Tuesday Feb 03, 2009

other filesystems

On my laptop I have a number of non-Solaris filesystems that have useful things on them. I have an ext3 filesystem from my Linux/Ubuntu install, a fat32 filesystem to transfer things between Windows and other OSes and a NTFS for Vista. In the past when I've added these things to vfstab it created problems with OpenSolaris booting. Now I know I should really debug that problem, but I'm lazy...

In the past I hacked my .bashrc to handle the mounting, but this is a terrible solution. I have since come up with a slightly less terrible solution that has the added benefit of me digging into SMF. So I created a simple SMF service that would mount these filesystems at boot.

So the first part is to craft a config. I put the manifest in

And also create a script that will be run as part of this service. I placed the script in
All that was left was to import the manifest:
pfexec svccfg import /var/svc/manifest/system/filesystem/pete-fs.xml

So now that means my non-Solaris filesystems are mounted at boot no problems at all. I do still need to dig into the vfstab problem though, but that's likely to be on a different day..

Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

Get it whilst it's hot!

OpenSolaris 2008.11 is available right now. There has been tremendous work by the OpenSolaris Team to get this ready and usable. I use OpenSolaris everyday on my laptop. I definitely come across a few growing pains (see my blog), but there is an amazing rate of improvement. This makes Solaris look and feel like a modern development Operating System.

There are a definite bunch of changes and improvement to the core OS. COMSTAR is now shipping as part of the core OpenSolaris. There are several highlights from the storage community:

  • COMSTAR and Fiber Channel target support
  • ZIL + L2ARC support for ZFS (support for separate read and write caches especially to utilise FLASH/SSD)
  • NPIV (virtualisation of FC ports)
  • MMS (Media Management System)
  • Multipathing for Tape
  • Storage FMA
  • NFS over RDMA
  • CIFS significant performance improvement over 2008.05

We also created a few meta-packages for storage:

  • NAS
  • All storage packages

I strongly encourage everyone to go and check it out. The CD can be run as a live CD so you don't need to futz around with your disk to try it.

Thursday Dec 04, 2008

Life With Solaris -- Use at your own risk

I came across Life With Solaris just the other day. It has a lot of the video applications that you might have grown to expect from an OS. Note that using these may violate laws or several other things depending on your location, so you need to use at your own risk.

It was pretty simple to add this to my OpenSolaris package repositories:

pfexec pkg set-authority -O http://pkg.lifewithsolaris.jp:10000/ video

and now I can access all their goodness. With that done I could do:

pfexec pkg install LWSvlc
pfexec pkg install LWSlibdvdcss

Now I can play DVDs in OpenSolaris. This is more significant than it sounds. A while back my dvd player broke in my laptop. Sony did a good job replacing it, but it was replaced with a Matshita drive (UJ-852S). And it seems that this has been impervious to my attempts to play DVDs on anything except windows. It turns out OpenSolaris is the winner in getting DVDs to play!

Monday Nov 24, 2008

Phew! Not a total doofus!

Turns out a judicious import from a LiveCD does the right thing. I just needed to pass the correct device string (s0, not p2).

It may turn out to prove that I am stupid in many other ways, but at least in this case it was recoverable ;-).

Friday Nov 14, 2008


Being involved with the community involves a lot of listening. Recently at the Open Storage Summit we engaged with the audience to talk about where we were at with the Storage community and what things people would like to see improve:

Take a look and let me know what you think. What is needed to help _you_ use OpenSolaris. What do _you_ need to make this a first choice storage platform. Inquiring minds want to know!

Why do things keep breaking?

So I've been having a few problems with my laptop lately. It boots fine, but occasionally it will just hang in the middle of doing things. Also occasionally on boot I get random pixelated weirdness. This led me to start to suspect something was wrong with the onboard nVidia adapter. Fortunately I have a Sony SZ laptop that I can switch to use the Intel graphics device instead. So I powered off, flipped the switch and booted. This seems to have fixed that problem, but it turned out this was only the start.

I rock up to the office on Monday morning. I have an external monitor so I don't develop eyestrain, etc. Now I'm faced with the Herculean task of making Xorg recognise and do the appropriate things with an external monitor. To add to this difficulty I also have to do a bunch of presentations with the laptop so I need to have a configuration that will work nicely on the road too (with all sorts of random projectors, etc).

