Thursday Jun 28, 2012

Similar But Not The Same

A few weeks ago we published an article that explained how to use Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 5/11 to provide a virtual, multitiered architecture for Oracle Real Application Cluster (Oracle RAC) 11.2.0.2. We called it ...

How to Deploy Oracle RAC on Zone Clusters

Welllllll ... we just published another article just like it. Except that it's different. The earlier article was for Oracle RAC 11.2.0.2. This one is for Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3. This one describes how to do the same thing as the earlier one --create an Oracle Solaris Zone cluster, install and configure Oracle Grid Infrastructure and Oracle RAC in the zone cluster, and create an Oracle Solaris Cluster resource for Oracle RAC-- but for version 11.2.0.3 of Oracle RAC. Even though the objective is the same, and the version is only a dot-dot-dot release away, the process is quite different. So we decided to call it:

How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3 on Zone Clusters

Hope you can keep the different versions clear in your head. If not, let me know, and I'll try to make them easier to distinguish.

- 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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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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Friday Mar 16, 2012

Oracle Linux Forum

This forum includes live chat so you can tell Wim, Lenz, and the gang what you really think.

Linux Forum - Tuesday March 27

Since Oracle recently made Release 2 of its Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel available (see Lenz's blog), we're following up with an online forum with Oracle's Linux executives and engineers. Topics will be:

9:30 - 9:45 am PT
Oracle's Linux Strategy

Edward Screven, Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect and Wim Coekaerts, Senior VP of Linux and Virtualization Engineering, will explain Oracle's Linux strategy, the benefits of Oracle Linux, Oracle's role in the Linux community, and the Oracle Linux roadmap.

9:45 - 10:00 am PT
Why Progressive Insurance Chose Oracle Linux

John Dome, Lead Systems Engineer at Progressive Insurance, outlines why they selected Oracle Linux with the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel to reduce cost and increase the performance of database applications.

10:00 - 11:00 am PT
What's New in Oracle Linux

Oracle engineers walk you through new features in Oracle Linux, including zero-downtime updates with Ksplice, Btrfs and OCFS2, DTrace for Linux, Linux Containers, vSwitch and T-Mem.

11:00 am - 12:00 pm PT
Get More Value from your Linux Vendor

Why Oracle Linux delivers more value than Red Hat Enterprise Linux, including better support at lower cost, best practices for deployments, extreme performance for cloud deployments and engineered systems, and more.

Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Time: 9:30 AM PT / 12:30 PM ET
Duration: 2.5 hours
Register here.

- Rick

Thursday Mar 15, 2012

How to Unlock the Performance of Your Multithreaded Applications

Does the memory allocation of your multi-threaded application look like this?

That's probably because you're using a memory allocator designed for single-thread, single-CPU applications. Those memory allocators use malloc() and free() to reserve a portion of memory for your application, and then release it.

That type of memory allocator can continue to work in an application that ventures timidly into the possibilities of a multi-core, multithread-capable system. However, as the thread count begins to increase, different threads will start to request access to memory at the same time, and the traditional memory allocator won't be able to keep up.

Article: How Memory Allocation Affects Performance in Multithreaded Applications

Rick Weisner explains how memory allocation has evolved over the years, then shows you how to recognize a performance deficiency in your multithreaded application. Then he describes how to use three MT-aware memory allocators to take advantage of the performance promises of multi-core systems:

  • mtmemlock shipped with Oracle Solaris
  • libumem shipped with Oracle Solaris
  • the hoard allocator, publicly available

Stop the madness. Read Rick Weisner's article.

- Rick (Ramsey)

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Tuesday Mar 13, 2012

Who the Linux Developer Met on His Way to St. Ives

For some reason I still remember this nursery riddle:

"As I was going to Saint Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each cat had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
How many were going to St Ives?

The answer, of course, is one. More about the riddle here.

Little did I know, when I first learned it, that this rhyme would help me understand the Oracle Exadata Database Machine. Miss Blankenship, please forgive me:

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with 8 Oracle Exadata Machines
Each machine had 8 sockets
Each socket had 8 cores
Each core had 2 threads
How many CPU's were going to St Ives?

