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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Monday Jan 23, 2012

How to Survive the End of the World - Part II

In Part I of our Survival Guide for Civilization, I explained how to save civilization by identifying four distant planets that had the essential building blocks of civilization and combining them into a 5-node cluster with Earth:

Building BlockDistant Planet
--------------------------------------
footballDitka
cheerleadersDallas
beerBud
bratsMilwaukee
--------------------------------------
civilizationbackup civilization

As mentioned in Part I, the resulting five-node cluster was actually more than what we wanted. Five distant planets! We'd rather not deal with the overhead of managing five distant planets. We prefer to keep managing just one planet, but make sure that can keep civilization humming. Turns out that we can accomplish that through the magic of virtualization. As you might expect, it's called a virtual cluster. (Really techie people call it a failover zone cluster.)

First, we create one zone on Earth for each building block:

Building BlockZone on Earth
--------------------------------------
footballfootball-zone
cheerleaderscheerleader-zone
beerbeer-zone
bratsbrats-zone
--------------------------------------
civilizationcivilization zones

Then we create one failover zone on each distant planet for each zone on Earth:

Zone on EarthFailover ZoneDistant Planet
---------------------------------------------------------
football-zonefootball-failover-zoneDitka
cheerleaderscheerleaders-failover-zoneDallas
beerbeer-failover-zoneBud
bratsbrats-failover-zoneMilwaukee
---------------------------------------------------------
zone civilizationfailover zone civilization

In this way, each failover zone on its distant planet backs up one original zone on Earth. It's a great way to save civilization with much less overhead.

As it turns out, not only do we have an article that shows you how to create a cluster with Solaris Cluster 4.0, but we have one that shows you how to create a failover cluster, too:

How to Create A Failover Zone Cluster

Give it a try. It never hurts to be prepared.

- Rick
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Monday Jan 09, 2012

New Documentation for Common Sysadmin Tasks

The Oracle Solaris 10 documentation covers the most common sysadmin tasks in two main guides:

Oracle Solaris 11 uses one:

Oracle Solaris 11 Common Tasks Guide

The Common Tasks Guide covers:

  • Using Oracle Solaris man pages
  • Setting up and managing user accounts
  • Booting and shutting down Oracle Solaris 11
  • Working with the Oracle Configuration Manager
  • Managing services through SMF
  • Using the Fault Manager
  • Managing software packages
  • Managing disk use
  • Displaying and managing system processes
  • Managing system resources and configuration
  • Managing printing
  • Troubleshooting system and software problems, and managing core files

The rest of the Oracle Solaris 11 documentation is here:

Oracle Solaris 11 Documentation Library

By the way, there is no printing guide in the Oracle Solaris 11 library. That information appears in this part of the Common Tasks Book:

Setting Up and Administering Printers Using CUPS

- Juanita Heieck
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Thursday Dec 15, 2011

How to Survive the End of the World - Part I

If you've been paying attention you'll probably agree that Earth will be destroyed any day, now.

That used to concern me.

But the more I understand clustering, the more I realize we can simply reconstitute civilization from individual slices of other planets in the Universe. The first thing we need to do is identify the building blocks of an advanced civilization. That should be relatively simple:

football
+cheerleaders
+beer
+brats
-------------------
civilization

Next, find planets that had excellent examples of each building block:

Building BlockBackup Planet
-------------------
footballDitka
cheerleadersDallas
beerBud
bratsMilwaukee
--------------------------------------
civilizationbackup civilization

Those four planets plus Earth would be easy enough to arrange into a high-availability cluster if we downloaded and installed Oracle Solaris 11 and Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 on each planet, including Earth.

With Solaris Cluster 4.0, we could create a nice five-node cluster. Not only would the cluster provide the disaster recovery we're looking for, but it would actually help us create an elastic cloud of sorts, in which we could, for instance, tap into the beer of planet Bud during the Super Bowl or other times of dire need. See What's New to read about other cool things you can do with Solaris Cluster 4.0.

Creating a five-node cluster can get a bit tricky, but you can build up your skills by creating a smaller one, using the instructions in this OTN article:

How to Install and Configure a Two Node Cluster

Once you have the two-node setup figured out, you can move to the five-node setup. But the resulting five-node cluster is actually more than what we want, isn't it? It's a cluster of five entire planets, when what we're looking for is a slice of each planet. In an upcoming blog I'll summarize how to create a cluster from the slices of those individual planets. That's called a virtual cluster or a zone cluster, and it's very cool.

