October 04, 2008

Nexenta and GUI

I've been asked this question multiple times by mail and other forums, and it also pops up quite frequently on IRC. Does Nexenta have a GUI?

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="The Nexenta desktop"]The Nexenta desktop[/caption]

Short answer

Yes, but not by default.

Long answer

Nexenta started off as a clone of ubuntu with a Solaris kernel. These versions were quite popular and got a whole lot of users. However, maintaining and supporting a large selection of packages that go into a desktop was impossible for the developers.

This was when the focus of Nexenta changed from a desktop to a core platform. The idea is to build a solid core, and allow developers to build on top of this. Thus the Nexenta Core platform was born, also sortly and lovingly called NCP. NCP provides all the packages from Ubuntu's main repository. The NCP cd builds do not include any WM.

However --theres always a however ;) -- older repositories do contain Gnome and KDE and XFCE packages. So to get a GUI environment, you'll have to manually install those packages. This repositoy is the unstable elatte repository. The following line in your /etc/apt/sources.list should get you the packages.

deb http://www.nexenta.org/apt-gnusolaris elatte-unstable main contrib non-free

Going ahead..

All this talk is for the NCP1 (codename elatte) release. NCP2 is currently in alpha stage. Our plan for this release is to populate the repository completely with all GUI packages, so a desktop is only an apt-get install gnome-desktop away.

We cannot include this by default is because we wont be able to maintain it ourselves. We have fuzzy plans for a GUI version in the long term, but nothing concrete. We are looking for developers and enthusiasts to build distributions on top of NCP, and have various variants. So come join the community and be the Linux Mint to our Ubuntu. The nexenta-builder package is where you start.

Join us on IRC #nexenta@irc.freenode.net. You can also take a look at my 2 part development introduction to Nexenta here and here.