Monday Apr 14, 2014

Which Type of Virtualization Should I Use?

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

Video Interview: Which Type of Virtualization Should I Use?

with Brian Bream, CTO Collier IT

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

More Resources About Virtualization

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

About the Photograph

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

- Rick

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Friday Apr 11, 2014

New Oracle Solaris/SPARC SIG Launched by IOUG







What happens in Vegas ...










... stays in Vegas.










Well, most of it does, anyway.

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

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

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

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

About the Photograph

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

- Rick

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Tuesday Mar 18, 2014

Configuring COMSTAR to Provide Local iSCSI Storage

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

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

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

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

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

About Alexandre Borges

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

More content from Alexandre:

Exploring Installation Options and User Roles in Oracle Solaris 11

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

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

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

Articles in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

Columns in Linux Brazil Magazine (Portuguese)

More About ZFS and COMSTAR

About the Photograph

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

- Rick

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Wednesday Feb 26, 2014

Oracle Solaris 11 Resources for the AIX Sysadmin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hands-On Lab: Oracle Solaris Administration for AIX Sysadmins

by Glynn Foster

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

More Resources

About the Photograph

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

- Rick

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Thursday Feb 13, 2014

Getting Your Hands Dirty with Load Balancing

What Does the Integrated Load Balancer Do?

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

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

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

by Amir Javanshir

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

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

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

More Hands-On Labs for Oracle Solaris 11

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

All Hands-On Labs for Oracle Solaris 11

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 11, 2014

Understanding The New Economics of Server Performance

See below for image license.

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

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

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

Revolutionizing Server Economics

Interview with Renato Ribeiro

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

Horizontal vs Vertical Scalability

Video Smackdown: Michael Palmeter v Renato Ribeiro

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

Like Getting a Ferrari for the Price of a Toyota

Interview with David Lawler

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

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

- Rick

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Wednesday Jan 29, 2014

Man Vs. Machine

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

Cartoon: Paul Bunyan's Ax vs The Chain Saw

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

Video Interview with Brian Bream

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

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

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

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

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

Watch video interview here

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

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 23, 2014

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

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

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

Pre-Event Checklist

The checklist provides:

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

If You Must Tweet

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

#OTNVSAD

Questions for Ed

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

See you next week.

photograph of Harleys in Wisconsin by Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Wednesday Jan 22, 2014

Cache Algorithms and Other Storage Tricks

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

I failed.

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

Video Interview: Simplifying the Way You Manage Data

with Art Licht

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

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

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

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

by Art Licht

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

About the Photograph

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

- Rick

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Monday Jan 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more of Joel Schallhorn on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

- Rick

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Friday Jan 10, 2014

It's Friday, Ask Your Boss to Dance

Happy Friday, OTN Garage!

- Rick

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Thursday Jan 09, 2014

Why Are So Many People Smarter Than Me?







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

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

Picture of Heisenberg

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

Although I wasn't completely sure.






Video Interview: How Ksplice Crushes the Heisenbug

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

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

Video Interview: How Ksplice Crushes the Heisenbug

Here's a video of the Hinderburg crash

- Rick

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Tuesday Jan 07, 2014

Tips for Using Linux Huge Pages

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

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

by Ed Whalen, Oracle ACE

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

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

Video Interview: What Are Linux Huge Pages?

with Ed Whalen, Oracle ACE

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

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

- Rick

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Tuesday Dec 31, 2013

Is it Over, Already?

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

You can find the articles we posted during 2013 here:

Thursday Dec 19, 2013

Next Virtual Sysadmin Day Is On Jan 28

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

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

Register here.

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

- Rick

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Tuesday Dec 03, 2013

Life Could Be A Dream (Hadoop Hadoop)

Hey nonny ding dong, alang alang alang
Boom ba-doh, ba-doo ba-doodle-ay

Oh, life could be a dream (hadoop)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (hadoop)
If you would tell me I'm the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart
(Hello, hello again, hadoop and hopin' we'll meet again)

Tech Article: How to Set Up a Hadoop Cluster Using Oracle Solaris Zones

by Orgad Kimchi

Apache Hadoop helps you process large amounts of data on multiple computers that are clustered together. Oracle Solaris zones are easy to clone and manage as a cluster. Oracle Solaris 11 has great network virtualization capabilities. Orgad walks you through all the steps required to combine these three technologies into an easy to manage big data cluster.

