OpenSolaris Day in Tokyo

Sun's Russ Blaine at OpenSolaris Day/Sun Tech Days Tokyo

Sun Tech Days Tokyo opened today with two parallel community events, NetBeans Day and OpenSolaris Day. The conference is being held at Tokyo International Forum, a building designed by Rafael Vinoly that's considered an architectural marvel. It is certainly a pleasure to attend this conference under the roof of such an impressive complex with its signature elegant, swooping curves encased in glass and steel.

I decided to focus on OpenSolaris Day and provide an update on what's happening in that world since my SDN colleagues have previously covered some NetBeans-related Tech Days sessions. See Carla King's NetBeans Day Shanghai report, Dana Nourie's NetBeans Day Rome blog, and Ed Ort's Tech Days Milan interview with NetBeans evangelist Roman Strobl who highlights what he considers the most significant new features in NetBeans IDE 6.0. You can also stay current on NetBeans with Roman's blog and read more about What's New in NetBeans IDE 6.0.

Solaris Nevada

Following welcome remarks and an overview of OpenSolaris, both given in Japanese, Russ Blaine, a developer in Sun's Solaris kernel engineering group, presented "What Is Solaris Nevada?" Solaris Nevada is the next-generation Solaris distribution based on OpenSolaris. Nevada is both the name of the code base and the distribution code name. New builds are released every two weeks, and Nevada is 155 weeks old. Russ stated that so far there have been approximately 15,000 bug fixes and requests for enhancements (RFEs). He stressed that Nevada is a community effort and encouraged participation via opensolaris.org. You can get the source at http://src.opensolaris.org or pick up the free OpenSolaris Starter Kit at http://get.opensolaris.org.

Russ outlined the major themes for OpenSolaris: system and networking performance, observability, virtualization (Solaris zones, xVM, BrandZ (more on virtualization below)), the storage software stack, core networking features, and overhauled installation and packaging. He also stated that OpenSolaris has seen improved participation: Developers can post code reviews at http://cr.opensolaris.org/. And OpenSolaris is striving towards better x64 and SPARC platform support, device support, and desktop "goodies."

Russ detailed numerous recent OpenSolaris advancements, but I will just highlight a few here. The latest news coming from the OpenSolaris community is the first milestone release of Project Indiana (see my interview with Jim Grisanzio, Community Manager, OpenSolaris engineering), now officially called the OpenSolaris Developer Preview. It is a binary distribution of the OpenSolaris source code with a new installer and a new package management system. Russ said that while Solaris is robust and reliable, the basic premise behind Project Indiana is to make Solaris more user friendly. The focus is on user experience and to take best-of-breed, open-source software and integrate it into Solaris. This release is not a final release and is intended for developers to try, test, and provide feedback. The final release is expected in March 2008. OpenSolaris Developer Preview is 100 percent redistributable.

Other key projects mentioned by Russ included: Project Caiman to improve the Solaris install experience with a graphical user interface (GUI) to configure Solaris; the OpenSolaris Non Uniform Memory Access (NUMA) project to improve system performance; Project Tesla for enhanced power management; Visual Panels, a GUI admin tool for Solaris; and Network Auto-Magic (NWAM) to simplify and automate network configuration on Solaris.

In the area of Solaris fault management, improvements include CPU error detection that takes a system offline and informs the system administrator before it becomes fatal, and an equivalent detection mechanism for memory chips, known as "chipkill," which is turned on by default. Efforts are also being made to simplify the boot process and to reduce boot time. And on x86 Solaris versions, other OSes can now be detected at installation and can be safely installed; and they will work with other installs.

During the Q&A at the end of Russ's presentation, a member of the audience asked about using Nevada in production environments. In closing, Russ responded that he certainly recommended Nevada as a production system and said that it is every bit as stable as Solaris 10 because it has been robustly tested. He said the question is really, "what are your support needs? If forums are OK with you for support, then community support is all you might need."

OpenSolaris Virtualization Technologies

After Rao Shoaib's presentation on "Solaris Networking for Developers," Russ took the stage again to cover OpenSolaris virtualization technologies. He started by giving an overview of virtualization, which is driven by the need to consolidate workloads and consolidate hosts and services onto fewer machines. Russ said that the goal is to gain greater flexibility in resource allocation, reduce power requirements, minimize management costs, and lower the cost of ownership all while increasing hardware utilization. (He stated that current average data center utilization is below 15 percent.)

Russ described four types of virtualization: hard partition, virtual machine, OS virtualization, and resource management. Hard partition and virtual machines run multiple OSes while OS virtualization and resource management involve only a single OS. Russ said that hard partition is the option if you are concerned about isolation, but it is also the least flexible solution because you are stuck with your allocation configuration. Virtual machine environments are slightly more flexible; they involve a thin layer of software (a hypervisor, such as xVM) that controls access to the hardware. OS virtualization uses Solaris containers (such as Solaris zones plus Solaris Resource Manager (SRM) and BrandZ). Russ said the resource management (SRM) option is considered the most flexible and has existed in Solaris for ages.

Russ continued by detailing virtualization components. For example, he defined Solaris zones as a collection of Solaris processes that virtualize OS services to emulate an OS instance and isolate applications from each other. They improve security through intrusion isolation. You can boot and bring down zones independent of an OS instance, and they are compatible with existing applications. You can also run DTrace inside a zone. BrandZ extends the zones model to support non-native zones on a Solaris system. Each distinct zone type is called a brand.

By the way, for more on Solaris zones in the enterprise Java environment, see the recent article, "Installing Sun Java System Application Server 9.1 in Solaris Zones," which discusses the best strategy for installing Sun Java System Application Server 9.1 (GlassFish v2) in Solaris zones.

And for more on Solaris virtualization, Russ is leading an in-depth "Solaris Virtualization for System Administrators" session in the Sys Admin track tomorrow.

The day concluded with Elaine's Ding's presentation on "Discovering Open High Availability Cluster" and Takeshi Asano's "Solaris Programming for the World."

Sun Tech Days Continues

I'll be switching from Solaris mode to Java mode tomorrow and hope to cover sessions on Java SE 6 Update N (formerly known as Consumer JRE) and Java persistence. Also, the day will start with a technical demo and a keynote by James Gosling.

See the Sun Tech Days website to learn more about these events, and attend in a city near you.

Carolyn Wong
Sun Microsystems

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