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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Monday Sep 16, 2013

Cloud Building with Oracle Solaris 11

Three resources to help you build clouds with Oracle Solaris 11

Training Class - How to Build a Private Cloud with Oracle Solaris 11

by Oracle University

This training class combines multiple enterprise level technologies to demonstrate a full cloud infrastructure deployment using SPARC technology. Learn To:

  • Plan for and deploy a private Infrastructure as a Service cloud
  • Combine various Oracle technologies into a robust cloud infrastructure
  • Practice cloud component creation and configuration tasks by performing a series of guided hands-on labs
  • Perform the critical steps associated with the configuration of cloud and related facilities.

Tech Article - How to Build a Web-Based Storage Solution Using Oracle Solaris 11.1

by Suk Kim

Have you ever wanted to build a cloud just to see if you can? Turns out it's not that difficult. Install Oracle Solaris 11.1 on your laptop via VirtualBox, set up a little ZFS storage, a little access control, and configure AjaXplorer so you and your friends can manage your files. Don't neglect to drop phrases like "Download that from the cloud I just built" into casual conversation.

Tech Article - How to Put Oracle Solaris Zones on Shared Storage for Easy Cloning

We liked this blog so much when Jeff Victor first posted it, that we turned it into a bonafide OTN tech article. You might recognize it. It's about ZOSS: zones on shared storage. Why? When you configure a zone on shared storage, you can quickly clone it on any server that uses that storage. Jeff explains how.

Bonus! - Oracle VM Templates with Oracle Solaris 11

picture of cloud taken in Colorado, copyright Rick Ramsey

- Rick

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Thursday Apr 18, 2013

Why Solaris Loves Python

It's not well known that Oracle Solaris 11 includes a healthy dose of Python code, and that Solaris engineering uses Python tools. These four videos provide more of the story.

How Oracle Solaris 11 Uses Python

Oracle Solaris 11 installation tools use Python to access C libraries more quickly and easily than if they were coded in C. Drew Fisher explains why the Solaris engineering team chose Python for this purpose, what he personally likes about it, and what it implies for the future of Solaris development.

Why Is Oracle Solaris Engineering Looking for Python Developers?

Martin Widjaja, engineering manager for Oracle Solaris, describes the development environment for Oracle Solaris and why Oracle wants to hire more Python developers to work on Solaris.

Why I Started Developing In Python

David Beazly was working on supercomputing systems at Los Alamos National Laboratory when he began to use Python. First, he used it as a productivity tool, then as a control language for C code. Good insights into Python development for both systems developers and sysadmins from the respected author.

How RAD Interfaces In Oracle Solaris 11 Simplify Your Scripts

Every time a new release of Oracle Solaris changes the syntax or output of its administrative commands, you need to update any scripts that interact with those commands. Until now. Karen Tung describes the RAD (Remote Administration Daemon) interfaces that Solaris 11 now provides to reduce the need for script maintenance.

- Rick

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Wednesday Apr 03, 2013

Miss MoneyPenny and the Oracle Solaris 11 Provisioning Assistant

source

In the following video, Bart Smaalders, from the Oracle Solaris core engineering team, explains why they decided not to provide a direct upgrade path from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11, and the best way for a data center to perform an indirect upgrade.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Why Engineering Did Not Provide a Direct Upgrade Path to Oracle Solaris 11

Miss MoneyPenny to the Rescue

If you saw Skyfall, you probably noticed two things. First, that the latest Miss Moneypenny is a lot more interesting than past Miss Moneypennies. Second, that she's always there when 007 needs her.

Just like Oracle Solaris 10.

Oracle Solaris 10 has just released a nifty tool called Oracle Solaris 11 Provisioning Assistant. It lets you run the automated installer from Oracle Solaris 11 on a Solaris 10 system. That means you can set up an IPS (Image Packaging System) repository on your Solaris 10 system, and use it to provision one or more Solaris 11 systems.

In fact, if you have already set up a JumpStart server on your Solaris 10 system, you can use it to provision the Solaris 11 systems. Kristina Tripp and Isaac Rozenfeld have written an article that explains how:

TECH ARTICLE: How to Use an Existing Oracle Solaris 10 JumpStart Server to Provision Oracle Solaris 11 11/11

Note:
The Provisioning Assistant only provisions Solaris 11 11/11 systems. It does not provision Solaris 11.1, and there are no plans to extend its functionality to provision future releases of Oracle Solaris 11. Once you have set up your Solaris 11 system, use its automated installer to provision systems with the Solaris 11.1 or future releases. For more info, see the Upgrading to Oracle Solaris 11.1 documentation.

