does, according to the manufacturer’s website. But now there’s no help, no meaningful error message. This is truly a Windows look-and-feel: gnome has turned plug-and-pray. Nothing in /var/log that might give me a hint, either.
OK, Plan B, abandon the pretty GUI, and RTFM cdrecord. Cdrecord also emits an error at the first attempt. But this time, I have an error message I can use to adjust my commandline options. Second time lucky, and I have a bootable DVD.
It’s installing now.
 That excludes the laptop,where the Mac’s effortless command of its hardware makes a compelling case, even if the desktop UI is deep crap and many of the applications are at least a generation behind Linux.