Wednesday Dec 05, 2012

Top 10 Oracle Solaris How To Articles

While generating new technical content for Oracle Solaris 11 is one of our higher priorities here at Oracle, it's always fun to have a look at some web stats to see what existing published content is popular among our audience. So here's the top ten as voted by your browsers. Interestingly it's a great mix of technologies. What's your favourite? Let us know!

RankHow To Articles
1.Taking your first steps with Oracle Solaris 11
2.How to get started creating Zones on Oracle Solaris 11
3.How to script Oracle Solaris 11 Zone creation for a network in a box configuration
4.How to configure Oracle Solaris 11 using the sysconfig command
5.How to update Oracle Solaris 11 systems using Support Repository Updates
6.How to perform system archival and recovery with Oracle Solaris 11
7.Introducing the basics of IPS on Oracle Solaris 11
8.How to update to Oracle Solaris 11.1 using IPS
9.How to set up Automated Installer services on Oracle Solaris 11
10.How to live install from Oracle Solaris 10 to Oracle Solaris 11 11/11

Friday Nov 23, 2012

A simple deployment example using Oracle Solaris 11

Last week I was over in Melbourne and Sydney to present at an Oracle Technology Network System Administration Day. During a set of morning sessions, I presented on some of the new things that we've done in Oracle Solaris 11 and our focus for the future. One of the sessions I presented was giving a quick technical overview of what a typical application deployment scenario would look like using technologies like the Image Packaging System (IPS), Service Management Facility (SMF), Oracle Solaris Zones, and network virtualization. While it's just a simple example, it provides the basic building blocks for a more advanced configuration that a data center would typically deploy. Given these would likely be of general interest, I thought I'd upload the slides for others to view - enjoy!

You can download the original source PPTX without some of the formatting errors in the above.

Friday Nov 09, 2012

Harry Foxwell talks about "Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration: The Complete Reference"

In a previous blog entry, New Oracle Solaris 11 Administration book, I blogged about the fact that a new book has been written to provide an excellent resource for administrators starting to learn some of the new features in Oracle Solaris 11. Despite an extensive set of online resources from the Oracle Technology Network, it's also useful to have something in the bookshelf that you can quickly refer to - and Harry Foxwell and his team of co-authors have done just that. Check out the video below where Harry goes into detail about why the book was written, details about the target audience, and what he's excited about in Oracle Solaris 11. Best of all though, is the fact that this is a brilliant book for any inspiring Linux administrator who wants to start getting to know the Oracle Solaris operating system a little better.

Tuesday Nov 06, 2012

Celebrating 20 years of Solaris Innovation

It's incredible to think that Oracle Solaris has been around for 20 years - fueled with unmatched innovation for powering the data center. We've come a long way from pretty humble beginnings. Take a look at the video below, and the timeline for our 20 year anniversary.

Of course, not to be missed is the excellent 25th Anniversary SPARC page, including its very own timeline.

Friday Oct 26, 2012

svcbundle for easier SMF manifest creation

One of the new features we've introduced in Oracle Solaris 11.1 is a new utility called svcbundle. This utility allows for the easy creation of Service Management Facility (SMF) manifests and profiles, allowing you to take advantage of the benefits of automatic application restart without requiring you to have full knowledge of the XML file format that is used when integrating with the SMF.

Integrating into SMF is one of the easiest and most obvious ways to take advantage of some of the mission critical aspects of the operating system, but many customers were often finding the initial learning curve of creating an XML manifest to be too hard. With the release of Oracle Solaris 11 11/11, SMF had a more integral part to play as more and more system configuration was starting to use the SMF configuration repository for the backend storage. This provides a number of aspects, including the ability to carefully manage customized administrative configuration, site specific configuration, and vendor provided configuration at different layers, helping to preserve them during system update.

I've written a new article, Using svcbundle to Create SMF Manifests and Profiles in Oracle Solaris 11, to give you a feel for the help we can provide in converting your applications over to SMF, or doing some site wide configuration using profiles. This is the first pass at creating such a tool, so we'd love to hear feedback of your experiences using it.

Oracle Solaris 11.1 Available Now!

