Wednesday Jul 25, 2012

OTN Sysadmin Day in Denver, Colorado

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Can you find the sysadmin in the picture?

You might be able to on Thursday, August 23rd. OTN is hosting its next Sysadmin Day in Denver, Colorado, and we can never keep track of our sysadmins. In a place as purty as Colorado, it will be even harder.

Note: The date on the link above is incorrect. The correct date is Thursday, August 23rd.

Our previous OTN Sysadmin Day in Santa Clara had almost 100 attendees. The one in Denver will have similar presentations, but we're adding some content on virtualization. Which we hope to expand into a third track in the future. As usual, Pavel Anni 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.

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.
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: Oracle VM Manager
4:00 pm Discussion: What are the most pressing issues for sysadmins today?
5:00 pm Get lost in the mountains.

- Rick

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Monday Jul 23, 2012

My First Impression of Oracle University's On Demand Training

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selectable course outline

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

High-def video screen

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

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

Scrolling Text Window

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

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

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

Course Content

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

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

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

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

If you get a minute ...

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

- Rick

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Tuesday Jun 12, 2012

Whole Lotta Virtualization Goin' On

Lately we've published a lot of content about virtualization. Here's a sampling.

Podcat: Technology Preview of Transcendent Memory

Turns out that in a virtual environment, RAM is the bottleneck. Not because it's slow, it's not, but because each CPU still had to use its own RAM. Which gets expensive. In this podcast, Dan Magenheimer describes how Oracle and the open source community taught the guest kernel in Oracle Linux to share its memory with other CPU's. Transcendent memory will wind up saving large data centers a lot of money. Find out how.

Tech Article: How to Use Oracle VM Templates

This article describes how to prepare an Oracle VM environment to use Oracle VM Templates, how to obtain a template, and how to deploy the template to your Oracle VM environment. It also describes how to create a virtual machine based on that template and how you can clone the template and change the clone's configuration.

Tech Article: How to Set Up a Load Balanced Application Across Two Oracle Solaris Zones

Install Apache Tomcat on two Oracle Solaris zones. Connect them across a VPN. And let the Integrated Load Balancer in Oracle Solaris 11 manage traffic. Presto: high(er) availability in a single server.

Tech Article: How to Install Oracle RAC on Oracle Solaris Zone Clusters

Learn how to implement a multi-tiered database environment that isolates database tiers and administrative domains, while taking advantage of centralized (and simpler) cluster admin.

For fans of Jerry Lee Lewis

If you're a fan of Jerry Lee Lewis, you might enjoy this video.

- Rick

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Tuesday Apr 24, 2012

Excuses, Excuses!

Excuses BookThere are two kinds of sysadmin. One charges into the unknown, eager to try the latest-and-greatest, confident in his or her ability to fix whatever breaks. The other is cautious, dedicated to keeping the Enterprise running and probably aware that unplanned downtime can become one of those career-limiting events.

If you are the latter, you probably have a pile of valid reasons (polite version of "excuse") why you haven't upgraded from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11. But that pile is getting pretty small. One of the remaining challenges may be how to get from here to there with minimal downtime. Fortunately, Harold Shaw has written an article that takes fear, pain, and loathing out of that migration: How to Live Install from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11 11/11.

You'll notice that we are being very specific that this will get you to Oracle Solaris 11 11/11. In fact, there are a couple of very important caveats: not only is this how-to (currently) specific to a target OS of Oracle Solaris 11 11/11, Harold is careful to point that you can't create a golden image on one type of system, say a SPARC M-Series system from Oracle, and deploy it on a different system, such as a SPARC T-Series system from Oracle.

The 4 Steps to Migrating from Oracle Solaris 10 to 11 11/11

Harold's formula is very detailed and surprisingly concise. I'd say you are running out of excuses to not make that switch to Oracle Solaris 11.

—Kemer

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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 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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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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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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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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Monday Nov 07, 2011

5 Commands That Make Solaris Administration Easier

Face it. Not all of us have got it figured out.

