Tuesday May 28, 2013

What If I Want to Update Just Java?

Sometimes all you want to update is Java, and not your entire Oracle Solaris environment. But Java is packaged as part of the Oracle Solaris systems software, and Oracle recommends that you update all the system software at once, since it was tested together.

What can you do?

How to Update Only Java in Your Oracle Solaris Environment

by Peter Dennis and Alta Elstad

This article describes how to update one piece of software that is constrained by an incorporation without altering any other software that is constrained by that incorporation, and still end up with a supported system. This article by Peter Dennis and Alta Elstad explains how to do that. It focuses on Java, but you can use the same technique for other software.

More Information About Oracle Solaris Packaging

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 30, 2013

How to Build A Cloud for Family and Friends Using Oracle Solaris 11

image copyright 2013 by Rick Ramsey

When we talk about cloud, we tend to focus on The Cloud. Enterprise. Government. Scalable. Fast. Big. Bigger. Fastest. That's all wicked impressive, but it's not something I can do on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Now, I like and use Dropbox. There are other easy-to-use cloud services out there similar to Dropbox. But my Inner Geek wants his own cloud. Something modest and unassuming. Itty bitty, even. Just for fun. Kinda like putting a race cam on my Ducati 748: I don't need one, but I want to see if I can do it. Turns out it's nowhere near as involved as installing a race cam on a Ducati. And you don't need to get your hands greasy. Suk Kim, Oracle ACE Director, shows how.

How to Build a Web-Based Storage Solution Using Oracle Solaris 11

by Suk Kim, Oracle ACE Director

Combine AjaXplorer, Oracle Solaris 11.1, and Apache Web server to build a cloud-based storage service that is similar to Dropbox. These are the main tasks ... Install Oracle Solaris 11.1. Configure ZFS storage. Install the Apache and PHP packages. Set up Security. Connect to the client. Check ZFS compression and deduplication. That's all it takes. Suk Kim provides the instructions.

(In case it's not clear that the link is in the heading, Laura, you can also click here)

Suk Kim is an Oracle Ace Director for Oracle Solaris in South Korea. He is also chairman of the Korea Oracle Solaris User Network, manager of Oracle Solaris TechNet, manager of the Solaris School community, an adjunct professor at Ansan University, and a senior system and security consultant at NoBreak Co., LTD.

Follow Suk Kim here:

About the Cloud Picture

I took it from my house in Colorado in the summer of 2011 with a cheap Sony camera. 2013 has brought a snowy Spring to Colorado (next storm, on May 1, will drop 6 inches of snow on us), so it's likely we'll see a lot more of these storms in May, June, and July. I need to spring for a better camera so you can see how spectacular these storms are in the high country.

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 18, 2013

Why Solaris Loves Python

It's not well known that Oracle Solaris 11 includes a healthy dose of Python code, and that Solaris engineering uses Python tools. These four videos provide more of the story.

How Oracle Solaris 11 Uses Python

Oracle Solaris 11 installation tools use Python to access C libraries more quickly and easily than if they were coded in C. Drew Fisher explains why the Solaris engineering team chose Python for this purpose, what he personally likes about it, and what it implies for the future of Solaris development.

Why Is Oracle Solaris Engineering Looking for Python Developers?

Martin Widjaja, engineering manager for Oracle Solaris, describes the development environment for Oracle Solaris and why Oracle wants to hire more Python developers to work on Solaris.

Why I Started Developing In Python

David Beazly was working on supercomputing systems at Los Alamos National Laboratory when he began to use Python. First, he used it as a productivity tool, then as a control language for C code. Good insights into Python development for both systems developers and sysadmins from the respected author.

How RAD Interfaces In Oracle Solaris 11 Simplify Your Scripts

Every time a new release of Oracle Solaris changes the syntax or output of its administrative commands, you need to update any scripts that interact with those commands. Until now. Karen Tung describes the RAD (Remote Administration Daemon) interfaces that Solaris 11 now provides to reduce the need for script maintenance.

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 11, 2013

How Oracle Solaris Engineering Thinks: Liane Praza

It's not often you get a glimpse into how the brightest minds at Oracle think (image removed from blog). And Liane is certainly one of the brightest minds at Oracle. In these two short videos (about 2 minutes each), taken at the recent Oracle Solaris Innovations Workshop, she explains:

Video Interview: Why We Build Virtualization Into the OS

Liane Praza explains why Oracle Solaris engineering continues to build virtualization capabilities into the OS instead of adding more features and better management to the hypervisor.

Why The OS Is Still Relevant

Sysadmins are handling hundreds or perhaps thousands of VM's. What is it about Solaris that makes it such a good platform for managing those VM's? Liane Praza, senior engineer in the Solaris core engineering group provides an engineer's perspective.

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 04, 2013

The Screaming Men of Finland and Oracle SPARC Chips

source

In response to the release of Oracle's SPARC T5 and M5 chips, which are dramatically faster than those of IBM, IBM responded by saying that speed was not as important as other qualities. Forbes begged to differ:

Forbes Article: For Big Data Customers, Top Performance Means High Speed And Low Cost

Assuming you agree, you'll be interested in some dyno runs of not only our SPARC chips, but also our applications running on them. Did I say dyno runs? I'm sorry, I meant benchmarks.

