Tuesday Jun 09, 2015

Warts and All!

A customer once said to me that "bad news, delivered early, is relatively good news, as it enables me to plan for contingencies". 

That need to manage expectations has stuck with me over the years.

And in that spirit, we issue Docs detailing known issues with Solaris 11 SRUs (Doc ID 1900381.1) and Solaris 10 CPU patchsets (Doc ID 1943839.1).

Many issues only occur in very specific configuration scenarios which won't be seen by the vast majority of customers.

A few will be subtle issues which have proved hard to diagnose and hence may impact a number of releases.

But providing the ability to read up on known issues before upgrading to a particular Solaris 11 SRU or Solaris 10 CPU patchset enables customers to make more informed and hence better decisions.

BTW: The Solaris 11 Support Repository Update (SRU) Index (Doc ID 1672221.1) provides access to SRU READMEs summarizing the goodness that each SRU provides.  (As do the bugs fixed lists in Solaris 10 patch and patchset READMEs.)

For example, from the Solaris 11.2 SRU10.5 ( README:

Why Apply Oracle Solaris

Oracle Solaris provides improvements and bug fixes that are applicable for all the Oracle Solaris 11 systems. Some of the noteworthy improvements in this SRU include:

  • Bug fix to prevent panics when using zones configured with exclusive IP networking, and DR has been used to add and remove CPUs from the domain (Bug 19880562).
  • Bug fix to improve NFS stability when under stress (Bug 20138331).
  • Bug fix to address the generation of FMA events on the PCIEX bus on T5-2 (Bug 20245857).
  • Bug fix to improve the performance of the zoneadm list command for systems running a large number of zones (Bug 20386861).
  • Bug fix to remove misleading warning messages seen while booting the Oracle VM Server for SPARC guests (Bug 20341341).
  • Bug fix to address NTP security issues, which includes the new slew always mode for leap second processing (Bug 20783962).
  • OpenStack components have been updated to Juno. For more information, see OpenStack Upgrade Procedures.
  • The Java 8, Java 7, and Java 6 packages have been updated. For more information, see Java 8 Update 45 Release Notes, Java 7 Update 80 Release Notes, and Java 6 Update 95 Release Notes.

Best Wishes,


Tuesday Sep 17, 2013

Top Tips for Updating Solaris 11 Systems

We now have quite a bit of experience of IPS and Repositories under our belt. 

Feedback from customers has been extremely positive.  I recently met a customer with 1000+ Solaris servers who told me that with Solaris 10 it took them 2 months to roll out a new patchset across their enterprise.  With Solaris 11, it takes 10 days.

That really helps lower TCO.

As with anything, experience teaches us how to optimize things.  Here's a few Top Tips around IPS / Repo management which I'd like to share with you from my experience with SuperCluster:

  • To avoid most IPS dependency resolution errors, keep your main local Repository populated with all Solaris Updates and SRUs up to and including the version you wish to apply.  A sparsely populated Repo is much more likely to result in copious IPS dependency resolution errors.
  • Keep any IDRs (Interim Diagnostics or Relief) in a separate Repo local to the Boot Environments (BEs) for which they are relevant.  For example, if you have an IDR to address an issue with 11gR2 RAC on Solaris (Solaris 11.1 SRU7.5), keep it local to the relevant BEs running 11gR2.  This avoids IDRs being unnecessarily propagated to LDoms or Zones for which they are irrelevant.
  • Before upgrading, check to ensure that the issues addressed in any IDRs you are using are fixed in the Solaris version to which you are updating.  If they are, IPS will automatically supersede them - that is, unlike in Solaris 10, there's no need to manually remove them.  You can check this by looking in the Support repository, or the relevant Repo ISO image, for packages whose base name is the IDR number, that is 'idr<number>'.  If such a package exists, then the IDR has been superseded and the issues it addresses are fixed in that SRU.  If the issues are not fixed in the Solaris version to which you are updating, you may need to ask Support for new IDR(s) for that Solaris version.
  • Zone creation in Solaris 11 works differently to how it did in Solaris 10.  In Solaris 11, effectively a manifest is taken of the Global Zone and then Non-Global Zones (NGZs) are constructed from that using the Repo(s).  Therefore, your Repo(s) must be up to date with all Solaris software installed on your global zone, including any IDRs.  You can have multiple Publishers specified, so that multiple Repos can be used (e.g. main local Repo for the Solaris Updates / SRUs, BE specific Repo for IDRs).

I hope you find these tips useful.

My colleagues, Glynn Foster and Bart Smaalders, will be presenting on "Oracle Solaris 11 Best Practices for Software Lifecycle Management [Con3889]" @ Oracle OpenWorld next week.  The Oracle Sun "Systems" sessions are in the Westin this year.  This particular session is on Tuesday, Sept 24 @ 5:15pm in the "City" meeting room in the Westin and will have lots more tips and best practices.

