Thursday Feb 18, 2010

High Availability for Virtualized Environments

Used to be availability was a big deal.

The product formerly known as Solaris Cluster (then called Sun cluster and now called Solaris Cluster again) was the answer to many a midnight prayer because it did such a great job of keeping your Solaris operating environment available even across geographical boundaries.

(BigAdmin's resource center for Sun Cluster administrators is in serious need of updating, but you can still find some useful links about Solaris Cluster there.)

Over the last few years virtualization eclipsed availability. Everyone's focus was on hardware consolidation. Solaris server? Linux server? Windows server? Who cares. We can run all the software we want on whichever server we like the most. And hardware salesmen can pound sand.

Well, guess what? If in the past you were running Need for Speed on one server and that server went down, you only lost one business critical application. But with Need for Speed running on Windows, Quake 4 running on Linux, and DOOM hosted on Solaris (with voodoo and black magic the way Sun engineers at Rocky Mountain Technology Center used to do it after hours), all part of a virtualized environment created on a Sun Oracle Database Machine without the IT manager's knowledge, you're talking serious unrest in the corner office if anything goes wrong.

So availability is a big deal again. In fact, an even bigger deal than it used to be.

We're working on an update to BigAdmin's virtualization resources for admins that will point you to resources that will help you figure out not only the best virtualization solution, but the best way to make that solution highly available.

In the meantime, you can take a look at how to solve one small part of the availability puzzle by reading this BigAdmin Feature Article by J. Randriam:

Configuring Sun Cluster Software With Oracle RAC/CRS and Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems

It describes how to configure a 3-node Solaris Cluster to run Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) / Cluster Ready Services (CRS) on a Sun Storage 7210 Unified Storage System. What you get with that is high availability for the database, the OS, and the storage system. Main sections include:

  • How to configure an NFS filesystem from the Storage System GUI.
  • How to mount the new filesystem from the cluster nodes.
  • How to create an iSCSI LUN for each node.
  • How to connect each node to its LUN.
  • How to disable fencing.
  • How to create a quorum device.
  • How to configure the Oracle RAC/CRS device to run on the storage system while taking advantage of the high availability services provided by Sun Cluster.

BigAdmin has some basic publication support, now, so we'll start to publish more content in the next few days.

Thanks for hanging in there with us.

- Rick

Tuesday Feb 02, 2010

Heaven for Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY's)

While listening to National Public Radio (my favorite Bolshevik station), I heard a story that most sysadmins of Solaris and Oracle Sun hardware would probably enjoy.

Right after Haikus of Das Kapital and before Knitting Tips from Madamme Defarge," All Things Considered ran a cool story about The Geek Group.

That's kinda what BigAdmin has been all about: helping Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY's) get the job done. (You'd make your life easier if you took the damn Solaris Sysadmin Training Courses already, but I understand. It's been a while for me, too.)

And that's right in line with what Justin Kestelyn, author of the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) blog, is doing with the OTN. Make sure to read his post about the future of BigAdmin (and SDN).

We're going to have a hiccup or two during the transition to Oracle, but please stay with us; in the long run, Oracle's resources will help us get more and better content to you, and provide more interesting ways for us to talk to each other.

Here's what Bob Rhubart, of The Arch Beat blog had to say:

"The combination of the Sun Developer Network (including, BigAdmin, and the Oracle Technology Network will result in the largest, and most diverse, community of Developers, Database Administrators, SysAdmins, and Architects. The richness and diversity of these communities will truly be remarkable."

Where To Find Us

So, just to be clear, here's what's still working and where to find it:

Also be sure to look for BigAdmin under the Communities heading in the left nav bar of the OTN.

