Tuesday Apr 03, 2007

YACUZ: Package-independent zones

Here is Yet Another Creative Use of Zones:

Overcoming some obstacles that developers face when using Solaris Containers (aka Zones), Doug Scott documented a method of building a zone which will never be patched from the global zone. In other words, when a patch is applied to the global zone, it will not be applied to a zone built using this method, even if the patch is for a package which is marked ALLZONES=true.

Normally, a package with that parameter setting will require that the package be installed in all zones, and patched consistently in all zones. Branded zones, also called 'non-native zones,' are exempt from that rule. Branded zones allow you to create a zone which will run applications meant for another operating system or operating system version. The first official brand is 'lx'. An lx-branded zone can run most Linux applications.

Note that this method would not be supported by Sun for the following reasons:

  1. It uses the BrandZ framework, which is available via OpenSolaris, but not yet supported by Sun.
  2. It requires you to edit system files which you shouldn't edit; the syntax of those files can change.
  3. Eventually, a patch will modify the kernel and libc (or other kernel-dependent libs) in such a way that they will be incompatible with the cbe-branded zone. Some patches must be applied manually to keep this cbe-branded zone synchronized with the global zone.

Also, note that a zone built like that will no longer benefit from one of the key advantages of zones: management simplicity. You must figure out which patches must be applied to a cbe-branded zone.

However, if those don't bother you, or if you want to learn more about how zones really work, take a look: http://www.opensolaris.org/os/project/xfce/building_xfce/brandzbuild/

About

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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