Monday Apr 14, 2014

Which Type of Virtualization Should I Use?

I routinely ask techies which type of virtualization they'd recommend for which type of job. I seldom get an answer as crystal clear as Brian Bream's.

Video Interview: Which Type of Virtualization Should I Use?

with Brian Bream, CTO Collier IT

Oracle's portfolio of virtualization technologies includes Oracle VM Server for x86, Oracle VM Server for SPARC (previously known as LDOMS), and Oracle Solaris Zones, among others. Brian Bream provides a crystal clear technical overview of their differences and examples of what you would use them to do to. After you listen to the recording, which is about 5 minutes long, you'll understand why Brian was selected Instructor of the Year for both Oracle University and Sun Microsystems University before that.

More Resources About Virtualization

Here's an 8-part series about Oracle virtualization products written by Detlef Drewanz and Lenz Grimmer that might also be helpful:

About the Photograph

Photograph of Vaillancourt Fountain in San Francisco taken by Rick Ramsey, April 2014.

- Rick

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Friday Apr 11, 2014

New Oracle Solaris/SPARC SIG Launched by IOUG







What happens in Vegas ...










... stays in Vegas.










Well, most of it does, anyway.

Collaborate 2014, put on by the Independent Oracle User Group (IOUG), the Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG), and the Quest International User Group was terrific. Great content, great people, great event. And lots of sysadmins!

One of the most interesting things to come out of Collaborate is a new Special Interest Group (SIG) for Oracle Systems technologies, sponsored by Independent Oracle User Group (IOUG). It's called the Solaris/SPARC SIG, but the first meeting covered a lot of ground that included the other technologies in Oracle's Systems portfolio, including engineered systems, storage, networking, and optimized solutions. This perspective on Oracle Solaris is significant because the value of Oracle Solaris becomes increasingly evident when viewed from the perspective of the database, engineered systems like Oracle SuperCluster, and cloud strategies.

So keep an eye on the SIG and join us in future activities. I'll be sure to promote them here, but also keep an eye on the SIG Calendar.

Seth Miller and Ed Whalen, Oracle ACES, were kind enough to tape a couple of video interviews for the OTN Garage. I'll be posting them there soon.

About the Photograph

Photograph of your Systems Community Manager and friends taken by Laura Ramsey in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, in April 2014.

- Rick

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Wednesday Mar 26, 2014

More Tips for Remote Access with Oracle Linux

In a previous blog, Oracle Linux Tips and Tricks, I covered alternative ways to use SSH. In this article, I will cover some additional tips and tricks for using SSH for remote access, as well as some other ways to connect remotely to a server.

SSH's primary use is for remote access to hosts. SSH is not only able to provide us a terminal interface to a server, it's also able to provide us a transport for a graphical interface. In order to utilize this functionality, we must have an X server running on our local workstation. On a Linux workstation with a graphical environment, this functionality is built in. On other systems, such as a Windows machine or a Mac, this functionality is not built in. Both XQuartz on the Mac and MobaXTerm are X servers for these platforms. There are also a number of other open source and paid products available for both platforms.

Once you have an acceptable X server installed on your local workstation, you can connect with SSH using the following ssh command. The -X enables X11 forwarding for the connection. Keep in mind that the X11 forwarding is based on the user who originally connected. Logging in with one user and then using sudo often will not work, depending on the permissions and ownership needed to complete a task.

[user@laptop ~]$ ssh -X 10.0.0.12

Once you authenticate, you drop directly to a standard prompt. If you look closely, though, and examine the environment variables in your terminal, you will find an additional environment variable that has the IP address of your workstation. You can examine your environment variables using the env command.

DISPLAY=localhost:10.0

Now you can launch an application that has a graphical interface, and the interface will be displayed on your local workstation. The following example will launch gedit. The ampersand symbol is useful for forking the process in the background so we can retain the use of our terminal.

[user@remotehost ~]$ gedit &

Using X11 connections over SSH can be quite useful for using application installers that are graphical, such as the Oracle Universal Installer for Oracle Database.

The screen application is a great compliment to SSH and is quite useful for sharing an SSH session with another user. Because of the way screen preserves sessions for the user, it is also great for high-latency network connections that have frequent disconnects and for maintaining sessions that time out due to security policies. With a regular SSH connection, if you are disconnected, any processes that were running are not preserved. Unlike SSH, the screen application keeps the session alive so it can be connected to again later.

One of the simplest things you can do with screen is share a session. You can launch screen on the terminal you wish to share by issuing the screen command. Once you do this, a new shell is running inside of screen. Another user can log in to the same machine and use the command screen -x to be immediately connected to your shell. They see everything you type. Even if you disconnect from the machine on either terminal, the shell will continue to run. This can be quite useful for sharing a terminal for a demonstration in a remote office or for running a terminal-based console that is shared between many users.

To see all of the active screen sessions, you can use screen -list, which will show active and detached sessions. To connect to a detached session, you can use screen -r and the pid.session name listed in the screen -list output. In the following example, there are five screen sessions running. One of them is detached.

[user@server ~]$ screen -list
There are screens on:
        24565.pts-1.server     (Attached)
        24581.pts-2.server     (Attached)
        24597.pts-3.server     (Attached)
        24549.pts-0.server     (Attached)
        24613.pts-4.server     (Detached)
5 Sockets in /var/run/screen/S-user.