Farewell to Close Friends

If you have submitted content to BigAdmin in the past, you have probably spoken to Constance McKenzie. When the advent of online communities brought into question the need for quality standards in technical content, Constance had the unenviable job of keeping BigAdmin's content useful while preserving the voice of the authors, many of whom spoke English as a second or third language. Despite being handicapped by one or more graduate degrees, Constance jumped headlong into all the latest Web 2.0 mediums and promoted BigAdmin's content religously. Constance was also the keeper of our editorial, web, and legal standards. Which means she kept us out of trouble. If you got your BigAdmin goodies, you have Constance to thank. She was the author of the BigAdmin Newsletter, most of our MOTD's (message of the day), and our Twitter Channel, among other things. You can continue to twitter with Constance at the CMacWasHere channel

If you read The History of BigAdmin, Part I, you know that Robert Weeks was one of the founders of BigAdmin. You may also know that he really digs his Mustang Bullit (and that I want to steal it). What you may not know is that he was the driving force behind BigAdmin since its inception. He's the guy who cared the most about treating Sun's sysadmins right, about protecting BigAdmin as a free and open resource. He had a day job as a Sun engineer that took up most of his time, but he never failed to put in the extra hours to post content, test scripts, design new interfaces, update the HCL, and handle so many other things I couldn't begin to list them here. The back-end content management tools he created for us helped a skeleton team work through a large volume of content. Without that, we would have been lined up against a wall and shot long ago. It's because of the dedication of Robert Weeks that BigAdmin and, more importantly, its charter to serve the needs of sysadmins with free and open content and community, was embraced by Oracle.

- Rick

Wednesday Jan 27, 2010

The Nation of Burundi Approves Oracle-Sun Deal

The people of Burundi have overwhelmingly approved the Oracle-Sun deal.

"We approved the deal because we think BigAdmin's Device Detection Tool is very nice. We use it always."

"And also because the name Solaris is very pretty. In the Batwa language it means 'capacious jug.'"

The men of Burundi agreed.

"We invite all the people of the nation of Oracle to come and play the Burundi drum!"

"They make Version 2.3 of the Device Detection Tool excellent! It now supports new platforms including SPARC Solaris, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and FreeBSD 6.0, 6.4, 7., 7.1 and 7.2. And it collects more system configuration information!"

"This gives us more time to beat the Burundi drum."

"And drink Burundi beer!"

When asked if they knew how to find the improved Device Detection Tool they said "Who doesn't! It's part of the BigAdmin HCL!"

To commemorate the event, the nation of Burundi has declared a national holiday.

"For our great friends, the people of Oracle and Sun!"

- Rick

Monday Jan 25, 2010

Jesse James Does Not Care About BigAdmin's Upgrade Hub

When I dialed up Jesse James with the news that BigAdmin's Upgrade Resources for System Administrators hub had just been upgraded, he said...

"Whatever, man. Quit calling me."

Well, whatareyagonnado? Not everybody can be a cheerful sysadmin, ya know?

But Ginny Henningsen can! She took what Karen Perkins started with, added some of her own experience and that of her friends, nipped a little here, cut a little there, tossed in a super graphic, and came up with a very nice version of the hub.

Solaris 10 Upgrade Resources for Sysadmins

The new hub has six sections, just like the single-action revolver used by Jesse's outlaw namesake:

We think our new hub is purtier than Sandra Bullock. Check it out and tell us what you think. Then call Jesse.

- Rick

Friday Jan 22, 2010

Where'd the Docs Go?

One of the comments we got at LISA 09 BoF in Baltimore was that between blogs, wikis, forums, and other receptacles of content, it was getting difficult to figure out where the docs were.

So we went looking for them and put together a quick summary of all the Sun sysadmin-related docs we could find, whether they were on, wikis, or wherever.

Here's what we found:

Photo courtesy of Geek Logie

Sun's Sysadmin-Related Documentation

Let us know if we missed any.

In case you're wondering how this hub relates to the Documentation link in the right nav bar, here's the difference...

