Thursday Mar 26, 2015

Solaris 11.2 accelerates multi-nodes WebLogic Cluster deployment

An article about Using Unified Archives to Deploy an Oracle WebLogic Server Cluster on Oracle Solaris 11.2 was published recently. This is based on my hands-on lab, with two co-authors, on Oracle OpenWorld 2014 (OOW2014). In the lab environment of OOW2014, a prebuilt VirtualBox VM image was provided, with a pre-configured full-functioned WebLogic Cluster, attendees could play with the Unified Archives right away, a really handy and powerful feature in Solaris 11.2.

Unfortunately, when publishing this lab, we were unable to get the VM image file published together (because of Oracle OTN policies). We are VERY sorry about that, because we know the process of preparing the lab environment is very time consuming, and all of a sudden, it requires audiences equipped with adequate knowledge about WebLogic Cluster, which is not a desired prerequisite of this lab...okay, if any of you encounter any troubles in preparing the lab environment, maybe you can leave me a comment, and let's see if we can figure out any solution...sorry.

Wednesday Jan 21, 2009

Visualize your dtrace scripts

Chime is a GUI tool to display the results of dtrace scripts visually. It comes with a set of dtrace scripts, moreover, we can also ask Chime to display your own dtrace scripts. It provides a wizard("new display"  ) to make things easier. Here's a great screencast about how to use this functionality by Tom Ericson, one of the authors of Chime: Chime Visualization Tool for DTrace

Enjoy it. 

Thursday Jan 15, 2009

dtrace toolkit: scripts broken

I recently got some inquires from a customer. They reported that some scripts in the DTraceToolkit do work. I tried the latest version, 0.99. It's true, at least for tcpsnoop and tcptop, these 2 dtrace scripts are failed during compilation. The dtrace client gives us error messages like "conn_tcp is not a member of conn_s" etc.

If we look at these failed scripts, we'll find they are using fbt provider to trace kernel functions. The Name stability and Data stability of fbt provider are Evolving, means it might be changed (and it \*is\* changed in our cases) in the future version of the OS. In our case, it seems the data structure is change since the scripts were written. We have to change the scripts to make them work, and we may need to do this on every specific version of Solaris/OpenSolaris. That's the tradeoff to use unstable providers. So make sure you check the stability of providers(in the dtrace Guide) when using them.

Let me see if I can find some time to fix this on osol 2008.11…

Tuesday Jan 13, 2009

Unix commands comparison

You may find the comparison table is useful when you port applications, though some commands in the table are out of date. Anyway, it's still handy as a quick reference.

Another interesting stuff on this web site is the poll of "the best OS". To date, 13K people voted. The top three OS are: Linux(~26%), Solaris(~21%) and AIX/Tru64(~15.5%). So, vote your favorite if you like.

Monday Jan 05, 2009

preview the new portal of

The preview version of the new portal of is announced. Check it out to see if you like your new home.
The new portal is powered by xwiki.

The detailed announcement is here

Wednesday Dec 17, 2008

Upgrading OpenSolaris with a few clicks

One of the
significant enhancements of OpenSolaris 2008.11 is the IPS, image package
system. Several critical bugs have been fixed. IPS now becomes a good friend of us to
manage the system. E.g., I’m using the May release of OpenSolaris. After updating
the SUNWipkg to the latest version(0.5.11-0.101), I upgraded the entire OS to
2008.11, easily. The process went smoothly either on bare metal or VirtualBox.
One of the virtues of IPS is, it creates a new boot environment for the November
release automatically. You can boot back to you old May release any time if you

Here are the
simple steps about how to upgrade from 2008.05. You can also find the
procedure on

$ pfexec pkg refresh
$ pfexec pkg install entire@0.5.11-0.86
$ pfexec pkg install SUNWipkg@0.5.11-0.86
$ pfexec pkg install SUNWinstall-libs
$ pfexec pkg image-update

That's it. After 2008.11,
the process gets even easier that we can use the GUI based package manager to do the OS upgrading.  Here's a demo.

