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Solaris 11 is launched Comments Off on Solaris 11 is launched

The long wait is over, and Oracle have finally pushed Solaris 11 out of the door. It feels a bit odd to be talking about Oracle releasing a new version of Solaris, but given how long ago Solaris 10 came out, it’s good to see what they’ve been up to.

By now most people should be up to speed with the new features in Solaris 11, like the Automated Installer (AI) and the new IPS packaging system.

ZFS with encryption has been available since Solaris 11 Express was released a year ago. We’ve had a heads-up that support for 32bit x86 CPUs was being dropped, as was support for anything other than T and M class SPARC boxes.

However, there are some extra new features that have come to light with the FCS release:

  • Password caching for su – this is an implementation in PAM that’s similar to the ticketing system used in sudo. Darren Moffat has an entry in his blog that details how to enable it.
  • root is no longer a user, it’s a role. This been the case since Solaris 11 Express, and in OpenIndiana, but it needs repeating
  • Encrypted user home directories, using encrypted ZFS and delegated key management
  • SMF layers – basically allowing a way to apply and manage SMF properties and customisations. You can read more on Sean Wilcox’s blog here.
  • Many new zone tweaks – Immutable Zones, zone boot environments, and different packages in the global zone and other zones
  • Intel AESNI crypto functions have been added to OpenSSL. Previously in Solaris x86, the AESNI functions had been added to the kernel and pkcs11 libraries – now they’re available within OpenSSL as well.

If you can make it to Oracle’s City Office in London next Wednesday, the UK Oracle User Group Solaris SIG (yeah, I know, LOSUG was much less of a mouthful) are having a special Solaris 11 launch event, starting at 2pm and running through the normal meeting in the evening.

You can find more details on the Solaris SIG site here – it promises to be an interesting event that’s well worth attending.

Solaris 11 Early Adopter Release Comments Off on Solaris 11 Early Adopter Release

As the Solaris 11 GA release approaches, Oracle have announced the Solaris 11 Early Adopter release. The EA release is an update on the previous Solaris 11 Express, with final features frozen.

The EA Release is aimed at developers, to carry out testing and qualification of their applications. With the feature list and functionality frozen, barring some last minute bug fixes, this is what the final Solaris 11 release will look like.

You can find out more at Oracle’s Solaris 11 Early Adopter page. Download links are direct from there – but a quick warning: the only supported SPARC systems are M and T series kit.

Now’s the time to get to grips with the Automated Installer, ZFS root, and the other changes that Solaris 11 will bring.

Solaris 11 Express is out Comments Off on Solaris 11 Express is out

Well, the covers have come off and Solaris 11 Express is out. This is going to come as a shock to any Solaris sysadmin who hasn’t played with OpenSolaris or OpenIndiana.

Out with the old:

  • no more UFS root
  • no more patch* commands
  • SVR4 packaging is still there, but deprecated in favour of IPS
  • no more Jumpstart
  • no more flash archives

In with the new:

  • ZFS everywhere
  • ZFS de-duplication
  • ZFS encryption
  • ZFS diff – see the changes between ZFS snapshots
  • AI (the Automated Installer) is how you’re going to be installing Solaris 11
  • IPS is the default packaging/patching system
  • the root account is now an RBAC role

Solaris 11 Express is basically free for any use other than production. The default IPS repository will be updated with critical bug fixes and security patches (think the old Recommended patch clusters) and there is a support repository, for those who have support contracts, which will have full access to all patches and updates.

Solaris 11 Express also qualifies for Oracle Premier Support. If you have SPARC kit, you’ll need at least OBP version 4.17 to use the Automated Installer (AI), but it looks like you can still use the text installer with older OBP versions.

You can find more details in the Solaris 11 Express FAQ.

snv_151 seems to be the the ON build used, which is a bit newer than snv_147 used for OpenIndiana (the team are working on an oi_148 release at the moment – have a look at the OpenIndiana Wiki)

All in all, Solaris 11 Express looks to be pretty much what was expected. It’s going to be ‘commercial’ OpenSolaris – it was pretty much always my understanding that OpenSolaris would push new features, and that those would be rolled into the Solaris product as and when they matured. Things didn’t quite work out that way over the last few years – OpenSolaris became too new, with too many new features, and with the dropping of Solaris SX:CE, there was no real merging of products going on.