Other colleagues, Rob Hulme and Colin Seymour, are presenting on "Best Practices for Maintaining and Upgrading Oracle Solaris [CON8255]" on Monday, Sept 23 @ 10:45am in the Westin San Francisco, also in the "City" meeting room.

And there's lots of other good stuff on Solaris and SuperCluster.  For example, the "Deep Dive into Oracle SuperCluster [CON8632]" on Tuesday, Sept 24 @ 5:15pm in the Westin, Metropolitan II.

I'm not presenting this year, but if you would like to meet up with me @ OpenWorld to discuss anything about Solaris / Systems / SuperCluster Lifecycle Maintainence, whether it's ideas you'd like to see implemented, what's keeping you awake at night, issues you want me to look at, etc., I am more than happy to do so.  Just ping me at Gerry.Haskins@oracle.com.

Best Wishes,


Friday Apr 12, 2013

Solaris 11 SRU naming convention change

We're tweaking the naming convention used by Oracle Solaris SRUs (Support Repository Updates) to use a 5-digit taxonomy.

For example, Oracle Solaris

The digits represent Release.Update.SRU.Build.Respin

For the above example, the old name would have been Oracle Solaris 11.1 SRU 6.4. 

As with Oracle Solaris 10 and below, all bug fixes are putback to the tip of the source tree for Solaris 11, which is currently Solaris 11.1.x.y.z. 

Therefore, these same SRUs are also the way to get fixes for systems installed with Oracle Solaris 11 11/11, in exactly the same way that Solaris 10 Kernel patches included code from all preceding Solaris 10 Updates.

As discussed in previously postings, systems should be updated to a later SRU, for example from Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 SRU13.4  to Oracle Solaris

If you maintain a local Solaris Repository behind your firewall, both Solaris 11.1 and whichever subsequent SRUs you are interested in should be added to your Repo.  This is because SRUs only contain the change delta relative to the preceding Solaris Update.

Solaris's long standing Binary Compatibility Guarantee coupled with the technical benefits of Image Packaging System (IPS) help to ensure a smooth update experience.

Monday Jan 21, 2013

Solaris 11 IPS Concepts, Issues, and Workarounds


Image Packaging System (IPS) is a single tier packaging architecture which in Oracle Solaris 11, and other Oracle Sun products such as Oracle Solaris Cluster 4.x, replaces the previous SVR4-based dual tier packaging and patching architecture.

IPS and its implementation in Solaris 11 has a number of significant advantages over the old SVR4-based architecture, including:

  • Monthly consolidated bug fix Support Repository Updates (SRUs) providing a regular predictable cadence of engineered together, tested-together bug fix release baselines in contrast to the almost daily ad hoc patch release previously, eliminating the need to manage which patches out of a population of thousands should be downloaded and installed on which systems.  Simply 'pkg update entire' to an SRU baseline.
  • The package systems is a first class citizen of the Operating System, deeply integrated and leveraging ZFS Root (/), Boot Environments, SMF, Zones, and other Solaris technologies.  For example, the significant advantages in Boot Environment cloning (snapshots) enabling low-overhead, rapid, backups/restores, thanks to the mandatory ZFS Root (/) filesystem and associated commands such as 'beadm'.  This is like a much more integrated, slicker, version of the old Live Upgrade technology used in Solaris 10 and below.
  • The consolidation of multiple packaging and patching commands into a single, functionally rich, 'pkg' command.
  • Install groups defining the packages needed for common Use Cases, currently: solaris-small-server, solaris-large-server, and solaris-desktop
  • Incorporations defining a functional surface or baseline, specifying the versions of particular packages which were engineered together and tested together to provide a defined set of feature and bug fix functionality
  • The replacement of free format patch install scripts, which were a common source of error, with predefined actions

As we get used to Solaris 11 and IPS, it's natural that users will encounter some issues.

As a novice user myself, I've documented here some of the more common Solaris 11 / IPS issues which I've come across over the past year.  I plan to update it with additional items as they arise.

This is not designed to be an exhaustive list, but rather the "gottchas" which temporarily stumped either myself (easy to do!) or other non-IPS-expert colleagues.

Some of the "issues" are more to do with users getting used to conceptual changes. 

Some are Caveats resulting from bugs or sub-optimal choices made in early releases.  While these have been fixed, their residual impact may still be felt on systems with the affected software installed.

Much of the solutions knowledge below is thanks to two Solaris 11 IPS-expert colleagues of mine, Pete Dennis and Albert White, who I've been pestering unmercifully about IPS issues over the past year.  It was either that, or I'd have to RTFM!

If you're looking to update from Solaris 11/11 to Solaris 11.1 or later, please read this article.


