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!

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!

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

Wednesday Jul 16, 2008

NEOSUG meeting July 24

Peter has just announced the next meeting of the New England OpenSolaris User Group, which is on July 24. Sorry to say that I'll not be there, as I'll be on the plane back from California that evening, but hope we get a good turnout nonetheless.

Sunday May 04, 2008

OpenSolaris, the distro

As of a little while ago, the official bits for OpenSolaris 2008.05 went live, at the distro's home site, opensolaris.com. While it may seem odd to say, I view this day more as a beginning than an ending (though I am more than happy to call an end to the 60+ hour weeks that went into building it!). It's a beginning in many ways, but I'll just say that while we've shipped an image and loaded up a pretty good number of packages into the repository, most of the functionality we plan to ultimately have isn't there yet, not to mention the number of packages we want to have in the repository.

At the moment I'm too worn out from the weekend at the OpenSolaris Summit to even attempt to write anything technical, as it likely wouldn't make any sense, so I'll just keep this short and close with a big THANK YOU to everyone on the Caiman team for all the work they've done in getting us to this milestone. It's time to feel good about what we've done.

Look forward to seeing lots of you at CommunityOne!

Friday Nov 02, 2007

Slides from Indiana at NEOSUG

I've posted my slides from my talk about /demo of the preview release at last night's NEOSUG meeting, get 'em in PDF or ODP format.  Thanks to those who came by, hope you had good luck with the CD's we handed out!

Friday Oct 05, 2007

NEOSUG on November 1

Peter's posted the announcement of the next New England OpenSolaris User Group.

Fourth NEOSUG Meeting « Peter Baer Galvin’s Blog

Should be an interesting juxtaposition of how we're both continuing to provide Solaris compatibility with the Solaris 8 Migration Assistant and at the same time exploring new territory with Project Indiana.  I'd write more, but I need to get back to getting that Indiana preview ready so I'll actually have something to talk about ;-)  Hope to see you there!

Thursday Aug 09, 2007

Sun Tech Days in Boston

For those of you in the Northeast US, the traveling developer conference that we call Sun Tech Days
will be coming to Boston next month, September 11-12.  I'll be speaking at the OpenSolaris Day on the 11th, covering the "What is Solaris Nevada?" session, which will include an update on Indiana.  These sessions are free, but you do need to register to attend.  Hope to see you there!

Friday Jan 26, 2007

NEOSUG first meeting on January 31

I've spammed a couple of newsgroups and mailing lists announcing this, might as well close the net by doing it to my blog, too.  Anyway, the first meeting of the New England OpenSolaris User Group is happening at 6:00 PM Wednesday, January 31, 2007, at our campus in Burlington, MA.  I'll be speaking, as will the esteemed Simon Phipps and Peter Baer Galvin.  Full details are at the registration page.  Hope to see you there!

Friday Dec 23, 2005

Finally, Solaris on my home desktop

Ouch, this blog is really looking neglected. Probably a New Year's resolution to be made there, but that'll wait for a couple weeks, right after the one about procrastination...

This entry is a bit of a celebration, in that I'm finally in a position to run Solaris on my home desktop full-time again. That will undoubtedly seem odd given where I've worked all these years, but there have been a lot of reasons, mostly having to do with hardware support for the Athlon system I built myself a couple of years back, which has a lot of scrounged parts. I have to admit, when I'm spending my own money on computer equipment, I'm a cheapskate, a result of throwing away too many systems before they'd really reached their end of life. Usually, it seems we software types bloat them into submission. Anyway...

I'd been fiddling with putting Solaris on this system for several months now when I'd had a little extra time (which hasn't been often). But I'd been stymied by the Nvidia driver not supporting its video card, a GeForce MX 440 that I got for free from Seb . This was a non-negotiable requirement, because it has dual outputs and can thus run Nvidia's TwinView option to give me the screen real estate that I need. Today, though, I finally succeeded, with Solaris Nevada build 30 (coming to Solaris Express early in 2006), and Nvidia's 1.0-8178 driver. Happiness is a 2560x1024 display, at least today.

But it wasn't complete happiness, because there was still one glitch - duplex printing on my HP PSC-2400 printer. Disappointingly, the Solaris 10 docs didn't have the answer - I'll have to mention that one to Norm and Wendy. But one Google for "duplex printing foomatic" later, I had the answer.

And with that, I think we're at the point where my Linux-developing wife will be retreating to just using her laptop. I'll still keep Ubuntu on the system, as it shows a lot of things we need to do for the Solaris desktop. I just don't need to use it regularly anymore. Evidence that we're moving, a step at a time, back towards desktop viability.

Saturday Oct 08, 2005

Approachability Community Comes Alive!

I'm happy to announce that the new Approachability community is now live on OpenSolaris.

The initial content there is some basic background on improving the Solaris networking experience, a program we've been referring to internally as "Network Automagic". As most Solaris users will attest, networking configuration on Solaris is much too difficult. The primary reason is that many of the basic assumptions go back 15 or more years, and we haven't updated the core architecture to account for the changes that dynamic addresses, mobility, and wireless networks have brought about. My group is all about fixing that, and here's where you can start getting involved. So take a look, post your stories and suggestions, and be prepared for a lot more to come!

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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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