If your i-phone has hobbled you to the point that you can no longer do simple arithmetic in your head, you can get the answer to that riddle by listening to these podcasts (the first one even provides notes):

Podcast: How Oracle Linux Was Optimized for the Oracle Exadata Database Machine

Turns out that when you use off-the-shelf components to build a NUMA system like the Exadata, you lower your hardware costs, but you increase the software work that must be done to optimize the system. Oracle Linux already had a set of optimizations well suited to this task. Chris Mason, director of Linux kernel engineering at Oracle, describes the process engineering used to optimize Exadata's integrated stack, touching everything from storage, to networking, the CPU, I/O speeds, and finally the application. Great Q&A, too.

Podcast: What's So Great About Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel?

It's easy to replace your tired rust-bucket of a Linux kernel with the chromed-out Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel from Oracle, but why would you? Sergio Leunissen, Oracle Vice President, and Lenz Grimmer, blogger extraordinaire, explain why it's worth your time to use the Unbreakable Linux Kernel. Sergio and Lenz explain why Oracle went to the trouble to engineer its own kernel, what's included in Release 2, how it is tested, how it is optimized for the Oracle stack, the close relationship with the Linux community, and what benefits it brings developers and sysadmins.

Where to Get It, How to Use It

As you may have already heard, Release 2 of Oracle's Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Linux is now available. Here are some resources to help you get started.

- Rick with Todd Trichler

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Friday Mar 09, 2012

My Personal Crib Sheet for the ZFS Storage Appliance

Question: What do the F22 Raptor and the ZFS Storage Appliance have in common?

Answer: They bend time. They compress distance. And they both come with their own simulator.

We recently published some articles about really cool ways to use the ZFS Storage Appliance (see below), so I spent a little time looking into the darned thing. It's easy to find out what the ZFS Storage Appliance does, but more difficult to find out what its components are. What can I yank out and replace? What can I connect it to? And what buttons and levers can I push? Or pull.

So I put together this crib sheet. If you didn't grow up in The Bronx, see wikipedia's definition of crib sheet.

What Have We Published Recently?

What the Heck Is It?

It is Oracle's main NAS system for enterprise environments. In case you don't already know, NAS (Network Attached Storage) is simply a storage system designed to be shared by several servers on a network. Instead of each server having its own storage, which would make sharing files wicked slow, you put all your storage on your NAS system, and let all the servers access it fast. Plus, it's much easier to manage. Shoot, you can even store your boot environments on your NAS system so that if one of your servers dumps core, you can reboot it from the NAS system.

It comes in three variations:

  • 7120 - for small and medium size installations - 3.3 TB to 177 TB raw capacity
  • 7320 - mid-range storage for the enterprise - cluster option - up to 288 TB raw capacity - Hybrid Storage Pools with up to 4 TB of optimized cache
  • 7420 - For virtualized environments requiring multiple data services and heterogeneous file sharing - single or cluster - up to 1.7 PB of raw capacity

What Makes It Special?

  • It's wicked fast (see F22 Raptor, above).
  • It's got management software that makes it easy to administer.
  • Its Hybrid Storage Pool Design recognizes I/O patterns and places data in the storage media that will provide best performance for that data, whether DRAM, flash, or disk.
  • Hybrid Columnar Compression reduces storage footprints for NAS-based databases from three to five times.
  • DTrace analytics help you diagnose performance and networking bottlenecks
  • Fault Management Architecure (FMA) identifies faults and automatically re-routes traffic around them.
  • When you need more capacity, you can add:
    • DRAM, cache, or I/O ports for more resources
    • Disk shelf units for greater total capacity
    • Flash drives for faster performance.
  • You can get it in a dual-cluster configuration for high availability.
  • It provides a variety of RAID protections to balance capacity, protection, and performance requirements of your applications.
  • It's waaaaay cheaper than an F22 and doesn't require all that cryptic back and forth with those moody Air Traffic Control people.

Details here.

What's In The Box?

When I asked, I got the usual "Well, I could tell you what's in the box, but then I'd have to shoot you." Turns out they don't want me messing with it. Or you messing with it. The darn thing is built from off-the-shelf components, but the value-add comes from the way they're tuned to work together. So if you, Mister Curiosity, decide to pop open a terminal and run ssh into Solaris, you'll see a message notifying you that if you continue with your wayward ways you'll void your warranty. Ack! Like the good ol' boys from the Georgia Satellites like to put it...

She said, "No huggee, no kissee
Until you make me a wife."
Oh, my honey, my baby
Don't put my love upon no shelf
She said, "Don't hand me no lines
And keep your hands to yourself."

