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!

Thursday Jul 02, 2009

OpenSolaris Power User Tutorial at OSCON

I really should have posted this quite some time ago, but between getting the OpenSolaris 2009.06 release out, speaking at CommunityOne, speaking at the OpenSolaris user group in New York, and trying to sleep once in a while, it's been a little tough to keep up.  Anyway, Nick and I are giving a three-hour OpenSolaris tutorial at OSCON 2009 on July 21. Looking at the content draft, we've probably got more like five hours of material, but we'll figure out how to cram most of it in.  Even if you've read OpenSolaris Bible you're likely to learn a lot, as a fair amount of the material is on technology that's not covered in the book, such as Crossbow and the Automated Installer.  I'm also expecting to spend some time wandering around at the conference, so hope to see you there!

OSCON 2009

Wednesday Jun 17, 2009

Upcoming user group meetings

A couple of user group meetings next week in the northeastern US.  For those in New England, NEOSUG is meeting on June 23.  I won't be there, though, as I'll be in New York for some customer events and will also be speaking about the OpenSolaris deployment technologies at the NYC user group meeting on June 25.  Hope to see you there!

Monday Jun 08, 2009

OpenSolaris Bible at JavaOne bookstore

Hey, it's nice to see that the combined presence of Jerry, Nick and I at CommunityOne looks to have helped OpenSolaris Bible sales, according to the Top 10 at JavaOne list.

Thanks to all of you who came to our various talks.  If you're interested in the slides, they should all be available from the OpenSolaris @ C1 wiki.

Thursday May 21, 2009

OpenSolaris (and me) at CommunityOne

I undoubtedly am tardy in posting about this, but there'll be a big presence of OpenSolaris at CommunityOne West, which is happening June 1 at San Francisco's Moscone Center.  We've posted a schedule of the OpenSolaris events.  You'll notice that my OpenSolaris Bible co-authors and I will be among the speakers on Monday.  The "Power User" session is going to be about 50% new vs. the well-received version presented at C1 East back in March.

Jerry and Nick are also doing deep dive sessions on Tuesday about their respective specialties: zones and HA clustering.  I'm planning to kick back and relax a bit that day :-)

Since this is the first time the three of us have been in the same place, there's also a signing session for the book being planned; as soon as that's scheduled, we'll get it posted.

Oh, and it's important to mention that Tuesday's deep dives are free if you use the promotion code OSDDT when you register for them; the easiest way is to just click on the widget below.  I hope to see you there!

Friday Apr 10, 2009

Creating OpenSolaris USB sticks from Windows

A utility like this has been on my list of things to do forever, and I'm \*really\* happy to see that someone in the community has done the work.  Just a caution that I haven't tried it out yet, so no comment on how well it works.

OpenSolaris Live USB Creator (Windows/.NET) ‎(PID0.ORG DevZone)‎

If you do try it out, I recommend build 111, which we just released a couple of days ago.  It's getting pretty close to the end of development for the 2009.06 release, so we'd love some additional testing.

Anyone up for doing a similar tool for Linux (and adding a GUI to the OpenSolaris tool)?

Wednesday Apr 01, 2009

Toshiba + OpenSolaris laptops now shipping

Following up to my entry from January, the Toshiba OpenSolaris Laptops are at last available for order.  They come with 2008.11 pre-installed, and include a year's worth of OpenSolaris support.  I've been using the R500, which is the R600's little brother, for the past few weeks and can say that it's really an enjoyable, lightweight laptop for everyday use.  A little too slow to be a great development machine, but it does a fine job with all of the other things that take up a lot of my time, and it's a great size for travel, which is the reason I chose it.  I use VNC to my desktop shared via the Vino server for running heavy-duty development tasks like building OpenSolaris images.

Now we just need to include copies of OpenSolaris Bible with each one for the perfect bundle ;-)

Friday Mar 27, 2009

OpenSolaris Build 110 Available - Help Test CD Install Performance

Late yesterday we released build 110 of the OpenSolaris distro, see [osol-announce] OpenSolaris development package repository build 110, x86/x64/SPARC for the particulars.

Since I was traveling and missed posting a note about build 109, it's probably a good idea to mention one of the changes that appeared there and continues with 110: going to only a single, global CD image.  This had been our intention all along since starting the distribution, but it depended on the LZMA (de)compression support in lofi; we got that done before the 2008.05 release, but its performance was judged to be too slow at the time so we made the expedient decision to ship two different CD's, with the primary CD using the better-performing gzip algorithm.  We figured we'd come back to that issue once we got the LZMA code integrated into the ON gate, which just finally happened a couple of weeks ago.

In the meantime, OpenSolaris community member (and super-contributor!) Juergen Keil took an interest in the performance issue, and found the primary culprit in the lofi code, which was repeated decompression of the same data (see bug 1119 for the discussion if you're curious).  The performance improvement is, we believe, good enough to return to just the single image for the next release.  But we would like data to confirm that, so if you do an install from the build 109 or 110 CD, please send info on the time it took (you can just send the installation log if you like; it's found at /var/sadm/system/logs/install_log after installation) and the basic stats on your hardware (processor speed and number of cores, memory size) to caiman-discuss@opensolaris.org, we'd appreciate it.


I'm the architect for Solaris deployment and system management, with a lot of background in networking on the side. I spend a lot of my time currently operating Solaris Engineering's OpenStack cloud. I am co-author of the OpenSolaris Bible (Wiley, 2009). I also play a lot of golf.


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