- Rick

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Wednesday Sep 12, 2012

Reaping the Benefits of the Image Packaging System

source

One of the promises made about Oracle Solaris 11 was easier installation. Remember?

Do you also remember how involved installing Oracle Solaris Cluster used to be? It was so involved, in fact, that we (when we were Sun Microsystems) wouldn't even let you do it yourself.

How times have changed.

New - How to Automate The Installation of Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0

Thanks to the new image packaging architecture in Oracle Solaris 11, you can now automate the installation of Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0. Why is that such a big deal? As Lucia Lai explains it:

"Without the AI, you would have to manually install the cluster components on the cluster nodes, and then run the scinstall tool to add the nodes to the cluster. If, instead, you use the AI, both the Oracle Solaris 11 and the Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 packages are installed onto the cluster nodes directly from Image Packaging System (IPS) repositories, and the nodes are booted into a new cluster with minimum user intervention."

Lucia goes on to explain how to set up and configure the AI server, how to plan your cluster configuration for the automated installation, how to use the scinstall utility, how to set up the DHCP server, and more. A thorough, well-written article.

- Rick

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Tuesday Aug 21, 2012

Worth the Money?

source

Learning a new technology really is the modern equivalent of doing the Ulysees thing in Homer's Odyssey. If you're the person who has to actually deploy the darned thing. And keep it running.

First, you have to wade through the marketing designed to mesmerize your boss ...

The eData Cloud-Optimized Storage Environment solution increases the adaptability of scalable business continuity while protecting infrastructure integrity optimized for the demands of reliability, availability, and security expressly designed for the unique requirements of the data center while enhanced for today's particular, unique, and demanding enterprise challenges. In a heterogenous computing environment.

So you shake your head vigorously in the hope that most of those words will fall out your ears, and go to the documentation, which is wicked, wicked useful. Once once you have a good idea of what you want to do. But frustrating as hell when you're not sure what you're supposed to be doing. Or why.

The technical articles that OTN publishes help a lot, but they don't give you the complete picture, do they? You wind up knowing how to do some really cool things, but not having a clue how to do others. Or worse: not knowing if there are other things you need to know.

So you go to the forums. And ask a question. OTN's forums are pretty good, but even in our forums you might not get an answer. And you might develop a lasting relationship with somebody born in San Quentin Prison who dedicates himself to stalking you for the rest of his life for wasting 18 seconds of his precious time.

We're all used to this, and repeat it hundreds of times throughout the year.

But wouldn't it be nice to learn something the easy way? Just once? Have somebody who really knows what they're talking about give us the complete picture? First at the high level so we get to see all the pieces and finally understand what it is we're dealing with. That alone is almost priceless. But also in full detail, so we know how to actually install, deploy, manage, and update a technology. From end to end. Because we've done it ourselves. More than once.

For me, that would be Christmas in August. The catch for most sysadmins nowadays is that there just isn't enough time to take a class. You can't get away from the office long enough without the place burning down. Which is why Oracle University came up with its on-demand format. Here's one example:

On Demand Training: Transition to Oracle Solaris 11

Like the average sysadmin, I have little to no free time during my work week. So I can't sign up for a week-long class. And even if I did, I wouldn't pay attention half the time because I'd be answering emails, IM's, and phone calls. So this on-demand format really works for me. Plus, the content is really good. An example of how the instructor sets the context for the new installation tools in Oracle Solaris 11, with just a few words:

"Now, speaking of Solaris installations, we have essentially three different ways that we can install this. We have the automated installer. Now, the automated installer is the replacement for JumpStart. The idea here is we're installing across the network. We have a manifest that lists what component should get installed. We have client profiles that say OK, these are the clients that should get the software.

"Then we have a couple of different interactive installation options. We have a LiveCD. Now, LiveCD is designed for the desktop environment. It has a GUI environment. So for those of you that are dealing with installations that are going to happen on a desktop or notebook computers, generally, you're going to do a LiveCD installation of that. Then we have the text installer. That's typically what you're probably used to in server deployments where it's a text-based interface where you're answering the questions to install the operating system so that you're not having to worry about the resources of a graphical environment."