VirtualBox 2.1 is just released. I feel it’s faster than v2.0.2. This is really
a good news, even better than the new features.

Wednesday Dec 10, 2008

OpenSolaris 2008.11 released today, what’s cool

You know, inside Sun we think this is the most exiting release after Solaris 10. We all know OpenSolaris is the future of Solaris. By this release, we're closer to this target.

This release incorporates a lot of solid work done by the Sun-Intel joint team. I heard the team setup an ambitious goal, "make Xeon the best platform for OpenSolaris". You might be smiling about this slogan, nonetheless, we can see the commitment from both Intel and Sun. In the past 2 years, the team really made a lot of progress. FMA, Fault Management support on Intel CPUs is one example. This is an important step to enable OpenSolaris being deployed on Intel platform in a mission critical environment. BTW, FMA is also supported on latest AMD CPUs, and of course SPARC CPUs. VT-x support is another one. I believe the xVM server(coming soon, now it's open for early access enrollment) will work fine with VT-x to deliver high performance virtualization. I'm often asked by ISVs about "when should I prepare for the Solaris Next?" Now, I would suggest everyone who seriously thinks about using Solaris Next in production to start to plan your test on this release of OpenSolaris.

There are a great number of new features(here's a good article about "What's new in OpenSolaris 2008.11" ). One particular interesting feature among them is called "time slider". In my opinion, it provides a way to make filesystem backup and restore as easy as never before. Every desktop user will like this cool feature, well, at least I am. This feature is powered by ZFS automatic snapshot, so you cannot find this feature on any other OS. Here's an demo.

PS, you can download the bits here.

Thursday Nov 27, 2008

Replace Solaris with Linux: a no-brainer? No !

A recent article on LinuxWorld is interesting. It shows us cases that customers is re-thinking the linux transition plan and re-evaluating the technical advantages of Solaris and other high end Unix.

The feature being talked in the story is containers, or Solaris Zones. As a way of operating system-level virtualization, its overhead is much less than that of whole-system virtualization solutions. So the system utilization rate is much higher, hence a high consolidation rate. That character hits the spot of the customer. Further more, in the latest Solaris 10 update release(10/08), Solaris Container is enhanced to ease administrators' job(See this).

Talking about administration, another advantage mentioned in the article is administrative tools on Solaris 10(and other Unix) is really better than that on Linux. Managing a large number of Linux boxes are considerably more difficult than managing Solaris machines. In the case of Qualcomm, they need 2 times more administrators if they switch to Linux! That's a significant additional cost and it balances out the "price advantage" of Linux. So in the article, "At first glance, Qualcomm would save money…" But eventually, the CIO found the price adventure for Linux "went away…pretty fast". I don't have detailed information to comment on the comparison made in the story, nonetheless, the point here is, we have to think about Total Cost of Ownership when doing the cost analysis. Administrative cost, like the good example given by the coverage, and supporting service fee are all important parts of the total cost. Here's an comprehensive service fee comparison between Solaris and RHEL(PDF).

In my opinion, Solaris(along with other Unix) Vs Linux is not an "all or nothing" choice. At least for now, both systems certainly have good enough reasons to reserve a place in enterprise IT infrastructure.

The full story is here.

OpenSolaris on HPC top 500

It's no doubt that Linux is strong in High performance computing. One of the reasons of that fact is because of the open source nature of Linux. Without OSS, it's hard to imagine nowadays development of HPC. So, you may ask "what about OpenSolaris in HPC? Ain't it an OSS too?" OK, here you go, JAXA, the first OpenSolaris site in HPC top 500 sites. This site appeared on the HPC top 500 list just announced this month. It's the first time I saw OpenSolaris on this list. The rank is 221, not bad. The system is built on Fujitsu server powered by quadcore SPARC64 VII.

Considering the huge share of Sun's Lustre file system in HPC Top 100(7 of top 10 systems use Lustre), I believe we will see more HPC sites install OpenSolaris.