  1. The Documentation link in the right nav bar takes you to the Documentation Section. That section lists the docs that have been submitted by readers as links to BigAdmin. They can include Sun docs, Linux docs, Oracle docs, whatever you think would interest sysadmins. In other words, you have control over what's included in this list. If you'd like to submit more links, go to the BigAdmin Submission Page.
  2. The System Administration Documentation for Sun Products hub lists all the Sun sysadmin-related docs we could find. The BigAdmin Staff owns that page.

We'll improve our nomenclature in the coming months, but for now, let me know if that distinction isn't clear.

- Rick

Thursday Jan 14, 2010

My New Video Game Racing Seat

This blog is about a new Sun BluePrint, Best Practices For Moving to the Solaris 10 Operating System. If you want to be that way, you can skip straight to the BluePrint.

And not read the part about the wicked cool video game racing seat.

And the Ferraris.

(Read a review of this racing seat at

OK, so the racing chair is not mine yet, but I have my eye on it.

I need it so I can beat my 17-year old daughter at Need for Speed.

When we first started playing, we were using this kind of controller:

She kicked my ass.

So I bought this steering wheel:

It came with brake and throttle pedals. I also bought a TV dinner table (remember those?) and mounted the wheel on it. Now we're pretty much even.

But the TV-table/steering wheel combo still wobbles, and Need for Speed requires precise steering. Or you go off the road at 150 mph. Or smack into a pile of tires because some dirty bastard coming up from behind spun you. Stuck inside a pile of tires and road debris, you get to listen to the spectators jeer while you while you try to find Reverse with the stupid paddle shifters.

Unfortunately, the only steering wheel I could afford comes with paddle shifters. I hate paddle shifters. Paddle shifters are for posers. Unless you actually race your Ferrari. If you don't race your Ferrari and it has a paddle shifter, guess what? You're a poser.

That's right, a Poser.

Poser, poser, poser.

OK, if you eat a lot of smelly cheese, the correct term is poseur. If you'd like a real definition of poseur, go to this site, but be advised that its content may be considered offensive by people who take offense at things:

Urban Dictionary's definition of "poseur".

Poseur, poseur, poseur.

I'd much rather continue talking about video games and the fascinating definitions in Urban Dictionary, but I have a job to do. So I'm gonna tell you about this new BluePrint written by the fine folks in Sun's BluePrints organization. It's called...

Best Practices For Moving to the Solaris 10 Operating System

Sun wants you to read the BluePrint in case you are:

  1. Thinking about upgrading to Solaris 10, but
  2. Aren't exactly sure what's involved in the upgrade process

The BluePrint covers....

  • Why upgrading to Solaris 10 makes fiscal sense in this economy (it's not about the cool features)
  • How to plan your upgrade so you get the benefits you want
  • How to implement your plan so you get the results you intended
  • The tangible benefits you get from Solaris 10 (resource utilization, performance, availability, etc.)

What makes Sun BluePrints so good is that they're written by experts in the field under the guidance of Kemer Thomson, who has been running Sun's BluePrint program since back in 01. That's almost in the other millennium. (I bet I can kick his ass in Need for Speed.)

Check it out. (While you're at it, also see the Solaris 10 Upgrade Resources for System Administrators.)

And tell me where to find that racing seat for cheap. I want enough money left over to buy the helmet. Swear to God I'll wear it around the house.

- Rick

(Photo courtesy of

Thursday Jan 07, 2010

BigAdmin Navigation: Categories vs Collections

This is a perfect wave. If you surf, you'll appreciate how the offshore wind first ruffles the surface of the approaching swells and then sculpts the face of the tube into perfection.

I can almost feel the cold wind on my back.

Photo courtesy of 43 Things.

This is not a perfect wave. I can't tell you what this feels like because even looking at a wave this size scares me half out of my mind.

Photo courtesy of Sean Davey at Surf Photo Art.

The waves are kinda like our use of categories and collections. The perfect wave? That's what we'd like to do. The not so perfect wave? That fits us better on this one. For now.