As you may have already noticed, Oracle Solaris 11.1 is now available from the download page. This release marks nearly a year of development with some really exciting new features, hundreds of bug fixes, and another step towards a product that enterprise customers should feel utterly confident in deploying. We've made some great strides in fixing the frustrations that our customers care about - it is now even easier to deploy, update and manage, and our feature set is more integrated than ever to give you a superior experience.

Go download now! If you've got an existing Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 installation you won't need to re-install again. Simply use the packaging tools and follow this useful How to Update to Oracle Solaris 11.1 using IPS guide.

We're also hosting an online event on the 7th November where we'll talk about Oracle Solaris 11.1, some of the new features included in this release, and where we're going generally with the operating system. Come join us!

Friday Oct 19, 2012

Oracle Solaris 11.1 Announced at Oracle OpenWorld

One of the highlights for me at Oracle OpenWorld was our announcement of the next update version to Oracle Solaris 11, named Oracle Solaris 11.1. Since November 2011, we've done a lot of work not only to polish existing features and fix literally hundreds of bugs, but also add many new features that give yet more reasons for using Oracle Solaris as the deployment platform for Oracle workloads - particularly the Oracle database. Over the last few years since the Sun Microsystems acquisition, we've had our developers sitting in Redwood Shores with the Oracle database team figuring out how to best optimize that combination and provide a level of integration that no other vendor (or solution) can match.

Oracle Solaris 11.1 is often the first release many customers will adopt due to perceived instability of '.0' releases. In reality, however, we've seen incredible adoption already and all our existing customers are loving the new technologies like Image Packaging System (IPS), Automated Installer and ZFS Boot Environments, consolidated network management and network virtualization, and of course the existing features that are so critical to creating private, hybrid or public cloud environments like the Oracle Solaris ZFS file system and Oracle Solaris Zones server virtualization.

If you haven't already gotten on board, there's plenty chance to catch up. More importantly, Oracle Solaris 11.1 really provides a platform that is significantly easier to manage than any previous Solaris releases - to the extent that it should be relatively straightforward for any experienced Linux administrator to get up to speed (if they're struggling, we have ways to help). So take a look at what's new in Oracle Solaris 11.1 and start planning your deployment now!

If you missed the announcement, you can see the full video of John Fowler's keynote at Oracle OpenWorld here:

Wednesday Sep 19, 2012

New Oracle Solaris 11 Administration book

During the development of Oracle Solaris 11, one of the main goals was to modernize the operating system and remove some of the existing frustrations that our administrative audience had in deploying and using the platform within data centers around the world. That meant a comprehensive clean out of some existing technologies to provision the operating system (replacing Jumpstart with Automated Installer) and manage system software (replacing SVR4 with IPS packaging), consolidate the vast spectrum of networking configuration, and enhance the user environment to provide familiarity for those who were used to administering Linux environments among many other things. While some considered the changes to Oracle Solaris 11 as a negative change, most will be impressed at how far we've come - the deeper integration of key technologies, presented in a consolidated and consistent form. It is easier to administer the Oracle Solaris platform that ever before, and I have no doubt that administrators coming from other platforms will be hugely impressed with what they see, especially if they're judging based on past experiences of Solaris 8 and Solaris 9. In fact I'd go further to say that Oracle Solaris 11 is a more powerful, integrated and usable platform that most Linux platforms I've seen.

But as with anything, there's always an initial learning curve to get through. We've provided a significant selection of learning materials out on the Oracle Solaris 11 pages on Oracle Technology Network and some great training and certification options.

One more option is now available in the form of a book, the Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration The Complete Reference. This provides an exceptional reference to help administrators learn about Oracle Solaris 11, especially those who have come from the Linux platform. As is quoted in the first chapter of the guide:

Linux users and developers will find in Oracle Solaris 11 a familiar and quickly productive working environment; we point out similarities and differences between the Linux and Solaris kernels and system administration tools, and describe how typical open source Web development tasks are accomplished in this OS.

So I would encourage you to take a read of it and start seriously considering Oracle Solaris 11 to be a platform choice for your data center. Oracle Solaris 11 System Administration The Complete Reference - yours for only $32.50 (if you successfully use the promotion code - otherwise worth shopping around to pick up a good deal).