If you're wondering why I'm blogging about this course on OTN Garage (again), it's simple: I'm taking the course right now, in between my other work, and I'm freakin' loving it! In my case, Oracle is paying for it. But after decades of trying to learn this technology on my own --with access to Oracle's engineers, mind you-- even if Oracle didn't pay for it, I'd be awfully tempted to stop buying motorcycles and pay for it myself. Just for the peace of mind. For the relief of being certain that I know what I'm talking about.

If the link above doesn't work for you, try this one.

- Rick

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Friday Aug 17, 2012

How to Create More Oracle Solaris 11 Zones With Less Effort

If you are familiar with zones in Oracle Solaris 11, you already know how to create them using a procedure like the one described in this article:

How to Get Started Creating Zones in Oracle Solaris 11
Duncan Hardie demonstrates how to perform basic operations with zones: first, how create a single zone using the command line, then how to add an application to a zone, and finally how to clone a zone.

And you may be aware that you can configure your zones so that they are easier to clone, as described in this article:

How to Configure Zones in Oracle Solaris 11 for Easy Cloning
Jeff McMeekin describes how to create a network topology of servers, routers, switches, and firewalls that you can clone right along with Oracle Solaris 11 zones.

However, if you are going to create several zones and perhaps configure them differently, why not make things easier on yourself? Why not prepare a few zone configuration plans? And when you're ready to create one, just push a button to execute one of the plans? This article by Laura Hartman describes how to do just that:

New!
How to Create Oracle Solaris 11 Zones with Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center 12c

Here's an overview of the process, lifted from the article:

"First, create an Oracle Solaris 11 zone profile and plan. The profile captures the zone configuration, including defining the storage and network details. The plan executes the configuration on selected targets. You can use and reuse the profile and plan to create zones with a consistent configuration.

"Then deploy the plan to create a new zone. When you deploy a plan, you identify the target operating systems and the number of zones to create. Before you submit the job to deploy the plan, you can modify some of the configuration details."

More info about Oracle Solaris 11 zones here:

- Rick

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Monday Aug 06, 2012

Basic and Advanced System Services Administration in Oracle Solaris 11

Does taming the behavior of your OS services manually make you feel less than your usual playful self? Lighten up. The Service Management Facility (SMF), introduced in Oracle Solaris 10 and extended in Oracle Solaris 11, provides the discipline those unruly services need. Here are two articles that will help get the most out of it.

Introducing the Basics of the Service Management Facility in Oracle Solaris 11

The SMF keeps track of the relationship between the services in your instance of Solaris. With this information, it can start services much more quickly at boot time, and it restart them automatically in the correct order if any of them fail. And that's only the beginning. In this article Glynn Foster explains what SMF does, and how to perform basic services administration with it, including how to use these four commands to get information about, and manage, your system services:

Command Description
svcadm Manage the state of service instances
svcs Provide information about services, including their status
svcprop Get information about service configuration properties
svccfg Import, export, and modify service configuration

Advanced Administration with the Service Management Facility in Oracle Solaris 11

In this article, Glynn Foster describes how to use some of the more advanced features of SMF, including service bundles, which you can use to deliver custom configuration across systems. And SMF profiles, which modify services to suit a particular installation. The introduction of layers in Oracle Solaris 11 provides better tracking of vendor-supplied customizations and administrative customizations for services and instances of services in four discrete layers, and site profiles, also described in this article, help you manage these layers more easily.

- Rick

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Friday Aug 03, 2012

My Oracle RAC and Oracle Solaris Cluster Cheet Sheet

This gets complicated, so stop watching motoGP crash compilation videos for a sec.

We have Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC). RAC lets you deploy a single Oracle Database across different servers. If the server in your Des Moines data center gets picked up by a tornado that hates you and dropped off in East Texas, the other servers pick up the load, and the database continues to operate without interruption. That's easy to understand.

We also have Oracle Solaris Cluster. It lets you deploy the Oracle Solaris operating system across different servers. If the server in your Barbados data center gets washed away by a hurricane that hates you and dropped off in West Africa, the other servers pick up the load, and the operating system continues to operate without interruption. A good quote:

White Paper: Extending Oracle Solaris for Business Continuity
"Oracle Solaris Cluster offers comprehensive and robust capabilities for keeping your business IT, including those running Oracle Database and Applications, up and running in the face of nearly every conceivable situation."

That's easy to understand, as well.

So why would somebody complicate our sysadmin lives by suggesting we install Oracle RAC on Oracle Solaris Cluster? What would that be, highly-available high availability?