If you recall, the Sections and Categories blog entry of a few weeks ago explained how sections work. Sections are the main types of content BigAdmin provides, such as Articles, XPerts, Wikis, etc. Categories are simply the way to filter a section by the type of content. In other words, if you want to see all the Articles about Performance, you can go to the Articles section and select the Performance category from the pull-down menu. For example:

In a perfect world, we would also give you the capability to see all the sections for a particular category. In other words, if you were interested in all the content about Performance, whether it was a blog, a wiki, a video, or whatever, you would select the category and from the results, filter the results by blog, wiki, or whatever.

We kinda sorta do that, but in an imperfect way. We use collections. If you want to find all the content that BigAdmin publishes about databases, go to the database collection. It will list all the articles, blogs, wikis, interviews, videos, whatever.

Here are a few other differences between categories and collections:

  • You can see a list of all collections on one page, but you can only see a list of all categories from the pull-down menu of each section.
  • A resource can belong to multiple collections, but to only one category. This is a bit easier to see in the content submission page.
  • There are many more categories than there are collections.

Ideally, categories and collections would be the same thing. For now, they continue to be separate things. Would we like to fix that? Yes. Can we? Not yet. So for now, please bear with us, and:

  • Use categories to filter the content in a section.
  • Use collections to see a list of all content, regardless of section, for a particular topic.

If you'd like to see more excellent surf photography, including a picture of the biggest wave I've ever seen (Outside Sunset, Hawaii), go to

- Rick

Monday Jan 04, 2010

Dare To Be Remarkable

The beginning of a new year rocks because it gives me an excuse to ignore that list of things I have to get done, the other list of things I should do, and that crumpled, worn out, stale, and guilt-ridden list of things I know that I'm never going to get done. Instead, I can start a new list with all the things I want to do.

Like make an F-15 (see comments) do this.

Or sneak into Robert's garage and take his AWESOME Mustang Bullit for a joy ride.

If you have teenagers, you probably know that being a teenager today can suck the BigZucchini. No matter what you do, you're WRONG. To keep her sanity, my teenage daughter tacked this quote onto her bedroom wall:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who are we to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel small around you. We were born to manifest the glory that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And when we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

You may recognize it from the movie Coach Carter spoken by the character Timo Cruz.

But according to the website Date to Be Remarkable, it was written by Marianne Williamson and used by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech as president of South Africa.

I didn't know that.

I still owe you an explanation of BigAdmin's collections, and that will come this week. But I wanted to begin the new year with a wish that in 2010 you, BigAdmin, and the kick-butt, take-names technologies we play with will dare to be remarkable.

- Rick

Monday Dec 07, 2009

The Tick Says: Take This Survey

This blog has three parts, each written for a different type of sysadmin:

For Sysadmins Who Love Justice

If you love justice, you need to take this survey. Yes, I'm fed up with surveys, too. But please take this survey. Why? Because The Tick wants you to. When The Tick says ..."Honk If You Love Justice" you honk? Of course you do. This is why you are my favorite kind of sysadmin. I usually get flipped off when I honk for Justice, but I don't mind. Because I Love Justice. So please take this survey. Because The Tick loves justice, too.

Survey About Solaris 10 Adoption

In appreciation for your cooperation,
The Tick hopes you will enjoy
this hilarious video
by Russell Peters:
Caution: ethnic humor and foul language:
White People, Please Beat Your Kids

For Cheap Bastard Sysadmins

OK, so you worship the Almighty Buck. You memorize each issue of The Economist. You steal the nickels from the "Leave a Penny" trays at convenience stores. You guard your time wisely and aren't willing to part with a single minute without getting something in return. We have an inducement for you: if you take the survey (should take about 10 minutes if you tell the truth, much less if you lie), we'll give you a 30% discount off the purchase of this book:

Last time I checked, InformIT was offering free shipping.

But remember, you can't just get the discount. You have to take the....

Survey About Solaris 10 Adoption

For Hardass Solaris Loyalists

You don't take kindly to people who let their kids scream in restaurants, who fail to help little old ladies cross the street, and who pick on weaklings. You're not going to be bought off by a book discount because you already know what's in the damn book and probably disagree with half of it.