- Rick

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Wednesday Nov 23, 2011

How to Search for (and Find) Solaris Docs

Just the other day, I went to the recently-released Oracle Solaris 11 library to search for information about the print service changes. I knew there had been changes in Oracle Solaris 11, but could not remember the new approach to printing. So, being the optimist that I (never) am, I went to the Oracle Solaris 11 Information Library on docs.oracle.com and typed "print service" into the search box. Imagine my surprise when the response back was:

We did not find any search results for: print service site:download.oracle.com url:/docs/cd/E23824_01.

OMG! WTF? Are you kidding me?

After throwing a few stuffed animals at my computer screen, I tried again. Is search broken? Well, sort of (and I'm trying to get it fixed). In the meantime, however, there is a reasonably simple user workaround. Possibly unnoticed by most people, there is a Within drop-down menu on the Oracle search results page. If you simply open the Within menu, select Documentation, and click the little magnifying glass again, you (should) get the expected results.

Is it perfect? No, but at least it's an improvement over being completely broken.

- Janice Critchlow, Information Architect, Systems

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Tuesday Nov 22, 2011

Screwed Up Again, Did Ya?

Your turn to wear the Cantaloupe Cap of Shame? Here's how to keep it from happening again:

  1. Figure out what data you need to archive
  2. Create a solid archive someplace safer than your iphone
  3. Get wicked fast at recovering your system.

Jesse Butler explains how to do all three for a system running Oracle Solaris 11:

How to Recover an Oracle Solaris 11 System

- Rick

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Monday Nov 21, 2011

Is Oracle Solaris 11 Really Better Than Oracle Solaris 10?

If you want to be well armed for that debate, study this comparison of the commands and capabilities of each OS before the spittle starts flying:

How Solaris 11 Compares to Solaris 10

For instance, did you know that the command to configure your wireless network in Solaris 11 is not wificonfig, but dladm and ipadm for manual configuration, and netcfg for automatic configuration? Personally, I think the change was made to correct the grievous offense of spelling out "config" in the wificonfig command, instead of sticking to the widely accepted "cfg" convention, but loathe as I am to admit it, there may have been additional reasons for the change.

This doc was written by the Solaris Documentation Team, and it not only compares the major features and command sequences in Solaris 11 to those in Solaris 10, but it links you to the sections of the documentation that explain them in detail.

- Rick

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Friday Nov 18, 2011

New Shell In Oracle Solaris 11

In Oracle Solaris 11, Korn Shell 93 (/usr/bin/ksh/ or usr/bin/ksh93) replaces both the Bourne Shell (/usr/bin/sh or /sbin/sh) and Korn Shell 88 (/usr/bin/ksh).

There are some incompatibilities between the shells. They are described in:

/usr/share/doc/ksh/COMPATIBILITY

If a script has compatibility problems you can use the legacy shell by changing the she-bang line:

If this doesn't work

Use This

#!/bin/ksh #!/usr/sunos/bin/ksh
#!/usr/bin/ksh #!/usr/sunos/bin/ksh
   
#!/bin/sh #!/usr/sunos/bin/sh
#!/usr/bin/sh #!/usr/sunos/bin/sh
#!/sbin/sh #!/usr/sunos/bin/sh

- Mike Gerdts http://blogs.oracle.com/zoneszone/

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Friday Nov 11, 2011

How to Find Out Which Devices Are Supported By Solaris 11
















Image of monks gathering on the steps of the main hall in the Tashilhunpo Monastery is courtesy of Alison Whitear Travel Photography.















In his update of Brian Leonard's original Taking Your First Steps With Oracle Solaris, Glynn Foster walks you through the most basic steps required to get a version of Oracle Solaris 11 operational:

  • Installing Solaris (VirtualBox, bare metal, or multi-boot)
  • Managing users (root role, sudo command)
  • Managing services with SMF (svcs and svcadm)
  • Connecting to the network (with SMF or manually via dladm and ipadm)
  • Figuring out the directory structure
  • Updating software (with the IPS GUI or the pkg command)
  • Managing package repositories
  • Creating and managing additional boot environments

One of the things you'll have to consider as you install Solaris 11 on an x86 system is whether Solaris has the proper drivers for the devices on your system. In the section titled "Installing On Bare Metal as a Standalone System," Glynn shows you how to use the Device Driver utility that's included with the Graphical Installer.

However, if you want to get that information before you start installing Solaris 11 on your x86 system, you can consult the x86 Device List that's part of the Oracle Solaris Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). Here's how:

  1. Open the Device List.
  2. Scroll down to the table.
  3. Open the "Select Release" pull-down menu and pick "Solaris 11 11/11."
  4. Move over to the "Select Device Type" pull-down menu, and pick the device type. Or "All."

The table will list all the devices of that type that are supported by Solaris 11, including PCI ID and vendor.

In the coming days the Solaris Hardware Compatibility List will be updated with more Solaris 11 content. Stay tuned.