Turns out that's not what they're suggesting. They're suggesting we install Oracle RAC not on Solaris Clusters, but on zone clusters. What's a zone cluster, you ask?

A zone cluster is a cluster created from Solaris zones that are physically located on different servers. That's similar to a regular cluster, but it uses zones instead of entire OS instances. Don't confuse a zone cluster with a failover cluster. Instead, read this white paper:

White Paper: Zone Clusters: How to Deploy Virtual Clusters and Why
This paper introduces the zone cluster, a virtual cluster in which an Oracle Solaris Zone is configured as a virtual node. The zone cluster supports the consolidation of multiple cluster applications on a single cluster.

That's all very interesting, but what about our original question:

Why would someone want to complicate our sysadmin lives by suggesting we install Oracle RAC on a zone cluster?

Turns out there two good reasons:

  • It's a better high-availability solution for a multi-tier application environment
  • It lets you isolate your database development, test, and deployment environments from each other.

How the Oracle RAC/Zone Cluster Combo Is Better For Multi-Tier Applications

Let's say that you are using your Oracle database as one tier in two different application environments. The first one is an HR application, the one second is an e-business suite. Both access the same database. Well, Oracle RAC would give you the high-availability for that database. But the applications would not be highly available. However, if you installed the database with Oracle RAC inside one zone cluster, and each application inside its own zone cluster, you'd make both application environments highly avaiable. And, if you limit the administrative privileges for each zone cluster, you'd get administrative isolation, as well.

How the Oracle RAC/Zone Cluster Combo Is Safer for Deployment

You've probably heard by now about Knight Capital Group's trading glitch that dropped the company's value by 50% in one day. I don't know exactly what happened, but I wonder if they didn't deploy either their development or their test environment instead of the one that was ready for prime time.

I suppose it's a sysadmin's duty to learn from another sysadmin's misfortune. So, if you divide your zone clusters into development, test, and deployment environments, you might have a better shot at avoiding a similar catastrophe. For example, install Oracle RAC with an Oracle DB into your development zone cluster, and keep it isolated from your test and deployment zone clusters. One sysadmin controls the development cluster. Another the test cluster. And the biggest, baddest sysadmin controls the deployment cluster. When the development environment is ready for testing, the test admin must OK the migration. That goes double for the deployment environment. And all the while, each environment remains highly available.

Resources

Turns out that Oracle and the portion of Oracle that was once Sun Microsystems have been collaborating on Oracle RAC/Solaris Cluster solutions for a long time. Customers like this approach so much that we just published three articles explaining how to do it. Each article covers a different version of the software:

Article RAC Version Solaris Version Cluster Version
How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.2 on Oracle Solaris Zone Clusters 11.2.0.2 10 3.3
How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3 on Oracle Solaris Zone Clusters 11.2.0.3 10 3.3
How to Deploy Oracle RAC 11.2.0.3 on Oracle Solaris 11 Zone Clusters 11.2.0.3 11 4.0

And if you want more, we also have a page full of links to all our Solaris Cluster how-to articles and background white papers:

Where to find everything Solaris Cluster-related

Don't be the sysadmin who bankrupts your company in one day. Get educated.

- Rick

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Monday Jul 23, 2012

My First Impression of Oracle University's On Demand Training

Source

I live in abject fear of lectures. I spent 12 years in and old fashioned Catholic School, complete with full uniform and wooden paddles. The first 8 years were a futile attempt to civilize me. During the remaining four years, the main thing I learned was how to sleep with my eyes open. And college wasn't much better. I don't know how I finished. I'm not even sure I finished. Instead, give me a few scraps of metal, a blow torch, and let me figure it out.

So when the folks from Oracle University offered to let me take one of their On-Demand online courses, I raised an eyebrow. Me? Are you sure? Maybe you should talk to Sister Mary Shackles, my high school principal.

But I decided to give it a try. After all, I am now a contributing member of society. I can probably pay attention for a few minutes without screaming. Holy Moly was I surprised. Hold still whilst I elucidate ...

Oracle University's Transition to Oracle Solaris 11 On-Demand Training - Course Format

Eric Siglin, the instructor, looked like he could head-butt me into the next building. If he'd been my high school principal I might have done better. Mister Siglin, which is how I'll refer to him so I remain in his good graces, has a background in Oracle Database, Solaris, Linux, and Oracle's Database Machine. Not bad.

