Mittwoch Mai 27, 2009

Virtualization, again... did start a series of blog entries about the hidden costs and challenges of virtualization. Worth a reading, start here.


Mittwoch Mai 20, 2009

Virtualization revisited

My colleague Mike Ramchand did post some thoughts about virtualization, and did ask us to provide feedback. Click here to read his article, and here for our thoughts.


Montag Mai 04, 2009


I'm now also twittering, see


Montag Apr 20, 2009

Sun & Oracle (or Oracle & Sun): tons of opportunities!

Now that we heard and read about the acquisition of Sun by Oracle, let's look out to what lies ahead of us:

Tons of opportunities!

Just a small sample of my braindumps:
  • Combining Oracle and the Sun Cloud
  • Sun Cluster will get more important then ever
  • There is a bright future for Solaris
  • Sparc will continue
  • Lot's of appliances coming, we just started with Amber Road
So, I think, this is a really good day!


Freitag Apr 17, 2009

KVM vs. Xen?


responding to an article on

KVM is a type-2 hypervisor, Xen is a type-1 hypervisor. So, there is NO apples-to-apples comparison here, you're comparing apples-to-peaches.

Where's the difference?

With KVM ALL your "guests" run in the SAME user-space (there is only one kernel, namely Linux!), and therefore attacking one "guest" from a different "guest" seems way easier then with Xen, where they do get completely separate environments. You would need to HACK into the Xen microkernel to have access, whereas with KVM you have all access directly from your Linux-login.

Is that, what you want? One single unpriviliged user (or any other user!) being able to influence your "guest"? I bet, you don't like that!

If you want to compare KVM with VMware Workstation, Fusion, Parallels, VirtualBox, ok, that would be the right comparison. But nobody does do this comparison. Why?

Because Linux after all still doesn't seem to be "ready for the DataCenter"... OK; I'm making it easy (oversimplifying), but that thinking, expressed in KVM vs. Xen totally ignores many important points that are relevant in datacenters. These do not apply to Laptops, and that's still seemingly the domain of Linux...

Please, start thinking... (I do not want to discredit Linux, but the comparing of apples-and-peaches in this case really is sadening...)


Mittwoch Apr 08, 2009

It's official: Ulrich and myself will be giving lecture at TU Darmstadt on Operating Systems

Now, it's official: Ulrich Gräf and myself will be giving the lecture on innovative operating system elements. Check out:

Slides are at:

Our intention for content currently is:
  • 17.04.: OS - What's that? (UG)
  • 24.04.: IO (UG)
  • 08.05.: High Availability (UG)
  • 15.05.: Cluster Methods (MP)
  • 22.05.: Storage (UG)
  • 29.05.: CPU and scheduling (UG)
  • 05.06.: Networkfeatures in OSes (MP)
  • 12.06.: Posix (UG)
  • 19.06.: Security (UG)
  • 26.06.: Management / SAN / Filesystems (MP)
  • 03.07.: Filesystems (UG)
  • 10.07.: Virtualisation / VM (MP)
  • 17.07.: Virtualisation / OS (UG)


Montag Sep 29, 2008

Eco responsible power friendly small home server

After having had some bad experiences with my digital storage of my recordings from digital TV movies and my digital photos using USB disks connected to Windows XP (you simply never know, if something, that is written is written correctly, or if it can be read back, or over time, if things change (bit-errors) you still can read it), I now decided to rely on a filesystem, that checks what it writes and reads and is capable of correcting errors. Guess what, that filesystem is called ZFS and is part of Solaris.

So, I started looking around in order to build my first home-made computer ever, and wanted to have a thing, that's quiet, runs Solaris, has enough USB ports to connect external storage, and uses not that much power. Besides, as a home NAS server, I also wanted GB networking, and a small form factor. That made me look at mini-itx boards, and the one I ultimately choose (four weeks ago) was the new Intel D945GCLF2 board. It has a dual core hyperthreading Atom 330 CPU running at 1.6 GHz, 8 USB ports, Gbit network and only costs around 75 EUR.

As this was a pre-announced board, and as I was planning on vacation, I was looking for a store that was already selling it. The first to sell it here in Germany was:

So, if you want to buy a board, where the specs are still unclear, and if you even want to run some OS on that, that's a bit uncommon (although Solaris really takes up!), I needed some more information. As the people from CarTFT also were very forthcoming in answering a couple of questions w.r.t. the NIC on that board (they even connected a board (before official selling by Intel had begun), while I was on the phone, and read the info to me from the screen, marvelous!) which for me was essential, as no public info had been available three weeks ago and I needed to know, if the NIC will be supported by Solaris (it is!), I did order with them on September 17th.