Repositories, Publishers, and the 'pkg' Command

The 'pkg' command is functionally rich.  See 'man pkg' and other documentation.  When installing or updating packages, it dynamically analyzes the constraints on the target system, including dependencies and other factors defining what may be installed.

IPS is network repository based.

It is expected that most production customers will set-up their own repository behind their firewall and update it periodically with content from the Support Repository published by Oracle.

Many issues where 'pkg' is unable resolve all constraints imposed on a system, is because the required package versions are not available from the Repositories specified.

Sometimes, it is not immediately obvious why a particular package version is required to resolve a constraint, which can leave users scratching their heads.

Therefore, when a 'pkg install' or 'pkg update' command does not provide the anticipated results, check the specified Publishers (i.e. which Repositories are available to that system) and the content of those Repositories.

For example, Solaris 11 bug fix updates are provided by Support Repository Updates (SRUs) which are released monthly.  They contain only the incremental changes relative to their base release, e.g. Solaris 11.1.  They are designed to be used in conjunction with a Repository containing that base release. 

If the system is already installed with that base release, and the user is just updating existing installed packages, as opposed to installing additional packages, then the user can often get away with just using the SRU on its own.

However, if a bug fix in the SRU has added a dependency on a package which is not installed on the target system, and that package is in the base release rather than the SRU, then an update to that SRU will fail if the base release is not available to enable the dependent package to be pulled in and installed.

For example, a bug fix to the 'thunderbird' package in Solaris 11 11/11 SRU4 to fix font displays resulted in a new dependency being added to the Solaris 11 11/11 'fonts' package.  Since the 'fonts' package hadn't changed since the initial Solaris 11 11/11 release, it wasn't included in the SRU, so access to the base Solaris 11 11/11 release in a Repository was required to resolve the dependency.   There was a similar dependency addition in a later Solaris 11 11/11 SRU.

Similarly, if a Publisher is specified but is unavailable, or is not specified but is needed because that Repository contains a required package, then 'pkg' will be unable to resolve the constraints and will fail.

Making sure the correct Repository Publishers are defined and accessible, and the content of those Repositories is complete will resolve many package install and update issues.

Install Groups and Incorporations

The concept I've had the most difficulty getting straight in my own head is the relationship between Install Groups and Incorporations.

Install Groups simply specify a list of packages to be installed for common Use Cases.  They do not specify the versions of packages to install.  Currently, the following Install Groups exist in Solaris 11:

  • solaris-small-server - the current minimum Install Group, for use by security conscious customers
  • solaris-large-server - a superset of solaris-small-server which includes additional useful Sys Admin utilities and network protocols
  • solaris-desktop - for use where Solaris will be providing a desktop environment to users

Note the Install Group names 'solaris-small-server' and 'solaris-large-server' have nothing to do with the size of the server, rather it's the size of the solaris footprint on the server.  Note also, that 'solaris-desktop' is not a superset of the other two.  See here for more information.

The use of Install Groups is not mandatory.  They are simply provided for ease of use. Additional packages can be specified in addition to these Install Groups, for example, to resolve application dependencies.

Incorporations specify the versions of packages which should be installed together to provide a set of functionality, called a surface.  Incorporations exist for various consolidated sub-components of Solaris 11, such as the 'osnet-incorporation' for the core Operating System and Networking:

gerryh@dublin:~$ pkg info osnet-incorporation                           
Name: consolidation/osnet/osnet-incorporation
Summary: OS/Net consolidation incorporation
Description: This incorporation constrains packages from the OS/Net
Category: Meta Packages/Incorporations
State: Installed
Publisher: solaris
Version: 0.5.11
Build Release: 5.11
Packaging Date: Wed Jan 02 19:28:00 2013
Size: 6.22 kB
FMRI: pkg://solaris/consolidation/osnet/osnet-incorporation@0.5.11,5.11-

The 'entire' Incorporation defines what constitutes the version of the entire Solaris Operating System, for example the 'entire' Solaris 11.1 SRU3.4 release:

gerryh@dublin:~$ pkg info entire                                        
Name: entire
Summary: entire incorporation including Support Repository Update (Oracle Solaris 11.1 SRU 3.4).
Description: This package constrains system package versions to the same
                build.  WARNING: Proper system update and correct package
                selection depend on the presence of this incorporation.
                Removing this package will result in an unsupported system.  For
                more information see https://support.oracle.com/CSP/main/article
Category: Meta Packages/Incorporations
State: Installed
Publisher: solaris
Version: 0.5.11 (Oracle Solaris 11.1 SRU 3.4)
Build Release: 5.11
Packaging Date: Wed Jan 02 19:31:02 2013
Size: 5.46 kB
FMRI: pkg://solaris/entire@0.5.11,5.11-

Removal of the Solaris 'entire' Incorporation is not supported.  Removing it would remove contraints on other Incorporations, allowing an untested mix of Solaris software versions on the system, potentially leading to unnecessary issues.