Once you register for the course, you land in a dashboard of sorts that has three parts:

Selectable course outline

This one's pretty straightfoward ... a list of the course segments, and you can jump back and forth between them.

High-def video screen

Mister Siglin has a wicked black Fu-Manchu/white beard combo. And in full screen mode the resolution is good enough to verify that it's not a fake. When he needs to show you a screen, Mister Siglin simply replaces the video with a shot of the screen, and sometimes shows up live in the right corner of the screen.

As with those superbike crash compilations videos that I enjoy watching so much on YouTube, you can expand the window to full screen.

Scrolling Text Window

Below the screen is a scrolling text window that highlights the words as Mr Siglin speaks them. Reminds me of the Sing-Along-With-Mitch programs on American TV. You can turn off this feature with the little red lock icon a the top right of the text box, though I can't imagine why.

This is too cool: if you want to go back and review a portion of the lecture, you can click on the text below the window, and the video rewinds to the part where the instructor, Mister Siglin, spoke that word. And it advances normally from there.

But wait! There's more. Enter a word into the search window, and the progress bar indicates where in the recording Mister Siglin has said that word. Click on the indicator, and the video rewinds to that spot. Along with the scrolling text, of course. Unless you're the kind of guy who turns off the cool scrolling text. You probably pay for your fast food with small coins, don't you?

Course Content

As cool as all those bells and whistles are, the best part is the content. Here's an example of Mister Siglin's introductory comments.

"We are assuming that you have some prior Solaris experience coming in here, because we're going to address what's new with Solaris. We're going to talk about the image packaging system. Now, the image packaging system reminds me an awful lot of what we have in the Linux environment. The automated installer, which is a replacement for Jumpstart...

"Plus, we're also going to come up with some ideas to help it make it easier for you to transition from Solaris 10 to Solaris 11...

"So we're going to look at managing the software packages in Solaris 11. And that's going to continue perhaps until tomorrow. That's one of the nice things about having a small group like this one, that makes our schedule a little more flexible. So then we're going to talk about enhancements to the installation process. We have a couple of different ways of looking at that, because the installer's been improved. We have several options. And then we're going to get into Solaris Zones. We're going to take a look at what is new with the Solaris Zones, new with networking, especially since we're dealing with a lot more virtualization. And then on the last day, we're going to get into storage enhancements. There are some major enhancements with ZFS, for example. We're going to address those. And then the security enhancements that are in this version of Solaris.

If you get a minute ...

In a couple of weeks I'll tell you what I think about what I've been learning. Till then, here's another motorcycle crash video. And, for those of you who have not surrendered the romance in your soul to the rigors of keeping an IT shop humming, here's another enthusiastic sing-a-long from Mitch.

- Rick

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Thursday May 24, 2012

Overcoming Your Fear of Repositories

One of the best features of Oracle Solaris 11 is its software update model. As you have probably heard many times by now, the Image Packaging System (IPS) handles package dependencies automatically, so you no longer have to check them manually or create scripts that assemble the correct set of packages .

If you don't have a support contract, you have to wait until the next release of Oracle Solaris 11 to get the latest updates. But if you do have a support contract, you can keep your system updated with the latest security updates and bug fixes by downloading updates from the Oracle Support Repository. We recently published two articles that describe how, plus one more that shows you how to create multiple internal repositories.

How to Update Oracle Solaris 11 Systems from the Oracle Support Repository, by Glynn Foster

You may already know that you don't have to worry about manually tracking and validating patch dependencies when you update a version of Oracle Solaris 11. But did you also realize you can apply the updates to an alternate boot environment, and then schedule the switchover to happen automatically at a later time? Glynn Foster explains how, and how to make sure everything went well.

More Tips for Updating Oracle Solaris 11 Systems from the Oracle Support Repository, by Peter Dennis

The Oracle Support Repository contains bug fixes and critical security fixes that can be applied to existing Oracle Solaris 11 installations between major releases. The repository is updated monthly. Peter Dennis describes how to access those updates and apply them to your systems.

How to Create Multiple Internal Repositories for Oracle Solaris 11, by Albert White

Even though you may get all your software updates to Oracle Solaris 11 from an external repository, you may still want to create different internal repositories to serve different versions of Oracle Solaris 11 to different types of systems. Albert White shows you how to create and manage internal repositories for release, development, and support versions of Solaris 11.

There's plenty more where these came from. Be sure to bookmark our Installation Spotlight page, maintained by the kind and prolific folks who bring you Oracle Solaris 11.