BTW, JAXA is not a cousin of Java. It stands for Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Thursday Nov 13, 2008

Dual boot Solaris 10/08 and Windows vista

I installed this latest Solaris 10 release on my laptop, co-exist with Windows Vista. The process is not as straight forward as it is when installing on a WinXP machine. Here you go.

The first thing I did was to resize the hard disk and create a new partition in Vista to make room for Solaris. I'm pretty sure that unallocated disk space should work fine, though I actually created NTFS on the new partition. Now we can start.

NOTE: Before start, make sure you have followings at hand:

  1. Vista rescue DVD. This might be the one you use to install Vista, or you create by yourself(create it if you have not).

  2. Gparted live CD/USB, you will find you need this Linux tool to save your Vista.


  • Install the Solaris 10 10/08 with the DVD. Choose option 3 or 4 to install ZFS root file system. If you try this on a machine with 1GB RAM, you will get complaints about the insufficient memory(that happened to me at least). BTW, 1GB memory is not enough too for a VirtualBox installation. What I'm talking is all about ZFS root fs. You can still make a UFS installation with 1GB RAM.

  • Reboot, here comes the fun part, you will find your Vista can not boot up when you choose the windows option in the grub menu.

  • In Solaris, install GRUB on the MBR:

    • # installgrub -m /boot/grub/stage1 /boot/grub/stage2
      /dev/rdsk/c0d0t0s0 NOTE: use your own raw device name for your root fs here!

  • Boot the machine with GParted live CD/USB. You will find a NTFS partition and an unknown partition, yes, that's the partition where the ZFS resides.

  • Move the boot flag from the unknown partition to the NTFS partition.

    • GParted does not support ZFS is because of the license incompatibility. ZFS is released under CDDL. GPL does not allow Linux kernel linking with code under a set of licenses, including CDDL. This is not a problem for our case here, just move the flag.

  • Boot the machine with the Vista rescue disk. After a while when the system tries to load the installed vista, it will complain something like "…startup is wrong, fix?", simply accept "yes, and reboot".

The machine is still booted by the GRUB loader, if you want to use the vista loader, then you need some extra steps to edit the bcd registry. Here's a very good blog post with details. It also helps me to get my vista back:).

Enjoy it. Maybe you want to try a triple boot with OpenSolaris, good luck then.

Saturday Nov 08, 2008

Solaris 10 10/08 available

The latest Solaris 10 update release 10/08 is available for download. As expected, you will see the prompt something like "…install ZFS as a root file system" when you load the image to install it. Another new feature, support for Intel SSSE3, SSE4.1/4.2 and AMD SSE4A, enables the kernel to load the applications that have above instruction sets. It does not change the basic system function calls like libc routines to use those new instruction sets. So I believe we can expect to see more performance improvements on Intel platform in later release of Solaris/OpenSolaris, though this release of Solaris already delivered world records results in some benchmark tests. E.g, Two-tier SAP SD Standard Application Benchmark

Adobe flash player 9.0.124 is now available on Solaris. It used to be good news. But unfortunately, soon after 10/08 was released, Adobe released a security alert for this version of flash player. Adobe released a critical update. But as far as I know, to date there's no available mitigation for Solaris. Neither the new version( nor the update version 9.0.151 supports Solaris 10. So for your system safty, I think the best thing you can do for now is to disable adobe flash when you surf the internet on Solaris.

Check out here for more info about what's new in 10/08.

Friday Oct 31, 2008

Increasing power efficiency in OpenSolaris

After the last week's power lose of my OpenSolaris, I started to find utilities for power management. Apart from that accident, I notice when I play with OpenSolaris, the fan runs pretty frequently, and I also want the temperature of the laptop can be lower(). Hence I think I need a tool which can change the CPU frequency on demand. Then I found this tool kit on It comes with a ACPI driver, PowerNow/SpeedStep support and two gnome applets. Cool, just seems to be the one I'm looking for.