World's Fastest Database Server

Oracle’s new SPARC mid-range server running Oracle Solaris is the fastest single server for Oracle Database:

  • Oracle’s SPARC T5-8 is the fastest single server for Oracle Database
  • Oracle's SPARC T5-8 server has a 7x price advantage over a similar IBM Power 780 configuration for database on a server-to-server basis.
See Benchmarks Results Here
Why Oracle Database runs best on Solaris

World's Fastest Server for Java

As you might expect, Java runs fastest on Oracle servers.

SPECjEnterprise2010 Benchmark World Record Performance
SPECjbb2013 Benchmark World Record Result
Why Solaris is the best platform for Enterprise Java

Optimizations to Oracle Solaris Studio COmpilers

The latest release of Oracle Solaris Studio includes optimizations for the new SPARC chips in its compilers. Larry Wake has more:

Blog: Oracle Solaris and SPARC Performance - Part I

I'll Optimize Yours If You Optimize Mine

Since the Solaris and SPARC engineers get along so well, they have each optimized their technologies for each other:

SPARC Optimizations for Oracle Solaris
Oracle Solaris Optimizations for SPARC

Happy Burnouts.

- Rick

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Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Miss MoneyPenny and the Oracle Solaris 11 Provisioning Assistant

source

In the following video, Bart Smaalders, from the Oracle Solaris core engineering team, explains why they decided not to provide a direct upgrade path from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11, and the best way for a data center to perform an indirect upgrade.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Why Engineering Did Not Provide a Direct Upgrade Path to Oracle Solaris 11

Miss MoneyPenny to the Rescue

If you saw Skyfall, you probably noticed two things. First, that the latest Miss Moneypenny is a lot more interesting than past Miss Moneypennies. Second, that she's always there when 007 needs her.

Just like Oracle Solaris 10.

Note: The following information is no longer valid. Instead, please install a standalone Oracle Solaris 11 client, configure an Automated Installer (AI) server and and Image Packaging System repository on it. See support note 1559827.2


This information is no longer valid. The provisioning assistant is no longer available for download.

Oracle Solaris 10 has just released a nifty tool called Oracle Solaris 11 Provisioning Assistant. It lets you run the automated installer from Oracle Solaris 11 on a Solaris 10 system. That means you can set up an IPS (Image Packaging System) repository on your Solaris 10 system, and use it to provision one or more Solaris 11 systems.

In fact, if you have already set up a JumpStart server on your Solaris 10 system, you can use it to provision the Solaris 11 systems. Kristina Tripp and Isaac Rozenfeld have written an article that explains how:

TECH ARTICLE: How to Use an Existing Oracle Solaris 10 JumpStart Server to Provision Oracle Solaris 11 11/11

Note:
The Provisioning Assistant only provisions Solaris 11 11/11 systems. It does not provision Solaris 11.1, and there are no plans to extend its functionality to provision future releases of Oracle Solaris 11. Once you have set up your Solaris 11 system, use its automated installer to provision systems with the Solaris 11.1 or future releases. For more info, see the Upgrading to Oracle Solaris 11.1 documentation.


- Rick

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Wednesday Mar 27, 2013

Why Become a Solaris Sysadmin?

On the one hand Oracle is telling you that Solaris is the key component of the Oracle stack, that we've been investing heavily in it, and that it provides the best platform for managing the stack. Watch these videos:

On the other hand, we are telling your boss to buy our engineered systems because they'll not only reduce the complexity of managing the data center, but they'll need fewer sysadmins to run them.

So, which is it?

Video Interview: Why Become a Solaris Sysadmin?

I asked Larry Wake, Solaris old-timer. Tell me what you think of his answer.

Video Interview: Why Become A Solaris Sysadmin?.

A year or two ago, Justin asked Marshall Choy a similar question. Watch that video here:

Video Interview: Impact of Engineered Systems on the Sysadmin

- Rick

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Monday Feb 11, 2013

Oracle Solaris 10 Still Rocks

source

When it was launched back in 05, Oracle Solaris 10 rocked the IT world. I heard a rumor that Scott tried to launch it at a Rolling Stones concert, but apparently Mick Jagger didn't think operating systems were sexy.

Operating systems not sexy? Since when?

Well, Mick, when was the last time you released a new album? Oracle Solaris 10 released one last Friday, pal.

Oracle Solaris 10 1/13 Release

The new release is integrated with My Oracle Support. As a result, you can view the system configuration, asset inventory, and change history of your Solaris systems on the support portal, along with the results of the health checks that Oracle Support performs. (Kinda like letting a pregnant woman have access to continuous ultrasound via her cell phone, huh?)

This support will be available for Oracle Solaris 10 through 2018. After that, it will be supported through Oracle's Lifetime Support Policy.

There's plenty more:

Technical Resources

Thursday Jan 10, 2013

Recent How-To Articles About Oracle Solaris Zones

LEGO Clone Army Collection

How to Put Oracle Solaris Zones on Shared Storage for Easy Cloning

by Jeff Victor

What is ZOSS? Zones on shared storage. Why would you do that? When you configure a zone on shared storage, you can quickly clone it on any server that uses that storage. Jeff explains how.

How to Create Oracle Solaris 11 Zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center

You can also create Oracle Solaris 11 zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c. When you set up a zone this way, you can add the zone to a server pool and use the zone migration feature of Oracle Solaris 11. In this article, Laura Hartman shows you how to create and configure a non-global zone from the Plan Management View of this handy-dandy tool.

