Some time ago I got a free DVD set of Solaris 10 delivered to me. Solaris is a version of UNIX which is supplied by Sun Microsystems ususally with their servers, but more recently they have been supplying versions suitable for use on other equipment. I can't see it as a serious comptetitor to Linux but you might find this useful if you want to see what it is all about, particularly if you have servers at work using it.
The first thing you will need is the Solaris installation media, have a look at: http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/get.jsp for your options here. The next task is to get a virtual machine for Solaris to run on (this is kind of a pretend PC, a self contained environment in which Solaris will live). There are lots of options available for Linux users, and no need to part with money for any of them. The one I picked for this task is the recently updated VirtualBox by Innotek which is free for personal and academic use (and available for windows and mac as well). They have a repository available for Ubuntu users so it is very convenient. If you haven't used this before, you might want to make an Ubuntu virtual machine just to get used to VirtualBox.
Once installed you can go into VirtualBox and prepare a virtual machine to house Solaris. I set one up with 1GB of RAM available and 15GB of disc space (be sure to set the OS Type to Solaris), you can very this but be sure to consult the minimum requirements for installation (by the way the USB2.0 controlller in VirtualBox doesn't seem to be compatible with Solaris). Installing Solaris isn't as polished an experience as installing Ubuntu, but you can find a handy guide here: http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/howtoguides/installationhowto.jsp, however I found I had to take some extra steps to get networking to work:
- When asked about Network Connectivity click on "Networked"
- Click "YES" for DHCP
- Click "No" for IPv6
- Click "No" to Kerberos
- When asked for a Name Service click on "DNS"
- On the next screen enter a domain name for the machine
- Next will will have to enter an address for a DNS server, you can find this out by entering "cat /etc/resolv.conf" in a terminal on your (K)Ubuntu machine.
- Click Next past the DNS search
- Say no to "reboot automatically, this will give you a chance to unmount the DVD before rebooting the virtual machine at the end of the installation process.
After going through the installation process you will be able to use you new virtual Solaris installation, and it will look something like this: