Following on from my incompetence getting Open Solaris running under VirtualBox I happened across a post explaining how to resolve the problems of getting Open Solaris to play nice with Virtual Box.
This allowed me to finally test the package manager by downloading and installing Open Office. Well it works, though not a slickly as synaptic under Ubuntu, the major difference being that a reboot is required before the menu items are updated to reveal what new software has been installed.
Annoying, and not as slick. And playing with the package manager revealed the paucity of software packaged and available for OpenSolaris. Poor compared to Ubuntu. Poor compared to Suse, which between them probably soak up 90% of the desktop linux market.
And that's a worry. In the desktop space it's access to a big software base that makes a desktop competitive with the established desktop OS's of OS X, XP and Vista. People run desktops for the applications, not the operating system, which means any alternative operating system has got to give people that range of applications that they need and use. And that means more than Office, a pretty slick mail application, a browser and pdf viewer.
Ubuntu definitely has this. Suse is rich enough to play in the corporate desktop space. Open Solaris is distinctly meagre, which potentially means it's an also ran if you're looking for an alternative desktop OS