How to Create a Load-Balanced Application Across Two Oracle Solaris Zones

by Laura Hartman

Install Apache Tomcat on two Oracle Solaris zones. Connect them across a VPN. And let the Integrated Load Balancer in Oracle Solaris 11 manage traffic. Presto: high(er) availability in a single server.

- Rick

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Tuesday Jan 08, 2013

How to Upgrade an Oracle Solaris 11 Repository with 11.1 Packages

These instructions assume you already have a local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 IPS package repository, and you want to update that local repository by adding Oracle Solaris 11.1 packages.

You can either use the pkgrecv command or you can download a repository image file.

Using pkgrecv

Using pkgrecv takes more time and requires your system to be connected to the Internet for a much longer time. If you use pkgrecv, specify http://pkg.oracle.com/solaris/release as the source, and be sure to specify the -m all-versions option. See the pkgrecv(1) man page for more information.

Using a Repository Image File

If you prefer to use a repository image file, first download the image file and then copy the contents to your existing repository. You can get the Oracle Solaris 11.1 repository image files from OTN or from eDelivery. Then follow these instructions.

Step 0. Assume the root role and snapshot your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository.

In this example, your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository is located at /export/repo/Solaris11.

# zfs snapshot rpool/export/repo/Solaris11@11-1111

Step 1. Download Oracle Solaris 11 from OTN.

Go to the download page. Read the "OTN License Agreement for Oracle Solaris" and click the Accept License Agreement button.

Step 2. Click the "MD5 checksum" link to display the checksums for the files you want to download.

Step 3. Scroll down to "Oracle Solaris 11.1 Repository Image."

Step 4. Click "Download Part A SPARC, x86" to get the file sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-a.

Verify the checksum like this:

# digest -a md5 sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-a

Step 5. Click "Download Part B SPARC, x86" to get the file sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-b.

Verify the checksum.

# digest -a md5 sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-b

Step 6. Click "Download Oracle Solaris 11 Pre-Upgrade Repository Image SPARC, x86 to get the file sol-11_1-upgrade-repo.iso.

Verify the checksum.

# digest -a md5 sol-11_1-upgrade-repo.iso

Step 7. Create one image file from the Part A and Part B files.

Verify the checksum of the resulting image file.

# cat sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-a sol-11_1-repo-full.iso-b > sol-11_1-repo-full.iso

Step 8. Merge the Oracle Solaris 11.1 packages from the repository image file into your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository.

# mount -F hsfs sol-11_1-repo-full.iso /mnt
# rsync -aP /mnt/repo/ /export/repo/Solaris11
# umount /mnt

Step 9. Merge packages from the Oracle Solaris 11 pre-upgrade repository image into your local Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 repository.

# mount -F hsfs sol-11_1-upgrade-repo.iso /mnt
# rsync -aP /mnt/repo/ /export/repo/Solaris11
# umount /mnt

Step 10. Catalog new packages.

# pkgrepo refresh -s /export/repo/Solaris11
# pkg refresh solaris

You can use the pkgrepo info and pkgrepo get commands to check the properties set on the updated repository.

Step 11. Snapshot your updated repository.

# zfs snapshot rpool/export/repo/Solaris11@11.1

Step 12. Check that your Solaris publisher origin is set to your local repository.

- Alta Elstad

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Monday Dec 03, 2012

December 3 is Stephanie Choyer Day

I don't answer Stephanie Choyer's email just so I can enjoy her French accent when she calls.

"Reek! Reek! Why do joo not answer my eemails?"

Without the French, life on Earth would be so much poorer. No, they don't bring to the party any motorcycles that grow chest on your hair, and the Citroen is such a frightening study in Automobile design that I don't dare climb inside one. But they have French architecture. French sidewalks. French villages. The French Alps. Grenoble. French cheese. French wine. And that glorious French accent.

If I were French, I'd spend all my time enjoying being French. Which makes the work that Stephanie does day in and day with our hard-edged technologies and stubborn technologists so admirable.

Oracle Solaris 11 Resources for Sysadmins and Developers

The page in the link above represents the work of many people, but it was Steph who rounded them up. And it wasn't easy. I know, because I ran and hid from her on many, many occasions. But she was tireless.

"Reek. Reek. Why have you not published Glynn's article? Pleeeease, you must!"

Remember when tech companies gave you a simple choice? You could either read the 27,000 pages of documentation or a double-sided data sheet. Which will it be, pal? Then they started writing white papers. 74 pages of excellent prose did a beautiful job of explaining why the technology was fantastic, but never told you how to use it. Well, have you taken a look at these?

How-To Technical Articles for System Admins and Developers

Now you can get wicked excited about a cool technique described in a 74-page white paper, and find a technical article that shows you exactly how to use it.

The wicked smart marketing folks on the Oracle Solaris team wrote them, but it was Steph who bribed them with a Cabernet or beat them over the head with a baguette until all that work was finished and posted on OTN.

There are songs about French wine, but not about French vintners. There are songs about French cities, but not about French bricklayers. About French sidewalks, but not about the French policemen who keep them safe. As far as I know, there are no songs about OTN, but if there were, they would probably neglect to mention Steph.

Which is why today, Dec 3rd, we celebrate Stephanie Choyer Day. We dedicate this day to our relentless, hardworking, tireless, patient and friendly French colleague with the delightful accent. If I knew how to speak French, I'd say "Thanks for all you do" in French. But I don't speak French. And I don't trust online translations. I'd probably wind up saying "My left foot yearns for curdled milk." So here it is in plain old English:

Thank you, Stephanie.

psssst! about that documentation and those white papers ...