The command screen -x can be used to connect to a currently attached session. In the following example, a connection to session 24565 is made:

[user@server ~]$ screen -x 24565

If you need access to a full graphical desktop environment remotely, there are a number of packages that can accomplish this. The package tigervnc-server is useful for connections to a remote machine providing a full Linux desktop experience. To set up and install the package, perform the following steps.

First, run the following command to install the package:

[root@server ~]# yum install tigervnc-server

Once the package is installed, you need to edit the file /etc/sysconfig/vncservers. The VNCSERVERS line establishes the user accounts that you want to enable the VNC server for and their display number. In the example below, the user bob is configured for display 2 and the user sue is configured for display 3. The VNCSERVERARGS[#] section allows you to specify options for each display. In this example, we are specifying a 1280 x 1024 resolution for display 2 and a 1024 x 768 resolution for display 3:

VNCSERVERS="2:bob 3:sue"
VNCSERVERARGS[2]="-geometry 1280x1024 "
VNCSERVERARGS[3]="-geometry 1024x768"

Once the /etc/sysconfig/vncservers file has been edited, you need to set passwords for each user account. This is accomplished with the vncpasswd command. In the following example, the user bob sets a password using the vncpasswd command.

[bob@server ~]$ vncpasswd
Password:
Verify:

Once the package is installed, the configuration file is edited, and passwords are set, you are ready to turn on the vncserver service. The following two commands start the service and set the service to start automatically at the next boot:

chkconfig vncserver on
service vncserver start

Once configured and running, you can connect to your Linux system using a standard VNC client. When connecting, be sure to specify the display and password credentials that are needed in order to connect.

Another incredibly useful tool for remote access to a server is freerdp application, which allows you to connect to a Linux-based server using the ubiquitous Microsoft RDP protocol. This application will need to be installed on the server that you wish to connect to. To install the application, you can use the following command.

[root@server ~]# yum install freerdp

Once the application is installed, you can start the service and, if desired, configure the service to start at boot time.

[root@server ~]# service freerdp start
[root@server ~]# chkconfig freerdp on

At this point, the server is able to accept standard Microsoft RDP connections. On your local Windows machine, you can use the command mstsc or, if you are using a Mac, you can use the Microsoft Remote Desktop application or a third-party tool that supports the Microsoft RDP protocol. Just as with VNC, access to an entire remote Linux desktop environment is provided.

Comments?

I hope these tips and tricks have been useful and that you will take advantage of some of them in the course of your day. We will be publishing more of these tips-and-tricks articles in the future. Feel free to leave a comment for further topics that you would like to see in this series.

See Also

Oracle Linux blog

About the Author

Robert Chase is a member of the Oracle Linux product management team. He has been involved with Linux and open source software since 1996. He has worked with systems as small as embedded devices and with large supercomputer-class hardware.

About the Photograph

Photograph taken by Rick Ramsey in Durango in the Fall of 2012

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If You Have to Ask, You Wouldn't Understand

Although being subjected to that kind of attitude is unpleasant, subjecting someone else to it is loads of fun. Just ask someone who rides a Harley why they ride a Harley, and watch how much they enjoy unloading that sentiment on your head, you member of the unwashed, you.

I feel the same way about Oracle Solaris. Don't talk to me about how much Windows or some other OS is capable of doing. I don't care. Your OS is a metric cruiser. Go away.

That feeling of vast superiority is even more pronounced when I'm talking about Oracle Solaris Studio. Which should have been renamed Oracle Solaris and Oracle Linux Studio, if you are insightful enough to ask me, because any Linux developer who is working on anything remotely interesting should be using Oracle Solaris Studio as their IDE. I freakin love it. I've had the pleasure of interviewing Don Kretch, the head of the Solaris Studio engineering team, many times. And I've enjoyed myself every single time. If you think you're worthy, you are welcome to try to understand our conversation (jump to "Interviews with Don Kretch," below).

If my rhetoric has convinced you, as it would convince anyone of vastly superior intelligence, you'll want to pretend that you already knew how good Oracle Solaris (and Linux) Studio is, and berate me for even suggesting you didn't. Good for you. You're catching on. But you'll still be faced with a dearth of actual knowledge about this IDE for the Vastly Intelligent.

Not to worry. There's a way for you to learn what you need to learn without anyone else finding out so you can pretend to have known all along.

Oracle Solaris (and Linux) Studio 12.4 Beta Program

The Beta Program for Oracle Solaris Studio 12.4 begins today. Download the software, try out its new features, and join in the discussions. These resources will help:

Landing Page, including links to Beta Program Forums
Download Center, where you can download a free copy

Interviews with Don Kretch

About the Photograph

Photograph of 2002 Harley Davidson Softail Deuce taken by Rick Ramsey in Massachusetts, USA.

- Rick

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Monday Mar 24, 2014

Four High Performance Configurations for SuperCluster and SPARC Servers

When a surfing buddy of mine asked me to look at a banking application that runs on Solaris, I thought he'd been hit on the head by his board one too many times. Solaris is cool. Banking is not. But I looked into it, anyway, and to my surprise, I found the banking app had a certain amount of geek appeal.

If geek appeal is not enough to hold your interest, Mister Hair-on-Fire, the other reason for talking about this banking application is that it helped identify four high performance configurations for Oracle's SuperCluster and SPARC servers that might be useful for other types of applications. So keep reading. Or ...

