Friday, May 23, 2008

Networking vanished

I've had a faulty X2100M2 - it's been claiming for months that it's got a failed fan.

Originally it thought all the fans had failed (although I was somewhat suspicious because the temperatures looked fine). So I replaced them once and that made it happier, but not entirely happy.

So today we tried to replace the faulty fan again. No joy, so we ended up replacing the motherboard. And after fiddling with the cables, we finally persuaded the fault light to go out.

Unfortunately, we were only halfway home. Couldn't get a peep out of the system. Nothing on the serial port, nothing on the SP, couldn't even ping it.

One of the problems was that the replacement motherboard had old firmware, so things like serial port settings were up the creek. I had to play the upgrade game. At least that got me back to sanity, and I could see the system output as it boots.

Whoa there. Couldn't bring the network up. Originally, I had bge0 and bge1; on the new motherboard it decided to call the network interfaces bge2 and bge3. Ok, rename hostname.bge0 and we're back in business, but why on earth was it that hard just to get one of the system fans to work?

Friday, May 16, 2008


I use Solaris zones a lot.

We've got a number of X2200s, in two variants. Some just run web front ends, and are fitted with SATA drives (once running, the only disk activity is the web server logs); the database back-ends have SAS drives.

OK, so the SAS drives are expected to be a bit quicker - we did get them for that purpose. Based solely on the rotational speed, there's about a factor of 2 difference in performance.

However, if you take zone creation time as a metric, the performance difference is rather larger than a factor of 4. Something else makes the SAS drives fly and the SATA drives crawl.

An upgrade too far

I've been using Live Upgrade on my Solaris servers recently. Normally I would prefer a fresh install, as that gives you more of an opportunity to fix up any mistakes you made, but sometimes you need to preserve the application data or can't afford the downtime.

One word of warning, though: if you're starting with Solaris 8, you can go to Solaris 10 8/07 (update 4), but not to Solaris 10 5/08 (update 5). Even when upgrading from Solaris 9 or 10 you'll need the 7zip patches, but those don't exist (yet, anyway) for Solaris 8.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sun does quad core Opterons

So Sun are now - finally - pushing quad core Opterons in the X4140, X4240, and X4440.

The X4240 is a new one. I like it. Yes, whereas I complained before, this one does have 16 internal drives.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Living in the Ghetto

Where I work is very much a pure Microsoft shop in terms of user environment - ie. desktops.

(The company makes its money using real Unix servers.)

I'm one of the very few who actually run Solaris on a Sun workstation. And, yes, sometimes I feel like I'm being pushed into a ghetto.

A world where you have to talk to Microsoft Exchange to read your mail, which means Outlook Web Access (which, frankly, is a shockingly poor attempt at being a mail client); where you're sent documents in Office 2007 format that you can't read; where half the company intranet simply doesn't function. Catering to those of living outside the walls simply isn't in Microsoft's world view, it would seem.

So, given the list of features, I'll have to grab the OpenOffice 3 beta and give it a try.

OpenSolaris in VirtualBox

I've been playing around today with VirtualBox, after finding that the latest version claims to run on Solaris 10.

Which is true, but you need to jump through a few hoops first.

First, you need to make sure that can be found. I guess this varies a bit depending on whether you're using mesa or have the nividia drivers, but I ended up setting LD_LIBRARY_PATH_64 to /usr/X11/lib/amd64.

Then you need libXinerama; if you're running an older version of Solaris (my test machine was running S10U3 == 11/06) then applying patch 125726-02 will do the trick.

Then if you're running 64-bit you'll need a copy of libdlpi. I just snarfed a copy off one of my test opensolaris boxes (actually indiana preview 2 - I have seen comments that the one from the official OpenSolaris release won't work as it's too new).

(Yes, I realize there might be a bit of a chicken and egg situation there!)

Then I tried booting the indiana preview 1. Which worked just great. No network, but I expected that. The only glitch I had was the key to escape from the guest - which is set to Right Ctrl by default, which I discovered I don't have. I reset that to some other key that I do have and don't use for anything else.

Having learnt from that, I had a go at the OpenSolaris 2008.05 release having found a CD that I had brought back from CommunityOne, and that worked fine (and picked up the network).

Monday, May 05, 2008

Et tu, Brute?

So Jim's posted some photos of the OpenSolaris Developer Summit.

It was great to meet so many people in person. We had some good talks, lots of discussions (not all of which actually led to results, but you can't have everything). One of the things that is clear is that open communication is vital, and we definitely had some of that.

We're on the way to building a stronger community, and there was some additional encouragement organised for us. Go Team International!

Next up, Community One.