In case you haven't noticed, the Oracle Solaris doc team has done some pretty cool things with the Solaris docs. And those white papers are interesting reading, well worth setting aside some time. Because with Solaris, as you know, it's not just about getting by with a rudimentary grasp of the basics. It's about the amazing stuff savvy sysadmins and developers can do when they really understand it. Find them here:

- Rick

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Thursday Oct 25, 2012

Yay! Oracle Solaris 11.1 Is Here!

Even the critters are happy.

This is no cosmetic release. It's got TONS of new stuff for both system admins and system developers. In the coming weeks and months I'll highlight specific new capabilities, but for now, here are a few resources to get you started.

What's New (pdf)

Describes enhancements for sysadmins in:

  • Installation
  • System configuration
  • Virtualization
  • Security and Compliance
  • Networking
  • Data management
  • Kernel/platform support
  • Network drivers
  • User environment

And for system developers:

Download

Free downloads for SPARC and x86 are available, along with instructions and tips for using the new repositories and Image Packaging System.

Tech Article: How to Upgrade to Oracle Solaris 11.1

You can upgrade using either Oracle's official Solaris release repository or, if you have a support contract, the Support repository. Peter Dennis explains how.

Documentation

Superbly written instructions from our dedicated cadre of world-renowned but woefully underpaid technical writers:

  • Getting Started
  • Installing, Booting, and Updating
  • Establishing an Oracle Solaris Network
  • Administering Essential Features
  • Administering Network Services
  • Securing the Operating System
  • Monitoring and Tuning
  • Creating and Using Virtual Environments
  • Working with the Desktop
  • Developing Applications
  • Reference Manuals
  • And more

Training

And don't forget the new online training courses from Oracle University! I really liked them. Here are my first and second impressions. - Rick

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Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

You Don't Want to Meet Orgad Kimchi in a Dark Alley

source

Do you remember what those bad guys in the old Charles Bronson films looked like? They looked like Orgad Kimchi, that's what they looked like. When I met him at Oracle OpenWorld 2012, I realized I didn't want to meet him in the wrong alleyway of Budapest after dark.

Neither do old versions of Oracle Solaris, which Orgad bends to his will with as much ease as he probably bends stray tourists to his will in Budapest, Kandahar, or Dagestan.

How Orgad Made Oracle Database Migrate from Oracle Solaris 8 to Oracle Solaris 11

In this article, which we liked so much we reprinted it from his blog (please don't tell him!), Orgad explains how he head-butted an Oracle Database into submission. The database thought it was safe running in Oracle Solaris 8, but Orgad dragged its whimpering carcas into Oracle Solaris 11. How'd he do that? Well, if you had met Orgad in person, you wouldn't ask that question. Because you'd know he could have simply stared at it, and the database would have migrated on its own.

But Orgad didn't do that. Instead, he stuffed an Oracle Solaris 8 Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) Archiver Tool into his leather trench coat, the one with the special pockets sown in by the East German Secret Police for several Uzis and their ammo, and walked into his data center in a way that reminded the survivors of this clip from Matrix Reloaded.

The end result? The Oracle Database 10.2 that was running on Oracle Solaris 8 is now running inside a Solaris 10 branded zone in Oracle Solaris 11. With no complaints.

Don't make Orgad angry. Read his article.

- Rick

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Friday Aug 17, 2012

How to Create More Oracle Solaris 11 Zones With Less Effort

If you are familiar with zones in Oracle Solaris 11, you already know how to create them using a procedure like the one described in this article:

How to Get Started Creating Zones in Oracle Solaris 11
Duncan Hardie demonstrates how to perform basic operations with zones: first, how create a single zone using the command line, then how to add an application to a zone, and finally how to clone a zone.

And you may be aware that you can configure your zones so that they are easier to clone, as described in this article:

How to Configure Zones in Oracle Solaris 11 for Easy Cloning
Jeff McMeekin describes how to create a network topology of servers, routers, switches, and firewalls that you can clone right along with Oracle Solaris 11 zones.

However, if you are going to create several zones and perhaps configure them differently, why not make things easier on yourself? Why not prepare a few zone configuration plans? And when you're ready to create one, just push a button to execute one of the plans? This article by Laura Hartman describes how to do just that:

New!
How to Create Oracle Solaris 11 Zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c

Here's an overview of the process, lifted from the article:

"First, create an Oracle Solaris 11 zone profile and plan. The profile captures the zone configuration, including defining the storage and network details. The plan executes the configuration on selected targets. You can use and reuse the profile and plan to create zones with a consistent configuration.

"Then deploy the plan to create a new zone. When you deploy a plan, you identify the target operating systems and the number of zones to create. Before you submit the job to deploy the plan, you can modify some of the configuration details."

More info about Oracle Solaris 11 zones here:

- Rick

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Monday Aug 06, 2012

Basic and Advanced System Services Administration in Oracle Solaris 11

Does taming the behavior of your OS services manually make you feel less than your usual playful self? Lighten up. The Service Management Facility (SMF), introduced in Oracle Solaris 10 and extended in Oracle Solaris 11, provides the discipline those unruly services need. Here are two articles that will help get the most out of it.