So I'll explain why we want you to take this survey.

Sun wants more Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 customers to upgrade to Solaris 10. Why? Because we will make more money if you upgrade to Solaris 10. To begin with, there's less of a chance that one of our (pesky) competitors will convince you to upgrade to their (inferior) OS. But also because once you are using (the most awesome) Solaris 10 you will be tempted to buy some of our (great) new hardware. Which will let you do more for less and spend the remainder on more Sun goodies. Or exotic cars.

But there is still enough idealism left in us that we only want you to upgrade if it makes sense for you. (I may have a late model Harley, but I also really, really love my 2001 Ducati.)

So, rather than hit you over the head with a blunt marketing instrument, Sun would like to understand why some of you would rather remain with Solaris 8 or Solaris 9. That knowledge would help us design products and services to support you, such as Solaris 8 Vintage Support. It would also help us aim our Solaris 10 marketing in the right direction. For example, if you don't upgrade because you think it'll be more expensive, we can focus our time on proving why it won't. Instead of hollering about the cool new features that you already know about. But aren't interested in because you think they're too expensive.

In other words, we want you to take the survey so we can work with you better. And avoid looking stupid. Or losing you to our (lame) competitors who will sell you their (inferior) products.

Solaris 10 Adoption Survey

- Rick

Friday Dec 04, 2009

BigAdmin Navigation: Sections and Categories

To continue with an explanation of BigAdmin's structure in response to questions raised at LISA Baltimore....

All of BigAdmin's content is grouped into sections, which the home page calls out as "Resources and Sections":

Each section lists all the content of a particular type, such as:

(This is only a partial list. Here is the complete list of all sections).

In other words, if you wanted to browse all of BigAdmin's Feature Articles, you would select 5. Articles and FAQ's:

Here is what you would see:

By default, BigAdmin's most recently published and updated feature articles are displayed in that list, most recent on top. However, you could filter all the Feature Articles by category:

You can see all the categories in a section by "pulling down" the category menu:

When you select a particular category, the list is updated to display only the feature articles in that category.

Next blog: collections.

- Rick

Tuesday Nov 24, 2009

LISA Feedback: The Tower of Babel

Some of the comments we received at LISA 09 pointed out that BigAdmin's content was difficult to navigate.

I agree.

Particularly for new users.

BigAdmin started as a way to provide information you couldn't find anywhere else, was built from the ground up, has evolved to meet the changing needs of sysadmins, and has gotten a bit messy.

Kinda like your own desk. It looks like hell, but you know exactly where everything is.

But pity the poor bastard who has to fill in for you.

One day soon, we hope, BigAdmin will get a chance to clean up the clutter.

Because for now you have to work with what we've got, I'll use the next few blogs to explain how the content is organized, how to find things, and what is in which pile.

But first I want to talk about the problem that BigAdmin is trying to help you deal with. Because only by understanding that problem will you understand the logic behind BigAdmin.

If you are not interested in this brief history lesson, go straight to What Is BigAdmin and How Do I Use It?

A Brief History of Content

From the moment God said, "Let there be light" until a few years ago, a means of commerce came into being that was so effective it spread across virtually all cultures of the globe: You gave somebody a pile of cash and they gave you a product and its documentation. The simplicity of that transaction was breathtaking.

The documentation was particularly cool if it came in a big ol' 3-ring binder. Why? Because you could open it up and lay it flat right beside the product. There has never been a better delivery vehicle for documentation than the 3-ring binder. Not even stone tablets.

But then high-tech became cool. And Cool dictates that 3-ring binders are Not. The result? The information that used to live in that 3-ring binder is now distributed across online documentation sites, magazine articles, books for sale at Amazon, wikis that may or may not be up to date, blogs that may or may not know what the hell they're talking about, forum discussions that may or may not be answered, websites with content of questionable credibility, the product interface, and maybe even labels on the product.