When installing a Solaris system, it is common to specify both an Install Group - i.e. which packages to install - and a version of the 'entire' Incorporation - i.e. which versions of those packages to install. 

For example, this could be specified in an AI (Automated Installer) manifest, along with any additional IPS products or packages required.  Here's part of an AI manifest my team uses to install SPARC SuperClusters with Solaris 11 11/11 SRU12.4 as well as other tools from a separate Exa-family tools Repository which is specifically for Engineered Systems:

<software type="IPS">
<publisher name="solaris">
<origin name="http://pkg.us.oracle.com/solaris11/support/"/>
<publisher name="exa-family">
<origin name="http://pkg.us.oracle.com/exa-family"/>

<software_data action="install">


Now for the bit which always confuses me.  Strong coffee helps!:

Installing an Incorporation does not, by itself, install any packages.  Rather, the Incorporation specifies the constraints on package versions if they are present on the system.

So 'pkg install entire' on a bare metal system does nothing, unless other packages are specified upon which the constraints specified in the Incorporation are to operate - e.g. an Install Group package such as 'solaris-large-server'.  To show this:

# create a bare metal image to play with
$ pkg image-create -p http://pkg.us.oracle.com/solaris11/release bare_metal
# what is in this image:
$ cd bare_metal
$ pkg -R `pwd` list
pkg: no packages installed
# Install 'entire'
$ pkg -R `pwd` install --accept entire
Packages to install: 28
# It installed 28 packages! What are they ?
$ pkg -R `pwd` list
NAME (PUBLISHER)                                  VERSION      IFO
consolidation/SunVTS/SunVTS-incorporation 0.5.11-    i--
consolidation/X/X-incorporation 0.5.11- i--
consolidation/admin/admin-incorporation           0.5.11-     i--
consolidation/xvm/xvm-incorporation               0.5.11-     i--
entire 0.5.11-    i--
# These are all Incorporations specified by 'entire'.  There is no software payload installed at all.  

But once Solaris is installed on a system, updating an Incorporation, for example, using 'pkg update entire', updates the constraints, causing the relevant packages which are installed to be updated by IPS to the later functional 'surface' specified by the Incorporation.

So if, for example, the new version of the Incorporation specifies 'foo@1.24' and specifies it has a new dependency on 'bar@1.13' and package 'foo' is already installed, say @ Version 1.20, then updating the Incorporation tells IPS to update 'foo' to Version 1.24 and install 'bar' at Version 1.13 if it hasn't already been installed (from whichever specified Repository/Repositories contains these packages at these versions).

Ask and You Shall Receive - In Abundance!

You can have too much of a good thing.  Like information.  Which can make it hard to see the wood for the trees when trying to debug a 'pkg' issue.

When issues occur, 'pkg' is verbose in its output about the problem.

Packages will have dependencies upon other packages.  These dependencies may not only be satisfied by the explicit version mentioned but also by any later version of a package.

This means that if 'pkg' is unable to solve for all dependencies given the available Publishers specified, the contents of those Repositories, and the constraints specified for the target system, then 'pkg' will produce a list of all the dependencies that could not be satisfied. While these errors are all true, due to the amount of them, they can freak out the user (they do me!), obscuring the underlying issue.

One way to reduce the amount of errors is to specify the version of the packages that you wish to update to.

This is because, by default, 'pkg' will attempt to move to the latest set of packages. If this update fails then it will recurse through all other permutations, producing errors for each possible set of packages for which it attempted to resolve constraints.

By specifying an explicit version of the packages to update then the errors produced will be just for that particular version.

Therefore, rather than just saying:

$ pkg update entire

...explicitly state the FMRI string of the SRU you want to update to...

$ pkg update entire@0.5.11,5.11-

...which specifies Solaris 11 11/11 SRU 12.4.

There's a couple of other good reasons to explicitly specify which SRU or package version you want to update to.

Firstly, if you don't specify a version, 'pkg' will try to update to the latest version which satisfies the constraints on the target system.

If the repository has been updated, this could produce a different result than the same command issued prior to the repository been updated. This may be undesirable if you are trying to update a number of systems to a homogeneous SRU level.

Secondly, if 'pkg' is unable to update to the latest available release due to the constraints on the target system, it will recursively try to update to a version higher than what is already installed.

For example, one of my team issued a 'pkg update entire' to update a test system to SRU4. Only days later when he realized that the test system didn't appear to have the expected bug fixes, did he discover it had actually updated the system to SRU3 as there was a constraint which prevented IPS updating the system to SRU4.

Since IPS is not telepathic, it's best to explicitly state what version you want it to update a system to.

All 'pkg' commands are logged.

