Tuesday Jan 31, 2012

Detroit Solaris 11 Forum, February 8

I'm just posting this quick note to help publicize the Oracle Solaris 11 Technology Forum we're holding in the Detroit area next week.  There's still time to register and come get a half-day overview of the great new stuff in Solaris 11.  The "special treat" that's not mentioned in the link is that I'll be joining Jeff Victor as a speaker.  Looking forward to being back in my home state for a quick visit, and hope I'll see some old friends there!

Tuesday Nov 22, 2011

Solaris at LISA 2011

As is our custom, the Solaris team will be out in force at the USENIX LISA conference; this year it's in Boston so it's sort of a home game for me for a change.  The big event we'll have is Tuesday, December 6, the Oracle Solaris 11 Summit Day.  We'll be covering deployment, ZFS, Networking, Virtualization, Security, Clustering, and how Oracle apps run best on Solaris 11.  We've done this the past couple of years and it's always a very full day.

On Wednesday, December 7, we've got a couple of BOF sessions scheduled back-to-back.  At 7:30 we'll have the ever-popular engineering panel, with all of us who are speaking at Tuesday's summit day there for a free-flowing discussion of all things Solaris.  Following that, Bart & I are hosting a second BOF at 9:30 to talk more about deployment for clouds and traditional data centers.

Also, on Wednesday and Thursday we'll have a booth at the exhibition where there'll be demos and just a general chance to talk with various Solaris staff from engineering and product management.

The conference program looks great and I look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday Nov 17, 2011

Virtually the fastest way to try Solaris 11 (and Solaris 10 zones)

If you're looking to try out Solaris 11, there are the standard ISO and USB image downloads on the main page.  Those are great if you're looking to install Solaris 11 on hardware, and we hope you will.  But if you take the time to look down the page, you'll find a link off to the Oracle Solaris 11 Virtual Machine downloads.  There are two downloads there:

  1. A pre-built Solaris 10 zone
  2. A pre-built Solaris 11 VM for use with VirtualBox

If you're looking to try Solaris 11 on x86, the second one is what you want.  Of course, this assumes you have VirtualBox already (and if you don't, now's the time to try it, it's a terrific free desktop virtualization product).  Once you complete the 1.8 GB download, it's a simple matter of unzipping the archive and a few quick clicks in VirtualBox to get a Solaris 11 desktop booted.  While it's booting, you'll get to run through the new system configuration tool (that'll be the subject of a future posting here) to configure networking, a user account, and so on.

So what about that pre-built Solaris 10 zone download?  It's a really simple way to get yourself acquainted with the Solaris 10 zones feature, which you may well find indispensible in transitioning an existing Solaris 10 infrastructure to Solaris 11.  Once you've downloaded the file, it's a self-extracting executable that'll configure the zone for you, all you have to supply is an IP address for the zone.  It's really quite slick!

I expect we'll do a lot more pre-built VM's and zones going forward, as that's a big part of being a cloud OS; if there's one that would be really useful for you, let us know.

Tuesday Nov 15, 2011

Solaris 11 Technology Forums, NYC and Boston

By now you're certainly aware that we released Solaris 11; I was on vacation during the launch so haven't had time to write any material related to the Solaris 11 installers, but will get to that soon.  Following onto the release, we're scheduling events in various locations around the world to talk about some of the key new features in Solaris 11 in more depth.  In the northeast US, we've scheduled technology forums in New York City on November 29, and Burlington, MA on November 30.  Click on those links to go to the detailed info and registration.  I'll be one of the speakers at both of them, so hope to see you there!

Monday Mar 28, 2011

Solaris Online Forum on April 14

For all of you that are interested in what's happening with Solaris 11, we've scheduled a half-day of online forums on Thursday, April 14.  I'll be on for 45 minutes with my pal Bart to talk about deployment; other colleagues will be discussing the Solaris strategy, virtualization, and other features of Solaris 11.  We'll also have a live on-line chat where you can get one of us to answer your questions.  For the full details, see the registration page.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday Nov 16, 2010

Solaris 11 Express Interactive Installation

One thing I didn't note in my previous entry on the Solaris 11 Express 2010.11 release is that there are some new developments in installation since the last available builds of OpenSolaris.  This post just discusses the interactive installation options, while a subsequent entry will discuss the Automated Installer.