Go directly to white paper (pdf) that describes the configurations.

What first caught my interest was the idea of a bank operating system. A traditional computer OS manages hardware devices and provides services for application software. A bank headquarters does something very similar. It manages the branches (hardware) and provides services for its operations (applications). Turns out, that's the idea behind Finacle's Core Banking Solution.

Core banking sounds dull as hell, but it's a big deal for banks. It replaces cumbersome end-of-day consolidation between branch banks and HQ. (I almost feel asleep just writing that.) In fact, centralized banks worldwide now mandate the implementation of core banking technology to prevent fraud and meet regulatory requirements.

As a result, Finacle's Core Banking Solution is designed as configurable modules with layered Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), straight-through processing (STP) capabilities, web-enabled technology, and support for 24 x 7 operations.

But no matter how sophisticated the application, the underlying architecture can limit its performance. Not a problem! Since Finacle 10 is now available on Oracle Solaris, it can be run on the screaming fast Oracle SuperCluster or Oracle’s SPARC T-Series servers. As you might expect, Finacle tested this combination for both batch and OLTP processing and found:

  • Batch results that processed 15% more accounts and 3.2 to 3.7 times the required minimum records per second, all achieved within one third of the specified time, with plenty of CPU resources available to handle further load.
  • OLTP results that exceeded Finacle acceptance criteria with more users and more transactions per second, all with sub-second response times and with considerable CPU resources remaining available.

White Paper: Infosys Finacle Core Banking Solution on Oracle SuperCluster and Oracle’s SPARC T-Series Servers

Roger Bitar provides technical details about the software and hardware layers in this solution, and describes the configurations that obtained the best performance:

  • Configuration for Fastest OLTP Processing on SuperCluster T4-4
  • Configuration for Fastest Batch Processing on SuperCluster T4-4
  • Configuration for Fastest OLTP Processing on SPARC T4-4 Server
  • Configuration for Fastest Batch Processing on SPARC T4-4 Server

About the Photograph

I took this picture of bike race taken in Durango, Colorado, in the Fall of 2012.

- Rick

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Tuesday Mar 18, 2014

Configuring COMSTAR to Provide Local iSCSI Storage

Oracle Solaris 11 introduced two storage capabilities that I wasn't aware of until Oracle ACE Alexandre Borges brought them to my attention.

A Solaris 11 system can serve as an iSCSI target that offers storage to other machines, or as an iSCSI initiator to access the storage offered by another iSCSI target. This capability is a real advantage, because any storage offered through the iSCSI protocol is available to an iSCSI initiator as local storage, without the need to use expensive technologies such as Fibre Channel (FC).

Solaris provides this service through a framework named Common Multiprotocol SCSI TARget (COMSTAR). Alexandre Borges shows you how to use it:

Tech Article: Using COMSTAR and ZFS to Configure a Virtualized Storage Environment

How to use COMSTAR to provide local iSCSI storage for any service that runs in Windows, Linux, or Mac OS. It also shows you how to configure authentication using the Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP) to secure the iSCSI storage against forbidden access. Part 1 of a series about ZFS.

About Alexandre Borges

Alexandre Borges is an Oracle ACE who worked as an employee and contracted instructor at Sun Microsystems from 2001 to 2010 teaching Oracle Solaris, Oracle Solaris Cluster, Oracle Solaris security, Java EE, Sun hardware, and MySQL courses. Nowadays, he teaches classes for Symantec, Oracle partners, and EC-Council, and he teaches several very specialized classes about information security. In addition, he is a regular writer and columnist at Linux Magazine Brazil.

More content from Alexandre:

Exploring Installation Options and User Roles in Oracle Solaris 11

Part 1 of a two-part series that describes how Alexandre installed Oracle Solaris 11 and explored its new packaging system and the way it handles roles, networking, and services. This article focuses first on exploring Oracle Solaris 11 without the need to install it, and then actually installing it on your system.

Exploring Networking, Services, and the New Image Packaging System in Oracle Solaris 11

Alexandre walks you through the new way Oracle Solaris 11 manages networking, services, and packages, compared to the way it managed them in Solaris 10.

Articles in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

Columns in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

More About ZFS and COMSTAR

About the Photograph

Photograph of San Rafael Swell taken in Utah by Rick Ramsey on the way to Java One.

- Rick

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Wednesday Mar 05, 2014

Preserving Unpacked Software During a Package Uninstall

I love it when I can wriggle out of the unintended side effects created by an automated system designed to simplify my life.

Here's a side effect created by the very good Image Packaging System (IPS) in our beloved Oracle Solaris 11. If you use the IPS to uninstall all packaged content from a directory, it also removes the directory. Not good if you also kinda sorta loaded unpackaged content into that directory.

For instance, let's say you worked with a third-party IPS package that installed its software into /usr/local. After a pause to polish the chrome on your custom Softail Deluxe, you install a second application into /usr/local from a tar file. What happens to that second application when you use IPS to remove the third-party IPS package from the /usr/local directory? Yup. IPS dumps the directory on the asphalt and high-sides the unpackaged content all the way to /var/pkg/lost+found.

Thank goodness somebody watches out for those of us who don't follow directions. Alta Elstad, from the Solaris Documentation Team at Oracle, is one of them. Here's how she suggests you avoid this problem.

