Sunday May 31, 2009

CommunityOne, distro constructor and laptop migration

I'm on the road again, actually this is my second trip since the one I wrote in China a few weeks ago, since then I've done a week in California, a couple of weeks @ home and I'm now back on the VS19, this time for CommunityOne and JavaOne and the launch of OpenSolaris 2009.06 on Monday at CommunityOne.

I've spent the last couple of weeks writing slides (off and on) and setting a laptop up for a demo at CommunityOne I'm planning to give on Tuesday, the talk is entitled "Deploying OpenSolaris in your DataCentre" as part of that I'm planning to demo at least one of the features that makes OpenSolaris so effective in a datacentre environment.

The distro constructor, put simply it allows you to build a custom image (very much like the OpenSolaris livecd) as either an iso or a usb and then with OpenSolaris 2009.06 you the automated installer technology, which is new, you can then take that iso image and "jumpstart" (for those of you familiar with earlier versions of Solaris) and apply that to machines across your enterprise. Knowing that each one of them is installed absolutely the same.

Its a really easy process, in fact it is so easy an executive can do it...the example below is one I ran on my workstation on Friday.

cove(5.11-64i)$ pfexec pkg install SUNWdistro-const
DOWNLOAD                                    PKGS       FILES     XFER (MB)
Completed                                    1/1       75/75     0.19/0.19

PHASE                                        ACTIONS
Install Phase                                104/104
PHASE                                          ITEMS
Reading Existing Index                           8/8
Indexing Packages                                1/1
cove(5.11-64i)$ cd /usr/share/distro_const/slim_cd
cove(5.11-64i)$ distro_const build ./slim_cd_x86.xml
cove(5.11-64i)$ pfexec distro_const build ./slim_cd_x86.xml
/usr/share/distro_const/DC-manifest.defval.xml validates
/tmp/slim_cd_x86_temp_6104.xml validates
Simple Log: /rpool/dc/logs/simple-log-2009-05-29-14-41-39
Detail Log: /rpool/dc/logs/detail-log-2009-05-29-14-41-39
Build started Fri May 29 14:41:39 2009

Two hours later

==== usb: USB image creation
/dev/rlofi/2:    1723200 sectors in 2872 cylinders of 1 tracks, 600 sectors
  841.4MB in 180 cyl groups (16 c/g, 4.69MB/g, 2240 i/g)
super-block backups (for fsck -F ufs -o b=#) at:
32, 9632, 19232, 28832, 38432, 48032, 57632, 67232, 76832, 86432,
1632032, 1641632, 1651232, 1660832, 1670432, 1680032, 1689632, 1699232,
1708832, 1718432
1435680 blocks
Build completed Fri May 29 17:04:47 2009
Build is successful.

Other stuff to know about...

This will result in two image files:


The manifest is an XML file that describes what to build and comes with two examples:


Now auto-installing it is something I'm still coming to terms with, I have a recipe, but ran out of time to set it up before I boarded the plane, so that'll be one I'll have to try when I get to San Francisco later today. Assuming all goes well you can come and see me demo autoinstalling from one VirtualBox guest to another on my Toshiba R600 running OpenSolaris 2009.06, if not it'll be just the distro constructor. Either way as soon as I crack auto install I'll post a blog about it.

Of course VirtualBox 2.2.4 is also now available, just released over this weekend, something else I need to do, upgrade my 2.2.2 image before Tuesday (whilst putting this blog into the editing tool and loading up the pictures I let the upgrade run in the background, 16 minutes inc. a 74MB download, the wonders of IPS).

Just to top it all this last week I managed to "break" my R600 :-( well I bent the power socket on the laptop so that when I plugged the mains supply in it wobbled and it was only a matter of time before the connector itself came off the motherboard so I also had to migrate from one R600 to another.

Laptop migration particularly when you were running multiple guests used to be a hugely painful experience, well in an OpenSolaris 2009.06 world it got a lot simpler (OK with a bit of help from VirtualBox as well :-) .

Firstly just copying your home environment off to something and then back, well USB sticks are slow and Solaris interop to something link a dlink NAS box also used to be difficult, well now anymore. At home I have a number NAS boxes, primarily for backup off the computers in the house which my family use, but also to serve out DVD iso images, music, video and recorded tv and using those in now just got a whole lot easier.

For those of you with OpenSolaris goto Places -> Computer -> Network, it'll then highlight a Windows network (which is how these commodity NAS boxes appear) and you can then simply connect to the appropriate volume and "bingo" you have a store to copy your home environment onto.

So just for my home environment (without any virtual machines) I was looking at at least 8G of data, well a copy off one laptop to the dlink box and back to my new laptop, took under 20 minutes, I'm sure having a gig network helped, but even so it was really "drag and drop" style simple.

