Monday Feb 01, 2010

DTrace Deep Dive in Boston this Week!

Jim Mauro will be doing a two-hour deep dive on DTrace at this week's NEOSUG (New England OpenSolaris Users Group) meeting. And Shannon Sylvia from Northeastern University will give a talk on using LDOMs and ZFS. The NEOSUG meeting will be held in two locations with the same agenda -- pick the date and location that works best for you. And please do RSVP so we have a rough head count. See below for details.

Where and When:

  • Tues Feb 2nd, 6-9pm, Sun Microsystems Burlington Campus, One Network Drive, Burlington, MA
  • Wed Feb 3rd, 6-9pm, Boston University, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Photonics Center -- Room PHO 339, 8 Saint Mary's Street, Boston, MA 02215

Registration Required: RSVP to Linda Wendlandt: lwendlandt at


    6:00-6:20: Registration, Pizza and Beverages

    6:20-6:30: Introductions: Peter Galvin, CTO, Corporate Technologies

    6:30-8:30: Solaris Dynamic Tracing - DTrace – Jim Mauro, Principal Engineer, Sun Microsystems

    8:30-9:00: LDOM Domains and ZFS: An example of creating a ZFS bootable root LDOM domain using jumpstart - Shannon Sylvia, Sysadmin, Northeastern University

    9:00 Q&A and Discussion

Also we’ll be giving out official NEOSUG T-Shirts and other trinkets, and copies of the OpenSolaris CD and instruction manual.

The Talks:

Solaris Dynamic Tracing – Dtrace

DTrace is a revolutionary observability tool introduced in Solaris 10, and currently available in all Solaris 10 releases, OpenSolaris, Mac OS X 10.5 and FreeBSD 7.2. DTrace provides unprecedented observability of the kernel and the entire application software stack without requiring code modifications. It is completely dynamic, and introduces zero probe effect when no DTrace probes are enabled.

This talk will introduce the basic components of DTrace - Providers, Probes, Predicates, The D Language, Actions and Subroutines and DTrace variables. We will then dive into examples of DTrace one-liners and scripts that demonstrate the use of DTrace of understanding and root-causing system and application performance issues.

Jim Mauro is a Principal Engineer in Sun Microsystems Systems Group, where he focuses on performance of volume commercial workloads on Sun technology. Jim co-authored Solaris Internals (1s Ed), Solaris Internals (2nd Ed), Solaris Performance and Tools (1st Ed) and is currently working on a DTrace book.

LDOM Domains and ZFS: An example of creating a ZFS bootable root LDOM domain using jumpstart

Using Version 10.1009 of Sun Solaris on a SPARC T5120 with LDOM 1.2, Shannon Sylvia creates guest domains that are each independent of each other. Each guest domain contains its own separately configured operating system and its own virtual disks. Using a “cookbook” approach, new guest domains can be easily added and configured, or removed without affecting the control domain or any of the other guest domains. Each domain is created using ZFS as the root, bootable volume. Shannon will provide examples on how the control domain, the jumpstart/boot server, and the guest domains should be configured.

Shannon Sylvia has 15+ years experience as a Unix Systems Administrator. She is responsible for installing and maintaining Solaris, AIX, and Linux at Northeastern University. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at Northeastern University's College of Professional Studies. She has a strong interest in IT in the health field, and has recently completed 2 1/2 years of nursing school and clinicals. She is currently involved in volunteer work including Salesforce and website development. She earned a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from National University, a bachelor's degree in English from San Diego State University, and a Master's Degree in Computer Information Systems from Boston University.

Wednesday Nov 11, 2009

NEOSUG at Boston University TONIGHT!

The New England OpenSolaris User Group is holding its first meeting at Boston University this evening, hosted by the BU Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. It is open anyone interested in learning more about OpenSolaris -- both students and professionals are welcome. This first meeting features three talks: What's So Cool About OpenSolaris Anyway, OpenSolaris: Clusters and Clouds from your Laptop, and OpenSolaris as a Research and Teaching Tool.

The meeting runs from 6-9pm tonight (Wed, Nov 11th, 2009) at the BU Photonics Center Building. Follow this link for directions, full agenda details, etc. If you think you'll be coming, please RSVP so we have a rough headcount for food.

See you there -- I'm bringing the pizza!

Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

A Quantum of Solaris

We emitted our latest wad of Solaris goodness today with the official release of OpenSolaris 2008.11. Lest you think engineering used a partially undenary nomenclature for the release name, rest assured the bits were in fact done and ready to go in November. The official announcement was delayed slightly due to other proximate product announcements.

I've been running 2008.11 for several weeks, having taken part in the internal testing cycles at Sun. I found and reported several mostly minor problems, but have generally found the 2008.11 experience to be quite good. The Live CD boot and install to disk all worked smoothly within VirtualBox, our free desktop virtualization product, on my MacBook Pro. With VirtualBox extensions installed, I can use 2008.11 in fullscreen mode and with mouse integration enabled.

While my primary interest in OpenSolaris is as a substrate on which we are building a full, integrated HPC software stack I can't help but note a few generally cool things about this release.

First is Time Slider. Yes, okay, Apple did it first with Time Machine. But try THIS with Time Machine: I turned on Time Slider and then immediately deleted a file from my Desktop without first doing any kind of back up. I then recovered the file using the TS slider on a File Browser window. This works because Time Slider is built on top of ZFS, which uses copy-on-write for safety and which is also used to implement an immediate snapshot facility. I was able to recover my file because when it was deleted (meaning "when the metadata representing the directory in which the file was located was changed"), the metadata was copied, modified and then written. But with snapshots enabled by Time Slider, the old metadata is retained as well, making it possible to slide back in time and recover deleted or altered files by revisiting the state of the file system at any earlier time. Nifty.

My second pick is perhaps somewhat esoteric, but I thought it was cool: managing boot environments with OpenSolaris. I think much of this was available in 2008.05, but it is new to me, so I've included it. In any case, managing multiple boot environments has been completely demystified as you can see in this article. Yet another admin burden removed through use of ZFS. For full documentation on boot environments, go here.

We've also made significant progress supporting Suspend/Resume, which is frankly an absolute requirement for any bare-metal OS one might run on a laptop. For me it isn't so important because I run OpenSolaris as a guest OS in VirtualBox. For those doing bare metal installations, this page details the requirements and limitations of the current Suspend/Resume support in 2008.11.

Putting my HPC hat back on for this last item, I note that a prototype release of the Automated Installer (AI) Project has been included in 2008.11. AI is basically the Jumpstart replacement for OpenSolaris--the mechanism that will be used to install OpenSolaris onto servers, including large numbers of servers hence my interest from an HPC perspective. For more information on AI, check out the design documents or, better, install the SUNWinstalladm-tools package using the Package Manager and then read the installadm man page. Full installation details are here. AI is still a work in process so feel free to pitch in if this area interests you: all of the action happens on the Caiman mailing list, which you can subscribe to here.


Josh Simons


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