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

Tuesday Jul 21, 2009

When your 'pkg install' is slow on Virtualbox

I like VirtualBox. It does what I need -- often times it does many different things via multiple clients on the same server.

Recently, I've been creating OpenSolaris VirtualBox clients, and, again, they do what I need. Except when it comes to accessing OpenSolaris repositories. With default NAT networking, an OpenSolaris client tends to have slower networking, and at times when I'm installing several packages from,  I'll get:

 # pkg install amp
 pkg: Maximum number of network retries exceeded during download. Details follow:

Frustrating, to be sure, but there is a way to put up with all the waiting:

  # export PKG_CLIENT_TIMEOUT=300   # Seconds (default=30)
  # export PKG_TIMEOUT_MAX=10       # Attempts (default=4)

Now, although your pkg commands won't be any faster without tweaking the VirtualBox networking stack, they will eventually finish. This works outside of VirtualBox as well.

Monday Jun 15, 2009

Archival and Preservation: Open Source and Open Archive

One of the more exciting and interesting projects I've been involved with this year centers around Sun's Open Archive systems for Digital Repositories - the use of Open Source software and Sun off-the-shelf hardware to implement world-class data preservation/archival systems. For those of you who remember Sun's Honeycomb archival hardware, this new architecture represents a truly open alternative approach - based on Fedora Commons' offering, OpenSolaris, Sun's X64 servers, JBOD disk arrays and (soon) Unified Storage Systems.

One of the first efforts Sun ISV Engineering contributed to involved sizing and performance testing of Fedora atop OpenSolaris, ZFS and JBODs. The results are both encouraging and impressive, and provide myriad follow-on testing opportunities. I've attached the first draft of test report here.

Tuesday Jun 02, 2009

Dear JavaOne Organizers...

Just what \*is\* the deal with the wireless coverage @ Moscone Center? My Tecra M2 with brand new OpenSolaris 2009.06 kept the up-down-up-down-up-down all day... never a consistent connection. Anyone have any tips or clues?

Community One West 2009

Pulling into San Francisco this weekend with a beefed-up laptop (all the OpenSolaris virtualization goodness requires lots-o-memory - I'm up to 4GB now on my Tecra M2) and a mysterious case of poison ivy (I blame my cat), I set my sights on the Community One West and Java One conferences. Perhaps the last time the 'Sun Microsystems' name is attached to these conferences, and as such a mixture of excitement, trepidation and sadness.

First impression: just as many developer attendings as ever, as just as much energy as ever. Community One is a one-day developer frenzy before JavaOne itself starts tomorrow. Open Source developers. OpenSolaris mavens. Java afficienados. PHP and Perl and Python and Apache and MySQL and Postgres. Something for everyone.

Some notes from the talks I attended Monday:

  • Keynote address (Dave Douglas and John Fowler)
    • OpenSolaris 2009.06 is out!
    • Crossbow 'virtual networking' in Solaris/OpenSolaris - the entire networking stack was done from the bottom up
    • The coming Computing Cloud offering from Sun - impressive!
    • Open Storage (which includes the Open Archive effort I blogged about a couple weeks back)

  • Becoming a ZFS Ninja
    • It's amazing that after four years how many folks still don't know about ZFS
    • It's still easy as pie, performant and bulletproof (my observation, not his)

  • DTrace for Applications

    • Delivered by my ISV-E peer Angelo Rajadurai
    • Great demonstration of using basic and PHP DTrace probes to instrument Drupal (watch this space for his scripts later this week)

  • Source Juicer for Open Solaris
    • Has come a long way in just a few months, to provide packages into OpenSolaris's /pending and /contrib packages repos
    • Coolest new feature: repositories and Source Juicer mechanism itself now have 'install' one-click package install buttons

Tuesday May 26, 2009

Freshly Squeezed Packages!

I work with Open Source Communities. Part of that involves the quest to make Community offerings more accessible, easier to install, and easier to integrate with our platforms.

OpenSolaris comes with the notion of software repositories (much like its Linux cousins) which facilitate easy install of Sun, Community and other software. While popular F/OSS software is available straight from the Communities themselves, often times having it also available (even if we don't add anything appreciable to it) in an OpenSolaris Repository can make for an easier install experience.

That's what I hope to do very soon with Drupal, Joomla!, and several other F/OSS offerings. To that end, the OpenSolaris Community recently announced the availability of Source Juicer, a web-based, automated mechanism to build and deploy IPS packages into the /pending, and ultimately, the /contrib Repositories.

At this moment, and thanks to helping with the Beta testing,  I've gotten the following packages into the temporary /pending repository (eventually, Source Juicer will send things directly into the 'real' /pending, but this gets us on our way to /contrib):

  • Drupal 5
  • Drupal 6
  • Acquia Drupal

So, I say to you, and to the OpenSolaris Community, and the Drupal Community - do you run OpenSolaris? Wanna try these out? If so:

  • Make sure you're running OpenSolaris 2008.11 or a later /dev snapshot
  • Point 'pkg' or Package Manager at the temporary /pending repository as follows:
% pfexec pkg authority -O  JuicerPending
  • Install the package of your choice (in this case, the Apache Web Server requirement will pull in the Apache Web Server if not already installed0:
% pfexec pkg install drupal6
  • In this case, Drupal 6.x will be installed in /var/apache2/2.2/htdocs/drupal6
Try these and other packages that will appear in /pending. This will help us vet the packages, and get them promoted to /contrib sooner.

Digital Repositories and Archives - One Solution

Last week, at OpenRepositories09, Sun announced a new, open approach to digital archival and preservation. It leverages:

  • Commodity Sun x64-based servers
  • Sun OpenStorage, including the new 7000-series Unified Storage Systems
  • OpenSolaris, including ZFS
  • Fedora Commons, Drupal and Islandora open source offerings

The result is a totally-open hardware and software stack - scalable, robust, and made for long-term archival (\*and\* retrieval) of massive amounts of data.

In the days to come, we'll be publishing the results of initial functional and performance testing with portions of this stack, and the results are quite exciting. For now, take a look at the "glossy" and the "one-pager" Sun was circulating at OR09 last week. Good useful stuff - intuitively obvious solutions to substantial needs.


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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