Friday Sep 14, 2012

Oracle Solaris 11 How To Guides

Over the past year or so I've been writing a lot of How To Guides for different technologies. While we have really excellent product documentation (including the best set of manual pages available on any UNIX or Linux platform), the various How To Guides we have help to complement some of that learning, giving administrators a chance to learn the motivations for different technologies with a simple set of examples. Not only are they fun to research and write, they're also one of the more popular items on our Oracle Solaris 11 technology pages on OTN.

So here's a link to bookmark and come back to on a regular basis: Oracle Solaris 11 How To Guides. We've got an excellent line up of articles there, and below is a list of the ones I've been involved in writing. Let us know if there are technologies that you think a How To Guide would help with and we'd be happy to get them onto our list!

TitleLink
Taking your First Steps with Oracle Solaris 11An introduction to installing Oracle Solaris 11, including the steps for installing new software and administering other system configuration.
Introducing the basics of IPS on Oracle Solaris 11How to administer an Oracle Solaris 11 system using IPS, including how to deal with software package repositories, install and uninstall packages, and update systems.
Advanced administration with IPS on Oracle Solaris 11Take a deeper look at advanced IPS to learn how to determine package dependencies, explore manifests, perform advanced searches, and analyze the state of your system.
How to create and publish packages with IPS on Oracle Solaris 11How to create new software packages for Oracle Solaris 11 and publish them to a network package repository.
How to update your Oracle Solaris 11 systems using Support Repository UpdatesThe steps for updating an Oracle Solaris 11 system with software packages provided by an active Oracle support agreement, plus how to ensure the update is successful and safe.
Introducing the basics of SMF on Oracle Solaris 11Simple examples of administering services on Oracle Solaris 11 with the Service Management Facility.
Advanced administration with SMF on Oracle Solaris 11Advanced administrative tasks with SMF, including an introduction to service manifests, understanding layering within the SMF configuration repository, and how best to apply configuration to a system.
Using svcbundle to create SMF manifests and profiles in Oracle Solaris 11 This articles covers a new utility introduced in Oracle Solaris 11.1, svcbundle, and shows how developers and administrators can use it to integrate their applications with SMF more quickly.

Friday Aug 10, 2012

Oracle Solaris at Oracle Open World

I've just been booking flights for this years Oracle Open World which is happening just over a month away on the 30th September through to the 4th October. For anyone who's been to the conference before, it's a pretty overwhelming experience which so much happening at the Moscone center and other locations across the city.

Oracle Solaris will have another strong presence at the conference once again with some really great content lined up. Here's some of my picks:

