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.


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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.


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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Is the Sun shining once more ?

From the NY Times Story it looks like IBM buyout of Sun is off the table. With that comes new rumors of Cisco, HP or Dell buying the company. The question is why ? Looking at the quarterly statements I don’t see where Sun is going to go bankrupt. They are showing growth in their hardware business since last year which is based on the fact that Sun hardware is now cost comparable to their competition and in some cases the hardware is better. Sun also introduced ZFS for fie systems. With this they introduced their new storage line. I have seen enough storage products to say that this is something Sun has done right and done very well. Now give them time to capitalize on these items. Any competitor that wants to buy Sun right now is doing it to end competition with them not to enhance or grow these products.

So now is the time where I end the Fanboy bit above. Am I a die hard Fanboy that believes Sun can do no wrong ? Of course not. Any large company will have problems and will have issues. However I am a technical person. I like the software and hardware. I am also all about the most bang for the buck. When people ask why I am using a Sun server and OS over windows and VMware it’s an easy argument based on cost. The HP, or Dell server may be marginally cheaper but then you have software costs. The OS, along with VMware is a massive initial and ongoing cost compared to Solaris OS and LDOM’s with Zones. Where I am the fanboy is in the people and the pricing. For a majority of products Sun charges either nothing, or a flat cost fee. This is the software purchase structure I believe in. As someone who has written and sold software I have always despised the user based or CPU based pricing model. The software takes a set number of hours to code and then maintain, why does the number of users I have or the cpu’s in the box change the cost ? I would really like if software vendors would end this charade. The sales technique they are working on is that if you have more users or CPU’s then you have more money so give them more. How we as consumers ever allowed this cost cycle to exist in software is beyond me. But that is what bothers me most about many other vendors and what I find relaxing about buying from Sun. It reminds me of how small software companies work that don’t have lawyers for sales reps. When I buy my tv I don’t get charged for how many people live in my house and are going to watch it so why is software so drastically different ?

Innovation is the other area where Sun in many ways reminds me of Google. One of the few large companies out there where I see new ideas coming out. New hardware and software that is truly new in design and thinking. Got some time, go read up on ZFS and the drastic changes to thinking it really is when talking about disk formatting. It’s what Microsoft wanted it’s new file system to be but they never figured that out. When you look across the Sun hardware line going back 2 years you see real changes not the same chasis with bigger hard drives that you see from the others. Why is it that Google, Sun, and Apple have figured out how to innovate and in reality motivate their consumers and so many other companies have failed so horribly. I am happy to hear that for a little while at least Sun will not be changing and the many employees there can continue with the good work they are doing.

The last part is that of corporations and how they are harming us. Growing up everyone’s parents worked at a company and had done so for 10,20,30 years. Companies actually lasted and people believed in their name and legacy. It saddens me how now companies are nothing more than colored cards when playing life. They are a commodity traded by the CEO’s and with names that change a day after bad news hits. What happened to a company being a business for the right reasons. A business is something where you are there to serve your customers, produce happy employees, and be a partner in your community, state, country and world. The sham of an individual investor having any part to do with a company, and a company having any respect for it’s investors is just sad. Many people say that as a generation ages they always complain that the next generation lacks respect. This is a strange time where to me our elder generation and their abuse of the companies they manage is a far worse disrespect than the kid who forgets to say thank you.


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