Introducing the Basics of the Service Management Facility in Oracle Solaris 11

The SMF keeps track of the relationship between the services in your instance of Solaris. With this information, it can start services much more quickly at boot time, and it restart them automatically in the correct order if any of them fail. And that's only the beginning. In this article Glynn Foster explains what SMF does, and how to perform basic services administration with it, including how to use these four commands to get information about, and manage, your system services:

Command Description
svcadm Manage the state of service instances
svcs Provide information about services, including their status
svcprop Get information about service configuration properties
svccfg Import, export, and modify service configuration

Advanced Administration with the Service Management Facility in Oracle Solaris 11

In this article, Glynn Foster describes how to use some of the more advanced features of SMF, including service bundles, which you can use to deliver custom configuration across systems. And SMF profiles, which modify services to suit a particular installation. The introduction of layers in Oracle Solaris 11 provides better tracking of vendor-supplied customizations and administrative customizations for services and instances of services in four discrete layers, and site profiles, also described in this article, help you manage these layers more easily.

- Rick

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Monday Jul 23, 2012

My First Impression of Oracle University's On Demand Training

Source

I live in abject fear of lectures. I spent 12 years in and old fashioned Catholic School, complete with full uniform and wooden paddles. The first 8 years were a futile attempt to civilize me. During the remaining four years, the main thing I learned was how to sleep with my eyes open. And college wasn't much better. I don't know how I finished. I'm not even sure I finished. Instead, give me a few scraps of metal, a blow torch, and let me figure it out.

So when the folks from Oracle University offered to let me take one of their On-Demand online courses, I raised an eyebrow. Me? Are you sure? Maybe you should talk to Sister Mary Shackles, my high school principal.

But I decided to give it a try. After all, I am now a contributing member of society. I can probably pay attention for a few minutes without screaming. Holy Moly was I surprised. Hold still whilst I elucidate ...

Oracle University's Transition to Oracle Solaris 11 On-Demand Training - Course Format

Eric Siglin, the instructor, looked like he could head-butt me into the next building. If he'd been my high school principal I might have done better. Mister Siglin, which is how I'll refer to him so I remain in his good graces, has a background in Oracle Database, Solaris, Linux, and Oracle's Database Machine. Not bad.

Once you register for the course, you land in a dashboard of sorts that has three parts:

Selectable course outline

This one's pretty straightfoward ... a list of the course segments, and you can jump back and forth between them.

High-def video screen

Mister Siglin has a wicked black Fu-Manchu/white beard combo. And in full screen mode the resolution is good enough to verify that it's not a fake. When he needs to show you a screen, Mister Siglin simply replaces the video with a shot of the screen, and sometimes shows up live in the right corner of the screen.

As with those superbike crash compilations videos that I enjoy watching so much on YouTube, you can expand the window to full screen.

Scrolling Text Window

Below the screen is a scrolling text window that highlights the words as Mr Siglin speaks them. Reminds me of the Sing-Along-With-Mitch programs on American TV. You can turn off this feature with the little red lock icon a the top right of the text box, though I can't imagine why.

This is too cool: if you want to go back and review a portion of the lecture, you can click on the text below the window, and the video rewinds to the part where the instructor, Mister Siglin, spoke that word. And it advances normally from there.

But wait! There's more. Enter a word into the search window, and the progress bar indicates where in the recording Mister Siglin has said that word. Click on the indicator, and the video rewinds to that spot. Along with the scrolling text, of course. Unless you're the kind of guy who turns off the cool scrolling text. You probably pay for your fast food with small coins, don't you?

Course Content

As cool as all those bells and whistles are, the best part is the content. Here's an example of Mister Siglin's introductory comments.

"We are assuming that you have some prior Solaris experience coming in here, because we're going to address what's new with Solaris. We're going to talk about the image packaging system. Now, the image packaging system reminds me an awful lot of what we have in the Linux environment. The automated installer, which is a replacement for Jumpstart...

"Plus, we're also going to come up with some ideas to help it make it easier for you to transition from Solaris 10 to Solaris 11...

"So we're going to look at managing the software packages in Solaris 11. And that's going to continue perhaps until tomorrow. That's one of the nice things about having a small group like this one, that makes our schedule a little more flexible. So then we're going to talk about enhancements to the installation process. We have a couple of different ways of looking at that, because the installer's been improved. We have several options. And then we're going to get into Solaris Zones. We're going to take a look at what is new with the Solaris Zones, new with networking, especially since we're dealing with a lot more virtualization. And then on the last day, we're going to get into storage enhancements. There are some major enhancements with ZFS, for example. We're going to address those. And then the security enhancements that are in this version of Solaris.

If you get a minute ...

In a couple of weeks I'll tell you what I think about what I've been learning. Till then, here's another motorcycle crash video. And, for those of you who have not surrendered the romance in your soul to the rigors of keeping an IT shop humming, here's another enthusiastic sing-a-long from Mitch.

- Rick

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Thursday May 24, 2012

Overcoming Your Fear of Repositories

One of the best features of Oracle Solaris 11 is its software update model. As you have probably heard many times by now, the Image Packaging System (IPS) handles package dependencies automatically, so you no longer have to check them manually or create scripts that assemble the correct set of packages .

If you don't have a support contract, you have to wait until the next release of Oracle Solaris 11 to get the latest updates. But if you do have a support contract, you can keep your system updated with the latest security updates and bug fixes by downloading updates from the Oracle Support Repository. We recently published two articles that describe how, plus one more that shows you how to create multiple internal repositories.