The use of 'pkg history' is useful to examine the history of the system.  Additionally, it can be used to print out the previous errors messages without having to rerun a command that you know is going to fail.

Since 'pkg history' can be verbose, it's best to first identify when the error occurred and drill down on that specific invocation. 

For example, if you think the failure occurred within the last 5 invocations of the 'pkg' command then run:

# pkg history -n 5

START                    OPERATION                      CLIENT OUTCOME
2013-01-18T10:28:04      update                           pkg   Succeeded
2013-01-18T10:28:07      refresh-publishers         pkg   Succeeded
2013-01-18T10:28:24      rebuild-image-catalogs  pkg   Succeeded
2013-01-22T14:39:55      install                            pkg   Failed
2013-01-22T14:40:51      install                            pkg   Succeeded

Now look at the command that failed using the -l and -t options:

# pkg history -l -t 2013-01-22T14:39:55
Operation: install
Outcome: Failed
Reason: Constrained
Client: pkg
Version: 907fe02baa47
User: root (0)
Boot Env.: s11.1sru341-reprise
Boot Env. UUID: 6c841d3c-7d0a-c42f-b480-b53bfb0c265e
New Boot Env.: None
New Boot Env. UUID: (None)
Snapshot: (None)
Start Time: 2013-01-22T14:39:55
End Time: 2013-01-22T14:40:06
Total Time: 0:00:11
Command: /usr/bin/pkg install pkg://solaris/system/kernel@0.5.11,5.11-
Release Notes: No
Start State: None
End State: None
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/vendor-packages/pkg/client/api.py", line 1079, in __plan_op self._img.make_install_plan(**kwargs)
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/vendor-packages/pkg/client/image.py", line 4288, in make_install_plan reject_list=reject_list) File "/usr/lib/python2.6/vendor-packages/pkg/client/image.py", line 4249, in __make_plan_common ip.plan_install(**kwargs)
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/vendor-packages/pkg/client/imageplan.py", line 419, in plan_install reject_list=reject_list)
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/vendor-packages/pkg/client/imageplan.py", line 395, in __plan_install reject_list=reject_list) File "/usr/lib/python2.6/vendor-packages/pkg/client/imageplan.py", line 370, in __plan_install_solver ignore_inst_parent_deps=ignore_inst_parent_deps)
File "/usr/lib/python2.6/vendor-packages/pkg/client/pkg_solver.py", line 442, in solve_install no_version=ret, solver_errors=solver_errors)

PlanCreationException: No matching version of system/kernel can be installed:

Reject: pkg://solaris/system/kernel@0.5.11,5.11-

Reason:  Newer version pkg://solaris/system/kernel@0.5.11,5.11- is already installed

This version is excluded by installed incorporation pkg://solaris/consolidation/osnet/osnet-incorporation@0.5.11,5.11-

All errors are indented with, in most cases, the significant error being indented furthest to the right hand side.

In the above example, the requested Kernel can't be installed because a later revision is already installed and it's constrained by the 'osnet-incorporation' so it can't be "down-rev'd" to an earlier version.

Therefore, when investigating an issue, use the 'pkg history' command to print out the previous errors and look at the errors that are indented to the right.

Note that the errors themselves may be repeated for each and every package that the update has failed on, so the output may still be verbose.

But the errors are typically caused by just one or two issues, such as having the incorrect Publishers specified (too few, too many, or not accessible) or insufficient content in the Repositories. 

Solaris 11 Release and Support Repository Relationship

The Release Repository contains just the Solaris Releases such as the original Solaris 11 11/11 release and the Solaris 11.1 update release.

The Support Repository is only available to customers with a valid support contract.  It contains all releases, including all monthly Support Repository Updates (SRUs) providing bug fix updates to support contract customers.

As discussed in my previous blog posting, we've implemented a process improvement in Solaris 11 to remove any 'blackout' period on the release of bug fixes by tweaking the relationship between Update releases and bug fix releases, compared to Solaris 10 and older.

We still produce periodic Update releases such as Solaris 11.1, containing support for new hardware and enhanced software features (e.g. VM2.0). 

Update releases also contain a significant number of bug fixes for issues found internally during Solaris testing and more complex customer reported issues which required more test "soak" time than is possible in an SRU. 

Update releases are intensely tested and hence provide high quality Solaris Baselines. 

The Solaris Binary Compatibility Guarantee applies, so users should not experience any compatibility issues crossing a Solaris Update boundary. 

The Release Notes for the Update will give at least 12 months notice of any interfaces which will be deprecated.

Support Repository Updates (SRUs) primarily deliver bug fixes, although they may include some feature enhancements. 

They too, are intensely tested prior to release. 

SRUs go through several internal builds prior to release. 

Once released, additional critical bug fixes can be "back-published" to SRUs. 