TitleDescription
General Session: Oracle Solaris 11 Strategy, Engineering Insights, and RoadmapThis general session, hosted by Markus Flierl, head of Oracle Solaris Core Engineering, goes through the strategy and roadmap for Oracle Solaris. It covers how Oracle Solaris 11 is being deployed in cloud computing and the unique optimizations in Oracle Solaris 11 for the Oracle stack. The session also offers a sneak peak at the latest technology under development in Oracle Solaris and what customers can expect to see in the coming updates. Flierl will be joined by special guests from the core Oracle Solaris team and customers deploying Oracle Solaris 11.
Oracle Solaris 11 Panel: Insights and Directions from Oracle Solaris Core EngineeringThis session, featuring a panel of core engineers responsible for a wide range of key Oracle Solaris technologies, covers the current state of Oracle Solaris 11 and gives insights into the future direction of Oracle Solaris technologies and products. Come learn how Oracle Solaris can benefit your environment today and what will continue to make Oracle Solaris the best platform for deploying enterprise applications going forward, with even more features for performance, serviceability, cloud computing, deep Oracle stack optimizations, and ease of administration. The session also provides insights from customers deploying Oracle Solaris 11 in a range of data center environments.
Cloud Formation: Implementing IaaS in Practice with Oracle SolarisBe it public or private, IaaS or PaaS, using a cloud infrastructure has become the way to build out not only tomorrow’s but also today’s data center. Although there are many parts to a cloud solution, you are going to be left with a whole bunch of problems to solve if you don’t have an effective OS built for the cloud. In this session, learn how Oracle Solaris, the first cloud OS, provides the features you need built-in—no effort required. Be it elastic infrastructure, unrivaled security, superfast installation and deployment, nonstop availability, or crystal-clear observability, you will learn how Oracle Solaris provides it. Besides the “what,” also learn the “how” from a customer study on how Oracle Solaris is used in the cloud today to implement the Oracle stack.
Oracle Solaris 11 Serviceability Best PracticesOracle Solaris 11 provides many facilities that can help identify when a problem has occurred, provide information about it, and make it easier to collect the information required to solve it. This session provides insight into the the best way to install, configure, and update your Oracle Solaris systems. The focus is on optimizing the lifecycle of your Oracle Solaris infrastructure to make it easier to maintain.
Customer Insight: Oracle Solaris on Oracle Exadata, Oracle Exalogic, and SPARC SuperClusterIn this session, you’ll hear from existing customers what benefits they have realized from using the Oracle stack on Oracle Exadata and Oracle’s SPARC SuperCluster and from using Oracle Solaris on those engineered systems. Oracle Solaris brings lightweight OS virtualization (the Oracle Solaris Zones feature), enterprise reliability and scale, and many other key features of engineered systems for rapid ROI. Learn how Oracle Solaris and Oracle engineered systems can bring value to your organization.
Oracle Solaris 11 Security and Data Management: Reduce Risk and Deliver Secure ServicesOracle Solaris 11 ZFS and Oracle Solaris security features provide a comprehensive, secure data management environment for the data center and the cloud, combining guaranteed data integrity from disk platter to application and cryptographic data security. This session details the technologies that keep your data safe, using real-world examples. The discussion includes data integrity from application to disk, zones and application action whitelisting, and ZFS encryption. It also covers Oracle Key Manager integration and discusses best practices included in Oracle Optimized Solutions.
Large-Scale Installation and Deployment of Oracle Solaris 11 Hands on LabThis hands-on lab builds awareness of and instills confidence for deploying Oracle Solaris 11 in large installations. It addresses challenges associated with rolling out, and subsequently maintaining, traditional Oracle Solaris installations across the enterprise. And it subsequently provides an overview of installation and package management innovations that address these specific challenges. Further, it reviews the built-in tools provided for transitioning to Oracle Solaris 11 as well as specific technical projects in Oracle Solaris development that have become the foundation for solidifying Oracle Solaris 11 installation and lifecycle management capabilities.
Virtualizing Your Oracle Solaris 11 Environment (Hands on Lab)The cloud and virtualization are core to Oracle Solaris 11. Come to this hands-on lab to see what that means. Learn all about the Oracle Solaris Zones feature of Oracle Solaris, about the new network virtualization technology, and how they both integrate.

The times and locations are still to be announced so check back to the Oracle Open World 2012 page frequently. There's a bunch of other pretty exciting events also - the Oracle Open World Music Festival, the Oracle Appreciation Event and Oktoberfest by the Bay!. All in all, should be a great week!

Thursday Aug 09, 2012

Configuring services with the Service Management Facility

One of the bigger changes with Oracle Solaris 11 has been the move of a lot of system configuration into the Service Management Facility (SMF) configuration repository and away from configuration files stored in /etc. This not only gives us a much more structured storage approach, but also provides a much better experience of what happens to administrative customization during a system upgrade. With the introduction of repository layering, configuration can now be more seamlessly managed across the system - both customizations made directly to a system, customizations as part of a wider site profile, and the default configuration that's provided by Oracle or any other 3rd party vendor who are integrating into Oracle Solaris 11. This does mean, however, that administrators will need to get a lot more familiar with SMF.

Over the last few weeks I've been working on writing more content to help administrators with their understanding of SMF. We've added a new SMF Technology Page on OTN with a ton of content - whitepapers, technical articles, cheat sheets and screencasts. Here's a screencast about how to configure services with SMF, enjoy!