Here's what you really need to know: It's a specialized server with a processor, memory, and disk drives. Loaded with a highly tuned version of Oracle Solaris and other software goodies. But don't think of it that way. Think of it as remote storage. That's all. A box with:

  • Two types of storage:
    1. Filesystem, such as CIFS, NFS, ZFS, etc.
    2. Block, allocated as a Logical Unit (LUN)
  • Connections for a wide variety of network protocols
  • Two sysadmin toolkits:
    1. BUI (boo! boo!)
    2. CLI (yay! yay!)
  • Analytics to help you monitor its performance.

Connections? What Can I Connect It To?

For starters, you can connect it to the other servers on the network, through the stock Infiniband HCA's. That's part of what makes it wicked fast. But you can also connect it to other devices through industry-standard network protocols, including:

  • Infiniband
  • Fibre Channel
  • NFS
  • Common Internet File System (CIFS)
  • Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI)
  • NDMP (Network Data management Protocol so it can participate in remotely-coordinated automatic backups
  • A Virus Scan Service
  • NIS naming, LDAP directory, and Microsoft Active Directory services for centralized management of users, groups, hostnames, etc.

What Administration Tasks Does It Require?

Details vary by model and your needs, but basic administration consists of:

  • Defining the storage allocated to each server
  • Making it available to the servers (sharing)
  • Migrating data
  • Integrating it with other applications
  • Taking snapshots
  • Monitoring performance with DTrace Analytics
  • The usual backups, diagnostics, and housecleaning tasks for any server or storage system

Any Examples of What To Use It For?

Turns out you can do lots of cool things with the ZFS Storage Appliance. A partial listing:

For More Information

The Best American Country Song of All Time?

Is it the best? That's debatable. But it's certainly one of my favorite renditions of a country song, from one of my favorite movies of all time.

- Rick Ramsey (with special thanks to Andrew Ness)

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Tuesday Feb 28, 2012

Santa Clara On April 10 - Next OTN Sysadmin Day

Before the part of Oracle that was then Sun Microsystems moved in, the facility used to be known as the Agnews Insane Asylum. Some of us who worked for Sun at the time thought the image was hilarious. Some thought it was insensitive. Some believed it was a statement about the rise of the corporate state and the demise of benign government. That was the Santa Clara campus back then, a diverse, magical workplace full of people who held strong opinions about everything, yet managed to have a great time together.

Another topic that incites strong opinions among good friends is Oracle Solaris vs Oracle Linux. Which one is better? Which one should I use? Which one should I learn how to use? At our OTN Sysadmin Days, we let you decide. Pavel Anni always opens our OTN Sysadmin Days with a talk about Oracle's dual OS strategy. He explains why Oracle offers two operating systems, and summarizes the main features of each one. Then we split off into two different groups to get our hands on each OS.

One group gets their hands on the ZFS filesystem, virtualization capabilities, and security controls of Oracle Solaris.

The other group gets their hands on the package management tools, services, and runs levels of Oracle Linux, plus its volume management tools and the Btrfs filesystem.

The truly adventurous sysadmins jump between groups. Both groups learn by doing, using the hands-on labs similar to those on OTN's Hands-On Labs page. Why attend an event in person when you could simply work the labs on your own? Two reasons:

  1. Since you are away from the obligations of the data center, you get to focus on working the labs without interruption.
  2. You get help from Oracle experts and other sysadmins who are working on the same labs as you.

I've been to all our OTN Sysadmin Days so far. The sysadmins and IT managers who attended told me that it was time very well spent. However, our attendance has been low. Not sure whether we haven't gotten the word out to enough people, or whether it's just difficult for sysadmins to get away. In any case, if we don't improve attendance, we'll have to cancel OTN Sysadmin Days.

So if you're interested, register now. Santa Clara on April 10 may be your last chance. The event is free. Here's the agenda:

Time Session
8:00 am System Shakedown
9:00 am Oracle's Dual OS Strategy
 

Oracle Solaris Track

Oracle Linux Track

10:00 am HOL: Oracle Solaris ZFS HOL: Package Management and Configuration
11:30 am HOL: Virtualization HOL: Storage Management
1:00 pm Lunch / Surfing OTN
2:00 pm HOL: Oracle Solaris Security HOL: Btrfs filesystem
3:00 pm Presentation: Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 11g
3:30 pm Presentation: Setting Up and In-House Development Environment with Oracle Solaris Studio
4:00 pm Discussion: What are the most pressing issues for sysadmins today?
5:00 pm We all go home

- 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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Thursday Feb 02, 2012

You've Come a Long Way, Desktop

I wouldn't last more than ten minutes teaching in an American high school. Not because the little monsters would frighten me, but because it would take about five minutes for me to grab one of them by the throat and slam them up against the chalkboard. And another five minutes for the principal to walk me out the front gate.