I found them because they also did publish a benchmark/review way before others, so I decided to order:

Case:                 M200 case:
MotherBoard:          Intel D945GCLF2:
Exchange heatsink:            
DC/DC converter:      picoPSU-60WI:
External PSU:         Standard Laptop:
Powercord:            Standard German:
RAM:                  Standard 2GB:

After now having build the system, I know, what I should have changed from that bill of material, but the changes would have been small. In detail:

Instead of the 60W pico powersupply I should have bought the picoPS-90W version, as that already has the P4 connector. The Intel Board really requires one, so now I had to add a y-cable and an additional P4 cable to my bill of materials.
Also, the proposed exchange heatsink is not needed, as I now did replace that by a fully passive Zalman ZM-NBF47 heatsink:
There is one small caveat with this heatsink. It only has TWO clips, and the Intel motherboard does have the exactly two opposite loops. So I needed to mount the heatsink rotated by 90 degree (which fits better on this motherboard, so that's a good thing), and needed to crimp the clips so that they do fit THROUGH the loops on the motherboard. Together with the provided thermo paste, it's mounted securely to the motherboard. You can see that on the image, if you look closely, sadly the image isn't all that good. For additional discussion see also:

So, once I had the PSU in place, I bought a standard 8 GB CF card, as I do not want to run many complex things on this system. It sahll only be a CIFS- and NFS- server for my homesystems, and therefore the OS itself is mainly static, allowing for a small and slow "disk", that doesn't have "rotating rust", and therefore uses less power. I did choose an A-Data Speedy one, as that was, what my electronics shop around the corner had in stock.

With that card in the CF-IDE converter, that's already mounted in the M200 case (mounted is the iTuner CF200 card), I sadly got nowhere. The "disk" simply was not recognized by Solaris. Some more tests revealed, that the CF-200 works with smaller and faster cards. Before buying a faster CF card (which would have been more expensive) I decided to replace the CF-200 card by a different one. Others also found, that the CF-200 does not work that well, see for example here. So, while I was ordering additional hardware, I decided to also add an USB connector, as the case only uses two of the four, that are not yet connected. Let's conclude the hardware section with the fact, that this IDE-CF converter does work.

During the "composition", you might find, that mounting mini-itx boards and all the stuff surrounding it into such a small case a bit difficult. Especially, if you would like to also use the SATA connectors, you might get into trouble, as they are so close to the IDE connector, that in my case, the IDE cable does block the SATA connectors. But as I didn't want to have any internal „real disks“, that isn't a problem for me.

So now for the software part: Because I want to use this as a small server, I disabled audio, parallel and serial ports directly in the BIOS. At the time of the composition, Solaris Express Community Edition was at build 98, and the rge driver in that build still has a small problem with the RealTek card on this board. In order to enable it, you need to add the following line to /etc/system:
set ip:dohwcksum=0

As I needed to install Solaris via network I also needed to add that to the installserver miniroot files. Miniroot is a gzip file, so:

mv miniroot miniroot.gz
gunzip miniroot
lofiadm -a `pwd`/miniroot
mkdir /a
mount /dev/lofi/1 /a
cd /a/etc/
vi system

and adding the line above to that file, does the trick, if you continue with:

umount /a
gzip miniroot
mv miniroot.gz miniroot
lofiadm -d /dev/lofi/1
rmdir /a

You can see a discussion on the rge problem here.

It shall be fixed in newer versions of Solaris/OpenSolaris.

My next problem was, that I wanted to install Solaris using ZFS as the root filesystem. So from the PXE boot image I then selected option 4 (console-text), because that's the version of the installer, that allows ZFS to be selected. The next problem was, that the installer has a large difference in his thinking of needed diskspace and the real diskspace. Simply put, I could not install "Entire distribution + OEM support", so I deselected StarOffice.

Once all this things were done and set, the install went smoothless, although it needed 15,5 hours. The CF disk is real slow!

So, once the system was up again, again edit /etc/system to add the "ip" line to it, so that the network is working. Then configuring all other network settings as usual, and Bob's your uncle.

There still was one small surprise, because Solaris only booted in 32bit, although the Atom is a 64 bit CPU.

James C. Liu states in his Blog at that for running in 64 bits, you need to change the menu.lst file, because the GRUB as used in Solaris would not accept this Atom CPU as a 64 bit capable CPU. This shall be changed in Build99 onwards, but as you know, I was not able to install Build99, so changing the "$ISAINFO" to "amd64" made the trick.

After that, I added two Western Digital WD Elements 1TB USB disks, created a mirrored ZPOOL, set compression=on and have a long-lasting big NAS home server.

In order to save even more power, I switch off the graphics login and sendmail by "svcadm disable cde-login;svcadm disable sendmail".

I did not yet sample power usage, but will do later, so stay tuned.

I hope to have given you some ideas, on how to set up such a small power-efficient, eco-friendly server for home-usage.

And here, some images of the "building" process:


P.S.: Added a new entry w.r.t. this server at:

Freitag Mai 30, 2008

Solaris Cluster is now OpenSource!

It's been a long time, but now we've made it (and even 6 months in advance to our original planning!) (and it's worth a new blog entry, long overdue!):

The complete Solaris Cluster is now OpenSource! This is the FIRST commercial HA solution to go OpenSource, and as it is also the leader in this market-space, it's a well-known product, and not some "Toolkit" for creating semi-reliable-HA solutions. It's the whole thing, all in total, all OpenSource.

It's "new" name is "Open High Availability Cluster". Open HA Cluster is part of OpenSolaris, available in the HA Clusters Community Group on

I'll copy some links, that Nicolas Solter did send out to us internally (so this is attributed to Nick):

for the source code and more information.

Listen to a podcast with Meenakshi Kaul-Basu, Director of Availability Products:

Read the official press release:


Solaris Cluster is Sun's High Availability Cluster offering.

The open source code does not include some encumbered Solaris Cluster source code. Nonetheless, users can build a completely usable HA Cluster from this source with Sun Studio 11.

Also available is source for parts of the Solaris Cluster Automated Test Environment (SCATE), source for the Solaris Cluster man pages, and source for Solaris Cluster Globalization (G11N).

So far my copy and paste from Nick's Email...


Donnerstag Mrz 20, 2008

FruehjahrsFachGespraech 2008 (FFG2008) (Spring Talks 2008) of the German Unix Users Group

Tobias and myself were presenting on our views and perceptions of future architectures for datacenters at the FFG2008 of the GUUG.

Slides can be found on GUUG's page at:

The German Linux Magazin deemed it necessary to comment on our paper, you can read their comments here (german only).

The lady from the Linux Magazin did not talk to us nor ask us the questions she raised, so we were not able to comment. Let's state this: The two main points she raises have been answered by us in a totally different way already during the session.

So, in order not to have to repeat, what others already wrote about that, I'll refer you to the precise and "a point" answer of Jörg Möllenkamp, which can be found here (again, german only).

We still love comments and discussions about the topics in there, so, let the discussion start!


Freitag Mrz 07, 2008

Really sad news...

Today I learned, that Jospeh Weizenbaum died the day before yesterday. During my adolescence I did read most of his books, and these books made me think about the implications and the social responsibility that our industry has. He was a great man, a very human IT specialist, and a real forwardlooking technologist.

Joseph, you are missed!


Dienstag Mrz 04, 2008

New laptop arrived... ;-)

I'm excited, today my new laptop did arrive.

It's a Toshiba Tecra M9 (Type PTM91E-04Y03WGR) with an additional 1 GB RAM.

So, my topic of the week will be: Setting it up to run Nevada (starting with the actual build 84!), using Live Upgrade to keep it current, and still having Windows (yes, sometimes you simply need it (my DVB-T USB Stick for example only has Linux or Windows drivers, so as I do not want to run Linux, I will need Windows)).

It seems, I will need three primary partitions then:

1. Windows (NTFS)
2. Windows shared Data (FAT32, as Solaris can not yet read NTFS)
3. Solaris

Inside Solaris I will set up multiple slices, one for the BE (Boot Environment) one for the ABE (alternate Boot Environment) and one for use with ZFS (to host /home, /export/home, and the images for xVM Server and VirtualBox).

Then I will add VirtualBox, Compiz and will set up the "Suspend to RAM" feature as described in the entry before...

So, stay tuned! I'm living in exciting times and environments!


Montag Mrz 03, 2008

Power Management on Solaris/x86

information can be found here!

Great News!


New Episode of "Heldenfunk"...

And now in Heldenfunk a new episode featuring Tobias, Detlef, Uli, Innotek (VirtualBox), the Solaris Container "Leitfaden" and myself... ;-)

Enjoy (if you can listen to german)!


Dienstag Feb 12, 2008

PartnerUni Fulda, my answers to xVM questions...

...need to be changed... ;-)

Yes, Sun will provide the front end drivers for Microsoft Windows...

Sorry for the wrong answer...


Donnerstag Jan 17, 2008

Introduction to Virtualization Presentation Video online

I just got the information, that the presentation I gave at GridKa School last year is now online. Enjoy!




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