How to Preserve the Directory

To prevent the packaged directory from being removed along with its content, package the directory separately. Create an IPS package that delivers only the one directory or directory structure that you want. Then that directory structure will remain in place until you uninstall that specific package. Uninstalling a different package that delivers content to that directory will not remove the directory.

Here's a detailed example.

  1. Create the directory structure you want to deliver. This example shows /usr/local. You could easily expand this to include /usr/local/bin and other subdirectories if necessary.
    $ mkdir -p usrlocal/usr/local
  2. Create the initial package manifest.
    $ pkgsend generate usrlocal | pkgfmt > usrlocal.p5m.1
    $ cat usrlocal.p5m.1
    dir path=usr owner=root group=bin mode=0755
    dir path=usr/local owner=root group=bin mode=0755
  3. Create a pkgmogrify input file to add metadata and to exclude delivering /usr since that directory is already delivered by Oracle Solaris. You might also want to add transforms to change directory ownership or permissions.
    $ cat usrlocal.mog
    set name=pkg.fmri value=pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0
    set name=pkg.summary value="Create the /usr/local directory."
    set name=pkg.description value="This package installs the /usr/local \
    directory so that /usr/local remains available for unpackaged files."
    set name=variant.arch value=$(ARCH)
    <transform dir path=usr$->drop>
    
  4. Apply the changes to the initial manifest.
    $ pkgmogrify -DARCH=`uname -p` usrlocal.p5m.1 usrlocal.mog | 
      pkgfmt > usrlocal.p5m.2
    $ cat usrlocal.p5m.2
    set name=pkg.fmri value=pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0
    set name=pkg.summary value="Create the /usr/local directory."
    set name=pkg.description value="This package installs the /usr/local \
    directory so that /usr/local remains available for unpackaged files."
    set name=variant.arch value=$(ARCH)
    <transform dir path=usr$->drop> 
    
  5. Check your work.
    $ pkglint usrlocal.p5m.2
    Lint engine setup...
    Starting lint run...
    $
    
  6. Publish the package to your repository.
    $ pkgsend -s yourlocalrepo publish -d usrlocal usrlocal.p5m.2
    pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0,5.11:20140303T180555Z
    PUBLISHED
    
    
    
  7. Make sure you can see the new package that you want to install.
    $ pkg refresh site
    $ pkg list -a usrlocal
    NAME (PUBLISHER)      VERSION      IFO
    usrlocal (site)       1.0          --- 
    
  8. Install the package.
    $ pkg install -v usrlocal
               Packages to install:         1
         Estimated space available:  20.66 GB
    Estimated space to be consumed: 454.42 MB
           Create boot environment:        No
    Create backup boot environment:        No
              Rebuild boot archive:        No
    
    Changed packages:
    site
      usrlocal
        None -> 1.0,5.11:20140303T180555Z
    PHASE                                          ITEMS
    Installing new actions                           5/5
    Updating package state database                 Done
    Updating package cache                           0/0
    Updating image state                            Done
    Creating fast lookup database                   Done
    Reading search index                            Done
    Updating search index                            1/1
    
  9. Make sure the package is installed.
    $ pkg list usrlocal
    NAME (PUBLISHER)      VERSION      IFO
    usrlocal (site)       1.0          i-- 
    $ pkg info usrlocal
              Name: usrlocal
           Summary: Create the /usr/local directory.
       Description: This package installs the /usr/local directory so that
                    /usr/local remains available for unpackaged files.
             State: Installed
         Publisher: site
           Version: 1.0
     Build Release: 5.11
            Branch: None
    Packaging Date: March  3, 2014 06:05:55 PM
              Size: 0.00 B
              FMRI: pkg://site/usrlocal@1.0,5.11:20140303T180555Z
    $ ls -ld /usr/local
    drwxr-xr-x   2 root     bin            2 Mar  3 10:17 /usr/local/
    

For More Information

About the Photograph

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- Rick

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Wednesday Feb 26, 2014

Oracle Solaris 11 Resources for the AIX Sysadmin

Start buttons belong on Tiger Wood's golf cart. Give me car keys that jangle when I insert them into a 1968 Dodge Charger. The music that engine makes ... it enters your body through your soul before your ear drums even register the vibration. And give me Save buttons on browser-based interfaces, too. This amorphous invisible background save that I'm supposed to trust is happening is the brainchild of developers who put posters of Joseph Stalin on their walls.

In spite of my Luddite tendencies, I do like new technologies. I also like a variety of them. If you ask my personal opinion, the more operating systems, the better. More jobs for sysadmins. More jobs for developers. More arm-wrestling matches in the server room. And more interesting problems. That's my idea of fun.

Unfortunately, it's not The Man's idea of fun. Forces I can't possibly understand and would never take for a joy ride in a stolen Dodge Charger push for consolidation and cost-cutting with the frenzy of a four barrel carburetor sucking air at wide open throttle (WOT). Even if, like me, you prefer a more genteel IT environment, you have to adapt. And so, we sometimes wave good-bye to our friends.

If you're facing a migration away from AIX, consider Oracle Solaris. Yeah, it's designed to handle the competitive pressures of today's IT environments...

  • Cloud-ready provisioning, security, and virtualization
  • Quick to reallocate compute, storage, and network resources
  • Zones, ZFS, Dynamic Tracing, Predictive Self Healing and Trusted Extensions reduce downtime and simplify the application deployment
  • Optimized to run on Oracle hardware, and to run Oracle applications
  • Automated migration tools plus assistance and education for DBAs and Power/AIX administrators migrating to Oracle Solaris.

