Solaris 10 u10 has been released. What's new?

Solaris 10 u10 (8/11) has been released, including documentation, patches, DVD images, the whole package. 

There are numerous featureupdates in performance-, networking-, security-, administration-, and HW-support-fields, let's see some appealing examples: 

  • ZFS diff
    It is well established, that ZFS is a Copy-on-Write filesystem, that is, if you snapshot/clone a filesystem, only the modified blocks will take up storage. But how do you know what exactly has changed between two snapshots among the files? That is where the 'zfs diff' subcommand comes handy, enlisting differences (files created/removed/modified). 
  • SPARC: Support for fast reboot
    Repetitively having to wait for a larger server to reboot can be timeconsuming, because of the hardware testing (POST). Now you can skip certain tests, with the reboot -f option. You also have the possibility to set this behaviour as default for every reboot. The only question that remains to the latter is if you would want to run on not thoroughly tested hardware? One doesn't reboot a Solaris server that often. This feature is more about minimizing downtime.
  • New tools to analyze CMT loads: pginfo and pgstat
    With these two new tools one can display CPU structures and break down the more complex utilization of the ChipMultiThreading processors (SPARC-T Series). For examples see two blogposts: 
    by Darryl Gove: http://blogs.oracle.com/d/entry/pginfo_pgstat
    and by Stefan Hinker: http://blogs.oracle.com/cmt/entry/solaris_knows_hardware_pgstat_explains

  • Oracle Configuration Manager: 
    This agent will enhance supportability by collecting information about your server, optionally uploading it to the Oracle Support improving reaction times and supportability. Yes, it can operate in disconnected mode. 

  • Performance Improvements:
    Just to pick two of the many: libmtmalloc, the multithreaded memory allocator library has been revised to provide better performance for 64bit applications with a large number of threads. That is, Java applications can gain a performance boost. Also [Dynamic] Intimate Shared Memory actions have been improved that will affect certain Oracle database operations. 
    Now, why would I mention exactly these two over the others? Because they make a point of how Oracle attaches importance to integration, effectively supporting database and application performance from the operating system level. Just like our own HW (T4, anyone?) is built to work tightly together with Solaris, that is supporting the application layer, to what our applications rely on. 

  • Security Enhancements: 
    For one, the Oracle Key Manager now cooperates with the Solaris CryptoFramework. (Have I mentioned integration already?) 
    Secondly, the SSH daemon supports now chrooting users to directories. Can come handy if you are hosting on a lower level where zones would be an overkill. 

The "What's new" document reveals numerous additional new features about the Oracle Configuration Manager, VTS improvements to selectively test HW components (I/O buses, CPUs, disk performance...), the extended Intel SandyBridge instruction-set support, and so forth, see: http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/E23823_01/html/821-2730/gijtg.html#scrolltoc ). 

  • What about support for the T4?
    Well, the "What's New" doc doesn't explicitly mention it, but if you look into the README of kernelpatch 144500-12 bundled with u10, you will find the mos welcome message stating "Solaris support for SPARC T4 platforms". That is right, Solaris 10u10 supports the impatiently anticipated SPARC T4.  

    This is another important message. With the very-near-future release of Solaris 11 Solaris 10 will not be dropped. It just got an update to a platform that hasn't even been released yet. Of course, the features of Solaris 11 are very inviting. Upgrade if you can. But we also understand the safe-harbour-policy, never-touch-a-running-system corporate culture. See the Solaris roadmap, there will be more Solaris 10 updates. Or, see the Support Policy for HW and Operating Systems, Solaris 10 has premier support right up to 2015! 

Solaris 11 is the future. But rest assured, that we stick to Solaris 10 too. 


Comments:

Charlie,

Great review of new features. Any inside info about Solaris 11 and "legacy" US processors?

Regards,
Chris

Posted by guest on September 21, 2011 at 06:00 AM CEST #

Chris,

See the Solaris 11 Early Adopter release:
http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/solaris11/downloads/index-454418.html

The Minimum HW requirements section says:
[...]
SPARC - Supported on existing Oracle SPARC M and T series systems only
[...]

But as you can see above Solaris 10 is further a fully supported operating system, will receive updates, hence no need to worry for servers with USIV+ and below.

The other possible path is of course what many customers do nowadays - considering consolidation, a new Sparc T4 server, or an M-class server with Sparc64-VII+ can easily carry the load of many older boxes with LDOMs and containers representing the earlier servers if necessary.

And there you have all the Solaris 11 awesomeness again.

Posted by charlie on September 21, 2011 at 06:30 AM CEST #

I'm really annoyed about the M/T-Class limitation.
Not because I don't want to consolidate (our prod environment is mostly M and T already), but because my whole lab / testing environment is purple boxes (5 racks full of 210/240/440/880) which I was originally planning to try Sol11 before upgrading our prod environment. With that large a lab, I don't intend to buy some extra M boxes just to try Sol11. I'll rather wait with Sol11 testing until I can demote some current prod T2 boxes down to lab/testing.. which won't be in the next one or two years.

Posted by Woo on September 25, 2011 at 03:52 PM CEST #

Woo,

I understand your concerns. I guess what we can advise is to consider the supportcosts, power- and cooling of those servers, and their financial amortization.
I very much remember that those are very robust boxes, and just kept running and running. However, you could most possibly have the total performance of the UltraSparcIII setups, in a way lower number of boxes if we have a look at the T4 based servers.

I completely agree to update first the Testenvironments HW, keep in mind that you can run on the T4 servers there Solaris 10 and Solaris 11 in separate LDOMs too.
And as for featuretests, feel free to download the Solaris 11 Early Adopter Release: http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/solaris11/downloads/index-454418.html to run it in a VirtualBox.

As a last notice, an earlier Solaris 11 release called "Solaris 11 Express" ( http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/solaris11/downloads/index.html ) supports your USIII servers, however it is based on a way older version than the Solaris 11 Early Adopter release.

My recommendation: consolidate those robust but elderly boxes to T4 servers and Solaris 11 which will be very soon completely released.

Posted by charlie on October 07, 2011 at 07:13 AM CEST #

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This is the Technology Blog of the Oracle Hardware Presales Consultant Team in Vienna, Austria. We post about our technology fields: server- and storage hardware, operating system technologies, virtualization, clustering, datacenter management and performance tuning possibilities.

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