What I want to know is – how will JASS work with the new operating environment?

Oracle Premier Support on Dell and HP – why this matters Comments Off on Oracle Premier Support on Dell and HP – why this matters

So there were a rash of news reports about Oracle pulling third party support contracts for Solaris x86 – specifically with HP and IBM. It seems this was all a storm in a teacup, handled with the usual communicative excellence from Oracle (seriously, guys, *come on*).

Oracle have announced new support agreements with HP and Dell. This is important for a couple of reasons, which I’ll explain here as the mainstream press seems to have conveniently glossed them over in their rush to backpeddle on their previous “OMG Solaris is dying!” claims.

Firstly, it’s becoming clear that Oracle are having a lot more success than Sun when it comes to showing other x86 server suppliers who wears the trousers. Sun’s line was pretty much “Your customers want it, so go on, sell Solaris licenses and support – please”. Oracle’s new deal with HP and Dell is a lot more impressive:

Oracle today announced Dell and HP will certify and resell Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM on their respective x86 platforms.


Customers will have full access to Oracle’s Premier Support for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM running on Dell and HP servers. This will enable fast and accurate issue resolution and reduced risk in a company’s operating environment

It’s not just Solaris – it’s Oracle’s entire stack: Solaris x86, Oracle Linux, and Oracle VM. It’s clear Oracle are able to use their database sales .

The second big development has really been overlooked:

World-class Oracle Solaris support on any certified x86 system on the Solaris Hardware Compatibility List (HCL)

That’s right – Oracle are offering Premier Support for Solaris on all certified systems on the Solaris HCL. That’s over 500 server systems – all qualifying for Premier Support.

This is even more relevant when taken in the context of Oracle’s previous comments about increasing investment in SPARC. Why divert development effort to the low x86 end, when you can get your hardware partners to supply the really cheap, low margin gear? Give your customers a neat upgrade path, using the same Solaris OS on a tightly integrated Oracle x86 cluster.

Then supply the customers another upgrade path when they really need to scale – Solaris on SPARC, all the way up to beefy M9000s. The OS is the same, the database is the same, and Oracle can provide customers with a well defined and (relatively) painless upgrade path – which they supply.

This is a real shot in the arm for Solaris x86 and will go a long way to allay the fears of sites who’ve chosen to deploy on x86.

OpenSolaris – turmoil in the community Comments Off on OpenSolaris – turmoil in the community

The continued silence from Oracle is causing a bit of a stir in the OpenSolaris community. The OGB (the governing board for the OpenSolaris community) has given Oracle an ultimatum – appoint a liaison to the community by August 16th, or the OGB will dissolve and dump things back in Oracle’s lap.

Peter Tribble has a good take from the OGB’s point of view here, and Ben Rockwood shares his frustrations here.

In the meantime, the Nexenta guys (who count a number of excellent ex-Sun Solaris chaps amongst their number) have said to sit tight and wait for some news. Out of all the community distributions, Nexenta seem to have the talent and business plan to push forward a solid product built around Oracle’s sources.

As well as checking out Nexenta Core, I’d recommend keeping an eye on Alasdair Lumsden’s efforts to get a community OpenSolaris distribution up and running.

The most notable silence so far on the OpenSolaris lists has been from Joyent – they’re heavy users of OpenSolaris, and it’s pretty key to their business. Are they rolling their own custom distribution internally?

Oracle’s attitude to user groups, smaller Sun partners, and communities around products like OpenSolaris and Lustre has been appalling. Lack of communication and transparency is the least of the problems.

Yes, Sun was a big company, and yes, integration of a bottom-up culture like Sun’s into a top-down culture like Oracle was always going to be painful. But it’s been a year since Oracle bought Sun, and it’s not like they didn’t know what they were getting.

I’m sitting tight for Oracle OpenWorld in September, because there will be a slew of relevant announcements then. Yes, the continued silence from Oracle is pretty poor – but it’s the way they run things, and hopefully post OpenWorld we’ll be seeing some changes in the way Oracle operates.

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