Before digging into the details, it's probably useful to explain the philosophy of the interactive installers a bit for those encountering them for the first time, as it is somewhat of a departure from Solaris 10 and prior.  Our basic guiding principle is probably best summarized as, "Get the system installed and get out of the way."  To elaborate a bit, the idea is to collect a minimal amount of configuration required to make the installed system functional, execute the install quickly, and let the user get on with using the system.  That means that a lot of the configuration you might have been asked about in past Solaris releases, such as Kerberos or NFS domains, or installing additional, layered software, are just not present.  You're asked only to select a disk, partition it a bit if you want, provide timezone and locale, and create a user account.  You're also not prompted to interactively select the software to be installed.  Instead, the software that's present on the media is what's installed, providing a useful starting point at first boot.  From there, you can use tools like the pkg CLI or the Package Manager GUI to customize software to your heart's content, all installed from the convenience of a software repository on the network.

There are several reasons why we think this shift is appropriate.  First, many of the configuration settings that were prompted for in the past were of interest to only small minorities of users.  That means we were making it harder for the majority, which is almost always a bad choice.  Second, we've put in a concerted effort over the past 5+ years to make Solaris configured more correctly to start with, and more capable of self-configuring, so that more users get the best results, not just those who can figure out the right knobs to twist.  The end results should be better for all of us in the Solaris ecosystem, as behavior will be more consistent and predictable.  Finally, in terms of software selection, we've reached the point where the commonly-available media format (DVD) just isn't large enough to incorporate all the software we want to provide as part of the product - we've just plain outstripped the rate of improvement in software compression technology.  It's well past time that we oriented Solaris towards a network-centric software delivery paradigm.

Text Installer

The most obvious difference to OpenSolaris users is the addition of the Text Installer, a curses-based interactive UI designed to run comfortably on all those servers out there that have only serial consoles.  Those that were following the OpenSolaris development train did see a late preview of this from the project team back around build 134, but S11 Express is the first release that includes this installer.  This now means that there is an interactive install option for SPARC users, as the GUI install is offered only on the x86 live CD.

Philosophically, this UI shares a fair amount with the GUI: it's a fairly streamlined experience that doesn't allow customization of the software payload, but does allow a little more freedom in disk configuration (most notably, the ability to preserve existing VTOC slices).  Like the GUI, the installation is a direct copy of the media contents, so what is included on the media defines the installation.

Initially, we've opted to include this installer only on a new, separate ISO download, identified as Text Install on the downloads page.  This image might be more accurately called "Server Install", as that's what it really is meant to be: a generic server installation that includes most, if not all, of the Solaris server elements, but omits the GNOME desktop and related applications.  If this is the image you downloaded and installed but you really wanted the GNOME desktop (easy to do since it's the first image on the page), then the easy solution is to install the package set that appears on the live CD media; you can accomplish that with the command pkg install slim_install, slim_install being the IPS group package that we use to define the live CD contents.  Incidentally, the group package that defines the text install media contents is the server_install package.

One thing that server administrators will undoubtedly find missing is the ability to directly configure the network as part of the install; right now it defaults to the automatic configuration technology we call Network Auto-Magic (or NWAM).  We do plan to extend the text installer to also provide static network configuration, so you'll be able to supply an IP address and nameservice configuration directly, rather than having to do this post-installation.

GUI Installer

The GUI installer has undergone some small changes from the versions provided with OpenSolaris.  If the last time you used it was with OpenSolaris 2009.06, the biggest difference is that it provides support for extended partitions, which provides a little more flexibility in dealing with the limitations of the x86 partitioning scheme and eases co-existence with other OS's in multi-boot configurations.  The other change here, more subtle, is that the UI no longer separately prompts for the root password.  Instead, the password for the root role is set to the same password as the initial user account (which is now required, where it was optional during OpenSolaris releases).  The root password is created as expired, however, so first time you su to root, you'll be prompted to change the password.  Finally, the initial user account is no longer assigned the Primary Administrator profile to enable administrative access.  Instead, the user account retains access to the root role, and is also given all access to sudo.  The text installer does allow independent setting of the root password at this release, but we expect to align it with the GUI in a future build.