How to Update Oracle Solaris 11 Systems from the Oracle Support Repository, by Glynn Foster

You may already know that you don't have to worry about manually tracking and validating patch dependencies when you update a version of Oracle Solaris 11. But did you also realize you can apply the updates to an alternate boot environment, and then schedule the switchover to happen automatically at a later time? Glynn Foster explains how, and how to make sure everything went well.

More Tips for Updating Oracle Solaris 11 Systems from the Oracle Support Repository, by Peter Dennis

The Oracle Support Repository contains bug fixes and critical security fixes that can be applied to existing Oracle Solaris 11 installations between major releases. The repository is updated monthly. Peter Dennis describes how to access those updates and apply them to your systems.

How to Create Multiple Internal Repositories for Oracle Solaris 11, by Albert White

Even though you may get all your software updates to Oracle Solaris 11 from an external repository, you may still want to create different internal repositories to serve different versions of Oracle Solaris 11 to different types of systems. Albert White shows you how to create and manage internal repositories for release, development, and support versions of Solaris 11.

There's plenty more where these came from. Be sure to bookmark our Installation Spotlight page, maintained by the kind and prolific folks who bring you Oracle Solaris 11.

About the picture ...
Laird Hamilton is a god.
Teahupoo is a killer wave.
Laird owned it.
Be like Laird.

- Rick

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Tuesday May 22, 2012

Cluster Fest

It's been a couple of months since we focused on Oracle Solaris Cluster. If you're a fan, we have some new content that will interest you. See below. (If you're new to Solaris Cluster, in particular how to use it in a virtual environment, see "Recent Technical Articles About Oracle Solaris Cluster," further down.)

New Technical Articles About Oracle Solaris Cluster

How to Upgrade to Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0
If you are running Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 5/11 on Oracle Solaris 10 and want to upgrade to Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 running on Oracle Solaris 11, consider using the Oracle Solaris Cluster Geographic Edition software. It makes the job easier and keeps downtime to a minimum. Tim Read wrote this 8-part article to show you how. Contents are:

How to Deploy Oracle RAC on Zone Clusters
This one is very cool. Oracle Solaris Cluster lets you create clusters of Solaris zones. That gives you high availability. You also get high availability from Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC). So why would you install RAC on zone clusters? Because you can implement a multi-tiered database environment that isolates database tiers and administrative domains from each other, while taking advantage of centralized (and simpler) cluster administration. This article explains how to do it.

Recent Technical Resources About Oracle Solaris Cluster

Blog: How to Survive the End of the World - Part I
Provides a simple example of a two-node cluster, and provides resources to help you create one.

How to Survive the End of the World - Part II
Changes the 2-node example above into a failover cluster, and provides resources to help you create one.

As always you can find the latest technical resources to help you evaluate, test, and deploy Oracle Solaris Cluster on OTN's Cluster Resources for Sysadmins and Developers

- Rick

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Thursday May 10, 2012

Adventures in Flopping

Click an image to expand it.

Flopping in the NBA:

Flopping in soccer:

Flopping in the the NFL:

Flopping in the Data Center:










Next time your boss brushes aside the Chitos wrappers strewn among the coaxial cables with a dismissive swipe of his Wingtips so he can make his way into your office and demand that you install the latest version of Oracle Solaris 11 on 3,000 clients by Monday, you won't have to resort to flopping.

Just tell him that it'll take you all weekend, and then read Isaac Rozenfeld's explanation of:

How to Set Up Automated Installation Services in Oracle Oracle Solaris 11

The Automated Installer in Oracle Solaris 11 is kinda sorta the replacement for JumpStart and a very cool tool. You should learn how to use it. Steps are:

  1. Use the command-line to set up a an Oracle Solaris 11 system to act as an Automated Installer server.
  2. Create an installation service that will be automatically installed on clients.
  3. Test the installation service on the client, using default settings.
  4. Run the installation service again, but with custom settings.

Isaac strolls through them in grand style:

For more information about the Automated Installer and other installation tools in Oracle Solaris 11, see the Oracle Solaris 11 Installation Resources Page on OTN.

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 24, 2012

Excuses, Excuses!

Excuses BookThere are two kinds of sysadmin. One charges into the unknown, eager to try the latest-and-greatest, confident in his or her ability to fix whatever breaks. The other is cautious, dedicated to keeping the Enterprise running and probably aware that unplanned downtime can become one of those career-limiting events.

If you are the latter, you probably have a pile of valid reasons (polite version of "excuse") why you haven't upgraded from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11. But that pile is getting pretty small. One of the remaining challenges may be how to get from here to there with minimal downtime. Fortunately, Harold Shaw has written an article that takes fear, pain, and loathing out of that migration: How to Live Install from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11 11/11.

You'll notice that we are being very specific that this will get you to Oracle Solaris 11 11/11. In fact, there are a couple of very important caveats: not only is this how-to (currently) specific to a target OS of Oracle Solaris 11 11/11, Harold is careful to point that you can't create a golden image on one type of system, say a SPARC M-Series system from Oracle, and deploy it on a different system, such as a SPARC T-Series system from Oracle.

The 4 Steps to Migrating from Oracle Solaris 10 to 11 11/11

Harold's formula is very detailed and surprisingly concise. I'd say you are running out of excuses to not make that switch to Oracle Solaris 11.