I went to a Catholic High School in Peru. Our Freshman class had 120 students, 40 to a classroom. Only 96 graduated. I don't know what happened to those who flunked out, but those of us who graduated got a phenomenal education. I didn't have a challenging class again until my junior year at Berkeley. Unfortunately, America doesn't value education much and, according to I, Cringely, that disdain has now spread our universities.

Oddly enough, we are really good with desktops. Or rather, with virtual desktops. Walk away from your desktop without even entering a decimal point into the cell you were adding to a spreadsheet, hop on a jet plane to Prague, walk into a friend's office, log in to his desktop, and there's your spreadsheet with the cell that's missing the decimal point.

Desktop virtualization rocks. It not only improves the user experience, it makes life much easier for the sysadmin. You get to manage huge groups of desktops as if they were one. And to totally cool things, as you'll see below. Some of you probably remember the days of walking around with a floppy disk from office to office, updating an application one user at a time. Desktop virtualization is about as diametrically opposed from that as you can get.

If you want to know how far it has come, and what it takes to implement, check out some of these resources:

How to Design a Desktop Infrastructure for Windows Systems

Show this one to your boss. All the factors you need to consider when designing a virtual desktop infrastructure that can deliver a Windows 7 desktop standard operating environment to either 500, 1,000, or 1,500 users. Covers architecture, capacity planning, network configuration, and availability.

Video Interview: Big Energy and Money Savings With SunRay 3 Clients

Michael Dan describes the incredible energy and cost savings you can get with Oracle's SunRay Servers, and demonstrates the product features and production chain innovations that qualify the SunRay 3 thin client for its EnergyStar rating and the 2011 Good Design Award.

Video Interview: How Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is Better for Users and Easier for Sysadmins

You can set up Oracle's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure so that users can switch between OS's on their desktops as easily as selecting a different tab. Or access their desktop environment not only from their laptop, but also from the PC at Ray's Custom Bike Shop (provided Ray had the VDI client installed). Craig Bender and Brad Lackey, who were Microsoft Professionals before they worked on Oracle's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, describe the components of the VDI 3.2 system, and the features that make it easier, cheaper, and safer for sysadmins to manage. Plus how it works with a global cloud.

Recent Awards

In fact, we do desktop virtualization so well, that we've won several awards. Most recently:

For More Info

- Rick
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Wednesday Jan 25, 2012

Does Your Weekend Workload Look Like This?

We have a couple of resources to help you dive under.

Article: How Dell Migrated From SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux

In June of 2010, Dell made the decision to migrate 1,700 systems from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux, while leaving the hardware and application layers unchanged. Suzanne Zorn worked with Jon Senger and Aik Zu Shyong, from Dell, to understand exactly how Dell did it. In this article, they describe Dell's server environment, the migration process, and what they learned. The article covers:

  • Preparation, including the use of a "scratch" area
  • Archiving configuration files
  • Conversion of MPIO to PowerPath with a custom script
  • Re-imaging the new OS and installing with kickstart
  • Restoring the configuration files
  • Adjusting profiles
  • Restarting database and applications, and verifying correct operation.

More about Oracle Linux here.

Demo: Update the Oracle Linux Kernel with Ksplice

Waseem Daher uses the command line to demonstrate how you can use Ksplice to install kernel updates to Oracle Linux without rebooting, even while your applications are still running. He also shows you how to use the Uptrack utility in Ksplice to manage your Linux packages more easily. It's only 18 minutes long, and well worth your time.

Why big wave surfers do it.

- 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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Tuesday Jan 10, 2012

Big Data is Cool

Do you like to screw around with Facebook's ad machinery by posting creative entries just to see what ads Facebook will post immediately afterwards? Try it sometime ... post an entry with "Alzheimers" or "lactose intolerance" in it and watch how the ads change. Beats late-nite television.

