Thursday, November 10, 2011

First impressions of Solaris 11 11/11

I have had a few hours to try the final Solaris 11 release, overall I think it is far more stable and polished than the previous "Early Adaptors" release. Besides the fact that I am unable to use semi-old SPARC gear to test the release since only the latest generations of hardware are supported I have found few real problem so far.

The new packaging system finally fixes what I believe have been the biggest problem for Solaris the last five years or so, it is now repository based and it is simple to install software and dependencies are automatically solved. No more hassle of downloading and installing multiple software packages from SunFreeware to resolve dependencies. This also makes packaging faster and safer, brining the whole system to a known level and always with a safe recover option since it is used in conjunction with ZFS clones.

Zones are a fantastic tool for security/workload separation and virtualization so it's good to see that so many enhancements have been done in this area. The perhaps most noticeable is of corse that they now also use the new IPS system for packages and that makes a vanilla zones very lightweight without the hassle of a sparse zone. NFS service can now finally be provided from inside a zone. There is a tight integration with the new crossbow network virtualization making is possible to limit bandwidth to zones, use DHCP in a zone without having a separate NIC and build internal networks between zones inside a single Solaris 11 instance.

Imagine the power and flexibility of an T4-4 with 256 CPU threads and 1TB of memory running 50 zones with several high bandwidth/low latency networks inside the machine with no latency or overhead caused by virtualization.

Unfortunately the X86 version with the graphical desktop seems to be somewhat unstable compared to the Express release, I think it's related to the upgrade of the X server. I have been unable to use my laptop with to displays with the final release.

Solaris 11 is however focused on usage in servers and it seems stable for that, I have only found one disturbing problem so far, sharing ZFS filesystems does not seem to work ( zfs set -o sharenfs=on), but you can share each individual filesystem with the share command. Sadly if you are evaluating this you will probably have to wait until next year when there is a full release of Solaris since no updates are provided without a service contract. If you work for Oracle this is something you might want to fix for everyone, or tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Solaris 11 have many other new features such as per-user encryption of home directories with ZFS crypto, a new mirror/raidz hybrid bloc allocator for ZFS, numerous security enhancements among other thinks. I have only named a few of the changes I will probably keep posting Solaris 11 stuff as I find something interesting that is not directly highlighted it Oracle own what's new documents.

Update: As pointed out in the comments sharing of NFS together with ZFS works a bit differently now. If you share an existing dataset you have to set the share property. However if you set the sharenfs property when creating the dataset it works as in previous versions of Solaris 11 Express, OpenSolaris etc. Move information available in the documentation here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Solaris 11 released

Solaris 11 is available for download "SunOS Release 5.11 Version 11.0", based on build snv_175b.

There are of course many changes since Solaris 10, most of them have been available in the latest build of OpenSolaris but there are some new that are unique to the final release of Solaris 11.

Install images are available for download and works on all current SPARC machines which is the T and M-series. There are also images available for X86-based machines which also can be used in VirtualBox. Here is a quick reference for the brand new packaging system: IPS one liners.

I will post more detailed follow-up after I've had time to test it for more than a few hours.

Oracle Solaris 11 11/11 – What’s new
Download Oracle Solaris 11
Future features of Solaris 11

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Solaris 11 release and webcast

Solaris 11 will be release 2011/11/09 (2011/11/11 was not optimal for some reason).

Oracle will host a launch event in New York and you can register to attend to the live webcast.

Even if I have abandoned Solaris 11 for OpenIndiana for storage related installations, Solaris 11 have it's obvious place on bigger iron in the datacenter or for any mission critical workload that needs enterprise support. I would gladly have continued to use Solaris 11 for storage but the change made by Oracle to ditch the community and move to closed source and stricter licensing prevents that.

This will make fantastic features such as crossbow, IPS, Native CIFS and COMSTAR available for use in production environments. Many enhancements for zones have also been made, they can for example be NFS servers in Solaris 11.

Also if you want to make the most use of the new SPARC T4, Solaris 11 is the best choice since not every change usable to the T4 have been ported back to Solaris 10 8/11.

If you pay for support of Solaris 11, please demand that Oracle gives you access to the source, DTrace will loose it's value otherwise and I think Oracle needs to hear that.

Oracle Solaris 11 Launch webcast

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

ZFS is 10 years!

It's been 10 years (31 Oct) since the first ZFS prototype was run inside of Sun Microsystems, 4 years later it was integrated in OpenSolaris and available to everyone to test. I've been using ZFS since 2004 and I must say that while I have always been impressed by ZFS it took until 2010 before the last bits where in place to make it really usable in demanding environments without problems. It takes time for a complex and critical system to grow mature, that's why I think ZFS will be the best option for a few years to come even if other systems could provide the same functionality. Today ZFS is available in both commercial and free operating systems as well as the foundation of several commercial storage products such as the Sun ZFS storage appliance and NexentaStor.

Some of the latest ZFS features are only available in the closed version of ZFS owned by Oracle and distributed with Solaris but the free version is also going forward. It 's being developed by the illumos community with companies such as Nexenta, Joeyent and Delphix. The illumos branch of ZFS is also stable and used by the companies developing it in their own commercial products.

ZFS 10 year anniversary
ZFS: Live after Oracle
ZFS working group