New Adventures in illumos: (Just Like) Starting Over

James Deagle
4 min readNov 13, 2021
The OpenIndiana Hipster desktop, circa November 2021.

It feels like an eternity since I last ran illumos on bare metal.

One way or another, my previous two laptops simply didn’t cut it — one was a Dell Inspiron (now deceased) with a wifi card that was unsupported by illumos, while the other is an older Compaq that chokes on newer implementations of ZFS. I eventually found a USB wifi adapter that played nice with the former, but that machine’s hard drive was on its final legs by that point, and the latter is running the current OpenBSD just fine, thank you very much.

A week ago, however, I saw an ad on Kijiji for a Lenovo ThinkPad T61 for a mere $100, and considering that I have never stopped mourning the loss of my beloved T61p to a cooked motherboard in late 2016, I wasted no time contacting the seller, and had the T61 booting on my desk within the hour.

As a bit of historical context, illumos-based systems (i.e. OpenIndiana Hipster, Tribblix, et. al.) and their estranged SunOS step-siblings (i.e. Oracle Solaris 10 and 11.3) always ran without issue on the T61p. Everything just worked, wifi and all. And just as I still longed for that departed laptop, I also never lost the itch to immerse myself in all things Solaris/Solarish.