Wednesday Dec 21, 2011

Oracle Solaris Binary Application Guarantee extended to Solaris 11

This is Good News.

The Oracle Solaris Binary Application Guarantee now covers both Oracle Solaris 10 and Oracle Soalris 11. Oracle has extended the program through 2013. The program covers a source code guarantee as well as a binary guarantee. Details can be found in the program description.

Saturday Mar 13, 2010

As he emerges into the bright red light of a new star, and a new day...

Life goes on. I'm still here. Eric Reid, Principal Software Technologist, Oracle Americas, Inc.

The good news is that my role and organization remain pretty much unchanged. I'll still be working to make Oracle and ISV software work best on Sun/Oracle products and technologies.

Stay tuned.

Thursday Jan 21, 2010

Song O' The Day

"Canary In A Coalmine"
The Police
from the album "Zenyatta Mondatta", 1980

Monday Jan 04, 2010

OpenSolaris, ZFS, USB 2.0 + 30 Watts = Home Fileserver


A little project I'd had in the back of my mind for some time was to replace the family fileserver over the Holidays. I'd been using a Linksys NSLU2 for several years, but we were about to outgrow our 500GB capacity, and response time was never all that great. I'd installed Unslung early on, which gave me SMB, NFS, FTP, etc., but the poor little Intel XScale chip inside struggled just to drive one server, let alone several simultaneous access methods.

The NSLU2 was most recently running with two 500GB USB 2.0 drives attached. The only redundancy provided is the ability to backup from the disk to an identical disk once a day - not very robust. I'd been thinking about it ever since I saw Zhong's really good writeup of creating an OpenSolaris fileserver about a year ago. The factors driving my decision were as follows:

  1. Green: be as energy-efficient as possible; reuse existing pieces if possible
  2. Robust and Redundant: Provide more storage and more robust storage (RAID Z or better)
  3. Compatible: Provide the SMB/CIFS (for family) and NFS (for me) access we were accustomed to at home
  4. Familiar: Leverage technologies I know:

Well, when I saw the rollout for Shuttle's X27D dual-core Atom-based SFF, I knew that was what I wanted. I waited, I planned. Last month the stars aligned, the prices came down, and I acted.

Old Setup 

Best Current Price
Linksys NSLU2
US$43 refurbished; US$86 new
USB2 disk I/F; 100Mbps net I/F; running Unslung 6.8
2 x Simpletech SimpleDrive External Disk drives
US$88 refurbished; US$51 used (EBay)

3.5" form; USB2 disk I/F; 524GB raw storage each

This setup provides:

  • 490GB formatted storage
  • Nightly automatic backup onto clone disk
  • SMB/CIFS access via LAN
  • Boots in around 15 minutes
  • NFS access via LAN (only via reflashing with Unslung)
  • ~4.5MB/s write (NFS), ~3MB/s write (SMB)
  • ~5MB/s read (NFS), ~4MB/s read (SMB), ~150KB/s (scp, sftp or rsync) - note: any encrypted transfers will be CPU-limited by that poor XScale processor)

New Setup

I decided to reuse my existing external disk drives, as well as an existing laptop drive. This meant I only needed to purchase the X27D itself, plus memory. No DVD/CD - I use the network and bootable USB devices instead. To allow for larger, more robust, and more robust storage, I was able to find a used Simpletech drive (same access times, same total raw storage capacity) on EBay.

Price Paid
Shuttle X27D SFF
US$139 refurbished
Builtin dual-core Atom 330 CPU @ 1.6GHz; GigE networking

US$33 new
2GB DDR2 memory

Existing disk
2.5" 120GB SATA disk
3 x Simpletech SimpleDrive External Disk drives
Two existing USB disks plus a third from EBay - US$51

3.5" form; USB2 disk I/F; 524GB raw storage each

This setup provides:

  • 957GB formatted storage via 3-disk RAID-Z pool
  • SMB/CIFS, SSH, NFS protocols supported
  • Boots in around 75 seconds
  • Server consumes 26W idle, 32W under load; disks consume power only when accessed, and spin down after 20 minutes
  • ~14MB/s write (NFS)
  • ~18MB/s read (NFS)
  • Same disk latency (due to disk spin-up) as original solution
  • More onboard processing 'headroom' for future services

Configuring OpenSolaris and ZFS

I downloaded the USB Boot Image of Build 129 of OpenSolaris from here, placing the image on a 1GB USB Flash drive using the usbcopy command. After assembling the server, I set the BIOS to boot from USB first, then booted from the 'Live USB'. Installation just worked, and everything seems to be properly supported (haven't tried audio, as this is a headless system).

I'd rsync'ed the contents of the old fileserver to another server the day before (slooowwwww from an NSLU2 - when one of your systems is CPU-limited, make sure you rsync with the lightest-weight encryption possible [I used arcfour]). Setting up the powerful, performant, redundant ZFS filesystem required only a few steps:

# zpool create fs raidz c4t0d0 c6t0d0 c7t0d0   # RAIDZ pool (2+1)
# zfs set sharenfs=on fs # NFS share
# zfs set sharesmb=on fs # Samba share

Still to do:

  • Investigate adding cache to the zpool via part of the internal SATA disk (or possibly eventually an SSD, when prices come down)
  • More rigorous and apples-to-apples performance comparisions
  • Optimizing the OpenSolaris settings and services

Saturday Oct 17, 2009

Drupal-on-a-Stick: now in easy-to-take download form!