Tuesday Aug 07, 2012

Basic administration using the Service Management Facility (SMF)

The Service Management Facility (SMF), first introduced in Oracle Solaris 10, is a feature of the operating system for managing system and application services, replacing the legacy init scripting start-up mechanism common to prior releases of Oracle Solaris and other UNIX operating systems. SMF improves the availability of a system by ensuring that essential system and application services run continuously even in the event of hardware or software failures. SMF is one of the components of the wider Oracle Solaris Predictive Self Healing capability, improving application resiliency in a typical data center environment.

An Overview of SMF

SMF is the software framework that is responsible for managing services on a system—whether they are critical system services essential to the working operation of the system or application services, such as a database or Web server.

Each service has a well-defined state (enabled, disabled, offline, maintenance) and usually a relationship to other dependent services that are required to be running on the system first. This provides a key benefit in that services can be started in parallel during system start up, resulting in a much faster boot when compared to the legacy init framework, which is only able to start processes in sequence and must wait until they complete. Each service is usually started by the SMF master restarter daemon, svc.startd, though this task can be delegated to an alternative restarter, as is the case for internet services delegated to inetd.

Behind the scenes of each service is a service manifest that describes some basic information about the service, what service dependencies are required, any required service configuration, and how SMF should start and stop the service. A service, once started, can start several different processes that are tied together as part of a service contract. This means that an administrator needs to manage only the higher-level service, rather than worrying about a series of individual processes and what start order might be required by those processes. If a service fails for any reason, whether during a hardware or software fault, SMF will automatically detect the failure and restart the service and any dependent services.

For the rest of the article, head on over to OTN and read Introducing the Introducing the basics of the Service Management Facility (SMF) on Oracle Solaris 11.

Monday Aug 06, 2012

Time to move to Oracle Solaris 11

Adopting a new version of the operating system is often a pretty tough task. History tells us that many enterprise customers will wait until the first or second update release before even considering a move. This usually revolves around the perception that this initial release would be unstable or lacking polish on some of the new features that were introduced, or simply that critical 3rd party applications just aren't available and certified yet. I've certainly been in that situation with my Apple laptop, so it's not unreasonable to appreciate it's the same (if not harder) in the enterprise.

But Oracle Solaris 11 is a little different.

The maturity of the codebase

From the moment Oracle Solaris 10 was released in 2005, engineers were already working on Oracle Solaris 11 - solving the hard problems and areas of frustration for our customers, innovating in all areas of the operating system. While many new features were introduced such as the IPS, Boot Environments, Automated Installer, and a complete overhaul of the networking stack including network virtualization, other areas such as Oracle Solaris Zones, ZFS, SMF and DTrace that were introduced in Oracle Solaris 10 were being polished and matured. Well before Oracle Solaris 11 was released in November 2011 we already had the codebase used in a variety of production ready releases - from the ZFS Storage Appliance, the many OpenSolaris releases, and Oracle Solaris 11 Express. With huge numbers of consumers through our customer base, internal deployments and beta programs, Oracle Solaris 11 has been refined and stabilized through years of hard work.

Compatibility guaranteed

Oracle Solaris has had a long history of preserving application source and binary compatibility with careful engineering at the core. Application written on previous releases of the operating system can expect to be run on newer releases. Oracle Solaris 11 is no different in this respect. However, the introduction of Oracle Solaris 10 Zones provides administrators with the ability to run an existing application as is in an Oracle Solaris 10 environment running on top of Oracle Solaris 11. Most 3rd party applications that are certified for Oracle Solaris 10 are ideal candidates for deployment in Oracle Solaris 10 Zones, meaning that you don't have to wait for your 3rd party vendor to certify on a new release and you get to deploy Oracle Solaris 11 quicker.

Some useful guides to help you

But with all new releases, there's a little bit of a learning curve to get over and that can lead to some frustration. For Oracle Solaris 11, we've produced two guides to help you understand some of the differences, and how you can base take advantage of some of these new features. Take a look at the following guides and kickstart your Oracle Solaris 11 experience today!