- Rick Ramsey
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Monday Nov 07, 2011

5 Commands That Make Solaris Administration Easier

Face it. Not all of us have got it figured out.

If the Service Management Facility in Oracle Solaris 10 happens to be one of those areas that you didn't quite understand as well as you had intended, you may be interested to know that it's not as complicated as, say, the interplay between geopolitics and energy policy.

In fact, SMF only has five commands:

svcs Get detailed views of the service state of all service instances in the service configuration repository
svcadm Perform common service management tasks, such as enabling, disabling, or restarting service instances
svcfg Display and manipulate the contents of the service configuration repository
svcprop Retrieves property values from the service configuration repository with an output format appropriate for use in shell scripts
inetadm Observe or control services controlled by inetd

The svcfg and svcprop commands deal with the service repository (maintains configuration info and run-time data for services). The inetadm command focuses on inetd-controlled services. You can get more information about these three commands in the Oracle Solaris 10 Basic System Administration Guide, available from The Solaris 10 System Administration Documentation Collection. Or, if it hasn't moved, use this link.

If you want to learn about the many things that you can do with the first two commands, svcs and svcadm, read this technical white paper:

Easier System Administration with the Solaris Service Management Facility

It describes how you can use the svcs and svcadm commands to:

  • Display all the services currently running
  • Display information about individual services
  • Display dependencies between services
  • List the individual processes that constitute a service
  • Perform common administrative tasks such as starting a service and then monitoring it
  • Investigate system faults
  • It's a good way to become familiar with real-world uses of the SMF. And, perhaps, put you in the practice of fully developing your perspective before you are moved to unleash it upon the world.

    - Rick Ramsey and Cindy Swearingen
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    Thursday Nov 03, 2011

    Solaris Security Resources on OTN

    image courtesy of Faisal's photo stream on Flikr

    An Overview of Oracle Solaris 10 Security Controls

    Glenn Brunette describes how to more easily secure ZFS file systems compared to UFS file systems in this white paper, along the following lines:

    UFS file systems have the following characteristics:

    • UFS file systems are directly tied to disk slices
    • Disk slice space is not easily expanded to increase capacity for UFS file systems because the disk generally contains other disk slices for active file systems
    • In some cases, you have to reinstall the OS to increase the size of the UFS root file system
    • UFS file system space is controlled by using UFS quotas

    ZFS file systems have the following advantages:

    • ZFS uses a pooled storage model where all the file systems in pool use available pool space.
    • No relationship exists between ZFS file systems and disk slices except for the ZFS root file system.
    • A long-standing boot limitation is that a ZFS root file system must be created on a disk slice.
    • During installation, you define the size of the root pool disk slice or mirrored slices that contain the root file system.
    • The root file system contains separate directories of system-related components, such as etc, usr, and var, unless you specify that var is separate file system.
    • You can put a reservation and a quota on the /var file system to determine how much disk space is reserved for /var and how disk space it can consume.

    For example, you might consider configuring a separate /var file system when installing a system that will be used as a mail server. This way, you can control the size of var with a quota so that root pool's space capacity is not exceeded.

    In addition, if the ZFS root file system and the /var file system begin to exceed the pool's capacity, you can easily replace the root pool disk with a larger disk without having to unmount, restore a backup, or reinstall the root file system.

    How should you configure your ZFS data sets for optimum security? Read Glenn's paper to find out. He not only provides security-based recommendations for ZFS, but also for:

    • Software installation clusters
    • Minimization
    • Non-executable stacks
    • Filesystems
    • USB Support
    • Plugable Authentication Modules
    • Service Management Facility
    • Cryptographic services management
    • Zones
    • And lots more

    If you're inclined to read more about security, try these other two papers we published recently, plus OTN's security collection.

    Oracle Solaris 11 Security: What's New for Developers

    Recommendations for Creating Reduced or Minimal Solaris Configurations

    OTN's Security Collection

    - Rick Ramsey and Cindy Swearingen
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    Monday Oct 17, 2011

    Networking Services You Can Run Inside a Oracle Solaris 11 Express Zone

    Oracle Solaris 11 Express introduced a new network stack architecture previously known as “Crossbow”. It lets you combine virtual NICs into flexible virtual networks that are tightly integrated with zones. In addition, the new architecture introduces the ability to manage your network resources by controlling bandwidth and flow.

    As a result, you can now run these services inside a Solaris 11 Express zone:

    • DHCP client
    • DHCP server
    • Routing daemon
    • IPsec
    • IPfilter
    • IP Multipathing (IPMP)
    • ndd commands
    • ifconfig with set or modify capabilities (usage of dladm and ipadm is recommended

    This is just one of the changes between Oracle Solaris 11 Express and previous versions. For more info, see the Oracle Solaris 11 ISV Adoption Guide.

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

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