At Bay Area DrupalCamp today, Sun is handing out USB Flash sticks that boot any USB-bootable X86/X64 box into OpenSolaris with a running Drupal 6 instance. For those of you not at BADCamp this weekend, we've also made the USB image available for download here. It's a little less than 1GB, and fits on 1GB flash drives.

To burn the image to your own USB flash drive:

  • From a Windows box: see here
  • From an OpenSolaris box: install and use /usr/bin/usbcopy from SUNWdistro-const package

For those who'd rather try this from a "Live DVD", the .iso image is here.

Update 19 October: thanks to alert readers who spotted my ill-formed DVD link above. It's fixed now.druplicon

Monday Sep 28, 2009

Open Source SysAdmins: curious about Sun Storage 7000 series boxes?

A quick note that our friends at Sun BigAdmin have published a short paper of mine called "Joomla! Deployment Guide for Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems". We wanted to give a more hands-on constructive view of these very cool products from the sysadmin and open-source perspectives. These boxes work, work well, work fast, and bring intelligent network-based storage roaring into the Enterprise.

Friday Sep 25, 2009

Oracle Enterprise Linux Certification - Yes, You Heard Right...

What to do during those... erm... 'uncertain' times? Why, branch out of course... and that's what lead this intrepid blogger to consider questions like "what's fun?", "what haven't I done in a while?" and "what might be relevant to our imminent New Overlords?".

Relax, Sun Blog Police, that's all Imma say about Snorcle, OK?

I picked 'Oracle Enterprise Linux Certification'. Just cuz. Just cuz I enjoy Linux almost as much as I do OpenSolaris. Just cuz I went and gots me a Red Hat Certified Technician certificate a few years back, also "Just Cuz."  And just cuz it might even be applicable in future endeavors.

For those of you whose knowledge of OEL (sometimes referred to by the overarching 'Unbreakable Linux' moniker) rivals that of Solaris -- Oracle takes the Red Hat code base, strips out any Red Hat identity, slaps on Oracle veneers, and supports the snot out of it. That allows Mssr. Ellison to raise the hackles of yet another rival. Which is good. I'm thinkin'...

Anywho, OEL 5 is RHEL 5 with a different shade o' red paint. If you know RHEL, you know OEL.

An OEL Administration Associate certificate requires the passing of two two-hour multiple-choice exams. If you have a comparable certifications already, you might be given a pass on the first exam - indeed, my RHCT certificate allowed me to test out of the first exam. The second, a more in-depth sysadmin exam, is 113 questions over two hours. Not hands-on, as Red Hat exams are, but also with a lot of 'choose all th apply' questions. Far from trivial stuff, but quite doable if you prepare adequately.

So, as of today, I add the OEL Admin Associate designation to my list of... umm... things. Right along side the RHCT and Solaris and Java Certifications. And my collection of Wired Magazines -- can't forget those!

Cuz, you know, this just seemed like the Thing To Do...

Thursday Jul 23, 2009

Joomla! and recent OpenSolaris distros - workaround

Though documented elsewhere, it's a good idea to propagate for the benefit of the next person.

Problem: Installation of Joomla! 1.5.x on recent versions of OpenSolaris (2009.06 and later) using MySQL fail with errors after install

Symptom: After otherwise successful install of config on MySQL on OpenSolaris, the home page comes up in the browser with numerous MySQL errors, and the MySQL server restarts:

   Error loading Modules:MySQL server has gone away SQL=SELECT id, title, module, position, 
   content, showtitle, control, params FROM jos_modules AS m LEFT JOIN jos_modules_menu 
   AS mm ON mm.moduleid = WHERE m.published = 1 AND m.access =  0 AND m.client_id = 0 
   AND ( mm.menuid = 1 OR mm.menuid = 0 ) ORDER BY position, ordering

Diagnosis: known issue with MySQL 32-bit server as delivered from

Workaround: use the 64-bit version of the MySQL server (/usr/mysql/<version>/bin/64/mysqld_safe, et al)


Open, Robust and Performant Preservation/Archival - First Steps

As part of the Sun Open Archive for Digital Repositories effort, Sun has been working closely with Fedora Commons to develop and characterize performance of Fedora on Sun (OpenSolaris, ZFS, Sun Storage 7000 appliances, Sun Storage JBOD storage).

The first phase of performance testing and configuration validation was completed recently, with encouraging performance observed from Fedora, running on OpenSolaris 2008.11 and using RAID0 ZFS Pools. Much, much more testing is needed (and is underway at this writing), but much of what we've seen so far bests any Fedora performance testing done to date.

There's quite a compelling case to be made with the combination of Sun hardware and open source OS and application stack, so we're pretty excited about this work.

Check out the attached documents:

  • Poster presented by Sun and Fedora Commons at Open Repositories '09
  • FInal version of this first performance testing document released this month - ingest and access performance of Fedora on OpenSolaris, ZFS and JBODs


Main Sequence: 1) an astronomy term denoting the lifecycle of a majority of known stars. 2) err @ Sun/Oracle: long-time (since 1988) Sun/Oracle veteran, still shining in an ever-changing high-tech universe


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