Tuesday Jul 31, 2012

Automated Installation Services for Oracle Solaris 11

For years administrators have been maintaining complex frameworks for automated installation of Oracle Solaris using Jumpstart. It wasn't that the technology was particularly bad, but it was written a very long time ago, long before new technologies such as Oracle Solaris ZFS, Zones or SMF existed. Administrators prided themselves on the vast scripting capability it provided and the 1000's of lines of Korn shell scripts that were used for pre and post installation work to configure and tweak under the hood across all facets of the operating system and installed software. Various extensions like the Jumpstart Enterprise Toolkit (JET) were written to provide more functionality for the common tasks that administrators were often having to do in the data center.

There's no doubt that Jumpstart was a powerful tool and did the job that was asked of it. However, with the new features that were introduced first in Oracle Solaris 10, and now Oracle Solaris 11, it was about time for a replacement. And so the Automated Installer was born.

The Automated Installer is part of the new software deployment architecture introduced in Oracle Solaris 11. While it provides much of the same functionality included in Jumpstart, one of the key benefits was its tight integration into some of the other technologies in the operating system - it's ability to create, configure and install Oracle Solaris Zones; it's integration with the ZFS file system to install onto a root ZFS pool; and install software with automatic dependency checking from remote network based package repositories for a more consistent and repeatable provisioning system.

My colleague, Isaac Rozenfeld, has written an excellent how to guide for your first steps with the Automated Installer - How to Set up Automated Installation Services in Oracle Solaris 11. Check it out and enjoy!

Monday Jul 30, 2012

Which ISO should I download?

One of the goals for Oracle Solaris 11 development was to reduce the initial download footprint of the installation images for the operating system. What was once several DVDs in size, a single installation image is now less than 1Gb in size. In conjunction with the new network based package management system IPS, it means that administrators can install something quickly, then tailor it with additional software that meets their needs. Not only have we shrinked the install images, but we've also modernized the installation to make it a familiar experience - particularly for those administrators who are used to installing various flavours of Linux.

If you've taken a look at the Oracle Solaris 11 Download page, you'll notice that there are a number of images to choose from. They each provide a very different experience tailored to suit the needs of different scenarios - whether you're installing the operating system to evaluate it within a virtualized desktop environment, installing it on a headless server, or installing across multiple different systems in your data center. So how do you decide? That's easy:

Installing Oracle Solaris 11 in a virtualized environment

One of the best ways to initially evaluate Oracle Solaris 11 is simply to download the Live Media for x86. This experience is very similar to other Linux LiveCD or LiveDVD installations. You can boot directly off the ISO image to a full desktop environment. This not only gives you a chance to see the desktop, but also can bring up a terminal window so you can take a look at various different technologies like ZFS, SMF, IPS or Zones. While you can of course choose to install it onto an x86 system, another great option is to install it into a virtual machine using software such as Oracle VM VirtualBox.

Installing Oracle Solaris 11 into a headless server environment

After evaluation, administrators will typically install the operating system onto a headless server (one without a display connected to it). For this, it's recommended to use the Interactive Text Installation for x86 or SPARC. This options contains software that is suited towards a server environment and doesn't contain a graphical desktop or any other graphical applications. The installation itself walks the administrator through a series of simple questions in a text based format before installing itself to the system. Administrators wishing to add additional software after the installation can do so using the IPS command line and from configured network package repositories. You may also find that this option is ideal to be installed into a virtual machine if you're trying to develop a proof of concept environment for later deployment into the data center.

Installing Oracle Solaris 11 across multiple systems

While the previous two installations are suitable to install a small set of systems, many administrators will want to scale to multiple systems in an automated fashion. The Automated Installer for x86 or SPARC provides administrators with the ability to automatically install a system by booting it from the media, installing the minimum software needed to get it up to a point where it can install the rest of the software required automatically over the network from package repositories. Most administrators will choose a slightly different route to install multiple systems - by setting up an installation service instead from an already installed and functioning Oracle Solaris 11 system.

In all cases, there's an excellent set of support documentation available by checking out the Installing Oracle Solaris 11 Systems guide. Good luck!

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To learn more about Oracle Solaris 11, check out an extensive list of resources including technical articles, cheat sheets and screencasts on Oracle Technology Network

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