Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sun, Oracle, Intel: ALOM, ILOM, AMT, IPMI, and SNMP

Capabilities to manage systems have traditionally been at the OS level. Over a decade ago, companies such as Sun started bundling out-of-band management into their Open Systems servers, allowing such capabilities such as dial-in, serial attachment to console ports, and attachment over LAN at a layer underneath the Operating System [such as Solaris]. This type of capability has been expanded upon by proprietary CPU vendors such as Intel and bundled into an increasing number of systems.

[ALOM Diagram, courtesy googlux]
Three Capabilities:
The three capabilities which exist today seem to be:
LOM - Sun/Oracle Lights Out Management interface [targeting servers]
IPMI - Intelligent Platform Management Interface [targeting servers]
AMT - Intel Active Management Technology [targeting desktops]

These technologies provide access to the firmware, which is either OpenBoot or BIOS depending on whether one is running an Open System (such as SPARC) or Proprietary Intel platform
Lights-Out Management comes in two distinct flavors:
ALOM - Older generation Sun Advanced Lights Out Management [targeting servers]
ILOM - Newer generation Oracle/Sun Integrated Lights Out Management [targeting servers]

Included here is an older V100 LOM/OpenBoot tutorial from YouTube. This is helpful for getting started with attaching to a serial based console, to perform initial settings.

Also included here is an OpenBoot cheat-sheet or quick reference, cheat sheet for ALOM/ILOM, an youtube webGUI tutorial for ILOM.

The proprietary Intel AMT technology with Intel vPro bundles a remote KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) interface via VNC for desktops. Here is a short AMT cheat-sheet on leveraging generic VNC on an Intel vPro based machines. Here is the Intel AMT Development Kit.

[ILOM Diagram, courtesy googlux]
What are the relationships?
The ALOM systems initially targeted the Open SPARC based systems, while ILOM was later created by Sun for the proprietary AMD and Intel based servers. Over time, ILOM was leveraged for both platforms and is now supported by Oracle on Sun branded servers for SPARC, AMD, and Intel. If running an older platform, ALOM may be the only option. The most recent versions of LOM, called ILOM, also supports IPMI. IPMI is also supported by various Intel server vendors. AMT is built upon some IPMI framework, but is more proprietary, and targets mainly desktop.

[IPMI Block Diagram, courtesy Wikipedia]
What should one use?
IPMI allows for a common management protocol across multiple server vendors. It is the least common denominator. If the desktop & server architecture is recent enough, IPMI should be used to provide a common management interface. It facilitates access to the hardware which underpins the hypervisor and operating system. Information contained includes: fans, power, temperature, logs, OS reboot attempts, etc. This information can be gathered out-of-band, or when the OS is not booted.

How should one use IPMI?
LOM (ALOM, ILOM) and AMT can be used to configure IPMI to allow access via SNMP protocol so the IPMI layer can comnunicate via common network management platforms. IPMI command line tools can also configure the SNMP protocol access. SNMP is the "Internet-standard protocol for managing devices on IP networks", defined by the IETF, for management over TCP/IP networks. AMT, LOM, ILOM, or IPMI may be used to configure SNMP access to the BMC or Baseboard Management Controller. SNMP can be configured to send asynchronous events, or TRAPS, to a management station when there is a failure.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Resources for Mac Mini: Macmini2,1 2007

Sometimes in the computer industry, one just wants a pleasure machine to work, when one works on systems all day long. The Apple Macintoch is a fine platform which just normally works, but when it breaks, there can be interesting problems. This article walks through a short scenario common to some users.

The Problem:
When someone has an older family of systems, often hard drives will be moved from one machine to another, as systems are upgraded. The original system was moved to an external hard drive and carried from system to system, until eventually finding it's way upon this Mac Mini 2 GHz Intel 2 Core Duo. The external hard drive crashed, so a new external hard drive was formatted up,  A new version of iMovie and iPhoto were needed, but we could not download them from the Apple Store, because a new version of the MacOSX was needed (10.7.5 minimum.) This platform had MacOSX 10.6.8, so this means a new OS needed to be installed, but no longer appeared to be available on the Apple App Store. The new OS required a minimum of 2 GB, when this platform only had 1 GB. The platform would need to be opened, but opening up the older generation Intel Mac Mini is not quite that simple.

Opening an Intel based Mac Mini
The first phase in the adventure is opening the Mac Mini. The 2006 Macmini1,1 and 2007 Macmini2,1 both offer similar opening instructions. It takes some care, so watch the video included above.

Memory Requirements
It should be noted, the memory required  is one or two 200-pin PC2-5300 DDR2 (667 MHz) SO-DIMM cards. While lower configurations are possible, Apple supports dual 512MB cards (Mac OSX 10.6.8 compatible), dual 1 GB chips (Mac OSX 10.7.5 compatible), and dual 2 GB chips are possible (but only a little over 3GB is available, due to a chipset limitation on these models, but this configuration is not officially supported.) When two identical chips are used, the system will operate at it's peak performance.

Mac OSX 10.6.8 to 10.7.5
The OS this machine came to me with was Max OSX 10.6.8. While this was a fine OS for the time, apparently I should have purchased iPhoto upgrade when I had the chance. It was too late to download OSX 10.7 from the Apple App Store, but when you call Customer Support, you can purchase it on-line and upgrade over the internet!

Perhaps one should have just asked to purchase an older version of iPhoto? This will be the last OS upgrade done on this Mac Mini, because Apple will no longer support a newer OS version on it. It may also be a good time to upgrade to an internal SSD. The platform will continue to be a reasonable platform for phone sync'ing, photo storage, and movie editing for some time, however, so this final upgrade may be very worth my while since it works so well on a 1080p television and existing Bluetooth Keyboard and Trackpad.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Updated Tab: OpenSXCE

Network Management updated the OpenSXCE Tab - New Release Information!

