Q. How does Oracle 'per-cpu' licensing work on Sun servers?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 22 December, 2005 | Published in

Oracle's products are licensed per CPU or per user/employee. With the advent of multi-core CPUs, Oracle have adjusted their model to reflect changes in CHIP technology.

Many vendors have dual-core CPUs but Sun have released the first CPU with more than two cores - code named Niagara, the UltraSPARC T1 chip has upto 8 cores(note 1). Oracle recognised this innovation by quickly changing their model to include a tier for the T1 Chip - a real coup for Sun and great news for Sun customers.

The current Oracle model is thus:-

Oracle Processor Licensing: Processor Factor

UltraSparc T1 0.25
AMD/Intel 0.50
All other Multi-core Servers 0.75
Single Core Servers 1.00

For example, if an AMD, IBM, Intel or Sun UltraSparc T1 multi-core server was installed and/or running Oracle software on 8 cores, the licenses would be calculated in the following manner:

-- IBM multi-core server -- Requires 6 processor licenses (8 multiplied by a factor of .75 equals 6)
-- Intel or AMD server -- Requires 4 processor licenses (8 multiplied by a factor of .50 equals 4)
-- Sun UltraSparc T1 server -- Requires 2 processor licenses (8 multiplied by a factor of .25 equals 2)

You can read the full press release here.

Note 1: The T1 chip has eight cores, each core can handle 4 threads giving a throughput of 32 simultaneous threads. This new technology has already set a raft of world record benchmark results.

Q. Should I consider upgrading from Solaris 2.6?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 07 December, 2005 | Published in


Solaris 2.6 is rapidly approaching it's end of support life and pretty soon will be unsupported by Sun.

If are running Solaris 2.6 then you should start planning now to upgrade to Solaris 9 or 10 - with Sun's binary compatibility the move can be pretty easy. Horizon offer services to assist, if you need help - drop a line to info@hos.horizon.ie

Still not sure ? There are plenty of good reasons to upgrade to Solaris 10 - it's better, it's faster, it's more secure, it's more reliable, it's free!

To check if your application is already running on Solaris 10, check out the Solaris 10 application list.

Q. Why do Oracle licenses cost less on a V490 when compared to a V440

Posted by : Dr. Root | 02 December, 2005 | Published in

Well, thats obviously a trick question.

The V440 uses the 1.6Ghz UltraSPARC IIIi processor - up to 4 of them. For Oracle licensing, 4 processors is 4 cores that have to be accounted for. Currently Oracle licence servers by the core, something that the multi-core chip vendors are, shall we say, discussing with them - but that would be a different blog.

To get a similar level of computing power from a V490, you only need 2 of the latest 1.5GHz UltraSPARC IV+ processors. These chips, are dual core, so 2 processors give 4 cores. The UltraSPARC IV+ cores packs more punch than the UltraSPARC IIIi processor so it will give you better performance but with less power and subsequent cooling required. Now, like that shampoo advertisment, 'here comes the science bit'. Oracle only count the cores in a multi-core chip as 0.75 of a processor licensing unit. So while each dual core processor is 1.5 times the cost of the V440 processor, there are only 2 of them so that totals 3 Oracle processor units.

V440 - 4 Oracle Processor licenses, V490 of similar computing power 3 Oracle Processor licenses

Q. What is the difference between OpenSolaris and Solaris

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

Well, like so many things, nothing and everything.

Sun has provided the source code for Solaris to users who asked nicely for quite a while now. Previously, all that was needed was a good excuse and Sun would show and tell. However, since Solaris 10, Sun have essentially OpenSource'd the lot - well to the extent of those components that are their IP. And that essentially, at one level, that is the difference. There are elements of standard 'off the shelf' Solaris that Sun do not own, therefore they cannot give them away. This is an ever decreasing amount but still exists.

So if you go to http://www.opensolaris.org/os/ and download the source, compile the kernel and utilities, you essentially have the core of Solaris. But here is the other difference, a) you will NOT have Solaris and b) you (and the community) are on your own. Only the binary distributed from Sun can be called Solaris and only it is supported and indemnified by Sun.