The installation of frkit is straightforward. During the reboot, I noticed the message says that "ACPI driver was installed" and "Enable Intel SpeedStep". The most useful command to me is powernowadm, though in my case, it's actually a tool that takes advantages of SpeedStep, rather than PowerNow from AMD. Here's a sample output after installation:
$ powernowadm
 State    MHz   Watts   Volts
     0  1600    17.0   1.244
     1  1400    15.0   1.196
     2  1200    13.5   1.148
     3  1000    11.5   1.100
     4   800     9.5   1.052
     5   600     7.5   0.988 (current)
Powernow mode: automatic

That means my CPU is running at 600MHz, consuming 7.5 Watts. Mnn, pretty environmental friendly. What about if I want it to run faster:
$ powernowadm faster
 State    MHz   Watts   Volts
     0  1600    17.0   1.244
     1  1400    15.0   1.196
     2  1200    13.5   1.148
     3  1000    11.5   1.100
     4   800     9.5   1.052 (new)
     5   600     7.5   0.988 (current)
CPU set to 800 MHz (9.5 Watts)

Interesting. I can also use the applets to monitor the battery status, system temperature and the CPU frequency. Quite handy. So try it, and let me know if you're using something even better.

Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

Save a power-failed OpenSolaris laptop

Last weekend, my OpenSolaris failed to boot. I'm not sure what the reason is till now, though I suspect it's because of the power failure. The OpenSolaris is installed on a laptop. I forget to turn it off (it was unplugged from the AC power) before I went to sleep. Then the next morning, I found it couldn't boot and the battery has run out of power. Anyway, here's how I fixed it.

I booted the machine from an OpenSolaris CD, entered the text console, logged in as Jack/Jack and became root(BTW, you cannot log in as 'root' on OpenSolaris, root became a role rather than a user. I personally think this is a good think in terms of system security). I remembered I installed a few device drivers and upgraded some packages from OpenSolaris repo. A power failure may cause the inconsistence of the boot archive. So I decided to update the boot archive manually.

Force to import the installed OpenSolaris.
# zpool import -f rpool

mount the root file system
# mkdir /foo
# mount -F zfs rpool/ROOT/opensolaris /foo

Backup the current boot archive and then update it with the one on the cdrom
# bootadm update-archive -R /foo

After the reboot, my system was back to work again. The first thing after I logged into the system was creating a snapshot…

Thursday Oct 09, 2008

A sneak peek: Solaris 10 10/08

The newest update release of Solaris 10(10/08 which implicates the general available date is this October) is just around the corner. Although Solaris 10 update releases mainly focus on bug fixing and supporting new systems, I believe some people will still feel exciting about the features added into this release. Let's take a quick look at it and see what new features we will have this time.


ZFS boot and root is one of the long-awaited features for Solaris 10. Now, Solaris 10 can boot from and use ZFS as the root file system, just like OpenSolaris. I'm pretty sure that we will see more exciting features being incorporated into Solaris 10 from OpenSolaris community. Apart from this, system administrators must be pleased to see other enhancements such as “zfs send”. It helps to transfer the file system from master to slave, and we can do it incrementally.

Like always, there’s new system supports come with this latest release. If you have not heard about the huge efforts that Sun has put on the collaboration with Intel, here’s evidence - Solaris 10 adds the support to the latest Intel Xeon processors 7400 Series. It also provides better performance and availability on Xeon. It supports Intel NUMA, Intel SSSE3/4.1/4.2 as well as Fault Management on Xeon. Sun doesn’t forget another “major” player in the x64 market(and once upon a time, Sun’s exclusive partner in the area). This release also supports AMD SSSE4 and provides Fault Management on AMD64.

Solaris 10 10/08 also includes virtualization enhancements. A feature called “update on attach” enables Solaris Container to automatically update its environment when moved from one system to another. And when S10 is used as a guest OS in Xen-based hypervisors, it can now support paravirtualization.

Well, enough talking. Just wait for another several weeks to play with all these cool stuffs.

Update: s10 10/08 is available now.



Jie Shen


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