The build number of the SRU is now included in its name to uniquely identify it, e.g. Solaris 11 11/11 SRU13.4 is Build 4 of SRU13 on top of Solaris 11 11/11. 

Earlier SRUs were documented with a letter suffix to denote "back-published" additional content, e.g. Solaris 11 11/11 SRU2a.

We've improved the process in Solaris 11 so that we can continue to deliver bug fixes for critical issues in SRUs while the content for an Update release is being finalized.

This implies that an Update release may not be a superset of the SRU(s) immediately preceding it. 

Rather, it is the SRU after the Update release which is effectively the superset of both the Update the SRUs preceding the Update release.

The relationship between Update releases and SRUs can be drawn as follows:

Solaris 11 11/11                              Solaris 11.1                                                                    Solaris 11.2...

     \                                                                  \                                                                                 \

SRU1, SRU1a, SRU2, ... SRU12.4, SRU 13.4, SRU1.4, SRU2.5, SRU3.4, SRU3.4.1, ...

Installed systems with a valid support contract should always be updated using SRUs from the Support Repository.

The SRUs are contiguous, just as Kernel patches were contiguous in Solaris 10 and earlier.  That is, the next SRU after Solaris 11 11/11 SRU13.4 is Solaris 11.1 SRU1.4. 

It is important to understand that this is no different to the Kernel PatchID progression in Solaris 10 and earlier releases whereby Kernel patches released after an Update release depended upon the Kernel patch from the Update, which contained feature code from that Update.

The only difference is that that lineage is a little more transparent in Solaris 11 due to the naming of the SRUs.

Known Caveats

As developers, reviewers, and release engineers have become used to Image Packaging System and the Solaris 11 eco-system, the number of bugs, "features", and caveats caused by inexperience continue to diminish.

Nevertheless, users may be impacted by the residual effects of some of these items.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of "features", potential issues, and their workarounds:

Need to accept Java 7 license

Oracle's Legal department insist that users explicitly accept the revised license terms in Java 7.

This means that users must add "--accept" to 'pkg install' or 'pkg update' commands when moving to versions with revised license terms.  For example:

$ pkg install --accept entire

Incorrect architecture packages may be present in early Solaris 11 11/11 installations

An IPS 'pkg' bug in early Solaris 11 11/11 versions can result in some x86 packages being installed on SPARC systems and vice versa due to the incorrect resolution of indirect dependencies.  This is now fixed.

There are several methods to remove the residual effects of the issue on early Solaris 11 11/11 installations.

Until the erroneous architecture packages are removed, errors similar to the following may be displayed when updating:

Plan Creation: Package solver is unable to compute solution.
Dependency analysis is unable to determine exact cause.
Try specifying expected results to obtain more detailed error messages.
Include specific version of packages you wish installed.

Note, the above is a rather generic error indicating the package solver couldn't compute a solution, so not all instances of the above error message may be due to this particular issue.  But for those which are, here's the options to resolve it:

Option 1:

The 'pkg' version delivered in Solaris 11 11/11 SRU 10.5, SRU 11.4, SRU 12.4, and SRU 13.4 contain functionality to remove the residual effects of the issue - i.e. remove the incorrect architecture packages.

Users can perform a "bunny hop" update to SRU 10.5, SRU 11.4, SRU 12.4, or SRU 13.4 prior to updating to a Solaris 11.1 SRU.

Indeed, simply updating the 'pkg' package itself is sufficient:

# pkg update
WARNING: pkg(5) appears to be out of date, and should be updated before
running update.  Please update pkg(5) by executing 'pkg install
pkg:/package/pkg' as a privileged user and then retry the update.

# pkg update package/pkg
Packages to remove:  1
Create boot environment: No
Create backup boot environment: No

PHASE                                        ACTIONS
Removal Phase                                  13/13

PHASE                                          ITEMS
Package State Update Phase               1/1
Package Cache Update Phase             1/1
Image State Update Phase                  2/2

The first command shows that the 'pkg' client has detected an error and outputs a message to fix it by running 'pkg update package/pkg'.

Running this command removes the incorrectly installed packages - in the above example, it was the 'ldoms-incorporation' on an x86 system. 

Option 2:

On SPARC systems, the 'xsvc' and 'nvidia-incorporation' x86 packages may be installed.  Since they were introduced via indirect requirements from other packages, such as the optional 'hmp-tools' package on SPARC or 'ldoms-incorporation' on x86, an alternative resolution is to remove the package with the dependency which will also remove the erroneous packages if nothing else depends upon them.  For example:

root@foobar:~# pkg -R /a/test2 uninstall -v

Packages to remove: 3
Estimated space available: 103.67 GB
Estimated space to be consumed: 19.20 MB
Create boot environment: No
Create backup boot environment: No
Rebuild boot archive: Yes

Changed packages:
system/management/hmp/hmp-tools,5.11-1:20120314T235822Z -> None
0.5.11,5.11- -> None
0.5.11,5.11- -> None

Removal Phase 89/89

Package State Update Phase 3/3
Package Cache Update Phase 3/3
Image State Update Phase 2/2

Once the erroneous architecture packages have been removed, you can update the system as normal.