Monday Nov 15, 2010

Oracle Solaris 11 Express 2010.11 is released

Today marks the release of Oracle Solaris 11 Express 2010.11, beginning the rollout of our long-gestating successor to Solaris 10.  The summary and links to most everything are available on the OTN Oracle Solaris 11 Overview.  Probably the biggest thing to emphasize is that this is a supported release, not a "beta" or preview; see the link for the support options.  That said, feature development continues in anticipation of a Solaris 11 release in 2011, as was outlined at OpenWorld back in September.

For those who used the OpenSolaris distribution releases, you'll find this release quite familiar, as it's the continuing evolution of the technology we introduced in those releases: the installers from the Caiman project, the IPS packaging system, and all the other great things that my colleagues in Solaris engineering have been developing for the past several years in networking, storage, security and so on.  The biggest visible differences are a different package repository, license terms, and of course Oracle branding.

For those of you who weren't users of OpenSolaris, well, now is the time to really start getting your feet wet, evaluating Solaris 11 and planning its deployment in your environment.  We hope you'll like it!


Tuesday Oct 19, 2010

Oracle Solaris Summit and BoFs @ LISA 2010

As the release of Oracle Solaris 11 Express is getting closer, we're having a bunch of information sessions at the the upcoming USENIX LISA conference in San Jose: an all-day summit on Tuesday, November 9, and evening BoF sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.    It's important to note that you do not have to register for LISA to come to the summit on Tuesday, but you do need to register for the summit itself.  See my colleague Terri Wischmann's blog post, Oracle Solaris Summit at LISA conference 2010, for the full lineup of events and links to registration.  We hope to see you there!


Wednesday Sep 15, 2010

See You at Oracle OpenWorld 2010?

Blowing the dust off the ol' blog to note that I'll be at Oracle's OpenWorld/JavaOne/Develop extravaganza in San Francisco next week.  Two things I am scheduled to be doing:
  1. A webcast with OTN's Rick Ramsey at 10:30 AM (Pacific) on Tuesday
  2. A session at the "Unconference" at Hotel Parc 55 at 3 PM on Tuesday
Both of these sessions are on Solaris 11 deployment.  Webcast will probably be pretty high-level, hopefully a bunch of Q&A.  At the unconference session I'm planning to dive into the Automated Installer a bit, especially the changes since the OpenSolaris releases.

I'm planning to be generally hanging around the conference on Monday.  @dave_miner on Twitter will be one way to find me if you like.

If your main interest is Solaris, I should note that my friend Deirdre has kindly posted a schedule of the Solaris Unconference Sessions at Oracle Open World 2010.




Friday Dec 18, 2009

Big 2009 Finish for OpenSolaris Installation

As the end of 2009 approaches, there are a bunch of recent developments in the OpenSolaris installation software that I want to highlight.  All of the below will appear in OpenSolaris development build 130, due in the next few days.

First up is the addition of iSCSI support to Automated Installation (or AI).  You can now specify an iSCSI target for installation in the AI manifest.  It'll work on both SPARC and x86, provided you have firmware that can support iSCSI boot; on SPARC you'll need a very recent OBP patch to enable this support.  Official docs are in the works, but the design document should have enough info to piece it together if you're interested.

Next is the bootable AI image, which allows use of AI in a number of additional scenarios.  Probably the most generally interesting one is that you can now install OpenSolaris on SPARC without setting up an AI server first, by using the default AI manifest that's included on the ISO image.  One caveat is that the default manifest installs from the release repository; due to ZFS version changes between 2009.06 and present, this results in an installation that won't boot.  You'll want to make a copy of the default manifest and change the main url for the ai_pkg_repo_default_authority element to point to http://pkg.opensolaris.org/dev and put it at a URL that you can supply to the AI client once it boots.  Alok's mail and blog entry have more details.

Building on bootable AI, we've extended the Distribution Constructor (or DC) with a project known as Virtual Machine Constructor (VMC).  Succinctly, it extends DC to construct a pre-built virtual machine image that can be imported into hypervisors that support OVF 1.0, such as VirtualBox or VMware.  Glenn's mail notes a few limitations that will be addressed in the next few builds.  Anyone interested in building virtualization-heavy infrastructures should find this quite useful.