After fooling around with this stuff for a while I discovered that it's necessary to the 'Virtual' desktop size so that Xrandr can do it's magic. This wasn't actually a trivial task. Since virtual console support in Solaris is still working it's way to the surface the only way to test new Xorg.conf files (that I could figure out) was essentially to reboot if X didn't come back up it made the process fairly slow.

What I ended up with was the following config. It all seems to be working fine now. I've spent most of the last month with this config. The only issue is that by having such a large Virtual setting (Virtual 3200 1200) that compiz won't work for this setup. The next step is to find enough time to convince Sony that the nVidia chipset is irrecoverably broken...

Tuesday Oct 14, 2008

what to do?

I've had a few random thoughts about what to poke at and do. The current idea revolves around USB keyring devices. I was recently at SDC and was passing out 2GB USB key rings with OpenSolaris bits on them. It included a bunch of videos etc. So that was great to promote Open Storage, etc, but there had to be something more interesting for a geek to do with 2GB. So I've started to investigate creating a bootable OpenSolaris image on a small partition of this device. The idea is to have this be a Solaris recovery device ala knoppix, but also to have a pcfs/fat32 partition that is recognised by every operating system under the sun. So I'm poking around boot sectors, partition labeling, etc. I'll post when I have something working with the details.

Wednesday Oct 08, 2008

Emacs for OpenSolaris

So I'm now using OpenSolaris fulltime on my laptop (WoHoo!). I came across the fact that it doesn't have emacs there. So I did the obvious thing:

pkg search -r emacs
. Unfortunately this showed that there isn't currently an emacs package in OpenSolaris. No worries, I have a compiler and will travel. So I went and downloaded the source.

I discovered there were a few steps that I needed to follow in order to be able to build this properly:

  1. pfexec pkg install SUNWgnome-common-devel

  2. pfexec pkg install SUNWxorg-headers

Now that is done we can get to work:

  1. tar xf emacs-22.3.tar.gz

  2. cd emacs-22.3

  3. ./configure --with-gtk

  4. make -j 10

  5. pfexec make install

So now that is done and we have a working emacs installed. There was one last thing I noticed. The Meta key is not mapped to Alt, so I had to add

keycode 64 = Meta_L
to my .xmodmap and also the following to my .bashrc:

if [ -f ${HOME}/.xmodmap ]
xmodmap ${HOME}/.xmodmap

all is now right with the world.

Tuesday Sep 23, 2008

The Open Source Challenge

What is the challenge of Open Source? I keep on hearing from different places and over different times about are we giving away the "Crown Jewels". Similarly are we arming our competitors to compete with us more effectively? What I'd like to do is to lay out the challenge of Open Source to the developers and to the market place.

For me the challenge of Open Source is one of innovation. Essentially we are challenging ourselves to out innovate the competition. It is not about sitting on a pile of patents and saying we'll sue you or keeping everything hidden in the hope that people won't see how incredibly trivial the 'technology' we sell is. I see Open Source as making a bet on us. We need to come up with the ideas and the technology to make us successful.

A big part of this is execution. The time from idea to product needs to be very short so that we can be dynamic and attack the market in an efficient fashion. If the idea is out there and someone can more efficiently come to market it can certainly be a problem for this model.

For me this is a bet I want to make. I want to challenge myself to be able to outthink and outperform the competition. It doesn't meant that I'll always be able to do it ;-)

Monday Mar 17, 2008

Honeycomb Opensourced!

So we did it. We finally put the source code out there for Honeycomb. We put it in several locations: OpenSolaris, SNIA and java.net. So there are several questions about this, eg what did we actually open source, why three communities, etc.

So we released several pieces. We released the "Honeycomb Open Edition", this is basically a standalone java version of the Honeycomb protocol stack. It doesn't have the reliability, nor the RAIN architecture. However the bulk of the code that provides that functionality was in the drop. We also released the source to the VIM which will allow Honeycomb to work with the reference implementation of XAM from SNIA (note that the standard is still in the development phase). We also provided a photo demo which links XAM and honeycomb together. We used this as part of a demo at SNW last year showing our XAM compliance.

The obvious question is what can you do with all of this? We've provided the pieces so that it's possible to craft a single node instance of Honeycomb. You would be able to write applications to our API to this instance. It's also possible just to use the "Honeycomb Open Edition" to be an application development environment for Honeycomb.

So where are we going? This was the first code drop that we've done, we're not going to stop here. We are currently working on getting more of the pieces that make Honeycomb out. We are planning to start developing in the open very soon, so stay tuned!


Peter Buckingham


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