Blog: How to Host a Hadoop Cluster on a SPARC T4-2 Server

by Jeff Taylor

After reading Orgad's paper (see above), Jeff Taylor decided to give Orgad's suggestion a try. He had to configure an Oracle SPARC T4-2 server to store and process two types of data. One type was critical and sensitive data that required ACID transactions and had to be stored in an Oracle Database. The other was high-volume/low-risk data that had to be processed using Apache Hadoop and stored in HDFS. In this blog post he details how he used Oracle Solaris zones.

Video Interview: Why Run Hadoop on Oracle Solaris?

with Orgad Kimchi

Orgad Kimchi provides three technical reasons why you should run Hadoop on Oracle Solaris. Taped at Oracle OpenWorld.

Lyrics to Hadoop Hadoop

by the Crew Cuts

Hey nonny ding dong, alang alang alang
Boom ba-doh, ba-doo ba-doodle-ay

Oh, life could be a dream (ha-doop)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (ha-doop)
If you would tell me I'm the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart
(Hello, hello again, ha-doop and hopin' we'll meet again)

Oh, life could be a dream (ha-doop)
If only all my precious plans would come true (ha-doop)
If you would let me spend my whole life lovin' you
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

Now every time I look at you
Something is on my mind (dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-duh)
If you do what I want you to
Baby, we'd be so fine!

Oh, life could be a dream (ha-doop)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (ha-doop)
If you would tell me I'm the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

Ha-doop ha-doop Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Ha-doop ha-doop Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Ha-doop ha-doop Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da, ha-doop!

Ha-doop ha-doop Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Ha-doop ha-doop Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da
Ha-doop ha-doop Ya-da-da Da-da-da Da-da-da Da, ha-doop!

Every time I look at you
Somethin' is on my mind
If you do what I want you to
Baby, we'd be so fine!

Life could be a dream
If I could take you up in paradise up above
If you would tell me I'm the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart
(Hello hello again, ha-doop and hopin' we'll meet again) doop ha-doop

Hey nonny ding dong, alang alang alang (ha-doop)
Ba-doh, ba-doo ba-doodle-ay
Life could be a dream
Life could be a dream, sweetheart!

Life could be a dream
If only all my precious plans would come true
If you would let me spend my whole life loving you
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

(dee-oody-ooh, ha-doop, ha-doop)
(dee-oody-ooh, ha-doop, ha-doop)
(dee-oody-ooh, ha-doop, ha-doop)
Sweetheart!!

See the Crew Cuts on YouTube

- Rick

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Thursday Nov 21, 2013

How to Limit Upgrades Beyond a Prescribed Version of Oracle Solaris

by Bart Smaalders and Alta Elstad

The Oracle Solaris 11 Image Packaging System (IPS) provides various methods to control the operating system version to which a server can be upgraded. One method is to provide a custom incorporation package.

An incorporation package specifies the versions of other packages that can be installed. An incorporation package ensures that if you install an incorporate dependency package of that incorporation package, only the prescribed version of the dependent package can be installed. You can create your own custom incorporation package to specify the constraints you want. Using a custom incorporation to control the version of software that can be installed enables you to easily maintain different versions of Oracle Solaris on different machines without maintaining multiple package repositories. Each image can install a different version of the custom upgrade control incorporation package. All systems share the same package repository that contains all versions of software needed by any of the systems.

In the example in this article, a system has been newly installed with Oracle Solaris 11.1. The solaris publisher origin is the Oracle Solaris support repository, which includes many updates since Oracle Solaris 11.1 was released. The IT department in the example company has not yet qualified the most current support updates, and they want to limit administrators to upgrading to only the latest update that is qualified for their environments, not the latest update that is available from the package repository.

Create a Custom Incorporation Package

The versions of core operating system packages that can be installed in an image are controlled by the pkg:/entire incorporation package. To control system upgrades, create a package that specifies a particular version of the pkg:/entire package as an incorporate dependency.