[OpenSXCE  by Martin Bochnig]

OpenSXCE 2013.05 is an enterprise-class OpenSolaris-based server and desktop-oriented Install and Live DVD distribution. OpenSXCE runs primarily on Intel CPU-compatible and Sun UltraSPARC sun4u/sun4v-compatible 32-bit & 64-bit computers. Both GNOME and IceWM are provided with major applications like Firefox 21.0, Thunderbird 17.0.6, GIMP 2.6.7, OpenOffice 3.4.1, Pidgin 2.6.5, Songbird, Ekiga, Oracle Solaris Studio 12.x professional C/C++ compiler, and selected GNOME-based desktop applications. Use Wine 1.4.1 for installing Windows-based applications like PhotoShop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Libreoffice, or even your favorite video game. OpenSXCE is indirectly based upon portions of Illumos.
2013.05 and Newer Releases, Based Upon DilOS

[http] Main Web Site with  Downloads
[http] Official OpenSXCE Blog
[http] 2013.01 Live SPARC DVD
[http] 2013.05 Live x86 DVD
[http] Twitter for latest comments
[http] Maintainer - Martin Bochnig

New Tab: DilOS!

Network Management has introduced a new Source Code Repository and Distribution Tab: DilOS

DilOS is focused to be a development environment for illumos and userland builds. It supports build env with DPKG and IPKG zones. It specifically targets Intel platforms, but additional distributions are being hosted for other processors like SPARC.
  • DilOS can be a base platform for new distros - to create new APT repo's with DEB packages and ISO's.
  • DilOS can be installed to a Virtual machine (such as: VMware, VBox, etc) or bare metal with text console and SSH access.
  • DilOS contain: dilos-userland + dilos-illumos-gate + converted binaries to DEB packages from OpenIndiana (oi-experimental).
[http] Introduction to DilOS
[http] Frequently Asked Questions
[http] Documentation
[http] Download

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Solaris ZFS: Still King for 2013

Filesystems have been the core of OS's for decades, with patches being slung upon patches. Sun released and open sourced ZFS under Solaris 10 with 128 bit computing in mind, with their projection from the life expectancy of UFS, to be good for many decades to come. ZFS has been forked and used under multiple OS distributions while alternate vendors have been cooperating to create a better file system (BTRFS) for years, in order to compete feature-for-feature.
Jeff Bonwick, who spent approximately 20 years at Sun Microsystems, worked with a team of developers to create ZFS, sometimes known as Zetabyte File System, but now known just as ZFS. Dozens upon dozens of OS's have standardized upon some release of ZFS since development started in 2001, with the ZFS source code being worked by Oracle, and also separately by other OS's and OpenSolaris distributions for both SPARC, Intel, and AMD platforms.

A little History:
ZFS has been around a long time, underpinning one of the most stable operating systems underpinning the Internet.
OpenSXCE on DilOS continues the OpenIndiana tradition that OpenSolaris began from Sun Solaris, offering a way forward with ZFS under SPARC, Intel, and AMD platforms.
This effort started with the intention of bringing a ZFS-like file system to Linux. Why go through this effort with all the ZFS porting work happening? This is a good question. With over a decade of work into ZFS, it seems crazy to re-create the wheel now that Oracle owns both efforts, but there was an announcement. In May 2013, BTRFS might arrive at the end of 2013 or early 2014 for distributions. Apparently, this was the promise for the past 3 years.
Network Management Implications:
ZFS is the way of the future, with the rest of the world trying to catch up. Perhaps by this time in 2014, there will be a competitive filesystem. A network management platform would find itself in a very secure place, running on world-class OS hosted by ZFS. Such a world-class ZFS operating system distribution is not hard to find. Solaris 10 is available under SPARC and Intel. Solaris 11 is available under SPARC and Intel. If Oracle licensing does not suit business requirements, binary distributions such as OpenSXCE are looking promising for SPARC, Intel, and AMD platforms with Solaris 10 compatibility. If compatibility is not a requirement, there are dozens of other ZFS related platforms available.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Solaris, Verizon FiOS, and The Internet

Solaris and Home Users
An interesting article hit the wires. A couple of Solaris ZFS platforms in someone's home with 24TB of data storage each is apparently the culprit of sucking a lot of bandwidth. It is interesting how Solaris continues to be a motivating factor on The Internet after all these years. Verizon is not very happy with the massive data consumption of their FiOS Internet connected network.

[houkouonchi's data usage in May 2013]
 How Much is Unlimited?
Houkauonchi in California apparently pays residential rates of $208/month for 2 lines. Verizon started offering a faster residential option, which he took, even though the old business option previously had did not experience a discount or an incremental faster upgrade. What would any reasonable home user do? Well, he switched from a fast business rate to a faster resential rate to get more bandwidth! LOL! Verizon wants him to move to move back to a $400/month business service.

Once the telephone company sees an outlier like this in their usage, they start asking questions. Sometimes, it can be spammers or illegal pirating / file sharing activity.The primary driver for bandwidth usage for this user is securing hosting a server used by friends & family on the internet. As soon as this was done, Terms of Service is violated, and he needs to move to Business subscription.

[Brak710 data usage in May 2013]
Not isolated:
Another user, Brak710 from Pittsburgh, PA,
received the same type of inquiry. Apparently, he is purchasing4 different FiOS network connections, all from neighboring properties. High bandwidth usage also drove his basement servers to Business rates.
Lessons Learned:
If you have equipment at home, keep in mind that Network Carriers are monitoring their networks. Regular abusive usage patterns may cause your montly rate to rise, if once wants to keep their residential access pricing!