By alanc on Oct 28, 2012
Besides the documentation changes I mentioned last time, another place you can see Solaris 11.1 changes before upgrading is in the online package repository, now that the 11.1 packages have been published to http://pkg.oracle.com/solaris/release/, as the “0.175.1.0.0.24.2” branch. (Oracle Solaris Package Versioning explains what each field in that version string means.)
When you’re ready to upgrade to the packages from either this repo, or the support repository, you’ll want to first read How to Update to Oracle Solaris 11.1 Using the Image Packaging System by Pete Dennis, as there are a couple issues you will need to be aware of to do that upgrade, several of which are due to changes in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) packages included with Solaris, as I’ll explain in a bit.
Solaris 11 can update more readily than Solaris 10
In the Solaris 10 and older update models, the way the updates were built constrained what changes we could make in those releases. To change an existing SVR4 package in those releases, we created a Solaris Patch, which applied to a given version of the SVR4 package and replaced, added or deleted files in it. These patches were released via the support websites (originally SunSolve, now My Oracle Support) for applying to existing Solaris 10 installations, and were also merged into the install images for the next Solaris 10 update release. (This Solaris Patches blog post from Gerry Haskins dives deeper into that subject.)
Some of the restrictions of this model were that package refactoring, changes to package dependencies, and even just changing the package version number, were difficult to do in this hybrid patch/OS update model. For instance, when Solaris 10 first shipped, it had the Xorg server from X11R6.8. Over the first couple years of update releases we were able to keep it up to date by replacing, adding, & removing files as necessary, taking it all the way up to Xorg server release 1.3 (new version numbering begun after the X11R7 split of the X11 tree into separate modules gave each module its own version). But if you run pkginfo on the SUNWxorg-server package, you’ll see it still displayed a version number of 6.8, confusing users as to which version was actually included.
We stopped upgrading the Xorg server releases in Solaris 10 after 1.3, as later versions added new dependencies, such as HAL, D-Bus, and libpciaccess, which were very difficult to manage in this patching model. (We later got libpciaccess to work, but HAL & D-Bus would have been much harder due to the greater dependency tree underneath those.) Similarly, every time the GNOME team looked into upgrading Solaris 10 past GNOME 2.6, they found these constraints made it so difficult it wasn’t worthwhile, and eventually GNOME’s dependencies had changed enough it was completely infeasible. Fortunately, this worked out for both the X11 & GNOME teams, with our management making the business decision to concentrate on the “Nevada” branch for desktop users - first as Solaris Express Desktop Edition, and later as OpenSolaris, so we didn’t have to fight to try to make the package updates fit into these tight constraints.
Meanwhile, the team designing the new packaging system for Solaris 11 was seeing us struggle with these problems, and making this much easier to manage for both the development teams and our users was one of their big goals for the IPS design they were working on. Now that we’ve reached the first update release to Solaris 11, we can start to see the fruits of their labors, with more FOSS updates in 11.1 than we had in many Solaris 10 update releases, keeping software more up to date with the upstream communities.
Of course, just because we can more easily update now, doesn’t always mean we should or will do so, it just removes the package system limitations from forcing the decision for us. So while we’ve upgraded the X Window System in the 11.1 release from X11R7.6 to 7.7, the Solaris GNOME team decided it was not the right time to try to make the jump from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3, though they did update some individual components of the desktop, especially those with security fixes like Firefox. In other parts of the system, decisions as to what to update were prioritized based on how they affected other projects, or what customer requests we’d gotten for them.
So with all that background in place, what packages did we actually update or add between Solaris 11.0 and 11.1?
Core OS Functionality
One of the FOSS changes with the biggest impact in this release is the upgrade from Grub Legacy (0.97) to Grub 2 (1.99) for the x64 platform boot loader. This is the cause of one of the upgrade quirks, since to go from Solaris 11.0 to 11.1 on x64 systems, you first need to update the Boot Environment tools (such as beadm) to a new version that can handle boot environments that use the Grub2 boot loader. System administrators can find the details they need to know about the new Grub in the Administering the GRand Unified Bootloader chapter of the Booting and Shutting Down Oracle Solaris 11.1 Systems guide. This change was necessary to be able to support new hardware coming into the x64 marketplace, including systems using UEFI firmware or booting off disk drives larger than 2 terabytes.