The following example shows a manifest named upgradectrl.p5m for a custom incorporation package that controls the version of the pkg:/entire package that can be installed. Some of the settings in this manifest are described below.

set name=pkg.fmri value=upgradectrl@1.0
set name=pkg.summary value="Incorporation to constrain the version of the OS"
set name=pkg.description value="This package controls the version of \
pkg://solaris/entire that can be installed."
set name=info.classification value="org.opensolaris.category.2008:Meta Packages/Incorporations"
set name=pkg.depend.install-hold value=core-os
set name=variant.opensolaris.zone value=global value=nonglobal
set name=variant.arch value=sparc value=i386
depend fmri=feature/package/dependency/self type=parent variant.opensolaris.zone=nonglobal
depend fmri=pkg://solaris/entire type=require
depend fmri=pkg://solaris/entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.175.1.0 type=incorporate
  • pkg.depend.install-hold This setting ensures that if a user updates the upgradectrl package, the pkg:/entire package is automatically updated as well.

  • variant.opensolaris.zone This setting enables this package to be installed in both global and non-global zones. See also the description of the parent dependency.

  • variant.arch This setting enables this package to be installed on both SPARC and x86 systems.

  • parent dependency This package can be installed in a non-global zone only if it is already installed in the global zone.

  • require dependency The upgradectrl package can be installed only if the pkg://solaris/entire package is already installed or can be installed in this same operation.

  • incorporate dependency The pkg://solaris/entire package must be installed at the specified version. More than one version can satisfy an incorporate dependency, depending on how many places of accuracy are specified. In this example, 0.175.1.0 specifies Oracle Solaris 11.1 SRU 0. This upgrade control package will keep systems at the newly installed Oracle Solaris 11.1 version, no support updates. This upgrade control package will, however, allow packages that are not contrained by the pkg:/entire incorporation to be updated.

Publish the upgradectrl package to a local file-based repository. This repository is for developing and testing this new package. If you create a repository for general use, you should include additional steps such as creating a separate file system for the repository. For information about creating package repositories for general use, see Copying and Creating Package Repositories in Oracle Solaris 11.2.

Create a package development repository on your system. See the pkgrepo(1) man page for more information about the pkgrepo command.

$ pkgrepo create myrepo

Set the default publisher for this repository. The default publisher is the value of the publisher/prefix property of the repository.

$ pkgrepo -s myrepo set publisher/prefix=site

Publish the upgradectrl package to the development repository.

$ pkgsend -s myrepo publish upgradectrl.p5m
pkg://site/upgradectrl@1.0,5.11:20131120T010105Z
PUBLISHED

Notice that the repository default publisher has been applied to the package FMRI.

Examine the repository to confirm that the package was published.

$ pkgrepo -s myrepo list
PUBLISHER NAME                                       O VERSION
site      upgradectrl                                  1.0,5.11:20131120T010105Z
$ pkg list -vg myrepo
FMRI                                                                         IFO
pkg://site/upgradectrl@1.0,5.11:20131120T010105Z                             ---

Deliver the package to a local repository in a separate ZFS file system in a shared location.

$ pkgrecv -s myrepo -d /export/IPSpkgrepos/Solaris upgradectrl
Processing packages for publisher site ...
Retrieving and evaluating 1 package(s)...
PROCESS                                         ITEMS    GET (MB)   SEND (MB)
Completed                                         1/1     0.0/0.0     0.0/0.0

Verify the package in the repository and the version of pkg:/entire that it incorporates.

$ pkg info -g /export/IPSpkgrepos/Solaris upgradectrl
          Name: upgradectrl
       Summary: Incorporation to constrain the version of the OS
   Description: This package controls the version of pkg://solaris/entire that
                can be installed.
      Category: Meta Packages/Incorporations
         State: Not installed
     Publisher: site
       Version: 1.0
 Build Release: 5.11
        Branch: None
Packaging Date: November 20, 2013 01:01:05 AM 
          Size: 0.00 B
          FMRI: pkg://site/upgradectrl@1.0,5.11:20131120T010105Z
$ pkg contents -Hro fmri -t depend -a type=incorporate upgradectrl
pkg://solaris/entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.175.1.0

See “Creating and Publishing a Package” in Packaging and Delivering Software With the Image Packaging System in Oracle Solaris 11.2 for more detailed information about creating and delivering IPS packages.

Set the origin for the site publisher.