If the Service Management Facility in Oracle Solaris 10 happens to be one of those areas that you didn't quite understand as well as you had intended, you may be interested to know that it's not as complicated as, say, the interplay between geopolitics and energy policy.

In fact, SMF only has five commands:

svcs Get detailed views of the service state of all service instances in the service configuration repository
svcadm Perform common service management tasks, such as enabling, disabling, or restarting service instances
svcfg Display and manipulate the contents of the service configuration repository
svcprop Retrieves property values from the service configuration repository with an output format appropriate for use in shell scripts
inetadm Observe or control services controlled by inetd

The svcfg and svcprop commands deal with the service repository (maintains configuration info and run-time data for services). The inetadm command focuses on inetd-controlled services. You can get more information about these three commands in the Oracle Solaris 10 Basic System Administration Guide, available from The Solaris 10 System Administration Documentation Collection. Or, if it hasn't moved, use this link.

If you want to learn about the many things that you can do with the first two commands, svcs and svcadm, read this technical white paper:

Easier System Administration with the Solaris Service Management Facility

It describes how you can use the svcs and svcadm commands to:

  • Display all the services currently running
  • Display information about individual services
  • Display dependencies between services
  • List the individual processes that constitute a service
  • Perform common administrative tasks such as starting a service and then monitoring it
  • Investigate system faults
  • It's a good way to become familiar with real-world uses of the SMF. And, perhaps, put you in the practice of fully developing your perspective before you are moved to unleash it upon the world.

    - Rick Ramsey and Cindy Swearingen
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    Thursday Nov 03, 2011

    Solaris Security Resources on OTN

    image courtesy of Faisal's photo stream on Flikr

    An Overview of Oracle Solaris 10 Security Controls

    Glenn Brunette describes how to more easily secure ZFS file systems compared to UFS file systems in this white paper, along the following lines:

    UFS file systems have the following characteristics:

    • UFS file systems are directly tied to disk slices
    • Disk slice space is not easily expanded to increase capacity for UFS file systems because the disk generally contains other disk slices for active file systems
    • In some cases, you have to reinstall the OS to increase the size of the UFS root file system
    • UFS file system space is controlled by using UFS quotas

    ZFS file systems have the following advantages:

    • ZFS uses a pooled storage model where all the file systems in pool use available pool space.
    • No relationship exists between ZFS file systems and disk slices except for the ZFS root file system.
    • A long-standing boot limitation is that a ZFS root file system must be created on a disk slice.
    • During installation, you define the size of the root pool disk slice or mirrored slices that contain the root file system.
    • The root file system contains separate directories of system-related components, such as etc, usr, and var, unless you specify that var is separate file system.
    • You can put a reservation and a quota on the /var file system to determine how much disk space is reserved for /var and how disk space it can consume.

    For example, you might consider configuring a separate /var file system when installing a system that will be used as a mail server. This way, you can control the size of var with a quota so that root pool's space capacity is not exceeded.

    In addition, if the ZFS root file system and the /var file system begin to exceed the pool's capacity, you can easily replace the root pool disk with a larger disk without having to unmount, restore a backup, or reinstall the root file system.

    How should you configure your ZFS data sets for optimum security? Read Glenn's paper to find out. He not only provides security-based recommendations for ZFS, but also for:

    • Software installation clusters
    • Minimization
    • Non-executable stacks
    • Filesystems
    • USB Support
    • Plugable Authentication Modules
    • Service Management Facility
    • Cryptographic services management
    • Zones
    • And lots more

    If you're inclined to read more about security, try these other two papers we published recently, plus OTN's security collection.