Then onto VirtualBox, 2.2.2 has a great feature, File -> Export Appliance and File -> Import Appliance, which basically allows you to save off a virtual machine and import it somewhere else. The great part is it takes care of all the config file stuff which used to make this painful and of course copying them between machines, which effectively backs them up at the same time, is simple as well.

All in all a painless experience and so simple my kids can do it as well.

Friday May 22, 2009

CommunityOne an easy way to register for free deep dives

We've had a number of requests on how to make it easy to register for the free deep dives I mentioned in my previous entry, well here you go, we look forward to seeing everyone June 1st week, so go on register it is free.

Online Event Registration - Powered by

Whilst your signing up for this why not also register for the OpenSolaris Ignite Newsletter.


The week of June 1st is CommunityOne or CommunityOne West to give it its full title. It starts on Monday at Moscone and runs parallel with JavaOne on Tuesday and Wednesday. CommunityOne itself moves to the InterContinental from Tuesday and JavaOne runs at Moscone. Just in case you could not get enough of all this great technology the the Open HA Cluster Summit starts on the Sunday at the Marriott, registration link for these part is available on the agenda page as well.

The full agenda for CommunityOne is here. The OpenSolaris deep dives are FREE, when you register for CommunityOne, use the promotional code OSDDT and you will not be charged. This code will NOT get you into the other deep dive tracks. For those of you that have already registered to add a deep dive session to your registration, please call the CommunityOne Hotline at 1-866-405-2517 (U.S. and Canada only) or +1-650-226-0831 (international).

On the Tuesday you'll see John Fowler, Executive Vice President of Systems for Sun officially launch OpenSolaris 2009.06, I spent sometime earlier this week installing the final release candidate on 3 machines on the metal (my office and home workstation and my R600 laptop - which is what I'll be using to present from at CommunityOne), plus I did a couple of installs in a virtual world using the latest version of VirtualBox running on Vista 64bit (with a 64 bit OpenSolaris guest). Then of course I gave the CD to my children and told them to install it :-)

More to come on 2009.06 the week of CommunityOne I may even sneak in some screen shots and other points of note before then, assuming marketing of course are not reading my blog...

Tuesday Apr 14, 2009

Nehalem a Solaris and OpenSolaris perspective

This morning Sun announced its latest generation of servers, built on Intel's Nehalem chip branded as Xeon 5500. For those of us within the engineering community we've had the chance to work with and watch development take place on these platforms as well as Nehalem over the last few years.

There will be many blogs from Sun this morning as well as the formal 10.30am webcast, will also be updated to include links to all the various platforms, to save you finding them, here they are:

What I'm not going to do is sit here an extol the virtues of the platforms (although they do warrant it), others will be far better at that than me, what I did want to talk about was the operating system that best exploits the advantages of Nehalem and that of course is Solaris be it Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris both are best placed to take advantages of the features in the Xeon 5500.

When Sun announced OpenSolaris 2008.11 back in November last year it was with full support for the Xeon 5500 already baked into the operating system, in fact I'd go as far as saying it was the first operating system to be optimized for and take advantage of these features. Intel themselves have been actively contributing to the OpenSolaris community, OpenSolaris has been one of the key elements in the success of the relationship with Intel and the development of the platforms based on the Xeon 5500.

So what did we deliver for the Xeon 5500:

In fact I was talking about a number of these in my keynote for the OpenSolaris track at the TechDays in St Petersburg just last week, see my previous entry.

So how does this technology translate into the real world and what does the customer see?

Unparalleled power efficiency is one, the fact that we support all p-states in the latest Intel chips and we added deep c-state power management, what the later means is that we have the ability to drop un-used codes to lowest power states. Building on this is the Solaris unique power aware dispatcher, the picture explains it a lot better than I ever could in words.

Onto PowerTOP it is designed to easily identify power wasting applications and therefore help you balance performance and energy use. PowerTOP leverages the DTrace technology introduced in Solaris 10 and allows us to provide a degree of observability that most vendors can only dream of. Finally it allows developers and administrators to view TurboMode in real time.

Then of course we have Solaris FMA that allows you to detect and automatically diagnose errors such as offline failing memory and workaround failed cores / CPUs to run in a degraded but reliable state, all of which helps to maximise your system uptime.

Of course none of this kind of technology is new to Solaris for years Solaris has been optimized to take advantage of large memory and multi-core / cpu / thread systems and especially with ZFS underneath you get enterprise data scaling with the performance of dedicated proprietary storage systems all in an operating system you can go and download now.

So for those of you lucky enough to already have access to Xeon 5500 machines why not give Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris 2008.11 and these latest machines a run, you won't be disappointed. As some of the benchmarks show.

As always my team will be the ones providing the sustaining engineering on all the elements of operating system on these platforms (both Solaris and OpenSolaris).


Chris is the Senior Director of Solaris Revenue Product Engineering


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