$ pkg set-publisher -g /export/IPSpkgrepos/Solaris site
$ pkg publisher
PUBLISHER              TYPE     STATUS P LOCATION
solaris                origin   online F https://pkg.oracle.com/solaris/support/
site                   origin   online F file:///export/IPSpkgrepos/Solaris/

Install the Upgrade Control Package

Install the upgrade control package. In this case, few changes should be made because the installed version of pkg:/entire is the same as the version incorporated by the upgrade control package.

$ pkg list -v entire
FMRI                                                                         IFO
pkg://solaris/entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.175.1.0.0.24.2:20120919T190135Z           i--
$ zoneadm list
global
z1
$ pkg install upgradectrl
           Packages to install:  1
       Create boot environment: No
Create backup boot environment: No

Planning linked: 0/1 done; 1 working: zone:z1
Planning linked: 1/1 done
Downloading linked: 0/1 done; 1 working: zone:z1
Downloading linked: 1/1 done
PHASE                                          ITEMS
Installing new actions                           9/9
Updating package state database                 Done 
Updating image state                            Done 
Creating fast lookup database                   Done 
Reading search index                            Done 
Updating search index                            1/1 
Executing linked: 0/1 done; 1 working: zone:z1
Executing linked: 1/1 done

The following commands show that versions of pkg:/entire that are newer than the installed version are available from the configured solaris publisher, but an attempt to upgrade is controlled by the newly-installed upgrade control package.

$ pkg list -af entire
NAME (PUBLISHER)                                  VERSION                    IFO
entire                                            0.5.11-0.175.1.13.0.6.0    ---
entire                                            0.5.11-0.175.1.12.0.5.0    ---
entire                                            0.5.11-0.175.1.11.0.4.0    ---
entire                                            0.5.11-0.175.1.10.0.6.0    ---
entire                                            0.5.11-0.175.1.10.0.5.0    ---
...
$ pkg update
pkg update: No solution was found to satisfy constraints
Plan Creation: Package solver has not found a solution to update to latest available versions.
This may indicate an overly constrained set of packages are installed.
latest incorporations:
...
Try specifying expected results to obtain more detailed error messages.
$ pkg update -nv entire@0.5.11-0.175.1.13.0.6.0
pkg update: No matching version of entire can be installed:
  Reject:  pkg://solaris/entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.175.1.13.0.6.0:20131108T211557Z
  Reason:  This version is excluded by installed incorporation pkg://site/upgradectrl@1.0,5.11:20131120T010105Z

Update the Upgrade Control Package

When you are ready to allow users to upgrade their systems to a new version, update the upgradectrl.p5m manifest, and republish and redeliver the new upgrade control package. In the following manifest, the version of the upgrade control package and the version of the pkg:/entire incorporation are updated. As an aid for users, the version of the upgrade control package matches the updated version of the pkg:/entire package.

set name=pkg.fmri value=upgradectrl@1.10
set name=pkg.summary value="Incorporation to constrain the version of the OS"
set name=pkg.description value="This package controls the version of \
pkg://solaris/entire that can be installed."
set name=info.classification value="org.opensolaris.category.2008:Meta Packages/Incorporations"
set name=pkg.depend.install-hold value=core-os
set name=variant.opensolaris.zone value=global value=nonglobal
set name=variant.arch value=sparc value=i386
depend fmri=feature/package/dependency/self type=parent variant.opensolaris.zone=nonglobal
depend fmri=pkg://solaris/entire type=require
depend fmri=pkg://solaris/entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.175.1.10 type=incorporate

The following commands republish and redeliver the upgrade control package:

$ pkgsend -s myrepo publish upgradectrl.p5m
pkg://site/upgradectrl@1.10,5.11:20131120T021902Z
PUBLISHED
$ pkgrepo -s myrepo list
PUBLISHER NAME                                      O VERSION
site      upgradectrl                                 1.10,5.11:20131120T021902Z
site      upgradectrl                                 1.0,5.11:20131120T010105Z
$ pkgrecv -s myrepo -d /export/IPSpkgrepos/Solaris upgradectrl
Processing packages for publisher site ...
Retrieving and evaluating 1 package(s)...
PROCESS                                         ITEMS    GET (MB)   SEND (MB)
Completed                                         1/1     0.0/0.0     0.0/0.0
$ pkg refresh site
$ pkg list -af pkg://site/upgradectrl
NAME (PUBLISHER)                                  VERSION                    IFO
upgradectrl (site)                                1.10                       ---
upgradectrl (site)                                1.0                        i--

Upgrade the Image

The following pkg update command updates all packages to the newest available versions allowed because no packages are specified. The command updates to the newest available version of the upgrade control package, which upgrades the image because the pkg.depend.install-hold setting in the upgradectrl package causes the pkg:/entire package to be updated when the upgradectrl package is updated. The image is upgraded to the version of the pkg:/entire incorporation that is specified in the new upgradectrl incorporation.