... and yeah, because the Oracle stack is optimized to run best on Oracle Solaris (and Oracle Linux), it gives you some crazy good numbers compared to AIX ...

  • Up to 2.4x greater database performance
  • Up to 3.4x faster Java application server performance
  • Increased Oracle application performance : 1.9x faster for Siebel CRM (4) and 3x faster for JD Edwards

... but it's also got soul. And it doesn't have a dumb Start button.

Below is a link to a hands-on lab and some other resources to help you understand what's involved in migrating from AIX to Oracle Solaris.

Hands-On Lab: Oracle Solaris Administration for AIX Sysadmins

by Glynn Foster

Walks an AIX sysadmin through the basic administration of Oracle Solaris 11 and how it compares to IBM AIX Enterprise in areas including installation, software packaging, file systems, user management, services, networking, and virtualization. Even makes helps you navigate your way through documentation, man pages, and online how-to articles.

More Resources

About the Photograph

Photograph of '68 Dodge Charger courtesy of Kobac via Wikipedia Commons Creative Commons License 2.0

- Rick

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Monday Feb 24, 2014

If Your Processor Stalls From a Read After Writer Operation ...

... rewrite your code. Better yet, write code that avoids this problem in the first place. The problem can occur when an application wants to load a value that it has just stored in memory. Read After Write (RAW) operations are common, so most chips are designed with hardware that makes that happen fast. But in some cases, you can write code that stumps the hardware. And so it stalls.

And you tumble to earth in horror, screaming for your life and clawing at the controls.

And you smack into the a pile of rocks. Or, to the horror of young mothers in minivans, the freeway during rush-hour traffic. Or worse, the middle of the ocean, so that if you somehow survive the impact, you drown. And nobody finds your body. And your loved ones can never move on.

Unless you're wearing a parachute. Like the one we just published from Darryl Gove.

Tech Article: Avoid Performance Loss (And a Fiery Death) from RAW Hazards

by Darryl Gove

Darryl explains exactly how a processor can stall from a bad RAW operation, and the common situations that cause this problem. Then he shows you how to identify, fix, and avoid writing that kind of code. Examples included. Help your loved ones move on. Read Darryl's article.

About the Author

Darryl Gove is a senior principal software engineer in the Oracle Solaris Studio team, working on optimizing applications and benchmarks for current and future processors. He is also the author of the books Multicore Application Programming, Solaris Application Programming, and The Developer's Edge.

Read Darryl Gove's blog on blogs.oracle.com/d.

Picture of radial engine taken by Rick Ramsey at Bay Area Aerospace Museum

- Rick

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Thursday Feb 13, 2014

Getting Your Hands Dirty with Load Balancing

What Does the Integrated Load Balancer Do?

According to the Oracle Solaris 11 documentation, the Integrated Load Balancer (ILB) intercepts incoming requests from clients, decides which back-end server should handle the request based on load-balancing rules, and then forwards the request to that server. By spreading one server's work load across multiple servers, ILB improves reliability, minimizes response time, and improves performance of the server.

The documentation describes features, components, how it works, and even the command line interface. The docs help you understand what your load balancing toolset is, but if you want to get your hands dirty, try this:

Hands-On Lab - Deploying the Integrated Load Balancer in 60 Minutes

by Amir Javanshir

This is a cool lab because it walks you through the steps that set up an environment that enables you to play with the load balancer. The steps consist more or less of:

  • Installing Solaris
  • Setting up the virtual switches and their VNICs
  • Configuring the zone for the load balancer, including its access to the VNICs
  • Cloning that zone into three other zones
  • Configuring each cloned zone to run Apache Tomcat
  • Installing the load balancer on the first zone

Once the environments are set up, the lab walks you through several exercises to help you become familiar with the different ways in with the load balancer monitors and manages traffic. This lab is a whole lot of fun.

More Hands-On Labs for Oracle Solaris 11

You can find all the hands-on labs for Oracle Solaris 11 here:

All Hands-On Labs for Oracle Solaris 11

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 11, 2014

Understanding The New Economics of Server Performance

See below for image license.

Garage nuts like me always enjoy a truce in the perennial Class War because it lets us enjoy the impressive automobiles the super rich get to drive. Or perhaps their chauffeurs get to drive. When the original Bugatti Veyron was launched in 2006, it had 1001 horses. The base model of the 2006 Honda Accord had 166 horses and cost around $20,000. If the cost of increasing horsepower were linear, going from 166 horses to 1001 horses would only increase the price by a multiple of 6. So, looking only at power, the Bugatti Veyron would cost only cost $120,000.

According to the Jalopnki blog, it costs $1.7 million dollars. Some of that is due to its luxury appointments, but most of it is due to the non-linear increase in cost that invariably accompanies a linear increase in power.

Lucky for us geeks, that's not true of hardware. Well, it was for a while, but that's changed. As these three video interviews explain.

Revolutionizing Server Economics

Interview with Renato Ribeiro

Deploying clusters of small systems used to be the most economical way to get compute power because you had to pay a premium to get all that power on a single system. That's no longer true. Renato explains why that's no longer true. And he has charts.