In the world of technology there are a lot of clever people out there so,'Innovation happens' but not all of them work for Sun ! So the adage becomes 'Innovation happens, elsewhere. So how do you maximise the opportunity to innovate - OpenSource !!! By making Solaris OpenSource, Sun have thrown open their 25 years of development and said to the world, 'here is what we've done and we think its clever. If you think you can do better or have a neat idea go for it. All we ask is that you let us know what you did and if it is appropriate we will incorporate it into the next version of Solaris !"

Q. How would I deploy 50 user desktops but only have one system to manage?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 01 December, 2005 | Published in

Easy - Sun Ray Server Software on a suitably sized server.

Sun have had a thin client desktop option available since the Solaris 2.6 days. The concept is very simple, have stateless low powered client that provide the user interface (UI = keyboard, mouse and graphics etc.) on the desktop and have everthing but the display running on the server. In some ways its is like the 3270 terminal for the 21st century. The thin clients come with Java card readers, which can provide multiple functions, but the handiest one is it ability to carry your session from one thin client to the next either for hot desking, moving from one part of the office to another or, in the event of hardware failure, bringing up your running session on a new client.

The current version, Sun Ray Server Software 3.1 (SRSS) suppports Solaris 8,9 & 10 on SPARC, and on X86 Solaris 10 , Java Desktop System, release 2, RHEL AS3 and SuSe ES 8 linux, 32-bit only. This gives you ample choice as to what the actual desk top looks like and what server you choose to serve it from. Any supported application will work in a Sun ray environment - this includes the obvious desktop applications such as web browsers, mail clients, StarOffice for documentation, Java applications but also includes the Microsoft Windows interoperability tools such as Sun's Tarantella or Citrix's ICA client. These latter tools allow mixed environments to deploy all their applications through one easily managed thin client desktop.

Sun Ray Server management is then a straight forward taks. Because there is only one server to manage, patch, monitor update etc, the administrators tasks are reduced. The thin clients have zero adminastration. If new firmware for the clients is installed on the servers, it is automatically loaded on the thin clients when ever they are rebooted or power cycled. Sun Ray Servers Software support the idea of failover groups, so multiple servers can provide resources for multiple clients. If any one server fails, the attached clients can immediately and automatically attach to the next least loaded server. The clients minimum bandwidth has dropped to 300Kbps, while this has benefits for the office network, it allows for the deployment of server less configurations for the home or small offive with a DSL or cable modem connection.

For more details check out http://www.sun.com/software/sunray/index.xml

Q. How does a Solaris 10 zone offer increased security?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

Solaris 10 zones have been described variously as FreeBSD jails grown up or chroot on steroids... In a nutshell, Solaris zones (a.k.a. containers) provide a means of creating virtualized operating system environments within an instance of Solaris, allowing one or more processes to run in isolation from other activity on the system. This isolation prevents processes running in one zone either monitoring or interacting, in any way, with processes in another zone. A user or process in one zone knows nothing of any other users or process in any other zone. Only the global or initial zone can see all of the processes. In the event of a zone becoming compromised and someone gaining root priveleges, the breach will be contained within that zone and cannot effect any other zone - in a suitably configured envirnoment.

Zones also provide a layer of physical abstraction, they can only see the resources that have been assigned them from the global zone - physical devices and path names can be hidden from them. The administrator in the global zone can create a filesystem on a soft partition as part of mirrored volume and only assign the file system to a particualar zone. Now that zone has a mirrored flesystem (the soft partition) for its use but has no access or priveleges to the physical devices that make up the meta device. To go back to our compromised zone example, if the physical disk device had been allocated to a zone, then a rouge admin account could format the disk which could then impact on other zones, however if only a filesystem has been alloacted to a zone only this can be affected.

The zones framework has a very low system overhead, in a steady state, thousands of zones can exist on a given Solaris instance. The resources used by a zone depend on the process running in them, so two busy zones could fully load a system, however this would be the same if all the processes were running in one Solaris image or in multiple zones, what is key is that the framework to provide the segregation and virtualisation itself has almost no overhead. When zones are combined with resource management (fair share scheduling, cpu.shares, proecssor sets etc.) they become a more complete consolidation environment.

