Monday Oct 29, 2012

Is This Your Idea of Disaster Recovery?

Don't just make do with less.

Protect what you've got.

By, for instance, deploying Oracle Solaris 10 inside a zone cluster.

"Wait," you say, "what is a zone cluster?"

It is a zone deployed across different physical servers.

"Who would do that!" you ask in a mild panic.

Why, an upstanding sysadmin citizen interested in protecting his or her employer's investment with appropriate high availability and disaster recovery. If one server gets wiped out by Hurricane Sandy along with pretty much the entire East Coast of the USA, your zone continues to run on the other server(s). Provided you set them up in Edinburgh. This white paper (pdf) explains what a zone cluster is and how to use it. If a white paper reminds you of having to read War and Peace in school, just use this Oracle RAC and Solaris Cluster Cheat Sheet, instead.

"But wait!" you exclaim. "I didn't realize Solaris 10 offered zone clusters!"

I didn't, either! And in an earlier version of this blog post I said that zone clusters were only available with Oracle Solaris 11. But Karoly Vegh pointed me to the documentation for Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3, which explains how to manage zone clusters in Oracle Solaris 10. Bite my fist!

So, the point I was trying to make is not just that you can run Oracle Solaris 10 zone clusters, but that you can run them in an Oracle Solaris 11 environment. Now let's return to our conversation and pick up where we left off ...

"Oh no! Whatever shall I do?"

Fear not. Remember how Oracle Solaris 11 lets you create a Solaris 10 branded zone inside a system running Oracle Solaris 11? Well, the Solaris Cluster engineers thought that was a bang-up idea, and decided to extend Oracle Solaris Cluster so that you could run your Solaris 10 applications inside the protective cocoon of an Oracle Solaris 11 zone cluster. Take advantage of the installation improvements and network virtualization capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11 while still running your application on Oracle Solaris 10. You Luddite, you.

That capability is in the latest release of Oracle Solaris Cluster, version 4.1, which became available last Friday.

"Last Friday! Is it too late to get a copy?"

You can still get a free copy from our download center (see below). And, if you'd like to know what other goodies the 4.1 release of Oracle Solaris Cluster provides, see:

As always, you can get the latest information about Oracle Solaris Cluster, plus technical how-to articles, documentation, and more from Oracle Solaris Cluster Resource Page for Sysadmins and Developers.

And don't forget about the online launch of Oracle Solaris 11.1 and Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.1, scheduled for Nov 7.

"I feel so much better, now!"

Think nothing of it. That's what we're here for.

- Rick
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Thursday Oct 25, 2012

Yay! Oracle Solaris 11.1 Is Here!

Even the critters are happy.

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

What's New (pdf)

Describes enhancements for sysadmins in:

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

And for system developers:

Download

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

Tech Article: How to Upgrade to Oracle Solaris 11.1

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

Documentation

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

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

Training

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

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Friday Oct 05, 2012

Hurry! See the uncensored OOW videos before they get edited!

source

Uploaded so far:

Which Oracle Solaris 11 Technologies Have Sysadmins Been Using Most?

Director's Cut - Uncensored - Markus Flierl, VP Solaris Core Engineering, describes how Oracle Solaris 11 customers are taking advantage of the Image Packaging System and the snapshot capability of ZFS to run more frequent updates of not only the OS, but also the applications (agile development, anyone?), and how they're using the network virtualization capabilities in Oracle Solaris 11 to isolate applications and manage workloads on the cloud.

Watch How Hybrid Columnar Compression Saves Storage Space

Director's Cut - Uncensored - Art Licht shows how hyprid columnar compression (HCC) compresses data 30x without slowing down other queries that the database is performing. First he shows what happens when he runs database queries without HCC, then he shows what happens when he runs the queries with HCC.

Security Capabilities and Design in Oracle Solaris 11

Director's Cut - Uncensored - Compliance reporting. Extended policy. Immutable zones. Three of the best minds in Oracle Solaris security explain what they are, what customers are doing with them, and how they were engineered. Filmed at Oracle Open World 2012.

Why DTrace and Ksplice Have Made Oracle Linux 6 Popular with Sysadmins

Use the DTrace scripts you wrote for Oracle Solaris on Oracle Linux without modification. Wim Coekaerts, VP of Engineering for Oracle Linux, explains how this capability of DTrace, the zero downtime updates enabled by KSplice, and other performance and stability enhancements have made Oracle Linux 6 popular with sysadmins.

Why Solaris 11 Is Being Adopted Faster Than Solaris 10

Sneak Preview - Uncut Version - Lynn Rohrer, Director of Oracle Solaris Product Management explains why customers are adopting Oracle Solaris 11 at a faster rate than Oracle Solaris 10, and proves why you should never challenge a Montana woman to a test of strength.

What Forsythe Corp Is Helping Its Customers Do With Oracle Solaris 11

Director's Cut - Unedited - Lee Diamante, Solutions Architect for Forsythe Corp, an Oracle Solaris Partner, explains why Forsythe has been recommending Oracle Solaris to its customers, and what those customers have been doing with it.

Lots more to come ...

- Rick

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Thursday Sep 27, 2012

Heading Out to Oracle Open World

In case you haven't figured it out by now, Oracle reserves an awful lot of announcements for Oracle Open World. As a result, the show is always a lot of fun for geeks. What will the Oracle Solaris team have to say? Will the Oracle Linux team have any surprises? And what about Oracle hardware?

For my part, I'll be one of the lizards at the OTN Lounge with the OTN crew, handing out t-shirts to system admins and developers, or anyone who is willing to impersonate one. I understand, not everyone can have the raw animal magnetism of a sysadmin, or the debonair sophistication of a C++ developer, so some of you have no choice but to pretend. I won't judge.

I'll also be doing video interviews of as many techie people as I can corner. I've got more than 30 interviews already scheduled. Most of them will be 3-5 minutes long. I'll be asking our best technical minds what's cool about their latest technologies and what impact it will have on system admins or system developers. I'll be posting those videos here:

Find OTN Systems Videos from Oracle Open World Here!

We've got some great topics in mind. A dummies guide to hardware-assisted cryptography with Glenn Brunette. ZFS deduplication. The momentum building around Oracle Solaris 11, with Lynn Rohrer, plus conversations with partners who have deployed Oracle Solaris 11. Migrating to Oracle Database with SQL Developer. The whole database cloud thing. Oracle VM and, of course, Oracle Linux.

So even if you can't be part of the fun, keep an eye out for the videos on our YouTube channel.

- 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 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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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 Dec 21, 2010

Faster than SAP in January

Sap

Oracle engineers are always testing and experimenting to see how you might get the most performance bang for your buck. We've known for a long time that Oracle Solaris Containers can provide a real opportunity for performance and efficiency improvements – but your mileage may vary, depending on the application and overall architecture. So, they decided to take a look to see if users of SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management could consolidate the SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management server and database server, or multiple SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management servers on a same physical server and to document the associated best practices. This is documented in detail in Deploying SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management on Oracle Solaris Containers.

This paper provides a lot of background information, including the essentials of Oracle Solaris Resource Management, an overview of the SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management Architecture, testing setup details, and (of course) test results. This is an essential paper for those responsible for setting up or tuning similar application environments. Don't miss it!

Kemer

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

Resources

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


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

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