Horizontal vs Vertical Scalability

Video Smackdown: Michael Palmeter v Renato Ribeiro

Is Oracle's approach to large vertically scaled servers at odds with today's trend of combining lots and lots of small, low-cost servers systems with networking to build a cloud, or is it a better approach? Michael Palmeter, Director of Solaris Product Management, and Renato Ribeiro, Director Product Management for SPARC Servers, discuss.

Like Getting a Ferrari for the Price of a Toyota

Interview with David Lawler

Is buying hardware today like getting a Ferrari for the price of a Toyota? Yes, says Senior Vice President David Lawler, because Oracle has re-engineered the way we develop systems from the hardware side and the software side. You get tremendous performance AND low cost. David, who knows his numbers, explains how Oracle does it, and why our competitors aren't doing the same thing. Sound quality is poor, but content is worth it.

The image used in this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Attribution: M 93

- Rick

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Friday Jan 31, 2014

Simplifying the Installation of Oracle Database on Oracle Linux - Reprint








Most of my workdays start by shapechanging me into a seven-headed Hydra, and each Hydra promptly makes a beeline for multi-tasking hell. So, when I get a chance to simplify something, anything, I jump on it.

Ginny has done that for OTN at last twice. Below are two of her exercises in simplifying our lives. We published these articles before, but we recently had to rebuild one of them because somebody (I'm not going to say who) deleted it. To avoid annoying one of your Hydras, and instead send you off to a peaceful weekend, here they are again.









How I Simplified Oracle Database Installation on Oracle Linux 5

by Ginny Henningsen

Before installing Oracle Database 10g or 11g on a system, you need to preconfigure the operating environment since the database requires certain software packages, package versions, and tweaks to kernel parameters. Ginny discovered that Oracle Linux provides a remarkably easy way to address these installation prerequisites. Find out how.

How I Simplified Oracle Database 11g and 12c Installation on Oracle Linux 6

by Ginny Henningsen

Similar to the article above, but updated for Database 12c and Oracle Linux 6. Ginny simplifies the installation of Oracle Database 11g by automatically pre-configuring Oracle Linux with the required software packages and correct kernel parameters.

Photograph of Fat Boy on Sakajawea Road in Idaho taken by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Wednesday Jan 29, 2014

Man Vs. Machine

Man vs machine. Command Line vs GUI. It's not a new debate. In fact, when I was a little boy I watched this Paul Bunyan cartoon with the dismay of a sysadmin watching the increasing popularity of GUIs:

Cartoon: Paul Bunyan's Ax vs The Chain Saw

What Skills Do Sysadmins Need to Manage a Modern Data Center?

Video Interview with Brian Bream

When I wrote technical manuals for Oracle Solaris back in the day, I had the luxury of my very own lab. For instance, while writing the NIS+ books, I was able to discover my own procedures on a small network and, when I needed something larger, I could ask the sysadmins in Sun's bigger labs to try some experiments for me. Little did I know those were the Golden Years of technical writing.

They were also the Command Line Years. We used the command line for everything, including email, product testing and, of course, managing Solaris. The command line put the operator in control. You had a mental map of what you were doing, you were completely engaged, and if something became repetitive, you could always write a script for it. The shell was the interface, and emacs was the only tool you needed.

When GUI's first came out, we hated them on principle. They were slower than the command line, and they didn't really add any value. Plus, they weakened your skills.

Since then it's been a tossup. GUI's have gotten steadily better, but they didn't add enough value to overcome our attachment to the command line. In fact, we kinda resented them because they were used as a pretext to hire less experienced and cheaper sysadmins.

However, with the advent of vertically-integrated systems such as Oracle's Exadata and SuperCluster, the GUI may have finally come into its own. Listen to Brian Bream explain why.

Watch video interview here

Photograph of bicycle in Durango taken by Rick Ramsey in Oct 2012

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 23, 2014

Hands-On Lab Setup Instructions Now Available for Next Virtual Sysadmin Day

As you may already know, OTN's next Virtual Sysadmin Day is on January 28 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm PT. This sysadmin day is going to be very cool because its hands-on labs focus on solving real-world problems with Oracle technologies.

You'll definitely want to do the prep work before the day of the event. The prep work consists of configuring your laptop and uploading the images. Don't be that guy. The one who, the day of, asks where the instructions are. Him. Don't be him.

Pre-Event Checklist

The checklist provides:

  • Virtual Conference hardware requirements
  • Virtual Conference software requirements
  • Setup instructions for Oracle Solaris labs
  • Setup instructions for Oracle Linux labs
  • Setup instructions for Oracle VM labs

If You Must Tweet

If you can't keep your hands off your danged phone while working on the labs, at least use this hashtag:

#OTNVSAD

Questions for Ed

Oracle ACE extraordinaire Ed Whalen and I will be hanging out at the Sysadmin Lounge during the last 30-45 minutes of the event. Ed knows his stuff, so if you have any questions about Linux, such as how to optimize it for the database or other applications, ask Ed. If you have questions about Harleys or Ducatis, ask me.

See you next week.

photograph of Harleys in Wisconsin by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Wednesday Jan 22, 2014

Cache Algorithms and Other Storage Tricks

This morning I was reading about something called a cache algorithm. According to our friends at TechTarget, a cache algorithm specifies rules for discarding items from a computer's cache. So I started rooting through some of our tech articles to see if I could find any more about it.

I failed.

