howto

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:

My Personal Oracle Solaris Performance Analysis Cheat Sheet

Bottleneck.jpg

Over time, you tend to learn a Solaris performance trick or two. Or three. Or more. That's cool, it's how stuff works: You learn, you do, you remember.

Performance analysis and tuning is just like that: You learn a trick from a person that is more senior than you are, you apply it, you feel like a hero, you learn the next trick.

But having a bag of tricks is not enough. Because then you start trying out stuff without a system, and spend useless time hunting that problem with a hit-and-miss approach, gut-based only.

Therefore, I'm always glad to listen to Ulrich Gräf when he does one of his famous performance tuning workshops (if you're lucky, you can catch Uli blogging in German here), because he'll give you the full view, the context and the system too, when it comes to performance analysis.

So here's my personal cheat sheet for Oracle Solaris Performance Analysis, including some guideance on how to systematically catch that elusive bottleneck.

How To Automatically Update Your Home Media Server Library With DTrace

New Music!

Before we continue with our Home Server Scripting Series, let's throw in a simple but useful DTrace hack.

One of the most typical uses for a home server is to serve music or videos to home entertainment equipment. In my case, I'm using the Firefly Media Server to serve music to my Roku Soundbridge and Mediatomb for videos.

The Media Server Update Problem

Whenever I upload new music or videos to my OpenSolaris home server (typically by rsync-ing my laptop home directory), both Firefly and Mediatomb need to be restarted so they detect that new files are sitting in their directories, waiting to be served.

Spring Cleaning Part 1: How to Tidy Up Your Email INBOX and File Email Away in One Keystroke

A tidy desktop with a zero email INBOX

Spring's around the corner and the Easter weekend is upon us, giving us some time to sit back, relax and do some spring cleaning!

This also applies to your data, in particular your Email folders and your home directories. In this two-part series, we'll clean up our email INBOX to zero (yes: null, nada, zip) emails, simplify email folders, then clean up our home directory file structure. That'll save us time, help us find peace of mind and make us more efficient so we can concentrate our energies on what really matters to us.

How to Customize Your Drupal Theme and Make it More Blog Friendly in 9 Easy Steps

Over the weekend, I redesigned the theme of my blog. I hope you like the result!

While I'm not a web design nor a theming expert, it was still quite easy to find a nice theme, and apply some blog-friendly customizations to it. Here are a few tips to get you started in Drupal theming:

Seven Useful OpenSolaris ZFS Home Server Tips

AMD Athlon II X2 240e

A lot of people have read last year's article "A Small and Energy-Efficient OpenSolaris Home Server" (Thanks a lot to Andre Lue from the EON project for linking to it!) and there was quite some discussion on different RAID options as a result of my RAID-Greed article.

So let's continue the theme and have a look at the following home server tips that helped me a lot during my own home server planning, building and installing:

How To Properly Cut An Image From A PDF Into Your Presentation Or Blog

I give a lot of presentations to customers and I tend to create a lot of new slides for the presentation decks I use. I'm also a huge fan of Presentation Zen, the book and the blog, as well as Duarte Design's blog, with their excellent slide:ology book. When giving technical presentations about computer hardware or software though, sticking to good presentation principles is tough at best.

But there are a few simple tips that everyone should follow when preparing a presentation, and I hope to collect a few of these in this new category. Today's topic is simple, almost trivial, but powerful. And I see too many slides on an almost daily basis that violate some basic graphical principles: