The first day in the OSRL (Oracle Solaris Remote Lab)

My problem:

  • I had to check whether a library builds smoothly on Solaris 11 for SPARC as well as x86. My plan was to use a clean fresh environment without artifacts from previous projects.

The first half was already accomplished. I used a Virtualbox image of Solaris 11 on my 8GB laptop, I created a zone, added the development tools needed and I built the library. The SPARC build was the one who actually drove me to the remote lab.

An external partner will have to submit an application to access the lab. I received my access credentials last night.

Here's what I experienced compared with my onboard lab in Virtualbox .

1. Lab access 

My credentials allow me to login through my browser to the lab. I see a dash board 

2. Creating a VM

 Remote Lab  Virtualbox
 Action
  • Select a VM to be created. 
  • I choose a general purpose SPARC VM with the Solaris Studio developer tools
  • Pick my favorite script to create a zone
  • Plan the network for a private virtual network
  • Create the zone
  • Configure the zone
  • Add publisher for Solaris Studio tools
  • Install developer tools
Time required  3-6 minutes depending on the VM chosen 10 minutes for the zone creation on my laptop and the time to find the scripts, adopt them, execute them
 Conclusion  6 minutes waiting. Enough time for a cup of coffee. No chance to ruin the installation by human error  30 minutes pass by like nothing. Some Solaris experience and planning required. There's always a chance to need a second attempt

3. Accessing the VM

 Remote Lab  Virtualbox
 Action
  • Read the FAQ and learn that there is a button for a xterm and a remote desktop
  • Push the button for the remote desktop and wait a few seconds for the applet to download and start
  • Use ssh, putty or whatever you use to access a remote server
Time required  less than a minute As fast as access to a remote server is
 Conclusion  The remote desktop needs a bit to materialize it's not as snappy as a local desktop. It good enough to do developer for a longer period  Being able to use any remote access technology is nice

4. Preparing the System

 Remote Lab  Virtualbox
 Action
  • Solaris Studio 12.3 is already installed
  • gcc 4.5 needed to be installed
  • pkg installation of Solaris Studio 12.3 and gcc 4.5
Time required
  • 2 minutes for a gcc 4.5 installation
  • no time needed for Solaris Studio
  • ~10 minutes. My IPS server needs to pull Solaris Studio and gcc through an office network
 Conclusion Professional pre-configuration and fast access to IPS servers in a lab are real time savers Solaris 11 package installations are simple. Using an office network to access the IPS server isn't optimal.

5. Uploading the Sources

 Remote Lab  Virtualbox
 Action
  • Figure out how to access it from the dash board. Reading the FAQ which is shown prominently helps...
  • Push the upload button
  • Upload the sources to a /data directory
  • Use the scp command to drop the sources through the internal network
Time required
  • Less than a minute for 6MB sources. 
  • Less than a minute
 Conclusion No knowledge about ssh, scp, putty required. Potentially a bit slower for larger files. Fast for everyone who is familiar with ssh and scp

6. Building the Product

 Remote Lab  Virtualbox
 Action
  • kick off make
  • kick off make
Time required
  • ~3 minutes
  • ~5 minutes
 Conclusion A reasonable server disk subsystem, lots of main memory and a number of processor cores make a significant difference. There is a performance penalty for a laptop disk and a para-virtualization

Conclusions

I was able to get the job done is less than an hour. A remote lab always comes with a bit of loss of control. This was well compensated by an extremely simplified zone configuration, creation and boot process.

The preinstalled packages for software development and the speed of installation for other packages more then compensated for the loss of control.

I expected the worst from a remote desktop emulation and I was positively surprised that it is good enough for the common developer typing work.

I was surprised that my local Virtualbox Solaris installation wasn't necessarily faster.

The ability to have Solaris 11 VMs for SPARC and x86 in the same private network is a real game changer. I'll start my next project right away with OSRL.

The OSRL fact sheet covers all important information about the lab and the access to it.

Post Scriptum

I found a cosmetic display bug in the dash board. I used the email alias mentioned in the dash board and sent an email to the supporting lab team. It turned out that they fixed the bug before I was able to complete this post. Great job. Thank you! 

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Application tuning, sizing, monitoring, porting on Solaris 11

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