But I did find a couple of articles about storage, plus a video, that although not specifically about cache algorithms, do talk about storage efficiency. The video interview is new. I recorded it at Oracle OpenWorld, but had not edited until now. The articles have both been published before.

Video Interview: Simplifying the Way You Manage Data

with Art Licht

Simplification, efficiency, and data protection. That's what you get when you manage your data with Oracle Enterprise Manager. Art Licht explains. Recorded at Oracle OpenWorld 2013.

Tech Article: How to Multiply the Capacity of Oracle Storage Systems

by Tom Luckenbach
Hybrid columnar compression can effectively multiply your storage capacity by 10-15 times, increasing performance and reducing your hardware costs. It's available on Oracle's Pillar Axiom storage systems. Tom Luckenbach walks you through the steps to set it up.

Tech Article: How We Improved SAN and NAS Performance with Hybrid Columnar Compression

by Art Licht

A case study showing how Oracle reduced storage space requirements by a multiple of 19 while getting a six-fold increase in database query performance. All thanks to the Hybrid Columnar Compression capability of Oracle Database 11g Release 2. Plus how you can achieve similar results. By Art Licht.

About the Photograph

The photo is real stretch ...
from left to right, my riding partners
JimBob, El Jefe Con Queso, and Da Don.
Snapped at Luckenbach, Texas a couple of years ago,
on the almost famous Ghost Rider Dog Run.

- Rick

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Monday Jan 13, 2014

Lab - How to Deploy Oracle Software in Minutes Using Oracle VM Templates

In my first 12 years of school I had a natural ability in Math and Science, but had to work hard at English and History.

When I went to college, I didn't do well in Math and Science, so I transferred into Liberal Arts, where strangely enough, I did well. After all these years I just realized why. I never had to study for Math and Science. I just understood the material. If I did any homework, I did it during class. Which means I never listened to lectures. As a result, I never learned how to learn what I didn't know. So, when college presented me with more advanced topics that I couldn't just grok, I didn't know what to do. I fell behind. I assumed I wasn't any good. The opposite was true with Liberal Arts. Literature, History, Economics, it all confused me. So I listened in class. And I studied after class. SoI did well.

And that's why I'm not an engineer.

If you're a hands-on learner like me and Joel Schallhorn, the guy doing bicycle tricks in the picture, you'll appreciate our latest hands-on lab.

Lab: How to Deploy a Four-Node Oracle RAC 12c Cluster in Minutes, Using Oracle VM Templates

Hands-On Lab by Olivier Canonge with contributions from Christophe Pauliat, Simon Coter, Saar Maoz, Doan Nguyen, Ludovic Sorriaux, Cecile Naud, and Robbie De Meyer

This lab demonstrates how easy it is to deploy software environments with Oracle VM Templates. It uses a single-instance, Oracle Restart (Single-Instance High Availability [SIHA]), and Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC) for Oracle Database as an example. During this lab, you are going to deploy a four-node Flex Cluster (three hubs and one leaf) with a dedicated network for Oracle Flex ASM traffic.

See more of Joel Schallhorn on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

- Rick

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Friday Jan 10, 2014

It's Friday, Ask Your Boss to Dance

Happy Friday, OTN Garage!

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 09, 2014

Why Are So Many People Smarter Than Me?







When Tim said "Heisenbug," I pictured a large dirigible exploding and heard a radio reporter cry, "Oh the Humanity!"

As Tim started talking, I realized he'd said "Heisenbug," not Hindenbug. So I pictured my favorite chemistry teacher. Here is a link to his likeness:

Picture of Heisenberg

It was only when I heard my deceased physicist father-in-law's voice growling his favorite endearment "Rick, you dumbass," that I finally realized Tim was talking about Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

Although I wasn't completely sure.






Video Interview: How Ksplice Crushes the Heisenbug

As it turns out, Tim was talking about that phenomenon that happens to all of us when we call in a sysadmin to fix a problem with our system. When the sysadmin shows up, the problem disappears. I know you guys write scripts to make that happen on purpose, but Tim doesn't. And neither does the Ksplice team. So they developed some very cool technology to diagnose these heisenbugs and get our systems running properly again. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me. And everyone who reads this blog.

In any case, you can find out how Ksplice crushes the Heisenbug in this short video:

Video Interview: How Ksplice Crushes the Heisenbug

Here's a video of the Hinderburg crash

- Rick

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Wednesday Jan 08, 2014

Hands-On Lab: How to Deploy and Manage a Private Cloud

Hands-On Lab: How to Deploy and Manage a Private Cloud

With Oracle VM and Oracle Enterprise Manager Cloud Control 12c

We just updated this lab to get it ready for OTN's next Virtual SA Day on January 28. You can run the lab anytime from your laptop, or you can attend our virtual event and run it with the help of a proctor. There will be several hundred sysadmins running the same lab at the same time, so you can discuss it with others via chat, and get help from our proctors. Details here.

Cloud Building with Oracle Solaris

Blog by OTN Garage

At the risk of raising PITA's ire, there's more than one way to skin a cat. This blog provides three resources to help you build a private cloud with Oracle Solaris: one training class and two tech articles.

photograph of clouds at sunset over Colorado snapped by Rick Ramsey with lousy iPhone camera

- Rick

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Tuesday Jan 07, 2014

Tips for Using Linux Huge Pages

Ed Whalen is the Chief Technologist at Performance Tuning Corp. He knows an awful lot about making databases run faster, including the use of Linux Huge Pages. Here are two of his very helpful resources.

