Dibbler's Net


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Solaris adds Failsafe boot option for Sparc

Sun has added a much needed feature to the Solaris Sparc baseline and ass usual no one even knows it really exists. You can find the documentation here regarding Failsafe boot. This was something that I ran into while first using Opensolaris on X86. Just after they first started adding in ZFS support I ran into issues. Since the X86 side of solaris usually uses a GRUB startup they had the ability to put in place a failsafe or “safe mode” boot. This replaced the old method of booting from a cdrom in single user mode.

This feature recently made it to the Sparc side of Solaris. I am not sure the exact patch level that added it but it wasn’t too long ago that I found that I can now run a “ok>boot -F failsafe”  or “reboot—-F failsafe” command on sparc machines. This gives you the base functionality of booting a system, mounting the local drives, fix problems and then boot normally. This is of greay use as booting from CDROM was difficult as bootable CDROMS tend to get lost, and the process is very slooooow. This also works well as most critcal Solaris commands like patchadd and other kernel tweaking items usually have a -R option to specify that your root mount is not on /. The two problems I still have with failsafe are basic issues. First as far as I have looked it is still not documented in the man page for boot. Second, I really would like a flag to tell it if I want networking or not. Right now the failsafe boot checks every ethernet interface and attempts to dhcp the thing. That does delay the bootup a bit even for disconnected interfaces. This can become annoying when all you need to do is edit a vfstab file.

Glad to once again see good features make it from opensolaris to the main solaris distro. Now the big question is why Apple dropped ZFS from the next mac os ? FreeBSD figured out how to get ZFS working how come Apple couldn’t ? And don’t tell me it’s because ZFS is no good. I have yet to find one thing about it that I don’t like compared to the other filesystems out there today.

Derrick

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Oracle Buys Sun, better option than IBM

By now everyone knows about Oracle buying Sun. My opinion on this is as a customer and not an employee or competitor. For a great read on an employee view I recommend visiting c0t0d0s0.org. I currently feel that this is better than an IBM buy. Right now I am a customer of Sun for both their hardware and software. With an IBM buyout I was concerned that the hardware portion of Sun would be killed completely. The part I am a bit scared about is the software side of the house. Having recently lived through the purchase and transition of BEA by Oracle I have seen what a pretty bad buyout can do. I can be hopeful that for the next year or so Oracle focuses on the redundancy portions of business which means a hit to Sun’s core internal department staffs like HR, Sales, and probably then Support. I can be hopeful that Oracle leaves the Hardware Division pretty much the way it is and just works on making software work better with the Sun hardware and it’s push to have Oracle and Application appliances. I am hopeful that Oracle is careful to keep the true Sun innovators and developers on staff that have really made great strides in the past years. I hope to see oracle adopt ZFS, Sun’s clustering, and virtualization, and continue to improve opensolaris and many of Sun’s properties. It would also be nice if Oracle left the current opensource properties alone and doesn’t try to kill off mysql or other open projects. I don’t see them doing this but at the same time I have seen Oracle make some pretty bad decisions with some of their other recent purchases. If I had my choice I would love to have seen Sun stay Sun. But for reasons beyond my understanding it seems that someone had to buy them for Sun in any form to survive. I am curious if this will pass regulatory review as it seems that Oracle did not spend the same amount of time that IBM did going over licensing, patent’s and other details before announcing the deal. I guess it’s time to sit back and see what happens over the next 6 months.

Derrick

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lenovo T500 local review

It was finally time to upgrade the old Thinkpad Notebook. It was still working but was over 5 years old and just wouldn’t do everything anymore. I looked around to see if I wanted to get another thinkpad or try something new. There are some specific features about the Thinkpad’s that I really like and I just don’t seem to find them in other notebooks. Now for this upgrade I had decided to take a step up in view size as the last one was a bit smaller and lighter. I also new I wanted a notebook with a discrete graphics and built in wireless modem. People just don’t realize how convenient it is to have Internet almost everywhere you may go. So I ordered online back at the end of March. With discounts and savings I got a respectable price. Being that I sill love my XP I also ordered it with the XP downgrade from Windows Vista Business.

It showed up earlier than the promise date (which was 20 days from order but it was also a custom order). In fact it arrived about 14 days after order. The packaging wasn’t much bigger than my notebook bag. But overall all you are getting is a notebook, power supply, and some paperwork. First item was to backup the XP install onto DVD’s using the built in backup software and install Vista Business. I wanted the XP option but also wanted to see life on a notebook with Vista. The Vista install went well but the bad news was that Lenovo went and did something very cruel. In the past they have had system update for Lenovo machines. This software would download and install drivers and check for updates. Something I think all vendors should have. Well this month Lenovo killed that service and said to wait till next month to see the replacement. With that sad bit of news I spent the next many hours downloading individual drivers, patches, updates and installing them manually.

With that done I applied the Windows updates, installed critical applications and setup the basic functions. I am a fan of the Lenovo Fingerprint security. I am sure it’s breakable but it’s better than most for basic bios and windows security. Now I chose the Lenovo T500 with many custom options. It had a good size without being a back-breaker. It had discrete graphics with the built in wireless card, fingerprint scanner, web camera and other useful items. One item I was happy to see was the 200GB hard drive with drive bios encryption option. This tied in with software security means that pulling the drive on this notebook is useless without having the notebook with it. Again not foolproof security, but it means that should the drive be taken out someone will be sending alot of hours to get to my data. The system is just fast, after having the same notebook for 5 years I had gotten behind in cpu improvements. I know part of it is the fresh install and de-clutter but it does run alot faster.

Overall I am still really happy with Lenovo and how they have kept Thinkpads they way they should be and how they really do work as a business computer. I did also receive the smart dock which is a docking station that works off a single USB cable. I am curious to try that and see how well it works for desk video, kb, and other options.

D~

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