iTunes on Solaris

All the cool kids are moving to OpenSolaris 🙂

February 11, 2007 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment


So we’re trying to get Sun Cluster 3.1 failing over an instance of M-Vault (our X.500/LDAP server) between two Solaris 10 (x86) machines. If you recall I mentioned way back when that we’d added SMF support so we were good Solaris citizens…

But it doesn’t work. Run the start script by hand, which pretty much just does a svcadm enable eddy and it works. The stop script does what you might expect, and also works.

Copious debug-by-printfs later, we decide that the cluster manager’s starting & stopping the server several times, not involving the probe command, and then just giving up.

A little googling… Ah, how to use Sun Cluster 3.1 with a service managed by SMF is mentioned in the clustering release notes. Click link. Here we go. To do that:

  1. Don’t use SMF.

Round objects.

But apparently Cluster 3.2 integrates heavily with SMF, so our work wasn’t wasted 🙂

January 29, 2007 at 1:35 pm Leave a comment

What happened to OpenStep on Solaris?

One thing I think Solaris needs badly is some GUI tools for managing the machine. There’s an OpenSolaris project called Visual Panels which is intended to address this, but it uses Java and Swing and looks like an interface only a programmer could love 😦

As I was noodling away on my little Cocoa “Core Data” app on my Mac, I remembered that of course Solaris used to have a version of OpenStep, which was the set of UI frameworks and tools that was part of NextStep (the OS) and is now part of Mac OS X.

There’s a screenshot of OpenStep on Solaris over here.

Cocoa produces beautiful looking and powerful applications, and is very easy to write to. It would be wonderful if we could get OpenStep back on Solaris, if only for the ease of development it brings.

Maybe Jonathan knows what happened to it?

January 27, 2007 at 5:40 am 3 comments

The Intel Announcement

So Sun and Intel have announced a deeper relationship, partnership, call it what you will. Jonathan Schwartz’s blog posting (the URL curiously ends “but_we_did_not_hug”!) mentions a couple of positive aspects, such as the engineering collaboration to come on the server side, but doesn’t talk much about the lower-end stuff that ought to be interesting to lots of us.

We should be able to look forward to better power management, proper WiFi drivers, and hopefully better drivers for the integrated Intel video chips. Some of those graphics drivers are already around in Nevada, which is cool. This ought to make it easier to get Solaris booting on Macs too, maybe bringing the era of Acer Ferrari laptops at Sun to an end.

I see Ben Rockwood’s not too positive about it, which puzzles me. Are there really “fans” of one processor line over another (compatible) processor line? You could understand SPARC vs PA-RISC or something, but an x86 chip vs … another x86 chip? Wierd. It is clear that Intel are currently able to build faster CPUs than AMD, and I see no problem with going with Intel to get those.

But what’s with the odd statement that Intel’s agreed to OEM Solaris itself? Intel doesn’t OEM any OS, even ones from Redmond, so this seems a bit strange.

The associated slides are interesting. Apart from the mega disclaimer on the first slide (stylish – not) there’s a chart of the number of Solaris users (or downloads? it isn’t clear) on UltraSPARC vs x86.

January 23, 2007 at 5:57 am 4 comments

Positive article at The Register

The Register has published a surprisingly positive article on Solaris and OpenSolaris, managing to debunk most of the “Slowaris”-style myths.

Well done the Reg.

January 22, 2007 at 11:34 am Leave a comment


Sun’s patching tool – smpatch – leaves a lot to be desired. It is written in Java, so is horribly clunky and slow. That would be just about forgivable if it was reliable, but it isn’t. Sun Studio patches simply don’t apply because they have to be added to the global zone via the -G flag, and smpatch can’t do that.

That’s when you grab a copy of Martin Paul’s wonderful Patch Check Advanced, aka PCA. It is a perl script that does the same job as smpatch except:

  • it works
  • it is nice and lightweight
  • it handles Sun Studio patches nicely
  • it works when smpatch doesn’t

The last point is a good one – I updated to Solaris 10 11/06 last year, and that caused showrev -p to start dumping core. That completely broke smpatch and PCA. There’s no sign of a fix from Sun, but Martin tweaked PCA and we’re back up and running again. Thanks Martin!

January 21, 2007 at 6:50 pm Leave a comment

“Because you can…”

Sorry for not publishing anything for a bit! Let’s get active again…

Last week’s LOSUG meeting demonstrated a neat, albeit probably non-useful, trick.

They were showing the new iSCSI initiator (i.e. server) code in OpenSolaris, which works with the latest iSCSI target (i.e. client) code in Windows. So they created a 100MB disk for iSCSI from a backing file, connected to it from Windows, formatted it there as FAT, wrote to it, etc etc.

It all Just Worked. The new iSCSI admin tools look easy to use, and were modelled a bit on the ZFS tools.

Anyway then Frank, one of the filesystem guys, went and found the backing file on the Solaris laptop, took a quick look at it with mdb and then mounted it over loopback on Solaris! I think he tricked lofiadm into starting at some offset into the file, as there’s presumably some sort of header at the start of the backing file.

To prove it wasn’t a cheat, he edited a file on it using vi. Switched over to Windows, did the equivalent of disabling and reenabling the disk, and voila the edits were there on Windows.

It’d be fun to set up a ZFS pool from a backing file stored on an iSCSI-attached disk, and then mount a filesystem from that pool back on the iSCSI target. Fun, but sick!

January 21, 2007 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

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