Monday Jul 16, 2012

Coming from RHEL to Oracle Solaris? Need help?

From time to time, I often hear of stories that it's harder to find administrators who have a solid knowledge of Oracle Solaris when compared to Linux. Oracle Solaris can be an intimidating operating system to come to terms with for those who are used to dealing with Linux on a daily basis, particularly if they've had previous perceptions of what it would be like or former experiences with much, much older versions of Solaris. With Oracle Solaris 11 development, one of the primary goals was to greatly modernize the operating system and make it easier to use, remove some of the uneccessary differences between the two operating systems, and remove some of the frustrations that people have had. I believe we've done exactly that with the introduction of Oracle Solaris ZFS as the default root file system, the Image Packaging System (IPS) and much more familiar installation experiences with the LiveCD and interactive text installer. It's now even easier to approach Oracle Solaris, install it into a virtual machine and give it a spin!

One of the help guides that I've recently written is a mapping guide between Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and Oracle Solaris 11. Essentially for each general technology area, I list of the main features of Oracle Solaris 11, their advantages and how the command lines and configuration files map between the two operating systems - whether it's between RPM and IPS, KVM and Oracle Solaris Zones, Upstart and the Service Management Facility (SMF). It's designed to give administrators who are familiar with Red Hat Enterprise Linux a first step for where to go to get more information. So, if you're struggling with trying to get started with Oracle Solaris 11, look no further.

Check out the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 to Oracle Solaris 11 Mapping Guide

The basics of administration using the Image Packaging System

One of the major new changes that was introduced in Oracle Solaris 11 is a new package management system, replacing the legacy SVR4 packaging that we've been using in Oracle Solaris for many years. Image Packaging System (IPS) modernizes the software lifecycle with an easy to use, network based packaging system built on the foundations of the Oracle Solaris ZFS filesystem. I've been working with the IPS engineering team to produce some content that will help administrators understand the basics of IPS and how best to take advantage of it updating systems in the data center.

An overview of IPS

In previous releases of the Oracle Solaris platform, administrators used SVR4 packaging to install software onto a system, and then they used a different set of commands to install patches to update the system. As Oracle Solaris evolved to include new technologies, such as Oracle Solaris zones, Oracle Solaris ZFS, and Solaris Service Management Facility (SMF), previously used processes for managing system updates and upgrades became more complex. With thousands of operating system instances installed in some of today's large virtualized data centers, manual methods of tracking and installing patches can result in errors that negatively affect application availability and security.

IPS is an integrated solution that helps automate and ease the complexity of managing system software on Oracle Solaris 11 by integrating patching with package updates. It relies on a network-centric and efficient approach with automatic software dependency checking and validation, and it builds on the foundation of ZFS as the default root file system. Using IPS, administrators can easily and reliably install or replicate an exact set of software package versions across many different client machines, and get a much clearer understanding of any differences between software versions installed on a system.

With ZFS's ability to snapshot and clone a given file system with little or no overhead, IPS establishes a much safer system update by applying changes to a clone or alternate boot environment so that updates can be done while a system is running services in a production environment. When a planned maintenance window can be scheduled, administrators can simply reboot the system into the new boot environment to get up and running faster with much lower system downtime. If administrators experience any problems with a new environment, they can simply bring the system down and back into the older boot environment.

Additionally, administration across any zones created on the system is much improved because the system automatically ensures that software package versions within a non-global zone are consistent with the global zone.

For the rest of the article, head on over to OTN and read Introducing the Basics of the Image Packaging System on Oracle Solaris 11.

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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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