About the picture ...
Laird Hamilton is a god.
Teahupoo is a killer wave.
Laird owned it.
Be like Laird.

- Rick

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Tuesday May 22, 2012

Cluster Fest

It's been a couple of months since we focused on Oracle Solaris Cluster. If you're a fan, we have some new content that will interest you. See below. (If you're new to Solaris Cluster, in particular how to use it in a virtual environment, see "Recent Technical Articles About Oracle Solaris Cluster," further down.)

New Technical Articles About Oracle Solaris Cluster

How to Upgrade to Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0
If you are running Oracle Solaris Cluster 3.3 5/11 on Oracle Solaris 10 and want to upgrade to Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.0 running on Oracle Solaris 11, consider using the Oracle Solaris Cluster Geographic Edition software. It makes the job easier and keeps downtime to a minimum. Tim Read wrote this 8-part article to show you how. Contents are:

How to Deploy Oracle RAC on Zone Clusters
This one is very cool. Oracle Solaris Cluster lets you create clusters of Solaris zones. That gives you high availability. You also get high availability from Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC). So why would you install RAC on zone clusters? Because you can implement a multi-tiered database environment that isolates database tiers and administrative domains from each other, while taking advantage of centralized (and simpler) cluster administration. This article explains how to do it.

Recent Technical Resources About Oracle Solaris Cluster

Blog: How to Survive the End of the World - Part I
Provides a simple example of a two-node cluster, and provides resources to help you create one.

How to Survive the End of the World - Part II
Changes the 2-node example above into a failover cluster, and provides resources to help you create one.

As always you can find the latest technical resources to help you evaluate, test, and deploy Oracle Solaris Cluster on OTN's Cluster Resources for Sysadmins and Developers

- Rick

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Thursday May 10, 2012

Adventures in Flopping

Click an image to expand it.

Flopping in the NBA:

Flopping in soccer:

Flopping in the the NFL:

Flopping in the Data Center:










Next time your boss brushes aside the Chitos wrappers strewn among the coaxial cables with a dismissive swipe of his Wingtips so he can make his way into your office and demand that you install the latest version of Oracle Solaris 11 on 3,000 clients by Monday, you won't have to resort to flopping.

Just tell him that it'll take you all weekend, and then read Isaac Rozenfeld's explanation of:

How to Set Up Automated Installation Services in Oracle Oracle Solaris 11

The Automated Installer in Oracle Solaris 11 is kinda sorta the replacement for JumpStart and a very cool tool. You should learn how to use it. Steps are:

  1. Use the command-line to set up a an Oracle Solaris 11 system to act as an Automated Installer server.
  2. Create an installation service that will be automatically installed on clients.
  3. Test the installation service on the client, using default settings.
  4. Run the installation service again, but with custom settings.

Isaac strolls through them in grand style:

For more information about the Automated Installer and other installation tools in Oracle Solaris 11, see the Oracle Solaris 11 Installation Resources Page on OTN.

- Rick

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Friday Apr 06, 2012

How to Test and Deploy Applications Faster

photo courtesy of mtoleric via Flickr

If you want to test and deploy your applications much faster than you could before, take a look at these OTN resources. They won't disappoint.

Developer Webinar: How to Test and Deploy Applications Faster - April 10

Our second developer webinar, conducted by engineers Eric Reid and Stephan Schneider, will focus on how the zones and ZFS filesystem in Oracle Solaris 11 can simplify your development environment. This is a cool topic because it will show you how to test and deploy apps in their likely real-world environments much quicker than you could before. April 10 at 9:00 am PT

Video Interview: Tips for Developing Faster Applications with Oracle Solaris 11 Express

We recorded this a while ago, and it talks about the Express version of Oracle Solaris 11, but most of it applies to the production release. George Drapeau, who manages a group of engineers whose sole mission is to help customers develop better, faster applications for Oracle Solaris, shares some tips and tricks for improving your applications. How ZFS and Zones create the perfect developer sandbox. What's the best way for a developer to use DTrace. How Crossbow's network bandwidth controls can improve an application's performance. To borrow the classic Ed Sullivan accolade, it's a "really good show."

"White Paper: What's New For Application Developers"

Excellent in-depth analysis of exactly how the capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11 help you test and deploy applications faster. Covers the tools in Oracle Solaris Studio and what you can do with each of them, plus source code management, scripting, and shells. How to replicate your development, test, and production environments, and how to make sure your application runs as it should in those different environments. How to migrate Oracle Solaris 10 applications to Oracle Solaris 11. How to find and diagnose faults in your application. And lots, lots more.