$ pkg update --be-name s11u1_10
            Packages to remove:   1
            Packages to update: 186
           Mediators to change:   1
       Create boot environment: Yes
Create backup boot environment:  No

Planning linked: 0/1 done; 1 working: zone:z1
Linked image 'zone:z1' output:
|  Packages to remove:  1
| Packages to install:  3
|  Packages to update: 73
| Mediators to change:  1
|  Services to change:  3
`
Planning linked: 1/1 done
DOWNLOAD                                PKGS         FILES    XFER (MB)   SPEED
Completed                            187/187   16139/16139  507.9/507.9  562k/s

Downloading linked: 0/1 done; 1 working: zone:z1
Downloading linked: 1/1 done
PHASE                                          ITEMS
Removing old actions                       1473/1473
Installing new actions                     3451/3451
Updating modified actions                16378/16378
Updating package state database                 Done 
Updating package cache                       187/187 
Updating image state                            Done 
Creating fast lookup database                   Done 
Reading search index                            Done 
Building new search index                    851/851 
Executing linked: 0/1 done; 1 working: zone:z1
Executing linked: 1/1 done

A clone of s11u1_0 exists and has been updated and activated.
On the next boot the Boot Environment s11u1_10 will be
mounted on '/'.  Reboot when ready to switch to this updated BE.
$ pkg list entire upgradectrl
NAME (PUBLISHER)                                  VERSION                    IFO
entire                                            0.5.11-0.175.1.0.0.24.2    i--
upgradectrl (site)                                1.0                        i--
$ pkg -R /mnt list entire upgradectrl
NAME (PUBLISHER)                                  VERSION                    IFO
entire                                            0.5.11-0.175.1.10.0.6.0    i--
upgradectrl (site)                                1.10                       i--
$ beadm unmount s11u1_10

See Also

Bart Smaalders’ blog

Packaging and Delivering Software With the Image Packaging System in Oracle Solaris 11.2

Copying and Creating Package Repositories in Oracle Solaris 11.2

About the Authors

Bart Smaalders is one of the senior engineers in the Oracle Solaris Core OS group, and led development of the IPS packaging system.

Alta Elstad is a technical writer supporting Oracle Solaris 11 packaging.

photograph of strange plants copyright Beth Ramsey

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Tuesday Nov 19, 2013

Extending Your Use of DTrace on Oracle Linux





We just published a new article about using DTrace on Oracle Linux (see below). If you're not already familiar with DTrace on Oracle Linux, you might want to start with these two blogs.



Blog: Trying Out DTrace

by Wim Coekaerts

In October of 2011 Wim Coekaerts described the steps required to use the preview of DTrace on Oracle Linux, and provided a simple example of how to use it.



Blog: How to Get Started Using DTrace on Oracle Linux

by Rick Ramsey

In January of 2013 I described some of the resources that had recently become available to help you start using DTrace on Oracle Linux. They included a video interview with Brendan Gregg, a way to find out which DTrace probes are available on Oracle Linux, a technical article, a book, and more.

New Article: How to Set Up DTrace to Detect PHP Scripting Problems on Oracle Linux

by Christopher Jones

Christopher Jones has just published an OTN tech article that explains how to set up DTrace to detect PHP scripting problems on Oracle Linux. He shows you how to download and install the right version of Oracle Linux, how to install PHP and the OIC18 extensions for Oracle Database, how to verify which PHP probes you have, and how to begin using them.

photograph of Colorado sunset by Beth Ramsey

-Rick

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Monday Nov 11, 2013

Why Move My Oracle Database to New SPARC Hardware?

If you didn't manage to catch all the news during the proverbial Firehose Down the Throat that is Oracle OpenWorld, you'll enjoy these short recaps from Brad Carlile. He makes things clear in just a couple of minutes. photograph copyright by Edge of Day Photography, with permission

Video: Latest Improvements to Oracle SPARC Processors

with Brad Carlile

T5, M5, and M6. Three wicked fast processors that Oracle announced over the last year. Brad Carlile explains how much faster they are, and why they are better than previous versions.

