Solaris 11 Certification Exam Comes off Beta Soon!

The new certification test from Oracle, Oracle Certified Associate, Oracle Solaris 11 System Administrator, is currently in beta and is priced much lower than the standard tests (US$50 compared to US$300). This test will help you get the certification of the same name. However, the beta period is ending soon: April 28, 2012.

Note that this is different from the Oracle Certified Professional, Oracle Solaris 11 System Administrator certification.

It is also still possible to get certified for Solaris 10.

Rising from the Ashes: OpenIndiana Continues OpenSolaris Open Source Legacy

Several weeks ago, Oracle declared that it would no longer be releasing code to the open source community as it was developed, as well as cutting off communication with the OpenSolaris Governing Board (and thus, the community). The Illumos project was created to continue the kernel development; in the same arena, OpenIndiana now continues the open source ideals with an open version of OpenSolaris under the Illumos Project banner.

Downloads are already available, although it is not yet recommended for production use.

I find the prospects of OpenIndiana exciting; this project is separate from Oracle, who cannot be relied upon for any support of open source. With a serious community behind it, OpenIndiana could very well be a way for shops to run the very capable Solaris environment without having to succumb to a costly support contract before they can afford it. It also allows individuals to run a version of Solaris with current features, quick bug fixes, and more software.

In spite of the general demise of OpenSolaris as a driving force, the times are exciting for the Solaris-based community.

Native ZFS for Linux Coming (and Other ZFS News)

Two different projects are in full swing developing a native port of the ZFS file system to Linux. Currently, the only available ZFS for Linux is based on FUSE (running file systems in user space, not kernel space). Running with FUSE means a significant penalty in speed.

One ZFS project is being done at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and is driven by Brian Behlendorf; the other project is being done by KQ Infotech. OSNews had a good article about the LLNL project.

Phoronix is reporting that KQ Infotech announced they would be releasing source code in September. Unfortunately, the project apparently only supports 64-bit Linux, and does not support data de-duplication and other newer features.

The writer is also unimpressed by ZFS overall; there is mention of BtrFS as being better. What is truly interesting is that both file systems are now are under the Oracle umbrella – BtrFS since the beginning, and ZFS as part of the Sun acquisition.

On top of this, Oracle and NetApp have resolved the lawsuit over ZFS, removing the clouds that had hung over ZFS.

These are interesting times for ZFS. If you don’t understand what the fuss is all about, Paul Rubens has a quick overview, and Sun’s ZFS team has an excellent slide presentation on ZFS. There are more ZFS resources available from the OpenSolaris ZFS Community.

OpenSolaris is Officially Dead

We saw this coming.

As of 23 August 2010, the OpenSolaris Governing Board (OGB) has stepped down; Ben Rockwood posted the resolution on his blog.

Oracle’s previous email to staff shows that Oracle has no interest in keeping OpenSolaris going, and now there is no one minding the store.

The next step lies with Illumos, the new torch-bearer for open source Solaris. Nexenta, the commercial UNIX based on OpenSolaris and a GNU userland will probably be the first to use Illumos (the project has close ties to Nexenta) – and Belenix may be next, although Belenix development seems to be quite slow (there is no corporate sponsorship and the community seems to be small). Belenix has the tougher problem, as they use a Solaris-based userland.

A New Init for Fedora 14

Apparently, a new project (to replace init, inetd, and cron) named systemd is nearing release and will be used to replace upstart in Fedora 14 (to be released in November – with Alpha Release due today!).

There is a healthy crop of init replacements out there, and the field is still shaking out. Replacing init – or specifically, System V init and init scripts – seems to be one of those never-ending projects: everyone has an idea on how to do it, no one can agree on how.

Let’s recap the current crop (excluding BSD rc scripts and System V init):

I am still waiting for the shakeout – it bugs me that there are dozens of different ways to start a system, and that none of them have taken over as the leader. For years, BSD rc scripts and System V init have been the standard – and both have stood the test of time.

