Oracle Solaris 11 Express Released!

What's New in Oracle Solaris 11 Express 2010.11

Oracle Solaris 11 Express was announced today. It is a fully supported, production-ready member of the Oracle Solaris family. First, here are the major additions and enhancements. I will expand on a few of them in future blog entries.
  • IPS (Image Packaging System) - a new, network-based package management system which replaces the System V Release 4 packaging system which had been used for Solaris packages as well as non-Sun software. The SVR4 package tools are still there for non-Solaris packages. With IPS, package updates are automatically downloaded and installed, under your control, from a network-based repository. If you need custom environments or deliver software, you can create your own repositories. A system can be configured to get packages from multiple repositories. IPS Documentation

  • Solaris 10 Containers are Zones on a Solaris 11 Express system which mimic the operating environment of a Solaris 10 system. (This is the same concept as Solaris 8 Containers and Solaris 9 Containers, which run on Solaris 10 systems.) This feature set includes P2V and V2V tools to convert Solaris 10 systems, and native zones, respectively, into Solaris 10 Containers on an Oracle Solaris 11 Express system. Solaris 10 Containers Documentation

  • Network Virtualization and Resource Management: A comprehensive set of virtual network components (vNICs, vSwitches) and resource management and observability tools. When combined with Solaris Zones configured as routers, you can creat complete networks within one system. Existing tools, such as IP Filter, complete the picture by enhancing network isolation. The possibilities are endless - worth at least a few blog entries... ;-)
    Components include:
    • Virtual NICs (VNICs): multiple VNICs can be configured to use one (physical) NIC. You can manage a VNIC with the same tools you use to manage NICs.
    • Virtual switches (vSwitches): abstract, software network elements, to which VNICs can be attached. These elements fulfill the same purpose as physical switches.
    • Virtual Routers: you can configure a Zone with multiple VNICs and configure routing in the Zone. You can also turn off all of the other services in the Zone, and configure IP Filter in that zone, to make a Router Zone behave just like a physical router - without using rack space, or using a lot of power, or being limited by the bandwidth of a physical connection.
    • Bandwidth controls: you can use the dladm(1M) command to limit the amount of bandwidth that a NIC or VNIC can use. This can be used to prevent overrunning a NIC, or to simulate the limited bandwidth of a physical NIC, or as a sanity check in sophisticated network configurations.
    Network virtualization documentation

  • ZFS now includes dataset encryption, deduplication and snapshot-diff features. ZFS Documentation

Here is a list of the other major improvements.

  • System Management
    • Boot Environments: ZFS snapshots are used to create alternate boot environments, similar to those created by Live Upgrade in Solaris 10. Unlike LU, S11E BE's exist on the same root pool, so you can have multiple BE's on a single disk drive - although servers should really have mirrored root drives.
    • Installation
      • Automated Install: Replaces and extends JumpStart, built around IPS. Documentation
      • Interactive Text Install: Intended for GUI-less servers.
      • Distribution Constructor: Create pre-configured bootable OS images with Distro Constructor, which uses IPS. Distro Constructor Documentation
  • Virtualization
    • The functionality of the open-source 'zonestat' script has been re-written and expanded as a full, integrated Solaris 11 Express tool.
    • Delegated Administration: The global zone administrator can delegate some of the management tasks for a zone to a specific global zone user.
    • A simpler packaging model, using IPS, decreases the complexity of zoned environments.
  • Networking
    • Significant Infiniband improvements, including SDP support.
    • Improvements to IP Multipathing (IPMP)
    • Network Auto-Magic remove the need to manually re-configure a laptop being moved around, or converting between physical and wireless networks.
    • New L3/L4 load balancer.
  • Storage
    • ZFS is the only root file system type.
    • Time Slider automatic ZFS snapshot management, with a GUI folder-like view of the past.
    • CIFS service enables highly scalable file servers for Microsof Windows environments.
    • COMSTAR targets are now available for iSER, SRP and FcoE.
  • Security
    • Root account is now a role, not a user.
    • Labeled IPsec (and other Trusted Extensions enhancements)
    • Trusted Platform Module support
  • Hardware
    • New hardware such as SPARC T3 systems.
    • NUMA I/O features keep related processes, memory, and I/O channels "near" each other to maximize performance and minimized I/O latency.
    • DISM performance improvements, especially for databases.
    • Suspend and resume to RAM, especially for laptops.
    • GNOME 2.30
All of the Oracle Solaris 11 Express documentation is available.


ZFS smb still broken. While it works with newer versions of Windows, it does not share correctly with old, non-windows SMB clients.

I had to disable zfs smb sharing and re-enable plain samba sharing which works great (It was installed on OpenSolaris, but Oracle Solaris Express 11 disabled it when upgrading)

The non-windows SMB clients i speak of are my two original XBOXes modded to XBMC.

Posted by Nemo on November 18, 2010 at 06:14 AM EST #

Suspend on a Toshiba Tecra M10 doesn't work.

If you choose "System->Shutdown->Suspend" the system will still use power as if it was running :-(

Posted by Jørgen on November 22, 2010 at 08:36 AM EST #

Remarkably, neither of my internal gigabit NICs (Both different Yukon chips...? Something to that degree) are supported out of the box, with one of those (yge driver) locking up the system with error messages after X number of megabytes was sent through the interface. Also my DLink NIC (Marvel chip) and USB NIC were also no use.

I put an Intel NIC in there so that I could at least use the machine. It's a shame, but network card support is sorely lacking. Genuine Sun/Oracle hardware would have made things smoother.

Posted by RandomInsano on December 29, 2010 at 08:25 PM EST #

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Jeff Victor writes this blog to help you understand Oracle's Solaris and virtualization technologies.

The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.


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