    Oracle Solaris 11 Security: What's New for Developers

    Recommendations for Creating Reduced or Minimal Solaris Configurations

    OTN's Security Collection

    - Rick Ramsey and Cindy Swearingen
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    Monday Oct 17, 2011

    Networking Services You Can Run Inside a Oracle Solaris 11 Express Zone

    Oracle Solaris 11 Express introduced a new network stack architecture previously known as “Crossbow”. It lets you combine virtual NICs into flexible virtual networks that are tightly integrated with zones. In addition, the new architecture introduces the ability to manage your network resources by controlling bandwidth and flow.

    As a result, you can now run these services inside a Solaris 11 Express zone:

    • DHCP client
    • DHCP server
    • Routing daemon
    • IPsec
    • IPfilter
    • IP Multipathing (IPMP)
    • ndd commands
    • ifconfig with set or modify capabilities (usage of dladm and ipadm is recommended

    This is just one of the changes between Oracle Solaris 11 Express and previous versions. For more info, see the Oracle Solaris 11 ISV Adoption Guide.

    - Rick
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    Tuesday Sep 27, 2011

    Solaris-Related Content and Labs at Oracle OpenWorld

    Did you know that you can virtualize the big honkin' Oracle Exalogic Machine with Oracle Solaris Zones? I didn't.

    You can learn about other things you can and can't do with Oracle Solaris at this year's Oracle OpenWorld, Oct 2-5, by perusing this handy summary the Solaris folks put together:

    Focus on Oracle Solaris

    The summary covers:

    • Keynotes
    • General Sessions
    • Hands-On Labs
    • Demos
    • Meet the Experts

    - Rick
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    Wednesday Sep 14, 2011

    OTN Sysadmin Day - Seattle

    OTN Sysadmin Day held in Sacramento on Sep 8 was the first time we presented 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 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.

    Next Sysadmin Day

    We are doing another one in Seattle, on September 22nd. From 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. It's 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. I'll tell you more if you make it to Seattle.

    Our next Sysadmin Day won't happen till January 18 (Salt Lake City), so do what you can to make it to Seattle. It's being held at the Seattle Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Avenue.

    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.

    - Rick
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    Thursday Aug 25, 2011

    Next OTN Sysadmin Day is in Sacramento

    Bottom Line: next OTN Sysadmin Day is September 8 in Sacramento.
    Free, but registration is required.

    One of the most subtle yet powerful skills I learned from The Missus is how to tell the difference between what was better and what I preferred.

    Motorcycle magazines, for instance, spend an awful lot of time telling us why one motorcycle is better than another. They do this by employing their best interpretation of objective criteria: acceleration, braking, cornering, carrying capacity, conveniences, ergonomics, and sometimes even the personal riding experience of the reviewer.

    There's nothing wrong with that. Very useful stuff. And fascinating to read. Except that it gets me all confused. Or confuzzled, as my daughter calls it. The objective criteria makes me think one bike is better than the other. But when I buy it, why am I less than fulfilled?

    Because features and capabilities don't often match personal preference.

    Although we don't usually put personal preference at the top of the list when choosing an operating system, we shouldn't ignore it. Personal preference is not just whim. It takes into account the job we're trying to accomplish, the way we have to handle it, and the tools we prefer to use. In fact, ignoring our personal preference has an impact on productivity: if we hate "our ride," we're not going to get very good at using it, are we?

    OTN's second Sysadmin Day (read about the first) will begin with an overview of Oracle's dual OS strategy. Then we'll split off into two tracks, one with hands-on labs for Oracle Linux, one for Oracle Solaris.

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

    Oracle Solaris Track

    Oracle Linux Track

    9:30 am Overview of Oracle Solaris Overview of Oracle Linux
    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

    Consider it an Oracle Demo Day, if you will. It's free, but you must register to attend.

    As for me, after spending a couple of years riding the canyons on a 2005 Ducati 800SS, a 2003 Ducati ST4 with a 4-valve 996 engine, Ohlins shocks, and Marchesini wheels, a 2005 BMW K1200S, and the bikes of a few friends, I went back to a 2006 Harley Davidson Fat Boy. Even though the other bikes performed much better, I prefer the Fat Boy. And my wicked smaht Missus.