Video: Why Move Your Oracle Database to SPARC Servers

with Brad Carlile

If I'm happy with how my Oracle Database 11g is performing, why should I deploy it on the new Oracle SPARC hardware? For the same reasons that you would want to buy a sports car that goes twice as fast AND gets better gas mileage, Brad Carlile explains. Well, if there are such dramatic performance improvements and cost savings, then why should I move up to Oracle Database 12c?

-Rick

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Thursday Nov 07, 2013

Oracle VM Deep Dives

"With IT staff now tasked to deliver on-demand services, datacenter virtualization requirements have gone beyond simple consolidation and cost reduction. Simply provisioning and delivering an operating environment falls short. IT organizations must rapidly deliver services, such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS). Virtualization solutions need to be application-driven and enable:"
  • "Easier deployment and management of business critical applications"
  • "Rapid and automated provisioning of the entire application stack inside the virtual machine"
  • "Integrated management of the complete stack including the VM and the applications running inside the VM."
Application Driven Virtualization, an Oracle white paper

That was published in August of 2011. The new release of Oracle VM Server delivers significant virtual networking performance improvements, among other things. If you're not sure how virtual networks work or how to use them, these two articles by Greg King and friends might help.

Looking Under the Hood at Virtual Networking

by Greg King

Oracle VM Server for x86 lets you create logical networks out of physical Ethernet ports, bonded ports, VLAN segments, virtual MAC addresses (VNICs), and network channels. You can then assign channels (or "roles") to each logical network so that it handles the type of traffic you want it to.

Greg King explains how you go about doing this, and how Oracle VM Server for x86 implements the network infrastructure you configured. He also describes how the VM interacts with paravirtualized guest operating systems, hardware virtualized operating systems, and VLANs.

Finally, he provides an example that shows you how it all looks from the VM Manager view, the logical view, and the command line view of Oracle VM Server for x86.

Fundamental Concepts of VLAN Networks

by Greg King and Don Smerker

Oracle VM Server for x86 supports a wide range of options in network design, varying in complexity from a single network to configurations that include network bonds, VLANS, bridges, and multiple networks connecting the Oracle VM servers and guests. You can create separate networks to isolate traffic, or you can configure a single network for multiple roles. Network design depends on many factors, including the number and type of network interfaces, reliability and performance goals, the number of Oracle VM servers and guests, and the anticipated workload.

The Oracle VM Manager GUI presents four different ways to create an Oracle VM network:

  • Bonds and ports
  • VLANs
  • Both bond/ports and VLANS
  • A local network

This article focuses the second option, designing a complex Oracle VM network infrastructure using only VLANs, and it steps through the concepts needed to create a robust network infrastructure for your Oracle VM servers and guests.

More Resources

photo of K1200S copyright by Rick Ramsey

-Rick

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Wednesday Oct 30, 2013

Back Up to Tape the Way You Shop For Groceries

Imagine if this was how you shopped for groceries:

  1. From the end of the aisle sprint to the point where you reach the ketchup.
  2. Pull a bottle from the shelf and yell at the top of your lungs, “Got it!”
  3. Sprint back to the end of the aisle.
  4. Start again and sprint down the same aisle to the mustard, pull a bottle from the shelf and again yell for the whole store to hear, “Got it!”
  5. Sprint back to the end of the aisle.
  6. Repeat this procedure for every item you need in the aisle.
  7. Proceed to the next aisle and follow the same steps for the list of items you need from that aisle.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Not only is it horribly inefficient, it’s exhausting and can lead to wear out failures on your grocery cart, or worse, yourself. This is essentially how NetApp and some other applications write NDMP backups to tape. In the analogy, the ketchup and mustard are the files to be written, yelling “Got it!” is the equivalent of a sync mark at the end of a file, and the sprint back to the end of an aisle is the process most commonly called a “backhitch” where the drive has to back up on a tape to start writing again.

Writing to tape in this way results in very slow tape drive performance and imposes unnecessary wear on the tape drive and the media, especially when writing small files. The good news is not all tape drives behave this way when writing small files. Unlike midrange LTO drives, Oracle’s StorageTek T10000D tape drive is designed to handle this scenario efficiently.