—Kemer

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Friday Apr 06, 2012

How to Test and Deploy Applications Faster

photo courtesy of mtoleric via Flickr

If you want to test and deploy your applications much faster than you could before, take a look at these OTN resources. They won't disappoint.

Developer Webinar: How to Test and Deploy Applications Faster - April 10

Our second developer webinar, conducted by engineers Eric Reid and Stephan Schneider, will focus on how the zones and ZFS filesystem in Oracle Solaris 11 can simplify your development environment. This is a cool topic because it will show you how to test and deploy apps in their likely real-world environments much quicker than you could before. April 10 at 9:00 am PT

Video Interview: Tips for Developing Faster Applications with Oracle Solaris 11 Express

We recorded this a while ago, and it talks about the Express version of Oracle Solaris 11, but most of it applies to the production release. George Drapeau, who manages a group of engineers whose sole mission is to help customers develop better, faster applications for Oracle Solaris, shares some tips and tricks for improving your applications. How ZFS and Zones create the perfect developer sandbox. What's the best way for a developer to use DTrace. How Crossbow's network bandwidth controls can improve an application's performance. To borrow the classic Ed Sullivan accolade, it's a "really good show."

"White Paper: What's New For Application Developers"

Excellent in-depth analysis of exactly how the capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11 help you test and deploy applications faster. Covers the tools in Oracle Solaris Studio and what you can do with each of them, plus source code management, scripting, and shells. How to replicate your development, test, and production environments, and how to make sure your application runs as it should in those different environments. How to migrate Oracle Solaris 10 applications to Oracle Solaris 11. How to find and diagnose faults in your application. And lots, lots more.

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 03, 2012

Is This How the Execs React to Your Recommendations?

Well then, do your homework next time!

The friendly folks on the Solaris team have made that a little easier. They have put together a list of resources to help you evaluate Oracle Solaris 11.

Evaluating Oracle Solaris 11

The've got demos. They've got podcasts. They have content to find out what's involved in upgrading from Oracle Solaris 10. Content to find out how to migrate from a different OS. Plus a link to the Pre-flight checker and the Solaris 11 Cheat Sheet. And more. All in one place.

So if you decide Solaris 11 is not for you, you'll be able to explain why. And if you decide that Solaris 11 is right for you, you'll have the facts to back up your decision.

Nobody likes to be laughed at by a stupid camel.

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 21, 2012

How I Explained Network Virtualization to Bikers

Back when we first launched Oracle Solaris Express, I stumbled upon a couple hundred bikers who were building a bonfire in the woods with the timber from an old cabin, a dozen cans of gasoline, and a couple of Honda Priuses. To avoid a beating, I convinced them to let me explain how virtual networks work. They set down their gasoline and I rescued some upholstery from the fire.

In the good old days, I explained, a proper biker had only one bike, a hardtail Knucklehead with a kick-starter, 5" over forks, and apes with purty leather tassels fabricated from the remnants of a favorite biker momma's chaps. And one leather jacket. Well worn. Naturally, that proper biker wanted to go to many rallies. But because he only had one bike, he could only go to one rally at a time. And he wore the same jacket to each rally. I suggested they call that favorite leather jacket Solaris, and that hardtail knucklehead a NIC.

"Nick," they asked. "Who's Nick?"

"Well, N-I-C," I explained. "It's short for Network Interface Card."

That made them a little restless, but I quickly added that as a result of the one-jacket, one-bike rule, life was good, pipes were loud, and America ruled the world.

They liked that. I got several pats on the back.

Fast forward 50, maybe 60 years, I explained while drawing the diagram above, and now we call ourselves motorcyclists. We have multiple bikes. And they are all EPA-compliant. And in keeping with the sartorial splendor of the court of Louix the XIV, we have one outfit for each bike. I asked them to pretend that each outfit was a zone, and each motorcycle was a virtual NIC, or VNIC. They got restless at the mention of Nick again, particularly after I brought up France, but I held up a well-manicured hand so they would allow me to elaborate. When modern motorcyclists like me want to go to Sturgis, I explained, we get into our Sturgis zone (a 5-day shadow, leather chaps, and obligatory bandana), and throw a leg over our Sturgis VNIC (a blinged-out CVO Harley Davidson 110" Ultra Classic with the dual-tone paint job). When we want to go to Americade, we slip into our Americade zone (a clean shave, a heated vest, and a reflective yellow Aerostich waterproof suit with 10 large pockets), and hop onto our Americade VNIC (a BMW K1200LT with heated seats, cup holder, and GPS). And so on. One outfit for each motorcycle, one zone for each vnic.

That's as far as I got. They gave me a beating and tossed me, my Vespa, and my modster jacket into the lake.

I decided to get some help.

Nicolas Droux, who was part of the engineering team that developed network virtualization (project Crossbow), agreed to explain all this to me. After assuring me that he was not a biker, we got on the phone. And we turned our phone conversation into a nifty podcast.

Podcast: Why and How to Use Network Virtualization

This podcast is easier to absorb if you listen to it in two parts, each about 15 minutes long.

In the first half, Nicolas explains how the process of managing network traffic for multiple Solaris zones across a single Network Interface Card (NIC) naturally led to the development of virtual NICs. And then to the network-in-a-box concept, which allowed you for the first time to create complete network topologies and run them within a single host to experiment, simulate, or test.

