By Jordan Vaughan on May 07, 2009
Branded Zones/Containers is a technology that allows Solaris system administrators to virtualize non-native operating system environments within Solaris zones, a lightweight OS-level (i.e., no hypervisor) virtualization technology that creates isolated application environments. (Look here for more details.) Brands exist for Linux on OpenSolaris and Solaris 8 and 9 on Solaris 10, but not Solaris 10 on OpenSolaris...until now.
On April 23, Jerry Jelinek announced the development of Solaris 10 containers on OpenSolaris.org and requested that the project be open-sourced as a part of ON (i.e., the OpenSolaris kernel). Solaris 10 Containers will allow administrators to adopt technologies found in the OpenSolaris kernel (e.g., Crossbow networking and ZFS enhancements) by maintaining Solaris 10 operating system environments on top of the OpenSolaris kernel. In other words, you will be able to run your Solaris 10 environments on top of the OpenSolaris kernel (provided that your Solaris 10 environments meet the standard Solaris zone requirements).
Both Jerry and I have been working on Solaris 10 containers for at least a month. We are currently able to archive and install Solaris 10 environments into Solaris 10 containers (i.e., p2v Solaris 10 systems) and boot the containers as shared-stack zones. Automounting NFS filesystems, examining processes with the proc tools, tracing process and thread behavior with
truss, and listing installed Solaris 10 patches are a few of the many features that appear to run without problems within Solaris 10 containers as they currently are. I even managed to forward X connections over SSH and establish VNC sessions with my Solaris 10 containers on all three Solaris-supported architectures (x86, x64, and SPARC).
Jerry and I prepared screencast demos of archiving, installing, booting, and working within a Solaris 10 container for the upcoming Community One West developer conference. We couldn't decide whose narration was best suited for the demo, so we submitted two versions, one featuring my voice and the other featuring Jerry's voice. Take a look at Jerry's demo if you want to see the results (though you might have to download the flash video file because it might not fit within the preview window). We are considering producing more videos or blog posts (or both) as the technology evolves.
For more information on Solaris 10 containers and zones/containers in general and how you can contribute to both, visit the OpenSolaris.org zones community page and the Solaris 10 Brand/Containers project page at OpenSolaris.org.