Tag Archives: Laptop Solaris

Summarizing virtualization technologies from Sun

Inspired by a recent discussion on Xen Discuss about what different virtualization solutions were available from Sun I thought I’d take the information provided by Volker A. Brandt and Bernd Schemmer and put it into a convenient table.

Name Sparc x86 Method OS Kernel Guest OS
xVM X software(1) many various
VirtualBox X software many various
Containers/Zones X X software one Solaris/branded
LDOMs X hardware many Solaris(2)
Domains (Mx000 series) X hardware many Solaris
Domains (E10K, SF##K series, v1280, v4800) X hardware many Solaris, Linux

(1) with CPU assistance for “full” virtualisation
(2) experimental Linux/BSD (?) support

Actually, Sun have a pretty good summary, but some of the technologies are hidden behind the hardware on which they run, for example LDOM is a firmware-level solution built into many of the SPARC hardware solutions.

Teaching OpenSolaris

While looking for some information on OpenSolaris in preparation for my talk this week I came across some excellent material providing backgrounds on OpenSolaris for both instructors and students.

The material is part of the Curriculum Development Resources at OpenSolaris.org and is available as PDFs for download. The documents are short and easy to read, but packed with lots of useful information and a good read for anybody interested in understanding more about the technology and functionality in OpenSolaris.

More Datacenters in a Container

Not exactly portable (unless you have a container lorry or ship handy), but I’d love to have one of Sun’s Sun’s Modular Datacenters available to use.

The Modular Datacenter (otherwise known as Project Blackbox) squeezes 7 or 8 racks, depending on the the configuration fits 240 or 280 Us of rackspace into a standard shipping container. The idea is that you can deploy one of these containers very quickly with your desired set up, either to handle all of your datacenter requirements (which it could), or it’s used as a quick solution for a particular project.

Interestingly, I can also see it as a potential solution for cloud computing. Not only would a one of these containers make an excellent datacenter in it’s own right, but the ability to quickly expand the capacity when you need kinda takes the idea of cloud computing and easily expanded capacity to another level.

Sun are not the only people doing these datacenters in a container though:

All of them promote the density and power of the systems and, more importantly in todays climate, their energy efficiency.

In an ideal world we’d line these all up next to each other and compare them, but I hardly think that would be practical. It would, however, be interesting to see what sort of power, performance and flexibility these systems offered.

Resources for Running Solaris OS on a Laptop

As Solaris gets more and more popular I’m seeing more and more people running Solaris on a laptop as their primary operating system. I’ve even got friends who have migrated over completely to Solaris from Linux. I’ve been using it for years and managed to tolerate some of the problems we had in the early days, but today it works brilliantly on many machines.

I came across this article on BigAdmin, it’s old, but a lot of the information is still perfectly valid.

Read Resources for Running Solaris OS on a Laptop

Setting up the new T105

So yesterday I mentioned the new Dell T105 I got on special offer. Setting up Solaris 10 on this new machine is a little more complex than I would have wanted, but it’s now up and running fine.

Here’s what I did to get Solaris b81 working:

1. SXDE b81 has a bug in that SATA CD-ROM/DVD-ROMs aren’t identified properly, so you need to use an older version (pre-b79 it seems) and then upgrade. So:
2. Install SXDE/SXCE b78 or earlier (I actually used Solaris Express 9/07, which is based on b70)
3. Install LiveUpdate
4. Install a second instance of the OS and enable it
5. Boot into the second instance
6. Perform a live update of the original installation
7. Re-enable the original install
8. Install the Broadcom Ethernet drivers from here if you want the built-in network driver to work (it wont be good enough for xVM because only legacy support is available).

That’s it – for full xVM I disabled the internal Ethernet card and then added a Realtek-based PCI Ethernet card and it works fine. I’m now in the process of setting up some additional domains (Gentoo, Windows).

ZFS resource update

I’m getting really deep into ZFS at the moment as I try and work out how best to use it in different environments and how it affects and alters performance on different loads.

I’ve across some great ZFS resources, new and old, and blog posts surrounding using ZFS:

For performance tuning there’s a great guide on the Solaris Internals Wiki which reads a lot like a ‘Don’t do this…’ guide, but has some useful tips too: ZFS Evil Tuning Guide.

And if you want to know about the comparison between hardware RAID and ZFS in terms of performance, Robert Milkowski has two posts on benchmarks: Part 1 and Part 2.

Twin 64-bit Opteron’s

I got a really good deal on some Dell servers. The T105’s were on special offer starting at just 99GBP, and even with 3-year support contracts and 4GB RAM I managed to get both for less than 500 GBP (+VAT). That’s a pretty good price for four cores of 64-bit computing.

The plan is to put Solaris b81 and xVM on at least one of these, and either Solaris or Linux on the other.

The main reason behind that is to get on top of some Solaris and Linux development work, but also to try and do some heavier testing on these platforms and try out some scalability solutions like DRBD and memcached. I’m hoping that as a testing environment, this solution will work out better from a performance and practicality point of view than using Parallels or VMware to run the test hosts.

Determining Solaris Support using Sun Device Detection Tool

Want to know whether your machine is capable of running Solaris?

I came across the Sun Device Detection Tool, a Java application that you can run straight from the browser (it’s a JNLP app) that will check the devices on your machine and then compare that against the devices known to work and then tell you if your hardware is going to be OK.

Sun say you don’t have to use the tool if your system is listed on the HCL, but I’ve found it to be a pretty useful for checking all sorts of machines even they are listed.

For a more detailed overview, Dennis Clarke has a detailed look at the 1.2 version here. The 2.0 release is the current one.

Sun Ultra 20M2 review

Not exactly a laptop, I reviewed Sun’s Ultra 20M2 desktop last year and completely forgot to mention it.

I loved the machine (it was fast, well configured and well put together) and I almost purchased my very own, until I got an alternative option just last week (of which more later). It wasn’t available at the time, but a reasonably priced and fully specced machine would make a wonderful xVM host.

Read the review at Free Software Magazine, where you can find out what I liked about the Sun Ultra 20M2.