My personal bias is towards SMF (OReilly had a nice article on it) and towards simpleinit – but neither has expanded like upstart has.

So where’s the replacement? Which is The One? It appears that no one is willing to work within a promising project, but rather starts over and creates yet another replacement for init, fragmenting the market further.

Lastly, if the current init scheme is so bad, why hasn’t anything taken over? Commercial UNIX environments continue to use the System V scheme, with the sole exception of Solaris which made the break to System Management Facility (or SMF). Why doesn’t HP-UX or AIX use SMF or Upstart if the current environment is horrible?

Sigh. It’s not that the current choices of replacement are bad – it’s just that there are so many – and more keep coming up every day. Perhaps we can learn something about the causes of this fragmentation from a quote from a paper written about the NetBSD rc.d startup scripts and their design:

The change [in init] has been one of the most contentious in the history of the [NetBSD] project.

The Death of OpenSolaris Confirmed

Recently, I posted about the future of OpenSolaris and the lack of response from Oracle.

Oracle still has no official response, and has no word on where OpenSolaris is going. However, a memo to Oracle Engineering was leaked and then posted to the OpenSolaris Discussion mailing list (osol-discuss) and was later confirmed by an Oracle employee to the mailing list.

William Yang has a nice write-up on the memo and its salient points; in short:

  • Oracle will no longer let OpenSolaris track Solaris development.
  • Solaris code will stay under the CDDL license.
  • “OpenSolaris” as a distribution will no longer be released.
  • Code will only be released after Solaris is released.

Also interesting is Oracle’s reasons for closing down OpenSolaris:

  • Not enough man-power.
  • Releases Solaris technology to competitors.
  • Prevents users from using Solaris.

Oracle has never been a popular company; most Oracle DBAs in my experience have never been happy with Oracle’s support or licensing, for example. This contrasts with Sun, which has always had a positive image.

In the area of open source, Oracle has always been a champion of closed source, in contrast with Sun which had been a positive open source champion. As a result of this, we are seeing more and more open source projects by Sun either closed down or changed into closed source: consider the closing of Project Kenai (a SourceForge-like site for open source projects), the fears over the future of MySQL, and the death of OpenSolaris.

The OpenSolaris experience under Oracle has echos in MySQL: Monty Widenius, the founder of MySQL, was quite vocal in his opposition to the Oracle purchase of Sun, and expressed his fear that MySQL would become closed source. Perhaps his experience with SAP and MaxDB had something to do with that – MaxDB had been released under the GPL through 7.6, when it was returned back into SAP and became closed source once again.

About the time that Oracle announced its purchase of Sun, Monty began the GPL-licensed version of MySQL, MariaDB which has taken hold, and the European Union mandated that MySQL shall remain dual-licensed. I wonder if MySQL’s fate would have been similar to OpenSolaris if it had not been for Monty.

It would be interesting to track the other open source projects now under Oracle’s umbrella:

  • Java (and OpenJDK), and its add-ons
  • Glassfish (J2EE)
  • MySQL
  • NetBeans
  • Lustre file system

Oracle’s Plans for OpenSolaris Murkier than Ever

The controversy around the future of OpenSolaris has been building to a fever pitch these last few weeks, most recently leading to the creation of Illumos, a new open source kernel tree based on the open source portions of OpenSolaris.

Way back in July of 2009, Steven Vaughn-Nichols suggested that OpenSolaris would wither on the vine through deliberate neglect by Oracle – and this seems to be happening (whereas his prediction of the same treatment for MySQL and VirtualBox seems to be misplaced). Then in February of 2010, Ben Rockwood wrote an open letter to Oracle about the future of Solaris and OpenSolaris.

Oracle’s most recent response (during an interview with ServerWatch) has been to state that development on Solaris continues apace, and that Solaris 11 is due out by the end of 2011. Most notable was the lack of any discussion on the future of OpenSolaris.

A few months ago, the OpenSolaris Governing Board – in effect, the people in charge of the details of operating the OpenSolaris community and its resources – are willing to resign en masse if Oracle does not talk to them; Peter Tribble (a member of the OpenSolaris Governing Board) talks about this action in his blog.

