Quick Notes About Oracle Solaris 11 Early Adopter

Sep 19, 2011 | 4 minutes read
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Tags: Oracle, System

The Oracle Solaris 11 Early Adopter release is available for some days by now. This EA release provides access to the final (complete) functionality which will be delivered in Oracle Solaris 11 GA. Although I only played with it for a few days, here are my very, very first notes about things I found interesting to mention, in no particular order.

  • I noticed that the Oracle Solaris 11/11 release (and not EA) was mentioned in one of the subsections of the provided draft for the documentation. Was this inadvertently forgotten... on purpose? ;)

  • The support for Flash Archives seems to have finally disappeared. I know about the Distribution Constructor argument, but a flar(1M) (as an mksysb(1) for AIX) definitely has a special place in the Solaris ecosystem (particularly for crash recovery scenario).

  • The -x option has been removed from the vi(1) command (among others), and is now replaced by the use of the encrypt(1) command. I know a place where she will be missed: you know who you are :)

  • It seems that the network-boot-arguments command is now supported to be able to set IP configuration directly from the OBP, just in case a DHCP server is not an option to get this information at installation time (as we can do on IBM AIX using the IPL configuration from the SMS menu).

  • Automated Installer is now able to install Zones along with the main system.

  • New utilities are provided to help migrating JumpStart configuration files to AI manifests (I did not use them yet though).

  • RBAC things have changed a little, for example the provided profiles are now defined under different files under the /etc/security/prof_attr.d directory instead of a single file (/etc/security/prof_attr) before that (even in Solaris 11 Express). More, there is no Primary Administrator profile anymore, but a new System Administrator profile which doesn't have some security privileges the old profile has (can not read the /etc/shadow file for example).

  • The useradd(1m) command has well evolved. This utility is now able to automatically create a dedicated ZFS dataset as the home directory (which is not a directory anymore :)) if the -d flag is given, to populate the /etc/auto_home file, and to enable to autofs service to serve the /home content automatically as needed.

  • Although the default shell is now bash(1) (why not the newly integrated ksh93(1)?), the default PATH seen in OpenSolaris releases and Solaris 11 Express, which used to set GNU tools in front of SYSV commands, is reverted back to a more classical and fully functional paths: /usr/bin:/usr/sbin. At least the ls -v is OK again by default. Nonetheless, the path /usr/gnu/bin is here for whoever is interested.

  • An interesting change is the motivation to put out some old and well known configuration file. For better or for worse, the /etc/nodename is dead in Solaris 11. It is replaced by a property of a new SMF. So in order to change the nodename of a host, you must now do:

    # svccfg -s node setprop config/nodename = "mynewnodename"
    # svcadm refresh node
  • In the same vein, the /etc/default/init is replaced by a SMF too. The SMF is named system/environment:init, and the corresponding environment properties are environment/LANG, environment/LC_*, and environment/TZ.

  • If you want to be able to manually configure the network, you have to disable NWAM, to change the active Network Configuration Profiles (NCP) and enable traditional configuration:

    # netadm enable -p ncp DefaultFixed
  • The old sys-unconfig(1m) command is now replaced by a more powerful sysconfig(1m) utility which can unconfigure or reconfigure a Solaris instance, and generate a configuration profile which can be used to configure a system, or a Zone (exit the sysidcfg file).

  • Shares (NFS, SMB) are now supported inside a non-global zone.

  • The default networking mode is switched to exclusive-IP.

  • Similarly as can be found for SRM and privileges configuration settings with automatic Resources Pools, a VNIC can now be automatically instantiated for the time the Zone is booted, and automatically removed when she shuts down.

  • A new mode for the Zone known as Read-Only permits to create some instance which may be more or less writable, i.e. some parts may not be changed (configuration, file systems, etc.).

  • The IPS packages are now automagically updated in each Zones using Boot Environments.

  • Last point in this quick entry, the default locale positioned is en_US.UTF-8, and not just the old C. Well, not a big deal, but I found some tools which have issued some warnings against this locale such as expect for example.

So, I think that Solaris 11 is getting better, even from a Solaris 11 Express experience standpoint. Some choices are surprising, but the overall seems coherent and works as expected. A more longer experience in real user cases will be necessary to judge of this (very big) release, but I am mostly pleased with the direction taken by Solaris, and I am exited to put all of this new stuff in production!