Note that the support repo actually has newer versions of BIND & fetchmail than the 11.1 release, as some late breaking critical fixes came through from the community upstream releases after the Solaris 11.1 release was frozen, and made their way to the support repository. These are responsible for the other big upgrade quirk in this release, in which to upgrade a system which already installed those versions from the support repo, you need to either wait for those packages to make their way to the 11.1 branch of the support repo, or follow the steps in the aforementioned upgrade walkthrough to let the package system know it's okay to temporarily downgrade those.
While Solaris 11.0 included Python 2.7, many of the bundled python modules weren’t packaged for it yet, limiting its usability. For 11.1, many more of the python modules include 2.7 versions (enough that I filtered them out of the below table, but you can always search on the package repository server for them.
For other language runtimes and development tools, 11.1 expands the use of IPS mediated links to choose which version of a package is the default when the packages are designed to allow multiple versions to install side by side.
For instance, in Solaris 11.0, GNU automake 1.9 and 1.10 were provided, and developers had to run them as either automake-1.9 or automake-1.10. In Solaris 11.1, when automake 1.11 was added, also added was a /usr/bin/automake mediated link, which points to the automake-1.11 program by default, but can be changed to another version by running the pkg set-mediator command.
Mediated links were also used for the Java runtime & development kits in 11.1, changing the default versions to the Java 7 releases (the 1.7.0.x package versions), while allowing admins to switch links such as /usr/bin/javac back to Java 6 if they need to for their site, to deal with Java 7 compatibility or other issues, without having to update each usage to use the full versioned /usr/jdk/jdk1.6.0_35/bin/javac paths for every invocation.
As I mentioned before, we upgraded from X11R7.6 to X11R7.7, since a pleasant coincidence made the X.Org release dates line up nicely with our feature & code freeze dates for this release. (Or perhaps it wasn’t so coincidental, after all, one of the benefits of being the person making the release is being able to decide what schedule is most convenient for you, and this one worked well for me.) For the table below, I’ve skipped listing the packages in which we use the X11 “katamari” version for the Solaris package version (mainly packages combining elements of multiple upstream modules with independent version numbers), since they just all changed from 7.6 to 7.7.
In the graphics drivers, we worked with Intel to update the Intel Integrated Graphics Processor support to support 3D graphics and kernel mode setting on the Ivy Bridge chipsets, and updated Nvidia’s non-FOSS graphics driver from 280.13 to 295.20.
The Mozilla applications, Firefox & Thunderbird moved to the current Extended Support Release (ESR) versions, 10.x for each, to bring up-to-date security fixes without having to be on Mozilla’s agressive 6 week feature cycle release train.
Detailed list of changes
This table shows most of the changes to the FOSS packages between Solaris 11.0 and 11.1. As noted above, some were excluded for clarity, or to reduce noise and duplication. All the FOSS packages which didn't change the version number in their packaging info are not included, even if they had updates to fix bugs, security holes, or add support for new hardware or new features of Solaris.
|library/security/openssl||126.96.36.199 (1.0.0e)||188.8.131.52 (1.0.0j)|
P.S. To get the version numbers for this table, I ran a quick perl script over the output from:
% pkg contents -H -r -t depend -a type=incorporate -o fmri \ `pkg contents -H -r -t depend -a type=incorporate -o fmri firstname.lastname@example.org,5.11-0.175.1.0.0.24` \ | sort >> /tmp/11.1 % pkg contents -H -r -t depend -a type=incorporate -o fmri \ `pkg contents -H -r -t depend -a type=incorporate -o fmri email@example.com,5.11-0.175.0.0.0.2` \ | sort >> /tmp/11.0