Monday Jun 28, 2010

Flops and GigaFlops

This blog is about the benefits of running Solaris on SPARC.

Although I was born in Santiago, Chile, I became a teenager in Lima, Peru in time to watch the beautiful Peruvian National Team advance all the way to the quarter finals of the 1970 World Cup.  For a small country like Peru, this was a gigantic achievement.  

If you've watched any World Cup matches lately, you've probably noticed two things:

  1. The best players get fouled incessantly.
  2. Everybody flops.

I'm not a fan of either.  (And don't even get me started on the NBA.)

In Peru we believed you were a good defender only if you could strip the ball away without touching your opponent.  A foul might save a goal, but it wouldn't save your honor.  As a result of this appreciation for technique, the1970 team won the FIFA Fair Play Trophy. With flopping and strategic fouling so prevalent in the World Cup, it's a miracle we made it to the quarter finals! 

Because I'm also a geek, I have the same respect for the combination of Solaris and SPARC

Oracle Solaris and Sun SPARC Systems—Integrated and Optimized for Enterprise Computing

Oracle Stack

By now you've probably heard how all the products in the Oracle stack have been optimized for the best possible scalability, security, and reliability.  This is particularly true for Solaris, our Virtual Machine, and Sun SPARC enterprise servers.

This white paper takes the discussion one step further.

Written by Mike Mulkey with the help from Solaris engineers, this paper discusses the benefits of Oracle Solaris running on Sun SPARC Enterprise M-Series and T-Series servers, but drills down on the specific optimizations for reliability, scalability, security, and virtualization. It describes the superior results of taking a comprehensive, integrated architectural approach to designing the operating system with the hardware, such as:

  • Solaris multi-threading capabilities, when combined with the SPARC multi-core chips, provide the capacity to run 64 threads per chip, which can make your data center more flexible, quicker, and far more reliable. 
  • Solaris running on the SPARC64 VII chips of Sun M-Series servers provide mainframe-class performance and reliability at lower cost.  Not to mention vertical scalability.  Plus hot-swapability for major components.
  • Predictive self-healing in Solaris works with the highly reliable memory subsystems of the SPARC Enterprise server to stop faults from bringing down your system.
  • In addition to its scalability and reliability features, ZFS lets you add, change or remove storage devices on the run.

After you finish reading Mulkey's white paper you might come to the same conclusion as I did:

The combination of Solaris and SPARC Enterprise servers lands squarely in the world of American Football, a game that leaves little room for flopping, whining, or making excuses.

(Read this forum discussion if you want to find out how many floating point operations a SPARC chip supports).

 - Rick

Monday Jun 14, 2010

Loving This Book!

You know you're a closet geek when you get a secret thrill reading the stories of how technologies were developed.  OK, I may not not know all the arguments to the dumpadm(1M) command by heart, but I would get a kick out of learning why the engineers chose those particular arguments.

(By the way, in case you're not reading this on a Solaris system, here's the entire Oracle Solaris 10 manpage collection.)

Which is why I'm enjoying Solaris 10 Security Essentials so much.   It's written by the Sun (now Oracle) engineers who "conceptualized the services, wrote the specifications, and coded the security software" for Solaris 10. 

You couldn't get closer to the source even if you convinced Dick Cheney to write a book about the Bush presidency. 

Here's a peek...Chapter 1 includes two tables that list each of the security features in Solaris 10, what their default configurations are or why you might want to re-configure them, and the chapter in which they are described in detail.  They cover:

  • Passwords
  • User authentication
  • Roles and superuser
  • Authorizations
  • Cryptographic services
  • Privileges
  • Remote login
  • Key Management Framework (KMF)
  • File protection
  • File permissions and Access Control Lists (ACL's)
  • Service Management Facility (SMF)
  • NFS
  • Network security
  • Containers
  • Monitoring
  • Execution protection
  • Trusted extensions

It's a great birds-eye view, and makes you want to plunge into the rest of the book.

I'll find other cool things about the book to post in future blogs.

Be sure to also check out the excellent Solaris 10 System Administration Essentials, part of the same series of Solaris 10 Essentials books being published by InformIT.   

- Rick

Friday Jun 11, 2010

Does Your Code Run Like This?

Then you might need professional help:

Oracle Solaris Studio Express 6/10

Oracle Solaris Studio is the new name for Sun Studio.  Compared to the major releases of Solaris Studio, Solaris Studio Express offers the latest optimizations, and is released more often.  But it is only available in English.  And fixes to any problems that customers may uncover are released in future releases. 

If you download Solaris Studio Express, you can participate in the Customer Feedback Program.

Studio Express 6/10 runs on Solaris 10 (SPARC and x86), Oracle Enterprise Linux 5 (x86), RHEL 5 (x86), and SuSE 11 (x86), and it will soon be available for OpenSolaris.

Enhancements include:

  • Optimizations for SPARC and x86 hardware to the C, C++, and Fortran compilers, libraries, and tools
  • Discover, a new memory debugger with better performance and accuracy
  • The ability to debug optimized code
  • Improvements to tcov
  • Uncover, a new code coverage tool
  • The Performance Analyzer can now:
    • Compare multiple experiment runs
    • Provide hierarchical tree view of data functionality
    • Profile shell scripts
  • IDE based on NetBeans 6.8


Get full details from the ReadMe page. There is no official documentation for the Express release, but this ReadMe describes in detail the differences between the Express release and the documentation for  the previous release

Download it from the SDN Studio page.

Watch Don Kretch and Kuldip Oberoi ham it up in front of the cameras while they discuss the new product enhancements and the Customer Feedback Program.

Read the Documentation for Solaris Studio 12.

Your code is too important to leave to chance:

- Rick

Monday Jun 07, 2010

Beginners Aren't Dummies

If you'd rather spend less of your time doing this ...

... and more of it in the comfort of your own understanding, then check out the Solaris 10 Admin Essentials book from InformIT:

This is not a book for numbskulls. Although it covers the essentials of system administration, it deals with them thoroughly.  For instance, in the chapter on filesystems, it doesn't just talk about how great ZFS is.  (Though we all know it's great.)  It talks about all the filesystems in Solaris, including PCFS, HSFS, distributed filesystems, and pseudo filesystems.  Trivial Pursuit?  Bring it.

Of course it also describes how to mount and unmount a filesystem, how to determine the type of a filesystem, and how to monitor your filesystems.  

Because it was written by Sun (now Oracle) systems engineers, it goes beyond theory to provide real-world tips and techniques for getting the job done better and faster.

A peek at the contents:

  1. Installing the Solaris OS
  2. Boot, Service Management, and Shutdown
  3. Software Management: Packages
  4. Software Management: Patches
  5. Solaris Filesystems
  6. Managing System Processes
  7. Fault Management
  8. Managing Disks
  9. Managing Devices
  10. Solaris Networking
  11. Solaris User Management
  12. Solaris Zones
  13. Using Naming Services
  14. Solaris Print Administration

You can find lots of books about Unix or Solaris system administration out there, but this one is the real deal.

 - Rick


Logan Rosenstein
and members of the OTN community


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