Tech Article: How to Configure x86 Memory Performance for Large Databases

by Ed Whalen, Oracle ACE

Performance issues in large databases are not easy to detect using normal analysis methods such as AWR reports and OS tools such as sar, top, and iostat. And yet, if you configure your memory appropriately in x86 environments, your database can run significantly faster. This article describes you can use Linux Huge Pages to do just that.

Ed covers x86 virtual memory architecture, Linux memory management, and enabling Linux Huge Pages. See the article here.

Video Interview: What Are Linux Huge Pages?

with Ed Whalen, Oracle ACE

Ed Whalen, Oracle ACE, explains Linux huge pages, the huge performance increase they provide, and how sysadmins and DBA's need to work together to use them properly. Taped at Oracle Open World 2013.

photograph of cliff face in Perry Park, Colorado, copyright Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 02, 2014

About our Latest Lab: How to Migrate to Oracle Linux and Oracle VM





Step by Step Instructions for Migrating to Oracle Linux and Oracle VM

Red Hat Linux and VMWare are fine technologies. A great pairing. However, if you have business reasons for migrating to Oracle Linux and Oracle VM, such as having earlier access to the latest Linux innovations or taking advantage of more integrated virtualization, take a look at our latest lab. It provides the best step by step instructions we could come up with for carrying out that migration. You can also try it just to hone your migration skills. You never know when the boss is going to ask you whether you can handle a migration.





Here's a peek at the major tasks:

  1. Start the two servers (Oracle VM Server and Oracle VM Manager).
  2. Connect to Oracle VM Manager and become familiar with the product.
  3. Verify that the Oracle VM environment started correctly.
  4. Import an assembly that has Oracle Database on top and was exported from VMware.
  5. Create an Oracle VM Template based on the VMware assembly.
  6. Edit the Oracle VM Template that was created.
  7. Create a guest based on the Oracle VM Template that was created.
  8. Verify and then start the Oracle VM guest that was created.
  9. Manually modify the guest configuration and remove VMware tools.
  10. Switch from the Red Hat kernel to Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for free.
  11. Transform the guest into a usable Oracle VM Template ("gold image").

You can run the lab anytime you like on your laptop, or you can attend OTN's next Virtual SA Day, and run it with the help of a proctor. There will be several hundred sysadmins running the same lab at the same time, so you can discuss it with others via chat, and get help from our proctors. Details here.

photograph of a brewery in Ouray, Colorado, by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Tuesday Dec 31, 2013

Is it Over, Already?

That was a helluva year. Here's hoping 2014 is just as wild and crazy.

You can find the articles we posted during 2013 here:

Thursday Dec 19, 2013

Next Virtual Sysadmin Day Is On Jan 28

OTN's next virtual sysadmin day is on January 28. It's four hours long, from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm PT. (Time converter here.) This time we have a whole new set of hands-on labs for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux, and Oracle VM. Proctored, of course, which means you can ask questions. The labs in our previous virtual sysadmin day focused on the basics. These focus on using these technologies in real-world scenarios. Click on the Agenda tab in the registration page to see the labs.

The event is free, but you do need to register. And there's a little homework involved. Nothing too complicated. We just expect you to have VirtualBox installed and the proper images already imported before we begin class. Click on the the Instructions tab for more info.

Register here.

Picture is of Mosquito Pass, in Colorado, taken from Mosquito Gulch. You need a 4x4 with good ground clearance to get up and over the top, and the rocks on the road will slice up your tires unless they're good and thick. A great place to catch your breath after you finish the hands-on labs.

- Rick

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Monday Dec 16, 2013

Why I'm Going Straight to Hell

Article: Performance Analysis in a Multitenant Cloud Environment

by Orgad Kimchi

My little brother and I used to drive our Sainted Mother mad with this game at bed time. We'd wait till she was stressed out, then throw something big, like a softball, against the wall. Being a worry-wart, she'd come into the room to find out which one of us had fallen out of his bed and broken his arm. We both pretended to be fast asleep, of course, and had already recovered the soft ball.

Perplexed, she would return to the kitchen. A short while later, we would throw the bat against the wall. After the initial boom against the sheetrock, it would clatter on the ground, making a sound similar to a mother's precious child cracking his skull on the cement steps in front of the house. Quickly one of us would recover it, tuck it under the sheets, and then we'd both return to our previous sleeping positions.

Little did we know, as we pushed our mother closer to the edge of Insanity, that our techniques would be adopted by virtualized environments the world over. As Orgad explains in the article above, as each virtualization product abstracts computing resources for isolation or other purposes, it creates a little brother. If something goes boom in the night or, if your environment starts hanging, how do you figure out where the problem is?

It's a super article, and well worth your time. If Mom had read it, we would have woken up inside an anthill, with only our heads sticking out so she could listen to our screams while she sipped a cup of Darjeeling.

Article: Performance Analysis in a Multitenant Cloud Environment

Performance analysis in a virtualized multitenant cloud environment is difficult because of the abstraction layers. How do you find the physical system resources that are overloaded? Orgad Kimchi explores four examples that show how you how with the built-in Oracle Solaris 11 tools.

Other Content By Or About Orgad

- Rick

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About

Contributors:
Rick Ramsey
Kemer Thomson
and members of the OTN community

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