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Top 11 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Oracle Solaris 11


Oracle Solaris 11 is the future of enterprise IT, that is now clear.

Still, we need to wait a year until it is officially released. What can we do now? Well, quite a lot, it turns out. Even if the preview version (due later this year) hasn’t been relased yet, there are a lot of things you can do to prepare for the big OS upgrade.

Here’s a list of 11 things you can do now to start enjoying the benefits of Solaris 11, get ahead of your system peers and be a part of the future of Solaris now!

#1: Check out a Preview of the Preview

If you’ve been following the OpenSolaris project, then you no doubt have noticed, that it already is a preview of the next version of Solaris. Therefore, OpenSolaris 2009.06 (no link, no longer exists) is technically a preview to Oracle Solaris 11.

Want something more recent? Download Developer Build 134 (no link, no longer exists) of OpenSolaris, which is the most recent publicly available OpenSolaris developer build.

That should give you something nice to play with until the official Preview of Oracle Solaris 11 becomes available.

#2: Find Your Hardware On The Compatibility List

A lot of hardware has been tested with OpenSolaris already, it is documented on the Oracle Solaris Hardware Compatibility List (no link, no longer exists). You’ll likely find a lot of popular server equipment there.

Even if at first you don’t find your exact hardware component, it’s worth searching for your hardware’s chipset or a close relative. Most of the time it’s close enough to run OpenSolaris on.

And if you find new hardware that works well with OpenSolaris, then feel free to submit it to the HCL so others can benefit from it.

#3: Virtualize Your Hardware For Oracle Solaris 11

If you want to get familiar with new technologies that aren’t ready for prime time yet, it’s preferable to use a virtualized server. This also allows you to preview Oracle Solaris 11 on your laptop without having to reinstall everything.

Oracle has two great virtualization technologies that you can use for free:

  • VirtualBox is hands down the best solution to rapidly try out, evaluate and develop for Oracle Solaris on your workstation or laptop. I use it every day to run a preview of Solaris 11 as my regular work environment, running on my Macbook Pro.

  • For more serious server environments, there’s also Oracle VM for x86 (no link, page no longer exists). This is a free, enterprise-class, certified virtualization solution that comes with advanced features such as HA clustering, management software, live migration and much more (no link, page no longer exists).

Download one of these now and get started with your Solaris 11 preview installation!

#4: Join a Local OpenSolaris User Group

When trying out new Solaris features, it’s good to be in touch with people like you. That’s where OpenSolaris User Groups come in. And don’t get hung up on the naming details between “OpenSolaris” and “Solaris 11”. It’s all Solaris, and its all about great OS technology!

There are several dozen Solaris groups world-wide (no link, no longer exists) to choose from. They meet regularly and chances are that one is near your town already. Typically, they host interesting presentations on new technologies, install parties or just informal gatherings where you can discuss any Solaris related news over a beer or two.

Every user group, every major Solaris technology and almost every other Solaris related topic can be found in one of the many OpenSolaris discussion lists (no link, no longer exists).

The majority of discussions on mailing lists are centered around technology topics and the mailing list members are very approachable. Many of them work at Oracle and are eager to help out with understanding Solaris, solve technology problems or take feedback and helpful suggestions.

So check out your favorite topics (no link, no longer exists) and join one or more mailing lists now!

#6: Get Ready for the Future of Solaris Networking with Crossbow

Project Crossbow (no link, no longer exists) provides the building blocks for network virtualization and resource control. It was introduced with OpenSolaris 2009.06 and it will completely change the way you think about networking.

Crossbow lets you create new virtualized NICs with a single command. You can attach it to a Solaris Container, wire it up to a virtualized switch or route in and out of it. You can create as many virtualized interfaces as you want, measure, control and limit traffic through them and take complete control of all things networking in your datacenter infrastructure.

Check out the Crossbow website (no link, no longer exists) for an introduction to the topic, view the documentation (no link, no longer exists), join the crossbow-discuss mailing list (no link, no longer exists) and try out some examples.

#7: Get Ready for the Future of Storage Virtualization with COMSTAR

Another landmark project in Solaris is COMSTAR (no link, no longer exists), which is a software framework that enables you to turn any OpenSolaris host into a SCSI target that can be accessed over the network by initiator hosts. Together with ZFS volumes (ZVOLs), this is your ticket to storage virtualization: Create arbitrarily sized, highly available, integrity proofed and self-healing LUNs, then share them on the network via iSCSI, fibre channel or other protocols.

On the internet, nobody knows your dog is the LUN, they say.

Seriously, check out the COMSTAR pages (no link, no longer exists), read the COMSTAR documentation (no link, no longer exists), check out some COMSTAR + ZFS demos and join the OpenSolaris storage discussion mailing list (no link, no longer exists).

#8: Check Out Some Advanced ZFS Features

While we’re at it: A lot has been integrated into ZFS since OpenSolaris 2009.06 that you should be prepared for when looking forward to Solaris 11.

The biggest is probably Deduplication but there are numerous other enhancements that are in the works. Some insight into ZFS enhancements are available in the ZFS: The Next Word (no link, no longer exists) talk.

And of course, it never hurts to join the ZFS community (no link, no longer exists).

Because the truth is: ZFS has never been better than now, and its future has just started!

#9: Familiarize Yourself With the Image Packaging System

In OpenSolaris, there’s a major effort at redesigning the packaging, install and patch system. And it is expected that this will continue throughout the development of Solaris 11, too.

Two projects are important here: The Image Packaging System (IPS) (no link, no longer exists) and the Caiman installer (no link, no longer exists). If you want to learn how to write software for Solaris 11, install it, patch it, both manually or automatically over the network, then it’s a good idea to study these two projects.

Granted, there’s still a lot to do, and there are some interesting discussions around what IPS can and cannot do, but however you put it, now is the time to join these communities, participate in discussions and provide your feedback.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out the Software Porters (no link, no longer exists) community as well, because a lot of packages are waiting to be integrated with IPS and Solaris 11, too.

#10: Get Ready for Migrating Solaris 10

The Solaris branded zone technology has recently gotten an interesting feature: Now you can create Solaris 10 branded zones inside OpenSolaris. This provides an elegant, efficient and convenient way for easily migrating your existing Solaris 10 deployments into more recent versions of Solaris.

More information can be found in the Solaris10 Branded Zone Developer Guide (no link, no longer exists) and by joining the zone community (no link, no longer exists).

#11: Get Ready for Oracle OpenWorld

Oracle OpenWorld 2010 (no link, page no longer exists) on September 19-23 is definitely the place to be if you want to learn more about Oracle Solaris 11, Oracle Sun Systems and anything else about Oracle as well.

Don’t miss it if you’re lucky enough to be in the San Francisco area, otherwise follow the event on the web or visit Oracle’s customer events throughout the world that are scheduled to happen right after OpenWorld. Who knows, we might just bump into each other!

How do YOU prepare for Solaris 11?

These are just some suggestions for preparing for Oracle Solaris 11 now. I’m sure you’ll find a lot more.

What are you doing to prepare for Solaris 11? What features do you look forward to? Make yourself heard in the comments section!

Oh, and don’t forget to add this blog to your favourite reader and stay tuned for more Solaris 11 related posts.


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This is the blog of Constantin Gonzalez, a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, with more than 25 years of IT experience.

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