Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Solaris and VNC

A simple way to crank up VNC on demand.

ZFS: Snapshot Differences

ZFS: Snapshot Differences


ZFS, the first modern Open Source file system, was released years ago. The Copy on Write (CoW) capability of the file system offers distinct capabilities, such as inherent capability to understand the state of the file system over time. The ability to provide nearly unlimited snapshots to the file system is an example of the features capable with CoW. The ability to offer the user differences between snapshots was recently introduced into OpenSolaris.


Recently introduced into OpenSolaris, PSARC/2010/105 provides the ability "to describe what has changed between the snapshots of a dataset" based upon ZFS.

The syntax looks similar to the following:
zfs diff [snapshot] [snapshot|filesystem]
The output describes the changes noted between the ZFS datasets.
The type of change is described with a single character:
+ Indicates the file/directory was added in the later dataset
- Indicates the file/directory was removed in the later dataset
M Indicates the file/directory was modified in the later dataset
R Indicates the file/directory was renamed in the later dataset

If the modification involved a change in the link count of a
file, the change will be expressed as a delta within
parentheses on the modification line. Example outputs are

M /myfiles/
M /myfiles/link_to_me (+1)
R /myfiles/rename_me -> /myfiles/renamed
- /myfiles/delete_me
+ /myfiles/new_file


An example of usage is as follows:
# echo 'tim was here' > file
# zfs snapshot toad/timh@before
# touch file
# zfs snapshot toad/timh@after
# zfs diff toad/timh@before toad/timh@after
M /toad/timh/file
Benefits to Network Management:

The benefits to adding such capabilities to Solaris include:
  • Multiple revisions of code can be tracked through a regularly scheduled cron to snapshot the ZFS file system, today.
  • Developers, with minimal work, can roll back to old code, when applying snapshots to filesystes on a regular basis, today.
  • The addition of the "diff" gives developers the ability to understand the other dependencies, if multiple changes happened to multiple files at the same time.
  • Capabilities are provided in a transparent way where no additional time must be consumed by developers, making the more efficient, driving a fiscal reason to move to ZFS under Solaris.
  • If a production environment starts experiencing problems, the snapshot diff can be used to find out what seemingly unrelated changes could have affected the production environment, driving an availability reason to move to ZFS under Solaris.
  • This is a simple way to audit production systems, guaranteeing the integrity of production platforms against virus infestation, driving legal reasons to move to ZFS under Solaris.
  • Virus scanning of media can be significantly quickened if seeding the scanner with the diff between snapshots, reducing overall load on disk subsystems as well as CPU capacity, extending the life of existing infrastructure while meeting existing security requirements.
  • Snapshots can be taken while applications are in "hot backup" mode, or during a nightly restart of an application. Differences can be backed up using the diff, instead of the less efficient checking every file handle for changes, allowing for more efficient backups to be done against an application in production, better meeting business continuity requirements.
There are numerous benefits to ZFS Snapshot differences that can change the way businesses do computing today - if the businesses decide to leverage them to meet their development, fiscal, legal, security requirements, and business continuity requirements.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Administer Interfaces Under Solaris

Administer Interfaces Under Solaris


Under Solaris, users could configure some flat files and reboot a system in order to bring up their machine on an IP network. The startup scripts under Solaris traditionally leveraged the straight "ifconfig" command to add the network interfaces for the IP layer. The command for managing interfaces as the data link layer had been "dladm". Sun also bundled "IPFilter" into Solaris 10 for firewalling and NAT'ing. Configuring the various IP interfaces has been somewhat complex, so a new user friendly command has recently landed in OpenSolaris to help: "ipadm".

Configuration File Method:

The configuration files which are normally leveraged to configure a simple system before restart include:
  • /etc/inet/hosts
    Holds the IP Address & hostname of the machine. Can also be used for the default router. Example entries include: Ultra60 loghost WRT600 defaultrouter

  • /etc/inet/ipnodes
    Holds the IP Address & hostname of the machine. Can also be used for the default router. Example entries include: Ultra60 loghost WRT600 defaultrouter

  • /etc/netmasks
    Hosts the address of the network that the machine is sitting on. Example entry includes:

  • /etc/defaultrouter
    Holds the IP Address or host name of the default router. Example entry includes:

  • /etc/hostname.[interface]
    Holds the hostname for the physical[:logical] IP interface. Example for "ce0" includes:
The "files" method is persistent across reboots, but of course requires a reboot. If a reboot is not possible, then follow the instructions below to perform the On-Line Method of configuration.