Multiple versions of 'cacao'

Oracle Solaris delivers the 'cacao' package.  It's version is constrained by the 'cacao-incorporation'.

Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center also delivers the 'cacao' package.  Rather than working with Solaris to update its 'cacao' version, or delivering its own version to a private location, early Ops Center versions on Solaris 11 updated the Solaris 'cacao' package to a level later than that contained in any Solaris release.

This was sub-optimal as it had the unintended consequence of effectively breaking Solaris updates as IPS found a version of 'cacao' installed on the target system which was later than any version available from the Solaris publisher.

The Solaris 'entire' Incorporation includes the Solaris 'cacao-incorporation' and that constrained 'cacao' to an earlier version than that installed by Ops Center, meaning IPS could not resolve the constraints, and hence could not update Solaris without user intervention.

The workaround for this, and other such issues, is to "unlock" the offending package(s) from their incorporation, allowing them to float free.  This is done by toggling the IPS 'facet.version-lock' facility to 'false':

gerryh@dublin:~$ pkg contents -m cacao-incorporation                     
set name=pkg.fmri value=pkg://solaris/consolidation/cacao/cacao-incorporation@0.5.11,5.11-
set name=pkg.summary value="cacao consolidation incorporation"
set name=pkg.description value="This incorporation constrains packages from the cacao consolidation."
set name=pkg.depend.install-hold value=core-os.cacao
set name=info.classification value="org.opensolaris.category.2008:Meta Packages/Incorporations"
set name=org.opensolaris.consolidation value=cacao
set name=variant.arch value=sparc value=i386
depend fmri=SUNWcacaort@0.5.11-0.133 type=incorporate
depend fmri=SUNWcacaodtrace@0.5.11-0.133 type=incorporate
depend facet.version-lock.library/cacao=true fmri=library/cacao@,5.11- type=incorporate
depend facet.version-lock.library/cacao/cacao-dtrace=true fmri=library/cacao/cacao-dtrace@,5.11- type=incorporate
depend fmri=SUNWcacaowsvr@0.5.11,5.11-0.166 type=incorporate
depend fmri=library/cacao/web-server@0.5.11,5.11-0.166 type=incorporate
signature 235c7674d821032ae3eeda280c7837d1f1f4fdb5 algorithm=rsa-sha256 chain="8e422c1bb80b05f08f7a849f3d7ae90a976e048e 754665e03bd28ef63b05a416073eb6d649624781" chain.chashes="083e40bb50e6964834ebfd3c66b8720b46028068 f85dabbb0d56b37de3c3de98663dd8f27a12ff8e" chain.csizes="1273 1326" chain.sizes="1773 2061" chash=05654e46fc5cac3b9b9bd11c39512bc92bc85089 pkg.csize=1281 pkg.size=1753 value=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 version=0

Setting 'facet.version-lock' to 'false' tells IPS that the constraint on that package version can be ignored.  This enables the rest of the packages to be updated. 

Once the rest of Solaris has been updated, the package should typically be re-locked - i.e. set 'facet.version-lock' back to 'true', so that it will be updated along with the rest of the packages when future updates are performed (assuming the issue is transitory).  Failure to re-lock the package will leave it floating independently.

Only use the 'facet.version-lock' feature when you have good cause to do so and you are confident you understand what you are doing.

Some core packages do not have a 'facet.version-lock' and cannot be unlocked from their Incorporation as their version is considered integral to the correct operation of Solaris.

Boot-management Packages

Due to an unfortunate sequence of missteps in development, and in a rare set of circumstances only, users may experience issues updating pre-Solaris 11 11/11 SRU10.4 versions due to 'boot-management' package issues.

The 'boot-management' package was originally part of the 'install-incorporation' and needed to be moved to the 'osnet-incorporation' as part of the GRUB2 boot project.

In preparation for that work the 'boot-management' package was unincorporated from the 'install-incorporation'.

Unfortunately, it didn't get incorporated into the 'osnet-incorporation' until Solaris 11 11/11 SRU 10.4, which effectively allowed it to float free unconstrained in the interim.