More than once I have fantasized about getting my buddies together, putting it all in a big pile, lighting it on fire, and dancing around it with spears and painted faces until we were all back to the simplicity of the Stone Age.

So What Are We Doing About It?

BigAdmin wants to be your three ring binder.

We can't reverse the course of history, but we want you to come to BigAdmin first and let us take you to where the content is. We are continuously searching for the resources to help you do your job and organizing them so you know where they are. That means docs, support, training classes, blogs, wikis, discussions, articles, videos, books. Sometimes we publish the content ourselves, sometimes we point to other places where it has been published. Whatever, wherever.

How are we doing? When you consider what information a sysadmin needs to adopt, deploy, and integrate Sun technologies into a heterogeneous environment, we have a long way to go. We simply don't cover enough of Sun's technologies in enough real-world scenarios. There is so much we are not aware of. Our interface is not nearly dynamic enough. Our information architecture is a bit sloppy. And as you have pointed out, our navigation is confusing.

But we're running as fast as we can to catch up. So far, we have:

  • Over 3500 resources, both original content and links to content.
  • Almost 10,000 entries in the HCL.
  • A list of more than 11,000 applications that run on Solaris 10.
  • Thirty landing pages for sysadmin topics that first give you an overview of a topic and then link you to all the resources we know about. Some of them, such as the Patches Hub are pretty good. We're working on more.

How to Send Us Suggestions

There's a lot more to do, but we can't do it alone. As Robert Weeks explained in The History of Bigadmin Part I, BigAdmin was patterned after the community bulletin boards of yore. It's all about sharing what you know. How can you help?

  • Tell us about any content you find useful.
  • When you have a specific improvement or find an error on a particular page, use the Feedback mechanism at the bottom right of the page (look for the little plus sign). Just remember that a lot of the pages we link to do not have the little plus sign.
  • Use our Suggestion Box. It's also available from the blue menu on the right of every BigAdmin page.

Next blog: sections, collections, and topic hubs.

- Rick

Friday Nov 06, 2009

Feedback from LISA 09 in Baltimore

This should have been the sign at the entrance to the BigAdmin Birds Of a Feather (BoF) session at this year's Large Installation System Administration (LISA) Conference in Baltimore earlier this week.

Mike Barrett, who was kind enough to fill in for me, got hit with a lot of complaints about the difficulty of finding content at Sun's sites in general and BigAdmin in particular. I heard the same message at last year's LISA conference in San Diego. Some of the problem can be fixed with better coordination between different groups inside Sun, some with improved design on BigAdmin, and some with a little more knowledge about where the content is. If you don't want to wait, you can start here:

What Is BigAdmin and How Do I Use It?"

So, in upcoming blogs, I'll take each of the comments that we heard from you, and tell you, as directly as I can, what BigAdmin is going to do about it. Based on the tenor of the dialogue at LISA's BoF, I'm sure any comments you post will be direct, as well.

Hopefully this dialogue will result in better content that's easier for you to find.

- Rick

Thursday Oct 29, 2009

Don't Wind Up Looking Like This

It really sucks when you screw up in a public way. Private screwups? No big deal. Public screwups? Thanks to IM, cell phone cameras, texting, Facebook, and other marvels of modern communication, those who screw up in public get skewered in public.

Frustrate the sadist bastards with a little education:

Attend the 2009 LISA Conference in Baltimore Next Week

While you're there, check out the Solaris Security Summit. It might keep you from making an unfortunate decision or two.

The good folks from Solaris Marketing put together this Solaris LISA page to highlight the Solaris-related activities at LISA.

Don't forget to drop by the Solaris booth. We'll have live demos of cool Solaris technologies plus BigAdmin on its very own computer. If you have any questions about where the juciest Solaris 10 content is on BigAdmin, drop by and ask me. Or drop by the BoF on Tuesday night (details on the Solaris LISA page).