On-Line Method:

For people who can not afford to perform reboots of a system, interfaces can be added while the operating system remains on-line using the "ifconfig" command.
  • ifconfig [interface] plumb
    Puts the "plumbing" in place to configure an IP interface. Example command:
    ifconfig ce0 plumb

  • ifconfig [interface] addif [ipaddress/netmask]
    Assigns an address to a plumbed interface.
    ifconfig ce0 addif
In order for on-line changes to be persistent across reboots, it is important that the Configuration File Method has already been followed.

The New Method

With the PSARC/2010/080, OpenSolaris includes a unified interface to build interfaces on-line, which can also be made persistent.

For some examples on how to use the new OpenSolaris "ipadm" command are here.

We are all looking forward to this making it into Solaris!

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's my MAC address? OpenBoot PROM edition

Discovering MAC addresses in OpenBoot PROM:

Enter OpenBoot Prom

Method 1: simple result

ok .enet-addr

Method 2: slightly more information

ok .idprom
Format/Type: ... Ethernet: 0 3 ba xx xx xx Date: ... Serial: ... Checksum: ...

Method 3: in-depth result

ok show-devs

Look through results for 'ethernet', 'network' or similar words. There will probably be multiple network devices.

ok cd /pci@1f,0/ethernet@5

You will receive an output of device properties, look for:

local-mac-address 00 03 ba xx xx xx

Repeat as necessary.

Connecting SMARTBoard to a SunRay

Connecting SMARTBoard to a SunRay

Have you spoken to teachers who complain about getting their work done in the classroom when the school provided computer breaks down and there is no simple way for the teacher to fix it within the time allotted when attendance has to be taken in home room and submitted before 1st period? How about trying to do a lesson and having the smart board or computer break down?

A SunRay UltraThin Client is the way to go in these demanding environments where 100% uptime is really needed in these rigid time-demanding environments.

Watching it Work:

No need for a teacher to have to worry about anything, just plug it in and watch it work. If the SMARTBoard breaks, plug in a another one. If the SunRay breaks, just plug in another one. OK - this is really awesome... Thanks WerkPlek!

YouTube Video

"Video shows how we installed and configured a Sun Ray DTU with a SMARTboard in a classroom. A digital blackboard (this one is white :-) is very popular today at schools."

The Sun VDI is a flexible architecture with many possible options to plug in.

Sun VDI:


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Good News for Large SNMP Performance Management!

Good News for Large SNMP Performance Management!

Seagate ships 2TB 6Gb/s SAS enterprise drive

Thanks to
SNSEuope for the good news!
Seagate is now shipping its 3.5-inch Constellation ES drive, the industry's first 2TB enterprise-class drives featuring 6Gb SAS, to customers worldwide. Designed specifically for multi-drive nearline storage environments, the Constellation ES drive has been qualified by leading enterprise OEMs and system builders who demand storage solutions of the highest capacities with increased power efficiency, enterprise-class reliability, and data security that their customers demand. The Constellation ES drive leverages Seagate's 30 years of leadership in meeting large enterprise customer needs in product development, qualification, and support.

The fourth-generation, 3.5-inch Seagate® Constellation™ ES drive family for 7200-RPM enterprise environments enables cost-effective, highly efficient storage with capacities of 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. Supporting up to 76TB per square foot, it offers best-in-class reliability, leading 6Gb/s SAS or SATA 3Gb/s performance, PowerChoice™ optimized power and cooling technology, and a government-grade security option – all backed by Seagate.
The Impact on Network Management

Businesses were forced to use 300GB drives to build large storage systems to hold large quantities of collected SNMP data in a managed services environment. With these new drives, there will be the ability to more reliably hold vastly larger quantities of data per chassis!

With typical a typical enterprise chassis holding 6.6x the storage, a singe ZFS file system will supports a lot more customers in the same form factor. Many other legacy file systems will top out at 16 Terabytes, making even the smallest external disk chassis with 2 Terabyte SAS drives a burden from an OS and Application perspective.

Adding 6x the quantity of memory to an existing computing chassis, to properly cache 6x the disk capacity, is most likely not a reasonable option, without buying computing platform. With ZFS, the ability to leverage a PCIe slot for read and write caches, will provide superior performance and linear scalability for those very same applications with the larger disks (as they are filled to capacity) than non-flash and non-ZFS based systems. This means, adding more disks will scale more linearly, without adding substantial quantities of RAM for in-memory cache, since popping in another PCIe card will do the trick.

This is GREAT for everyone - the Managed Services Provider, whose costs will decrease, as well as the Customer, who will receive lower prices for the services received!