Thus, if you have a system installed with an early Solaris 11 version, such as Solaris 11 11/11 SRU 2a, and want to update it to another pre-SRU 10.4 version such as SRU 5.5, but a later SRU version, e.g. SRU 13.4, is also in your Repository, then the latest GRUB2 boot-management package version available in your Repository will be installed, as there's no incorporation in SRU 5.5 constraining it to an earlier version:

/usr/bin/pkg update --accept --be-name=Solaris11-sru5.5

If you subsequently try to update to an SRU between SRU 10.4 and any SRU with an earlier version of the 'boot-management' package than has been installed, say, SRU 11.4, it'll fail, because from SRU 10.4 onwards the version of the 'boot-management' package is constrained.  In SRU 11.4, the 'boot-management' package version is constrained to an earlier version in the 'osnet-incorporation' than the SRU 13.4 version installed.  The error message will be similar to the following:


Reject: pkg://solaris/system/library/boot-management@0.5.11,5.11-

Reason: Excluded by proposed incorporation 'consolidation/osnet/osnet-incorporation'

Newer version pkg://solaris/system/library/boot-management@0.5.11,5.11- is already installed

Reject: pkg://solaris/system/library/boot-management@0.5.11,5.11-

Reason: Newer version pkg://solaris/system/library/boot-management@0.5.11,5.11- is already installed


The solution is actually quite simple. 

Since the 'boot-management' package on the target system installed with SRU 5.5 is not constrained by any incorporation in that SRU, simply "down-rev" the 'boot-management' package to the version in the SRU you wish to update to, e.g. SRU 11.4:

pkg update system/library/boot-management@0.5.11,5.11-

Now perform the update to the desired SRU, e.g. SRU 11.4, again:

pkg update entire@0.5.11,5.11-

Tuesday Jun 19, 2012

Setting Up and Managing Local IPS Repositories

My colleague, Albert White, has published a useful article detailing how to set up local IPS repositories for use within an enterprise: How to Create Multiple Internal Repositories for Oracle Solaris 11

This is useful as most servers will not be directly connected to the Internet and most customers will want to control which Oracle Solaris SRUs (Support Repository Updates) are "qualified" for deployment within their organization.  Setting up and managing Internal IPS (Image Packaging System) Repositories is the way to do this.

The concept can naturally be extended and adapted.  For example, Albert talks about a "Development" Repo containing the latest Oracle Solaris 11 deliverables.  When qualifying a software level for deployment across the enterprise, a copy of a specific level could be taken, e.g. "GoldenImage2012Q3" or "SRU8.5", and once it passes testing, be used to deploy across the enterprise.

Best Wishes,


Monday Nov 28, 2011

Solaris 11 Customer Maintenance Lifecycle

Hi Folks,

Welcome to my new blog http://blogs.oracle.com/Solaris11Life which is all about the Customer Maintenance Lifecycle for Image Packaging System (IPS) based Solaris releases, such as Solaris 11.

It'll include policies, best practices, clarifications, and lots of other stuff which I hope you'll find useful as you get up to speed with Solaris 11 and IPS.  

Let's start with an updated version of my Solaris 11 Customer Maintenance Lifecycle presentation which I originally gave at Oracle Open World 2011 and at the 2011 Deutsche Oracle Anwendergruppe (DOAG - German Oracle Users Group) conference in N├╝rnberg.

Some of you may be familiar with my Patch Corner blog, http://blogs.oracle.com/patch , which fulfilled a similar purpose for System V [five] Release 4 (SVR4) based Solaris releases, such as Solaris 10 and below.

Since maintaining a Solaris 11 system is quite different to maintaining a Solaris 10 system, I thought it prudent to start this 2nd parallel blog for Solaris 11.

Actually, I have an ulterior motive for starting this separate blog. 

Since IPS is a single tier packaging architecture, it doesn't have any patches, only package updates. 

I've therefore banned the word "patch" in Solaris 11 and introduced a swear box to which my colleagues must contribute a quarter [$0.25] every time they use the word "patch" in a public forum.  From their Oracle Open World presentations, John Fowler owes 50 cents, Liane Preza owes $1.25, and Bart Smaalders owes 75 cents. 

Since I'm stinging my colleagues in what could be a lucrative enterprise, I couldn't very well discuss IPS best practices on a blog called "Patch Corner" with a URI of http://blogs.oracle.com/patch.  I simply couldn't afford all those contributions to the "patch" swear box. :)

Feel free to let me know what topics you'd like covered - just post a comment in the comment box on the blog.

Best Wishes,



This blog is to inform customers about Solaris 11 maintenance best practice, feature enhancements, and key issues. The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle. The Documents contained within this site may include statements about Oracle's product development plans. Many factors can materially affect these plans and the nature and timing of future product releases. Accordingly, this Information is provided to you solely for information only, is not a commitment to deliver any material code, or functionality, and SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON IN MAKING PURCHASING DECISIONS. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described remains at the sole discretion of Oracle. THIS INFORMATION MAY NOT BE INCORPORATED INTO ANY CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT WITH ORACLE OR ITS SUBSIDIARIES OR AFFILIATES. ORACLE SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THIS INFORMATION. Gerry Haskins, Director, Software Lifecycle Engineering


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