Join the Solaris 11 Launch Party!

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In about a week, on November 9th, 2011, the long-awaited final version of Solaris 11 will be launched. If you happen to be near New York that day (and assuming there'll be no power outages), you're invited to join the official Solaris 11 launch party!

Solaris 11 has been in the making since 2005, when Solaris 10 was launched. In fact, every major Solaris release is just a fork of the ongoing Solaris development train, so the very first uber-pre-release of Solaris 11 was actually generated only weeks after Solaris 10 hit the shelves.

Since then, Solaris 11 (or: Project Nevada as it was called) has seen a lot of OS history: An open source adolescence called OpenSolaris, growing adoption and community work, a broad range of ground-braking new features, long overdue re-writes, brand new concepts, controversial discussions, a major acquisition, rules changed and rules kept, siblings and offsprings, lots of investments, entire companies built on top of its source code, generations of processors and hardware, lots of systems in production, the Cloud and what not.

And all that before it was even born. Quite an achievment, eh?

Solaris 11 Available for Early Adopters

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Maybe I should write more frequently, though that would mean shorter, less elaborate articles. This is the first one of that kind. Let me know what you think!

Recently, the Oracle Solaris 11 Early Adopter Release became available on the Oracle Technology Network (BTW, can I have a date with that Java Developer, please?). Here's the gist:

ZFS: To Dedupe or not to Dedupe...

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...that is the question.

Ever since the introduction of deduplication into ZFS, users have been divided into two camps: One side enthusiastically adopted deduplication as a way to save storage space, while the other remained skeptical, pointing out that dedupe has a cost, and that it may not be always the best option.

Let's look a little deeper into the benefits of ZFS deduplication as well as the cost, because ultimately it boils down to running a cost/benefit analysis of ZFS deduplication. It's that simple.

The Solaris Eco-System is Expanding

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More than a while ago, I wrote about the birth of Illumos, a project that aims at substituting the last non-open-source bits from the OpenSolaris kernel with replacements, in order to create a 100% open source Solaris kernel.

On May 20th, I had the opportunity to attend the Nexenta European User Conference 2011 in Amsterdam, where Solaris and storage enthusiasts from all over the world met to discuss their favorite technology: ZFS. Of course there was also a lot of talk about Illumos and related projects.

Now I've given a lot of Solaris presentations to customers, always highlighting the big, growing and powerful community behind the Solaris OS. But this conference added a new dimension to the Solaris Eco-System for me!

How to Render the Mandelbrot Set in the Joyent Cloud with Node.js

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First of all: Apologies for not posting for a long time. The reason? I was having too much fun with node.js and the Joyent Cloud :).

What started as a small experimental hack turned quickly into an exciting new pet project involving the good old Mandelbrot Set, as a web service, running in the Joyent cloud, programmed in node.js.

But first things first: Let's take a look at node.js as a language and programming model, at the Joyent Cloud and how it relates to Solaris and finally some details on how the picture you see was rendered inside the Joyent Cloud, including an interactive Mandelbrot Set explorer you can play with now, written as a web app.

Checking Out the Amplidata Storage Cloud Technology

A Rack Full of Amplidata Devices

Last week during WorldHostingDays, I had the opportunity to visit Tom (@tomme), a former colleague of mine who came with Q-Layer to Sun, then to Oracle.
Today, he works for a new Belgian startup called Amplidata, a company that specializes in building storage clouds. He introduced me to Wim, their CEO and we discussed their optimized object storage technology, some parallels to ZFS and the newest trends in cloud computing storage.
Amplidata is a spin-off of Incubaid, a technology incubator which is responsible for the success of two good old Sun friends: Innotek (VirtualBox) and Q-Layer (The company that powered the Sun Cloud).

How to Set Up a ZFS Root Pool Mirror in Oracle Solaris 11 Express

Mirroring the root pool with ZFS

One of the first things to do when setting up a new system is to mirror your boot disk. This protects you against system disk failures: If one of the two mirrored boot disks fails, the system can continue running from the other disk without downtime. You can even boot from the surviving mirror half and continue using the system normally, until you have replaced the failed half.

At the currently low prices for boot drive sized disks, this is a no-brainer for increasing your system's availability, even for a home server system.

Unfortunately, the steps to complete until you're running off a mirrored ZFS root pool are not yet a no-brainer. While there is a piece of documentation entitled How to Configure a Mirrored Root Pool, it only covers how to add a second disk to your root pool, it does not cover how to prepare and layout a fresh disk so Solaris will accept it as a bootable second half of an rpool mirror.

Which, for historic reasons, is slightly more complicated than just saying zpool attach.

Over the weekend, I sat down and played a bit with the current Oracle Solaris 11 Express release in VirtualBox and tested, re-tested and investigated all currently necessary steps to get your root pool mirrored, including some common issues and variations.

Here's a complete, step-by-step guide with background information on how to mirror your ZFS root pool: