posted by Robert Escue on Wed 2nd Mar 2005 22:28 UTC
IconThe vast majority of operating system reviews are the result of a user spending a few days or weeks using a particular operating system and writing about their observations. This review is the result of my continued use of Solaris 10 (previously Solaris Express) from August 2003 to February 2005.

System Administrator

Part of this was my work as an External Beta Tester for Sun Microsystems. This provided the opportunity for a number of people to test Solaris 10 on a large amount of hardware and software. A number of Sun engineers monitored news groups to gather information about issues with Solaris 10, this helped in fixing bugs that might not have been seen by other testers. Solaris 10 is probably the most tested operating system in recent history.

One advantage of such a relationship is that you can see the how the OS evolves from its early builds to the FCS release. I was also fortunate to be able to test Solaris 10 on both SPARC and Intel machines. An abbreviated list of the equipment I used to evaluate Solaris 10 is as follows:

2 Sun Blade 100's with a 500 Mhz UltraSPARC II CPU, 1024 and 1152 MB of memory respectively and 20 GB disks

Sun Ultra 10 Creator with a 333 MHz UltraSPARC II CPU, 640 MB of memory and a 120 GB disk

Sun Ultra 30 with a 250 MHz UltraSPARC CPU, 1 GB of memory and an 18 GB disk

Sun Ultra 2 with 2 300 Mhz CPU's, 1536 MB of memory and 8 9 GB disks in 2 Sun MultiPacks

Dual CPU Pentium III system with 768 MB of memory and 2 160 GB disks

Pentium IV system with 512 MB of memory and 2 40 GB disks

There have been a number of features that Sun has been touting such as DTrace, Solaris Containers (Solaris Zones), Process Rights Management, and Predictive Self-Healing. While these features are important, there are many other features that don’t get as much of the spotlight and are just as important and useful. In a discussion I had with Chris Ratcliffe, Marketing Director at Sun, he pointed out that since there are 600 new features added to Solaris 10 and that there are customers who have no idea that some things can be done with Solaris because the features are unknown to them. I have experienced this myself several times where in discussion with other administrators about a specific problem I would mention a tool and get “huh” as a response. This article will mention some of the “gold” in Solaris 10 that might be passed over for the more highly mentioned features. Understanding that many places might not be able to upgrade to Solaris 10, I will specify features that have been put into Solaris 9 by using (9 12/03), in this case a particular feature can be found in Solaris 9 12/03 release.

Installation Improvements

In the past you used the Software 1 of 2 CD and booted off of the CD to stat the installation, and you never touched Installation CD. With Solaris 10 you receive 4 CD’s (or 1 DVD) and all four have to be used to install the product (unless you choose a custom installation that does not require all of the CD’s. One of the things you might love (or hate) is the WebStart installer that is used for the Software 1 CD. For people not familiar with the WebStart Installer, if you use the Installation CD for Solaris 8 or 9 you would use the Installer. I never cared for it but you do have other installation choices (including text based), so pick the method that you are most comfortable with.

One of the biggest improvements in Solaris 10 (9 4/04) is the ability to create disk mirrors during the installation! Of course this requires a JumpStart server and a custom profile for the machines in question. This feature alone is worth “the price of admission”. For example I built robert2 (an Ultra 2 I use with Oracle) and mirrored the root disk and the four disks needed for Oracle during the installation, as opposed to creating the mirrors separately. Your mileage may vary, in my case it worked because I was using MultiPacks, this might or might not work with D1000’s or T3 arrays. An example profile is below showing the use of the filesys and metadb keywords to set up mirrored disks:

filesys mirror:d10 c1t2d0s0 c2t2d0s0 1024 /
filesys mirror:d20 c1t2d0s1 c2t2d0s1 2048 swap
filesys mirror:d30 c1t2d0s3 c2t2d0s3 2048 /var
filesys mirror:d40 c1t2d0s4 c2t2d0s4 2048 /usr
filesys mirror:d50 c1t2d0s5 c2t2d0s5 1024 /export/home
filesys mirror:d60 c1t3d0s0 c2t3d0s0 8192 /u01
filesys mirror:d70 c1t4d0s0 c2t4d0s0 8192 /u02
metadb c1t2d0s7 size 8192 count 3
metadb c2t2d0s7 size 8192 count 3
metadb c1t3d0s7 size 8192 count 3
metadb c2t3d0s7 size 8192 count 3
metadb c1t4d0s7 size 8192 count 3
metadb c2t4d0s7 size 8192 count 3

Table of contents
  1. "Solaris 10, Page 1/3"
  2. "Solaris 10, Page 2/3"
  3. "Solaris 10, Page 3/3"
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