Thursday Dec 19, 2013

Next Virtual Sysadmin Day Is On Jan 28

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

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

Register here.

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

- Rick

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Monday Dec 03, 2012

December 3 is Stephanie Choyer Day

I don't answer Stephanie Choyer's email just so I can enjoy her French accent when she calls.

"Reek! Reek! Why do joo not answer my eemails?"

Without the French, life on Earth would be so much poorer. No, they don't bring to the party any motorcycles that grow chest on your hair, and the Citroen is such a frightening study in Automobile design that I don't dare climb inside one. But they have French architecture. French sidewalks. French villages. The French Alps. Grenoble. French cheese. French wine. And that glorious French accent.

If I were French, I'd spend all my time enjoying being French. Which makes the work that Stephanie does day in and day with our hard-edged technologies and stubborn technologists so admirable.

Oracle Solaris 11 Resources for Sysadmins and Developers

The page in the link above represents the work of many people, but it was Steph who rounded them up. And it wasn't easy. I know, because I ran and hid from her on many, many occasions. But she was tireless.

"Reek. Reek. Why have you not published Glynn's article? Pleeeease, you must!"

Remember when tech companies gave you a simple choice? You could either read the 27,000 pages of documentation or a double-sided data sheet. Which will it be, pal? Then they started writing white papers. 74 pages of excellent prose did a beautiful job of explaining why the technology was fantastic, but never told you how to use it. Well, have you taken a look at these?

How-To Technical Articles for System Admins and Developers

Now you can get wicked excited about a cool technique described in a 74-page white paper, and find a technical article that shows you exactly how to use it.

The wicked smart marketing folks on the Oracle Solaris team wrote them, but it was Steph who bribed them with a Cabernet or beat them over the head with a baguette until all that work was finished and posted on OTN.

There are songs about French wine, but not about French vintners. There are songs about French cities, but not about French bricklayers. About French sidewalks, but not about the French policemen who keep them safe. As far as I know, there are no songs about OTN, but if there were, they would probably neglect to mention Steph.

Which is why today, Dec 3rd, we celebrate Stephanie Choyer Day. We dedicate this day to our relentless, hardworking, tireless, patient and friendly French colleague with the delightful accent. If I knew how to speak French, I'd say "Thanks for all you do" in French. But I don't speak French. And I don't trust online translations. I'd probably wind up saying "My left foot yearns for curdled milk." So here it is in plain old English:

Thank you, Stephanie.

psssst! about that documentation and those white papers ...

In case you haven't noticed, the Oracle Solaris doc team has done some pretty cool things with the Solaris docs. And those white papers are interesting reading, well worth setting aside some time. Because with Solaris, as you know, it's not just about getting by with a rudimentary grasp of the basics. It's about the amazing stuff savvy sysadmins and developers can do when they really understand it. Find them here:

- 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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Wednesday Jul 25, 2012

OTN Sysadmin Day in Denver, Colorado

Source

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

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 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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Friday Apr 29, 2011

OTN's First Sysadmin Day

image courtesy of Shutter Eye

Before winding up at Berkeley, I went to school for four quarters at the San Diego campus of the University of California. I paid the bills by working first as a dishwasher at a restaurant called The Magic Pan, not far from campus. Eventually I made busboy, then host, and finally waiter. The only time I had left to surf was dawn.

So while it was still dark I'd don my wetsuit, grab my board, and head out to the beach. I'd sit on the sand with my board on my lap, waiting for enough light to see the surf. Four of us were there every morning, spread about 25 yards apart, doing the exact same thing. We never spoke, just nodded to each other. San Diego's Dawn Patrol. I never did find out who those other guys were.

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall, we enjoyed pristine surf till about 8:00 am, when the waves would get so crowded with surfers we lost the zen of it. That's when I'd ride my last wave in, then head off to class, smelling like seaweed.

So it's kinda cool that our OTN's first Sysadmin Day will be held in San Diego. May 17 at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. We're going to have some excellent hands-on labs to make sure you master some of the key Oracle Solaris 11 Express technologies. You can get the details here.

Treat yourself to a vacation day the day after, and spend some time on the beach. I'm going to see if I can't finagle a day off, myself.

By the way, blogs.sun.com will become blogs.oracle.com over the next few weeks. When the migration is complete, you'll find this blog at http://blogs.oracle.com/OTNGarage. You won't see any new content posted until the migration is complete. Once it is, though, we'll pick up where we left off, and might even have a few new technical guys joining the garage.

- Rick
Systems Community of the Oracle Technology Network

Monday Nov 01, 2010

Anybody Remember Grammar School?























There's a better way to learn System Administration for the Solaris OS - Part I.

It's Oracle University's E-Kit Plus. The E-Kit Plus is a free Apple iPad application you can download from the Apple App Store.

  1. Register for the course at Oracle University.
  2. Download the eKit Plus app from the App Store
  3. Activate the app and begin enjoying the cool multi-media content.




Take your class from the cool comfort of your Apple iPad and start having things your way for a change.




- Rick
Oracle Technology Network System Admin and Developer Community

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

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