Finally Zones are part of OpenSolaris, for the low down check out http://www.opensolaris.org/os/community/zones/

Q. How can I configure a Sun server to be dual boot, Solaris and Microsoft Windows ?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

A Sun x64 server can be configured to support dual or multiboot into Solaris, Windows and Linux operating environments. A Sun Blueprint article has been produced to describe the procedure required to support this configuration. Please see http://www.sun.com/blueprints/0905/819-2889.pdf

Q. Is Solaris really free ?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

In short YES.

Sun have announced Solaris Enterprise System; Easy access to enterprise-class software, including Solaris 10 OS, Java Enterprise System—and more—at no cost(1). Sounds too good to be true I know, but you can download it now.

What's included ?

Solaris 10
Sun Java Enterprise System
Sun N1 Software
Sun Java Desktop System
IDE Tools
... and more

Full details here.

(1) No cost means free; the software is free to use for SPARC and x86 environments. Support is available at a cost but that's it!!

Q. Where can I get Solaris support ?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 21 November, 2005 | Published in

If you have a support contract, you can log a support call in Ireland by calling 0818 365 333, or on the web at the Online Support Centre

If you have a development query, try one of the free Developer Forums at http://forum.sun.com/index.jspa

Q. How do Solaris Containers compare with VMware ?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

Consolidating with Solaris Containers:

Solaris Containers combine operating system partitioning with fine-grained resource controls to allow servers to be partitioned at sub-CPU granularity without having to replicate the operating system image itself. They provide a virtualised Solaris 10 Operating System image including a unique root file system, a shared read-only set of system executables and libraries, and whatever resources the root administrator assigns to the container at creation time. Solaris containers can be booted and shut down just like any instance of the Solaris 10 OS, and rebooted in seconds if the need arises. Unlike virtual machines, which must intercept every single interrupt and allocate it to the right instance, Solaris Containers support mainframe-level partitioning capabilities with almost zero overhead.

Consolidating using VMware ESX Server :

When an IT organization wishes to consolidate multiple Linux applications, multiple Microsoft Windows applications, Solaris OS applications, or a combination of them all, ESX Server is the consolidation option of choice. Not only can its virtual machine technology support all operating systems, it can support multiple versions of each one as well. IT organizations consolidating onto Sun x64 servers running ESX Server have the additional benefit of migration software that helps to package up an entire environment so that it can be installed in its own virtual machine.

For a more detailed description of the consolidation options available, please see the brief paper Consolidation through Virtualization

Q. What is eco-responsible computing ?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

In an era, where most processors use 150 watts, each SPARC-based CoolThread processor uses less than half the energy of Intel Xeon or IBM Power processors at just 70 watts - consumption closer to that of many household light bulbs. This new processor offers unparalleled transactional throughput and is designed to save customers millions of dollars on skyrocketing datacentre power, cooling and space costs.

The impact on our environment is real: If half of the entry servers sold in the last three years were replaced with UltraSPARC T1 processors, over 11 million tons of CO2 emissions, or the equivalent of that emitted by about 1,000,000 SUVs, would be eliminated each year.

Q. How do I use the RAID controller on a SunFire V440?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 18 November, 2005 | Published in

The SunFire V440 server has an onboard RAID controller that supports RAID 1 (mirroring) for the internal disks. If you want to do anything other than mirroring then take a look at Solaris Volume Manager (aka DiskSuite).

To use the RAID controller, use the command raidctl command.

raidctl -c disk1 disk2
raidctl -d disk1
raidctl [-f] -F filenamecontroller
raidctl -l [controller…]

Q. What is CMT?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

We know that a doubling of processor speed (frequency) does not result in a doubling of system performance. Why? Beacause improvements in memory latency have not kept pace with improvements in processor speed - in fact processor speeds are doubling every 2 years but memory speeds are doubling only every 6 years or so.

Throughput is impacted by both processor and memory speed; Sun recognised that having multiple threads in a processor could allow for greater throughput - as one thread is waiting for RAM, a second thread could execute and thus the waiting for RAM downtime is productive.

CMT - Chip Multi Threading allows for thread level parallelism to achiece unparalled scalability... within a chip.

Sun's CoolThreads technology, just announed this month, combines chip multi-processing (upto 8 cores per processor) and hardware muti-threading (upto 4 threads per core) . This is SMP on a single chip.

