[orca-list] OpenSolaris (was Re: An Open Letter to Oracle on the Topic Of Accessibility)

Hey all.

I don't want to add too much on to something that's venturing on the
outskirts of off-topicness, but since Michael has mentioned my OS of
choice, and since it's recently been suggested that perhaps the
community would be better served were I to work more regularly in

On Wed, 2010-02-24 at 22:47 +0000, Michael Whapples wrote:
* OpenSolaris uses some great technologies, eg. service management 
facility (SMF) instead on run levels, ZFS and boot environments (this 
means you can take a snapshot of the OS at a time and make it available 
to boot from and have another environment which may be a updated one, 
good for the occasions if you do an update or change an important 
setting as you can boot back to before the change if things fail), 

This is one of the main things I love about OpenSolaris. No matter what
you do, to your files, to your system, to anything, you can always go

For instance, if I wanted to test something bleeding edge, say Gtk+ from
master, I could take a snapshot, install the latest Gtk+ along with all
its dependencies, try it, and then rollback to my snapshot and it's like
I never installed Gtk+ and friends. On the other hand, if I needed to be
able to regularly use that environment, I'd instead create a new boot
environment in which to install the latest Gtk+, etc. Then I could
choose my stable environment or the bleeding edge one any time I wanted
from Grub -- or from the more accessible, recently-modified shutdown

You also automatically get a new boot environment each time there's an
OpenSolaris update, so you cannot get yourself into the aforementioned,
totally broken state you can with a Linux update. Like Michael said, you
just boot into the last good BE and everything's fine again. Although,
as a related aside, in my experience even the dev builds of OpenSolaris
are extremely stable.

When I need to use Ubuntu for Orca-related tasks, I now do so via a
VirtualBox install within OpenSolaris. That way, when a sudo apt-get
upgrade results in an unusable system, which often occurs in the early,
unstable stages, I don't have to try to fix it -- or reinstall Ubuntu
completely -- which I used to have to do as a full-time Ubuntu user. I
just locate my $HOME/.VirtualBox snapshot in Nautilus, restore it to the
Desktop, and then replace the screwed up one. Then it's like I never did
the upgrade and can immediately get back to work.

Which all boils down to this: I cannot tell you how much time and
aggravation ZFS has saved me.  And the time I save not having to
troubleshoot and then fix -- or reinstall -- my development environment
is time I can spend on actual development.

The other plug I'll give is to the package manager which, unlike some
software centers which shall remain nameless, is extremely accessible. I
can take a modicum of credit for that because I test nearly every
proposed change to the GUI before it's committed. However, the PM guys
themselves are extremely committed to accessibility -- one of the
developers in a previous life happens to be one of the original Atk
authors, which probably doesn't hurt. :-) Regardless.... It's been the
case nearly 100% of the time that if I file an a11y bug against PM in
the evening, there is a proposed fix by the morning, which is committed
at the very latest that afternoon. Seriously. If we had that sort of
commitment to accessibility from 'mainstream' developers across the
board, can you imagine how much better life would be?

Speaking of which, I have a little unexpected free time, so I need to
work on a couple of issues within WebKitGtk because otherwise a software
center which shall remain nameless will continue to also be rather
useless for Orca users. :-(

Jumping down from my soapbox.... NOW! <grin>

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