The difference between the two drive types is that the T10000D drive gives you the ability to write files in a NetApp NDMP backup environment the way you would normally shop for groceries. With grocery shopping, you essentially stream through aisles picking up items as you go, and then after checking out, yell, “Got it!”, though you might do that last step silently. With the T10000D, it has a feature called the Tape Application Accelerator, which prevents the drive from having to stop after each file is written to notify NetApp or another application that the write was successful.

When enabled in the T10000D tape drive, Tape Application Accelerator causes the tape drive to respond to tape mark and file sync commands differently than when disabled:

  • A tape mark received by the tape drive is treated as a buffered tape mark.
  • A file sync received by the tape drive is treated as a no op command.

Since buffered tape marks and no op commands do not cause the tape drive to empty the contents of its buffer to tape and backhitch, the data is written to tape in significantly less time. Oracle has emulated NetApp environments with a number of different file sizes and found the following when comparing the T10000D with the Tape Application Accelerator enabled versus LTO6 tape drives.

Notice how the T10000D is not only monumentally faster, but also remarkably consistent? In addition, the writing of the 50 GB of files is done without a single backhitch. The LTO6 drive, meanwhile, will perform as many as 3,800 backhitches! At the end of writing the entire set of files, the T10000D tape drive reports back to the application, in this case NetApp, that the write was successful via a tape mark.

So if the Tape Application Accelerator dramatically improves performance and reliability, why wouldn’t you always have it enabled? The reason is because tape drive buffers are meant to be just temporary data repositories so in the event of a power loss, there could be data loss in certain environments for the files that resided in the buffer. Fortunately, we do have best practices depending on your environment to avoid this from happening. I highly recommend reading Maximizing Tape Performance with StorageTek T10000 Tape Drives (pdf) to decide which best practice is right for you. The white paper also digs deeper into the benefits of the Tape Application Accelerator. The white paper is free, and after downloading it you can decide for yourself whether you want to yell “Got it!” out loud or just silently to yourself.

Customer Advisory Panel

One final link: Oracle has started up a Customer Advisory Panel program to collect feedback from customers on their current experiences with Oracle products, as well as desires for future product development. If you would like to participate in the program, go to this link at oracle.com.

photo taken on Idaho's Sacajewea Historic Biway by Rick Ramsey

- Brian Zents

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Saturday Oct 05, 2013

Elasticity: The Biggest Challenge Facing Today's Data Center

Biggest Challenge Facing Data Centers Today

Interview with Brian Bream, Collier IT

Provisioning used to be a hardware activity. It involved heavy lifting. Today, thanks to Oracle's engineered systems, a data center can pre-configure itself to make provisioning a software activity. According to Brian Bream, CTO of Collier IT, instead of pulling a server off the shelf, installing an OS, and applications, then patching and configuring, it's a matter of bringing up the management tool, selecting the image, and hitting Bang! In Brian's experience, elasticity is the biggest challenge facing data centers today, and Oracle engineered systems are a great way to deal with it.

In addition to being Collier IT's Chief Technology Officer, Brian was named instructor of the year not once, but twice, by Oracle University. Get his opinion about the impact of training on the careers of sysadmins.

Related Resources

- Rick

Follow me on:
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Thursday Oct 03, 2013

How Does Oracle Make Storage So Freaky Fast?

The sound quality of these videos is not very good because I taped them while people around me were watching the America's Cup, but the content is worth your time. Jason Schaffer, from Oracle Storage Engineering, explains ...

How the ZS3 Storage System is Engineered

by Jason Schaffer (3 minutes)

The ZS3 is the fastest storage system "on the planet." Jason Schaffer explains what makes it so fast, how it was engineered, and what you can do with it.

How the ZS3 Storage Appliance Tunes Itself

by Jason Schaffer (2 minutes)

Jason Schaffer, from Oracle Storage Engineering, explains how the ZS3 Storage System uses the Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol (OISP) to automatically tune its I/O patterns to make Oracle Database 12c run faster.

How Oracle Makes the ZS3 Storage System Go Fast

by Jason Schaffer (4 minutes)

Jason Schaffer explains how the ZS3 Storage Appliance uses DRAM to get its crazy fast performance. Taped at Oracle OpenWorld 2013.

More Resources About the ZS3 Storage Appliance

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