If you're really, really, really not sure whether you should spend the money to go to LISA in this economy, mull it over while you watch The Hula Dance from The Lion King in a bunch of different languages.

- Rick

Tuesday Oct 20, 2009

Are you bored with the BigAdmin HCL?

Are you bored with the HCL? No longer impressed with the 1277 systems (as in servers, desktops, laptops, and motherboards from Sun and OEM vendors) and nearly 1700 components that run Solaris 10?

Can you barely muster the enthusiasm to raise an eyebrow at the more than 6000 systems and components that run OpenSolaris?

Never fear. We've just added about a hundred (that's 097 for you guys in the camo fatigues) entries for virtualization platforms that run Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris:

Virtualization Platforms That Run Solaris

The virtualization HCL has tabs for:

You can sort the contents of every tab by:

Pretty cool, huh? Now you can go back to being your regular old exuberant sysadmin self.

- Rick

Friday Oct 09, 2009

BigAdmin Wins Nobel Prize!

At a party the other night in Stockholm, Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, raised a glass of champagne and shouted something that sounded a lot like this.....

BigAdmin er ond-good fun!

Since we don't speak Norwegian, we figured he was announcing that BigAdmin had won the Nobel Prize! Is that cool or what? We are pumped! (And suitably humbled.)

Our biggest fans, the Sikhs on the bus, are beside themselves and claim to have known all along.

Now, we're not sure exactly which Nobel Prize we won, but we're pretty sure it's the one awarded for the best translated docs. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Hiroko Matano and Yutaka Suzuki in Shinobu Matsuzuka's group from Sun's Tokyo office, BigAdmin has built up quite a collection of translated articles. They just finished publishing....

We are very, very sorry that we had no new Italian translations to post. Siamo molto dispiaciuti.

Hiroko and Yutaka have been experimenting with a combination of human-machine translation. We were surprised at how good the results were. Far better than machine translation alone, but quicker and cheaper than human translation alone. (You'll notice the disclaimer at the top of each article that has been partially translated by machine.)

By the way, we got a peek at the machine that did the translations, and it looks a lot like this all-aluminum 427 cu-in (7.0L) ZL1 V8 engine that debuted in the Corvettes and Chevys of 1969. It's rated at 430 hp and 450 lb.-ft. (610 Nm) of torque. For the full story about the revival of this monster machine, go to

- Rick

Thursday Oct 08, 2009

Features Removed from the Solaris 10 OS

Sometimes we all need to lighten the load a bit.

BigAdmin is here to help. This handy list will tell you which features have been removed from Solaris 10 10/09, the latest release of Solaris 10:

Features Removed From the Solaris 10 OS

If you're curious about what's been added, you'll enjoy these links:

- Rick

Tuesday Sep 29, 2009

What Have Sun and Intel Been Up To?


Intel has been developing hardware that takes advantage of the capabilities of Solaris, and Solaris has been optimizing its features to run on Intel platforms. Specifically, on the next-generation Intel Xeon processor.

Why should a sysadmin care? Because the capabilities that resulted from this collaboration will let you do get more work out of fewer resources while increasing reliability and saving energy.


  • Performance: the combination of Intel's Hyper-Threading Technology and the Solaris multi-threading capabilities work together to increase the performance of multi-threaded workloads while reducing power consumption.
  • Reliability: Intel's Machine Architecture Recovery feature works with the Solaris Fault Manager to detect memory and cache errors and correct them before they cause a fault.
  • Power Efficiency: Intel's Intelligent Power Technology allows system administrators to set policies for the optimal mix of processing power and energy use, or Solaris to optimize it automatically.
  • Flexible Virtualization: the OpenSolaris xVM hypervisor supports the virtualization capabilities of Intel's next generation Xeon processor, including network virtualization.

Details here:

- Rick

Tuesday Sep 22, 2009

The Annoyatron

Debbie Doyle sent me this link from VoIP Tech Chat:

The Annoyatron

It's a clever use of VoIP and a PBX server to route telemarketers to a programmed recording that annoys them back.