- Rick

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Tuesday Feb 21, 2012

How I Explained Network Virtualization to Bikers

Back when we first launched Oracle Solaris Express, I stumbled upon a couple hundred bikers who were building a bonfire in the woods with the timber from an old cabin, a dozen cans of gasoline, and a couple of Honda Priuses. To avoid a beating, I convinced them to let me explain how virtual networks work. They set down their gasoline and I rescued some upholstery from the fire.

In the good old days, I explained, a proper biker had only one bike, a hardtail Knucklehead with a kick-starter, 5" over forks, and apes with purty leather tassels fabricated from the remnants of a favorite biker momma's chaps. And one leather jacket. Well worn. Naturally, that proper biker wanted to go to many rallies. But because he only had one bike, he could only go to one rally at a time. And he wore the same jacket to each rally. I suggested they call that favorite leather jacket Solaris, and that hardtail knucklehead a NIC.

"Nick," they asked. "Who's Nick?"

"Well, N-I-C," I explained. "It's short for Network Interface Card."

That made them a little restless, but I quickly added that as a result of the one-jacket, one-bike rule, life was good, pipes were loud, and America ruled the world.

They liked that. I got several pats on the back.

Fast forward 50, maybe 60 years, I explained while drawing the diagram above, and now we call ourselves motorcyclists. We have multiple bikes. And they are all EPA-compliant. And in keeping with the sartorial splendor of the court of Louix the XIV, we have one outfit for each bike. I asked them to pretend that each outfit was a zone, and each motorcycle was a virtual NIC, or VNIC. They got restless at the mention of Nick again, particularly after I brought up France, but I held up a well-manicured hand so they would allow me to elaborate. When modern motorcyclists like me want to go to Sturgis, I explained, we get into our Sturgis zone (a 5-day shadow, leather chaps, and obligatory bandana), and throw a leg over our Sturgis VNIC (a blinged-out CVO Harley Davidson 110" Ultra Classic with the dual-tone paint job). When we want to go to Americade, we slip into our Americade zone (a clean shave, a heated vest, and a reflective yellow Aerostich waterproof suit with 10 large pockets), and hop onto our Americade VNIC (a BMW K1200LT with heated seats, cup holder, and GPS). And so on. One outfit for each motorcycle, one zone for each vnic.

That's as far as I got. They gave me a beating and tossed me, my Vespa, and my modster jacket into the lake.

I decided to get some help.

Nicolas Droux, who was part of the engineering team that developed network virtualization (project Crossbow), agreed to explain all this to me. After assuring me that he was not a biker, we got on the phone. And we turned our phone conversation into a nifty podcast.

Podcast: Why and How to Use Network Virtualization

This podcast is easier to absorb if you listen to it in two parts, each about 15 minutes long.

In the first half, Nicolas explains how the process of managing network traffic for multiple Solaris zones across a single Network Interface Card (NIC) naturally led to the development of virtual NICs. And then to the network-in-a-box concept, which allowed you for the first time to create complete network topologies and run them within a single host to experiment, simulate, or test.

In the second half, Nicolas provides more details about combining zones and VNICS to create a test environment. He explains how you can create a zone to function as a virtual network router, for instance, or a virtual load balancer. By isolating these network functions into zones, you can test how your application performs with different settings, and use DTrace to follow the application calls as they are routed through your virtual network. Once you have the optimum settings for the network and the application, you can deploy it in your data center.

Here are some more resources to help you understand network virtualization:

- Rick Ramsey

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Monday Feb 13, 2012

OMG! What Did I Just Install?

Quick Quiz:

Q: What's in this Solaris 10 package: SUNWlibstdcxx4S?
A: You cheated. You googled it and found the link to the Oracle Solaris 10 documentation.

You're in luck, because each release of the Solaris 10 documentation contains a Package List for that release. For example:

Now try this:

Q: What's in this Solaris 11 package: compress/p7zip?
A: buzzer!

The Solaris 11 documentation does not include a package list. You can find mentions of some packages through google, but it's hit and miss. And you still don't get the rest of the info about the package that the Solaris 10 documentation included. So how do you find out what Solaris 11 packages you just installed? Here are two methods.