For more on this, please read this whitepaper - it's good!

Q. How can I get the price of a Sun system or component ?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

We have a number of ways of providing pricing information to you:-

o Old fashioned telephone - call us on +353-1-8055600 and ask for Sales
o Email - send your request to sales@hos.horizon.ie
o Online

To check a price online, please visit the Sun Catalogue - prices are available in Euro and Sterling. The online catalogue allows you to check prices, build configurations and request formal quotations.

Q. How can I locate files without using 'find' ?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 17 November, 2005 | Published in

Good question. Using the Solaris find utility is a great way to find a file - it is however quite resource intensive in that it checks through your filesystem.

A quicker, and less resource intensive, way to locate system files is to grep the filename is /var/sadm/install/contents. The /var/sadm/install/contents file contains a list of all files that are installed on the system by way of pkgadd. So it's a good start but not necessarily everything.

What you can do is use cron to create an entire system index each night and then grep that index when you're looking for a file. So, your cron entry could be as simple as

00 01 * * * /usr/bin/find / -print > /var/SystemIndex.contents 2>/dev/null

When you want to locate a file, grep the file name (using regexp). So, if you wanted to find files that called hosts then you would use:-

# grep -i hosts /var/SystemIndex.contents

Q. I've heard that Solaris x86 is now free. Where can I get a list of compatible hardware platforms?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 09 November, 2005 | Published in

Yes, Solaris 10 is available for free download for SPARC, x86 and x64 platforms! The Hardware Compatibility List for Solaris is available from the Sun bigadmin website here.

Did you also know that Sun offer the fastest, coolest, best price/performance 1U x64 servers available ? See here for further details.

Q. What's the difference between StarOffice and OpenOffice?

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

StarOffice 8 software is a commercial product built on OpenOffice.org’s open source code to provide the best value, multi-platform Microsoft compatible office suite aimed at organizations and consumers. OpenOffice.org 2.0 is the leading open-source project aimed at users of free software, independent developers and the open source community. StarOffice includes licensed-in, third-party technology such as:
  • Spellchecker and thesaurus
  • Mail Merge Wizard
  • Select fonts including Windows metrically equivalent fonts and Asian language fonts
  • Select filters, including Asian word processor filters
  • Integration of additional templates and extensive clipart gallery
  • Migration Tools and Macro Migration Wizard.
  • Sun Java System Configuration Manager for Solaris, Linux and Windows

    In addition to product differences, StarOffice offers:
    • Updates/upgrades on CD
    • Sun installation and user documentation
    • 24x7 Web based support for enterprises and consumers
    • Help desk support
    • Warranties and indemnification guarantee Training
    • Professional services for migration and deployment
Further information is available from the links below:

Q. How do I become a Sun Certified Administrator?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 08 November, 2005 | Published in

Certification can be a significant benefit to both the individual and to his/her employer. Certification signifies a certain, known and established, standard has been attained. Sun offer certification paths for Solaris Administrators, Solaris Network Administrators and of course Java Programmers / Developers and architects. Follow these links for more detailed info:-

What's available for Solaris, for Java
How to book

As always, Dr. Root.

Q. What happened to the 'top' utility?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 04 November, 2005 | Published in

Back in the good old days, 'top' was used by all well intentioned Sysadmins to see what was going on in their system. Useful as it was, it's been superceded now by:-

  • prstat - for quick and easy analysis
  • dtrace - for more complex and detailed analysis

Good luck.

Q. How can I tell if my OS is running in 32bit or 64bit mode?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 03 November, 2005 | Published in

Solaris supports both 32bit and 64bit. To check which is running, use the command below:-

# isainfo -bv

You should get output something like:

64-bit sparcv9 applications

For more information lookup the man page on isainfo. To switch between 32 and 64 bit modes requires a reboot. For more on this, please look here.

Q. What's new in Solaris 10

Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

Solaris 10 has tons of new features. To review the full list please visit Horizon's Solaris 10 website. There you can read about:-
  • Predictive self-healing
  • Solaris zones/containers
  • Dtrace
  • ...tons more
Sun also have a pretty good Solaris 10 website :)

Dr. Root

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Posted by : Dr. Root | | Published in

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