Finally, one more barrier to adding OpenSolaris on x86 to a system that's multi-booted with other OS's has fallen with the addition of extended partition support to both the live CD GUI installer and Automated Installation.  You can now install OpenSolaris into a logical partition carved from the extended partition.  Jean's mail has some brief notes on how to use this new feature.  I should also note at this point that a couple of builds ago the parted command and GParted GUI were added to the live CD, so the more complex preparations sometimes needed to free up space for OpenSolaris can now be done directly from the CD.

I'd like to thank my team for all the hard work that went into all of the above; they accomplished all of it with precious little help from me, as I spent most of the past three months either traveling around talking to literally hundreds of customers or working on architecture and design tasks.  Speaking of those, the review of the installer architecture is open, and I've also just this week posted the first draft design for AI service management improvements.

What's next?  Well, that will be the topic of my next post in early January.  It's time for a vacation!

Wednesday Nov 25, 2009

Safe upgrades coming to Fedora?

Catching up on my reading, this item caught my eye:

[Phoronix] Fedora 13 May Support Btrfs System Rollbacks

Nice to see Fedora planning to add features we in OpenSolaris take for granted!  I'd certainly be more inclined to use Fedora for the occasional times I need Linux if this came in, as I've suffered in the past from RPM disasters.  It does look like they've got some design work to do yet on the file system organization, as for rollbacks like this it's critical to ensure that system software state, operational data such as logs and audit trails, and user state are separated.  Though this is something we haven't yet completed satisfactorily in OpenSolaris, either.  We mostly do well on user state since home directories are outside the boot environment section of a root pool, but separating the invariant parts of /var (logs, mail queues) out from the variant parts is a problem we still need to resolve.


Wednesday Nov 11, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible E-book edition

Proving that large corporations everywhere are equally uncoordinated, it seems that Wiley put out an electronic edition of OpenSolaris Bible but didn't manage to communicate it to us authors so we could help promote it!  Last we knew it was in the works, but we hadn't heard anything further.  But then we got our royalty statement a couple of days ago and, interestingly, there were electronic units sold, which sent me back over to the book's page on wiley.com and there was the link to the e-book!  I guess a positive spin to put on it is that it's another option for the Christmas list for the OpenSolaris enthusiast.

Unfortunately the set of supported platforms for the supported reader, Adobe Digital Editions, is not too friendly for those of us on open-source platforms.  My best suggestion, though I haven't tried it yet, is to put it on a copy of Windows in VirtualBox.


Friday Oct 23, 2009

Solaris BOF's at LISA 09

As usual, Solaris will have a strong presence at this year's LISA conference, November 1-6 in Baltimore.  For the first time in a few years I'm also going to be there.  On Tuesday night, Nov. 3, we'll be having several BOF sessions.  The one I'll be a part of will be a discussion of the changes coming in Solaris Next (the code name for the successor to Solaris 10 that will be based on the OpenSolaris distribution).  Many of the most visible changes involve the installation and packaging software, hence my involvement.  This will be a great opportunity for interactive discussion and feedback from those who can attend; I hope to see you there!
I'm going to LISA '09

Monday Aug 31, 2009

OpenSolaris Update, BigAdmin Q&A

Two things going on that I thought worth mentioning:

 - The OpenSolaris update to build 121 was released a couple of days ago.  We hope recent quality problems are behind us so that updates will be back on the regular cadence.

 - As part of our continuing efforts to educate the community about OpenSolaris installation, the BigAdmin guys asked me to spend a week answering questions as part of their XPert series, starting today.  If you have a burning question you haven't seen answered, fire away.  I must also say that Rick is (or at least was, we've both aged a bit) a better basketball player than he admits

Monday Aug 10, 2009

SXCE Coming to a Close

A brief note to point out that today we posted the announcement of SXCE end-of-life plans to a variety of OpenSolaris and Solaris mailing lists.  As Glynn noted in a followup to the announcement mail, this decision is unrelated to the recent DOA builds, it's been in the works for quite some time.  However, it's worth noting that some of the problems that led to the DOA builds are a result of the primary development line being based on SXCE, as the difficulty of building media with the old tools and therefore failing to test some scenarios until the WOS is built.  As we complete the conversion of the development and release process to be centered on IPS and the Caiman installer technologies (Distribution Constructor, Automated Installer) we expect instances of these problems will decrease.  Now, more than ever, it's time to get on the OpenSolaris train!


About

I'm the architect for Solaris installation, with a lot of background in networking and system management. I also play a lot of golf.

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