I've used many devices to annoy telemarketers before the Do Not Call Registry was devised. My favorite was to ask them, with a sincerity that matched theirs, to please hold. I'd put the phone down for several minutes. Then I'd pick it up and ask them if they were still there. If they were, I'd thank them for holding and hang up. Unfortunately, I pulled that on my auto loan company once, thinking it was just another telemarketer. It was a courtesy call to inform me that they hadn't received my payment. Boy, were they mad.

Be sure to listen to this guy's two actual recordings. They're terrific.

photo courtesy of The Glamorous Life Association, which offers other suggestions for dealing with unwanted calls from telemarketers.

- Rick

Thursday Sep 17, 2009

Did Elvis Write Solaris?

I saw this picture and it set me to wondering....

Now, I'm not gullible enough to believe every picture I find on the web. After all, there are plenty of artists sufficiently skilled in Photoshop to fool even the most discerning skeptic. I would need independent verification, I decided. So I went to my usual sources. The best I know.

image courtesy of

First, I went looking for a Minnesotan. I found Paul Kasper. Paul writes the Information Center for the SunRay Software. I'm pretty sure he's a Minnesotan, though he may be from WisCOLDsin, instead. I get the two confused. In any case, I can always rely on his common sense.

Rick: Did Elvis Write Solaris?
Paul: Wasn't he supposed to be dead?

Since that conversation didn't yield any useful results, I went to my second source, my 16-year old daughter. I can always rely on her sincerity.

Rick: Did Elvis write Solaris?
Beth: Well, if she was his girlfriend, then I certainly hope so. Because boys never write girls any more. It would be very sweet to receive a letter from a boy. As long as I liked him. But not if I didn't like him. Because that would be awkward.

I thanked her for sharing her opinion with me and walked outside, where I was met by my trusted advisor, my hyperactive boxer Buster. Since Buster doesn't actually speak English, I had to get forehead-to-forehead with him and use Canine Telepathy.

Rick: Did Elvis Write Solaris?

It was clear that I needed to expand my search. So I started digging around. Everywhere. And guess what I found? I found out that despite the best efforts of the name police, Solaris is often referred to by its unofficial names. For example:

Solaris 10 10/08 is often referred to as Solaris 10 update 7
Solaris 9 9/02 is often referred to as Solaris 9 update 1

That can make it pretty tough to communicate, ya know? In fact, John Petersen, a BigAdmin reader, asked us if we could do something to help. Well, thanks again to Bruce Hill, we have a little cheat sheet for you.

BigAdmin's Guide to Unofficial Solaris Names

It lists all the official names of Solaris and the vernacular by which they are sometimes referred to (tsk tsk). If you're not feeling moved to click on the big letters up above, you can get to it by clicking on the little letters below:

BigAdmin's Guide to Unofficial Solaris Names

Wella wella wella, as for signs of Elvis, like a lot of other people, I'm still looking. While you're waiting, you can listen to some of his music on

- Rick

Friday Sep 11, 2009

Stacks and Stacks of Software Stacks

Do you have to climb Las Torres Del Paine in oven mitts and Florsheim dress shoes with the shoelaces missing just so you can find out which version of which firmware goes with which version of Solaris on whichever dang version of the SPARC server your boss wants to buy?

Photo courtesy of Live for the Outdoors

Not any more!

Bruce Hill and Robert Weeks have teamed up to bring you the BigAdmin Software Stacks Page. It's a list of Sun's SPARC systems and the software stacks supported on each one. We've just started the list, so there will be updates to it every week until we have them all.

Let Us Know What You Think!

It's been a bit tricky to summarize this info without making it too complicated or too simplistic or too difficult to keep current, so please, please, POR FAVOR! let us know what you think and what we can do to make the content more useful to you.

Notice how Torres del Paine contains the word pain? Those Chilenos, my paisanos, are clever dudes.

- Rick (Ricardo)

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