I agree with those that say that Oracle can do what it likes, and the threat made by the board is empty – not because of the threat itself, but because it will accomplish nothing, and has no effect on Oracle. If Oracle wants OpenSolaris to go away, it doesn’t matter what the OpenSolaris community thinks. The Governing Board simply has no leverage with Oracle.

No word on how this action will affect Belenix; while Nexenta is basically the OpenSolaris kernel plus a Debian/GNU userland, Belenix is an OpenSolaris kernel plus a mostly Solaris userland. The primary founder of Belenix (Moinak Ghosh) is on the OpenSolaris board; one of the other developers (Sriram Narayanan?) blogged about the board’s action shortly after it was taken in July. Perhaps Belenix would use the Illumos kernel as well?

However, the prospect of OpenSolaris living on in the form of Illumos is promising, and technologies that are part of the open source OpenSolaris will not be lost. Nexenta has already stated its interest in Illumos; this is perhaps because Nexenta relies on OpenSolaris (with its now doubtful future) for its kernel. Thus, it is perhaps no surprise that a Nexenta engineer is the driving force behind Illumos, and neither is it a surprise that Illumos is currently a kernel only.

So now – how long before we see a Debian/Illumos project? Or is that Nexenta now?

Oracle Continues to Withdraw Sun Support Access

A couple of days ago, Techbert noted that Sun firmware downloads were no longer available from Oracle. This is just one more way that Oracle has been withdrawing from Sun’s traditional open stance.

Oracle already has stated it would not be putting all new technologies into OpenSolaris, and that it would provide support for all Sun servers in the (customer’s) data center or none at all.

The entire character of Sun’s offerings has changed, and for the customer, not for the better.

Is Oracle killing Sun Solaris support?

Recently, Oracle has made several changes in Solaris support that have people wondering if Solaris just got too expensive to run.

The first change was to move to a pay-for-security model which some have already compared to extortion. Patches for Solaris would only be available to paying support customers, leaving others to be insecure and without recourse.

The other change that Oracle has made is to force its paying support customers into an “all or nothing” support model: either all Solaris systems are under a support contract or Oracle will not enter into a support agreement. This means that in any environment that all Solaris systems must be accounted for and under Oracle support.

With this latter change, it may be that this pay-for-security model, while still unseemly, will have less of an effect than previously suggested. It may also convince many smaller businesses to scale back their Solaris installations and to get rid of older machines instead of holding on to them.

At its worst, it may mean that support for software on older Sun machines may wither faster, and that older machines will become obsolete – and useless – faster, increasing “churn” in the data center and (perhaps) making the data center more energy-efficient, while costing companies more and making Oracle more money.

However, one thing Oracle has not done is to clarify the future of OpenSolaris. The community is waiting for a definitive statement from Oracle; even former Sun employees working with OpenSolaris have no signs from Oracle in any direction.

UPDATE: Ben Rockwood over at the Cuddletech blog has excellent coverage, with detailed analysis of the relevant licenses and what it means for Solaris end-users. On the 26th he discusses the “all-or-nothing” support model, and on the 28th he writes about Oracle’s choice to remove the ability to use Solaris for free.

Direct NFS in Solaris with Oracle 11g: Benchmarks

Over at Glenn Fawcett’s Oracle Blog, there is a write-up about the speed of Oracle’s Direct NFS (now a few years old) as compared to the traditional NFS client. Glenn wrote about how to set this up initially, then followed up with a report on how to monitor the environment, as well as the results of testing the environment.

Glenn worked with Kevin Closson, who is one of the minds behind Oracle’s DirectNFS. Kevin wrote about the colloboration and about some of the misunderstandings surrounding dNFS with Solaris and Sun storage.

Oracle has a nice whitepaper on this topic, going into detail as well.

There is also an old posting by the Oracle Storage Guy describing DirectNFS in detail, particularly in regards to using dNFS with EMC storage.