We take it for granted, now, but advertisements used to really miss their mark. I will read anything about motorcycles, but I'm bored to tears by Tommy Hilfiger's latest twist on torn jeans. Back in the day, retailers knew precious little about their customers, so Tommy would waste a lot of money sending me pictures of skinny teenagers in torn jeans. That's all changed. In today's living out loud society, Harley Davidson knows more about me than the FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security combined.

That's because of Big Data. Instead of storing only transactions in relational databases, companies are now storing and mining the content in blogs, social media, photographs, and all kinds of non-traditional data to find out who their customers are likely to be, and what they're likely to want. In principle it sounds kinda creepy, but in practice it keeps Tommy Hilfiger outta my face, so I don't mind.

If you're a sysadmin, you may want to know Big Data works. Since Oracle just launched its Big Data Appliance, we have plenty of content to get you started. Here are three:

You can find these and more content about Oracle's BigData Appliance on OTN:

OTN's Big Data Appliance Page

White papers, blogs, videos,
data sheets, and links to
related technologies.

- 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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Tuesday Jan 03, 2012

Next OTN Sysadmin Day is on January 18

Our next OTN Sysadmin Day will be held on January 18 in Salt Lake City, Utah. As usual, we will have two tracks of hands-on-labs:

Time Session
8:00 am System Shakedown
9:00 am Oracle's Dual OS Strategy / Overview of OTN
 

Oracle Solaris Track

Oracle Linux Track

10:00 am HOL: ZFS HOL: managing packages, configuring services
11:30 am HOL: Exploring OS, network, and storage virtualization HOL on Storage Part I: managing storage and file systems
1:00 pm Lunch Break
2:00 pm HOL: Managing software with IPS HOL on Storage Part II: Device Mapper, BTRFS
3:00 pm Presentation: Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 11g
4:00 pm Discussion: What are the most pressing issues for sysadmins today?
5:00 pm We all go home

Participants of previous OTN Sysadmin Days found the hands-on labs particularly valuable. You get to learn by doing. And what you get to do is install, configure, and manage the technologies of Oracle Solaris 11 and Oracle Linux in the same way as you would in the real world.

OTN Sysadmin Day in Salt Lake City is free, but you must register. Please stay for the feedback session at the end. They tend to be pretty spirited, and you might win a neat prize. Address:

Salt Lake City Marriott City Center
220 South State Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

If you'd like to see some pictures from the Sacramento event, go to the "OTN Sysadmin Day Sacramento" photo folder on the OTN Garage on Facebook.

To find out what there is to do is Salt Lake City and Utah, click on the ski page above. It will take you to National Geographic's Guide to Utah.

- Rick
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Friday Dec 23, 2011

Santa in the OTN Garage

You are welcome to peruse content the OTN Systems Community posted for sysadmins and developers over the past year, like Santa is doing:

Here's wishing that your moto start on the first kick, your engine oil run clear, your bolts not vibrate off before you reach home, your fuel not gum up your carburetor, and your face remain merrily in the wind.

Merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate during the Holiday Season.

- Rick

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Friday Dec 16, 2011

Two Sysadmin Articles Make OTN's Top 20

In the OTN blog, Justin reports that two sysadmin-related articles made OTN's top 20 list for 2011:

Number 2
Taking Your First Steps with Oracle Solaris 11
- by Brian Leonard and Glenn Brunette

Number 11
How I Simplified the Installation of Oracle Database on Oracle Linux
- by Ginny Henningsen

Boo-yah!

The good work of Brian, Glenn, and Ginny makes those of us in the Systems Community of OTN particularly proud because the number of OTN readers who are system admins and developers is dwarfed by the number who are Java developers. Even making the top 20 is notable. To Brian, Glenn, and Ginny, a heartfelt:

- Rick

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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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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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Wednesday Nov 16, 2011

Silly Developers, VirtualBox Is For Sysadmins!

That's one of my favorite bumper stickers. (Well, along with the sticker placed upside down on Jeep windows that says "If you can read this, roll me over.") I don't object to the "silly boys" sticker because, in my humble opinion, girls look much cuter in Jeeps than guys do. But as Ginny Henningsen points out, a similar sentiment can be applied to Oracle VM VirtualBox.

While writing her other sysadmin-related articles for OTN, Ginny horsed around with VirtualBox so much that she fell in love with it. Not as a developer, but as a sysadmin. Read why she thinks it's such a great sysadmin tool:

My New Favorite Sysadmin Tool: Oracle VM VirtualBox

Here are some of Ginny's other articles:

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

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