The pkg list Command

The pkg list command lists all the packages currently installed on your system. If you use it, redirect the output to a file so your screen doesn't wind up looking like a scene out of The Matrix. Since package naming is hierarchical, you are likely to find similar packages grouped together in the list. For example:

$ pkg list
.
.
.
compress/bzip2
compress/gzip
compress/p7zip
compress/unzip
compress/zip
.
.
.
editor/gedit
editor/nano
editor/vim

You can just list a subset of the packages you are interested in:

$ pkg list driver/network/ethernet/*

By the way, to list all packages that are available for you to install, add -a to the pkg-list command. This example asks for the name of all the packages you can install in the editor group:

$ pkg list -a editor/*

One you have a list of the packages, you can use one of the commands below to get additional info about each package.

The pkg info and pkginfo Commands

The pkg info command provides detailed information about a particular IPS package. For example:
$ pkg info p7zip
          Name: compress/p7zip
       Summary: The p7zip compression and archiving utility
   Description: P7zip is a unix port of the 7-Zip utility.  It has support for
                numerous compression algorithms, including LZMA and LZMA2, as
                well as for various archive and compression file formats,
                including 7z, xz, bzip2, gzip, tar, zip (read-write) and cab,
                cpio, deb, lzh, rar, and rpm (read-only).
      Category: System/Core
         State: Installed
     Publisher: solaris
       Version: 9.20.1
 Build Release: 5.11
        Branch: 0.175.0.0.0.2.537
Packaging Date: Wed Oct 19 09:13:22 2011
          Size: 6.73 MB
          FMRI: pkg://solaris/compress/p7zip@9.20.1,5.11-0.175.0.0.0.2.537:20111019T091322Z 

Here's another example:

$ pkg info -r solaris-large-server
          Name: group/system/solaris-large-server
       Summary: Oracle Solaris Large Server
   Description: Provides an Oracle Solaris large server environment
      Category: Meta Packages/Group Packages
         State: Not installed
     Publisher: solaris
       Version: 0.5.11
 Build Release: 5.11
        Branch: 0.175.1.0.0.9.2627
Packaging Date: Mon Feb 06 22:33:56 2012
          Size: 5.45 kB
          FMRI: pkg://solaris/group/system/solaris-large-server@0.5.11,5.11-0.175.1.0.0.9.2627:20120206T223356Z

The pkginfo command does the same for any SVR4 packages you may have installed on the same system.

For More Information

- Rick Ramsey with Alta Elstad

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Thursday Feb 09, 2012

Zoning Out

So much virtualization. So little time.

You can virtualize your OS ...

You can virtualize your network.

You can virtualize your storage.

Your server.

Even your highly-personalized desktop.

Me? I would like to virtualize my virtualization technologies. I want ONE server. With ONE OS. And ONE toolkit. That can actually be made up of hundreds or even thousands of virtual OS instances, networks, storage devices, desktops, aircraft carriers, or whatever they virtualize next.

You can't quite do that yet, but in Oracle Solaris 11 you can create zones that are easy to clone on other systems. That's a step in the right direction, I think. The following article describes how. In case you're not too confident in your ability to juggle zones, I added an article that helps you get started with zones in Oracle Solaris 11, and a link to more resources.

How to Configure Zones in Oracle Solaris 11 for Easy Cloning

The easiest way to create a bunch of zones is to clone them from one or more originals. That seems simple enough if you are going to clone them on the same instance of Solaris, but what if you'd like to clone them on other systems? In that case, you need to use virtual networks. You need to set up an entire network topology of servers, routers, switches, and firewalls that you can clone right along with the zones. Jeff McMeekin describes how.

How to Get Started Creating Zones in Oracle Solaris 11

If you used zones (containers) in Oracle Solaris 10, you'll appreciate this article. Because zones are more tightly integrated with the architecture of Oracle Solaris 11, they're easier to set up and manage. In this article, Duncan Hardie demonstrates how to perform basic operations with zones: first, how create a single zone using the command line, then how to add an application to a zone, and finally how to clone a zone.

More Zones Resources

  • Solaris 11 Virtualization Page - Links to demos, podcasts, technical articles, and more resources to help you understand zones and how to use them.
  • Zones Collection - See what zones-related content we've published (or found) since the dawn of time.
  • RSS Feeds Page - Subscribe to zones-related content through your favorite reader.

- Rick
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Monday Jan 23, 2012

How to Survive the End of the World - Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Create A Failover Zone Cluster

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

- Rick
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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 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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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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