    - Rick
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    Thursday Aug 18, 2011

    The Impact of Oracle Optimized Solutions on a Sysadmin's Job

    When Oracle acquired Sun we kept it simple. In doing so we came up with Oracle Optimized Solutions. Of course they're great for business because they are assembled from a pre-configured stack of Oracle products that we test and use ourselves, but are they be great for Sysadmins? I decided to ask.

    The best person to ask anything about Oracle Optimized Solutions is Marshall Choy. Not only is Marshal the director of the engineering group that selects and assembles these systems, but he began his high tech career as a sysadmin working on both Solaris and Linux systems. Marshall agreed to let us put him on the spot, so Justin interviewed him on OTN TechCast. In addition to talking about a sysadmin's job, Marshall explains the patching strategy for these types of stacks. Here are some of the questions we asked him.

    1. What's the difference between Oracle Optimized Solutions and Oracle Engineered Systems?
    2. What will this mean my job as a sysadmin - will my skills become obsolete? Will I be replaced by someone less skilled?
    3. I'm not sure I want to outsource my sysadmin skills to Oracle - how will these optimized solutions change what I spend my time doing?
    4. Aren't we just turning back the clock 20 years - why did you decide to build a proprietary vertical stack?
    5. What if I want to change something in the stack, how will it affect my support contract?
    6. How often do you update the components in the stack, and do I get those updates for free?
    7. How do I install updates and patches?

    It's a good show. It lasts 14 minutes. Don't miss it.

    - Rick
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    Tuesday Aug 16, 2011

    Ginny Had A Bright Idea

    image courtesy of Twenty Words

    In the Olden Days before most of us were born, if a woman got a bright idea she got an immediate spanking from John Wayne. Thank goodness John Wayne has stopped doing that, or we wouldn't get to reap the benefits of the research Ginny Henningsen did with Oracle Solaris 11.

    When Ginny read about all the different ways to download, install, patch, and manage updates in Solaris 11, she wasn't sure where to start. So she drew on her personal experience, the experience of other sysadmins and systems engineers, the documentation, and the related technical articles posted on OTN.

    The result? These three very practical articles.

    Article 1
    Best Way To Update Software Using IPS in Oracle Solaris 11

    The SVR4 packaging and patching systems in earlier versions of Solaris were designed by the Chosen for the Faithful. If you loved SunOS you could recite package nomenclature in your sleep and you always, always used the command line. Alas, nobody loves software for its own sake any more. At least, not enough of us do. And so, the latest version of Solaris does away with the mystery, the animal sacrifice, the practice of witchcraft, and the other requirements for mastery of earlier versions. Read how Ginny put away her potions and figured out the best way to use the new tools.

    Article 2
    Best Way to Automate ZFS Snapshots and Track Software Updates in Oracle Solaris 11

    Boot environments in Solaris 11 perform a function similar to Live Upgrade environments in Oracle Solaris 10. Except that they're implemented with ZFS. Which means you can generate snapshots of your boot environments at every point you'd like to record. And the beauty of that is, of course, that you can return to any snapshot of the boot environment that you want to use. In this article, Ginny introduces TimeSlider, shows you how to configure it to take automatic snapshots, and explains how to keep a record of the software updates that have been made to the current boot environment.

    Article 3
    Best Way to Update Software in Oracle Solaris 11 Zones

    Before the Zone there was the Container. And before the Container, the Zone. This is The Way of Software. In her third "Best Way" article, Ginny figures out the best way to manage software updates in Solaris 11 zones which, as you might expect, are different from Solaris 10 zones. After showing you those differences, she shows you how to create, configure, install, and clone a Solaris 11 zone, then how to upgrade both the global and non-global zones. As a bonus, you get to find out what to do if something goes wrong.

    We're expecting more "Best Way" articles from Ginny down the road. So read these, try out their recommendations yourself, and tell us what you think.

    And don't forget to save the lemur!

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

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