I have recently upgraded to Solaris 9.0 for x86 architecture. Very happy with it.
Purchase and Installation
Despite the fact that now the media are not free, I think that $20 for an operating system is not a high cost. In fact, I have choosen the cheaper solution, buying the downloads media and then burn them on a set of 5 CD-R. Downloads were done in one night, as I am pretty easy with my cable bandwith (512KBits), and burning was done the next night.
The installation was like a breeze. The only thing is that it is a pretty long operation. When I say long, it is almost as long as installing Windows 2000 with all the security patches. The major difference with Solaris is that you only reboot your machine 3 or 4 times. Anyway, after that, you have a nice Unix operting system that works fine.
To make things with Solaris, you have to install some software. So I check http://www.sunfreeware.com/ and I got all what I need. The software that is not available is easily build with the sources. Again, like a breeze.
As my goal is make heavy Java development, I have also installed some Java stuff, JDKs and Jakarta. I have also sucessfully compile Eclipse as described in my previous entries.
If you want to give a try on a Unix for x86 (other than Linux of course) and have $20 to spend, I recommend you Solaris 9.0. As a prerequisite, I would also say to Unix skill and Solaris knowledge are a plus.