In the second half, Nicolas provides more details about combining zones and VNICS to create a test environment. He explains how you can create a zone to function as a virtual network router, for instance, or a virtual load balancer. By isolating these network functions into zones, you can test how your application performs with different settings, and use DTrace to follow the application calls as they are routed through your virtual network. Once you have the optimum settings for the network and the application, you can deploy it in your data center.

Here are some more resources to help you understand network virtualization:

- Rick Ramsey

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Monday Feb 13, 2012

OMG! What Did I Just Install?

Quick Quiz:

Q: What's in this Solaris 10 package: SUNWlibstdcxx4S?
A: You cheated. You googled it and found the link to the Oracle Solaris 10 documentation.

You're in luck, because each release of the Solaris 10 documentation contains a Package List for that release. For example:

Now try this:

Q: What's in this Solaris 11 package: compress/p7zip?
A: buzzer!

The Solaris 11 documentation does not include a package list. You can find mentions of some packages through google, but it's hit and miss. And you still don't get the rest of the info about the package that the Solaris 10 documentation included. So how do you find out what Solaris 11 packages you just installed? Here are two methods.

The pkg list Command

The pkg list command lists all the packages currently installed on your system. If you use it, redirect the output to a file so your screen doesn't wind up looking like a scene out of The Matrix. Since package naming is hierarchical, you are likely to find similar packages grouped together in the list. For example:

$ pkg list
.
.
.
compress/bzip2
compress/gzip
compress/p7zip
compress/unzip
compress/zip
.
.
.
editor/gedit
editor/nano
editor/vim

You can just list a subset of the packages you are interested in:

$ pkg list driver/network/ethernet/*

By the way, to list all packages that are available for you to install, add -a to the pkg-list command. This example asks for the name of all the packages you can install in the editor group:

$ pkg list -a editor/*

One you have a list of the packages, you can use one of the commands below to get additional info about each package.

The pkg info and pkginfo Commands

The pkg info command provides detailed information about a particular IPS package. For example:
$ pkg info p7zip
          Name: compress/p7zip
       Summary: The p7zip compression and archiving utility
   Description: P7zip is a unix port of the 7-Zip utility.  It has support for
                numerous compression algorithms, including LZMA and LZMA2, as
                well as for various archive and compression file formats,
                including 7z, xz, bzip2, gzip, tar, zip (read-write) and cab,
                cpio, deb, lzh, rar, and rpm (read-only).
      Category: System/Core
         State: Installed
     Publisher: solaris
       Version: 9.20.1
 Build Release: 5.11
        Branch: 0.175.0.0.0.2.537
Packaging Date: Wed Oct 19 09:13:22 2011
          Size: 6.73 MB
          FMRI: pkg://solaris/compress/p7zip@9.20.1,5.11-0.175.0.0.0.2.537:20111019T091322Z 

Here's another example:

$ pkg info -r solaris-large-server
          Name: group/system/solaris-large-server
       Summary: Oracle Solaris Large Server
   Description: Provides an Oracle Solaris large server environment
      Category: Meta Packages/Group Packages
         State: Not installed
     Publisher: solaris
       Version: 0.5.11
 Build Release: 5.11
        Branch: 0.175.1.0.0.9.2627
Packaging Date: Mon Feb 06 22:33:56 2012
          Size: 5.45 kB
          FMRI: pkg://solaris/group/system/solaris-large-server@0.5.11,5.11-0.175.1.0.0.9.2627:20120206T223356Z

The pkginfo command does the same for any SVR4 packages you may have installed on the same system.

For More Information

- Rick Ramsey with Alta Elstad

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Thursday Feb 09, 2012

Zoning Out

So much virtualization. So little time.

You can virtualize your OS ...

You can virtualize your network.

You can virtualize your storage.

Your server.

Even your highly-personalized desktop.

Me? I would like to virtualize my virtualization technologies. I want ONE server. With ONE OS. And ONE toolkit. That can actually be made up of hundreds or even thousands of virtual OS instances, networks, storage devices, desktops, aircraft carriers, or whatever they virtualize next.

You can't quite do that yet, but in Oracle Solaris 11 you can create zones that are easy to clone on other systems. That's a step in the right direction, I think. The following article describes how. In case you're not too confident in your ability to juggle zones, I added an article that helps you get started with zones in Oracle Solaris 11, and a link to more resources.

How to Configure Zones in Oracle Solaris 11 for Easy Cloning

The easiest way to create a bunch of zones is to clone them from one or more originals. That seems simple enough if you are going to clone them on the same instance of Solaris, but what if you'd like to clone them on other systems? In that case, you need to use virtual networks. You need to set up an entire network topology of servers, routers, switches, and firewalls that you can clone right along with the zones. Jeff McMeekin describes how.

How to Get Started Creating Zones in Oracle Solaris 11

If you used zones (containers) in Oracle Solaris 10, you'll appreciate this article. Because zones are more tightly integrated with the architecture of Oracle Solaris 11, they're easier to set up and manage. In this article, Duncan Hardie demonstrates how to perform basic operations with zones: first, how create a single zone using the command line, then how to add an application to a zone, and finally how to clone a zone.

More Zones Resources

  • Solaris 11 Virtualization Page - Links to demos, podcasts, technical articles, and more resources to help you understand zones and how to use them.
  • Zones Collection - See what zones-related content we've published (or found) since the dawn of time.
  • RSS Feeds Page - Subscribe to zones-related content through your favorite reader.

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

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