Q. Is there a way to monitor generic system activity and save the output?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 20 October, 2006 | Published in

There is a freeware tool, DExplorer, developed by Brendan Gregg, that will examine various areas of your system, place the output in a meaningful directory structure and is as a .tar.gz file:

Download DExplorer

Below is an example of what DExplorer does [source: opensolaris.org] :
# dexplorer
Output dir will be the current dir (/export/home/root/DTrace/Dexplorer).
Hit enter for yes, or type path:
Starting dexplorer ver 0.70.
Sample interval is 5 seconds. Total run is > 100 seconds.
0% Interrupts by CPU...
5% Interrupt counts...
10% Dispatcher queue length by CPU...
15% Sdt counts...
20% Pages paged in by process name...
25% Files opened count...
30% Disk I/O size distribution by process name...
35% Minor faults by process name...
40% Vminfo data by process name...
45% Mib data by mib statistic...
50% TCP write bytes by process...
55% Sample process @ 1000 Hz...
60% Syscall count by process name...
65% Syscall count by syscall...
70% Read bytes by process name...
75% Write bytes by process name...
80% Sysinfo counts by process name...
85% New process counts with arguments...
90% Signal counts...
95% Syscall error counts...
100% Done.
File is de_jupiter_200506271803.tar.gz

Q. What is GRUB?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 18 October, 2006 | Published in

GRUB is the new bootloader for the Solaris OS on x86 platforms. It's based on the popular open source GNU GRUB (Grand Unified Bootloader) project.

A bootloader is a software program that runs when a machine is first powered up. Its function is to load the operating system kernel into memory and then transfer control to that kernel.

Solaris users can benefit from using GRUB:
  • With GRUB, it's very easy to specify kernel and boot options in the boot menu.
  • For end users, booting and installing from USB DVD drives is now supported.
  • It's also easier for the Solaris OS to coexist with other operating systems on the same machine -- for example, Solaris can share the same GRUB bootloader with Linux.
  • Deploying Solaris via the network is simplified, particularly in the area of DHCP server setup. Vendor-specific options are no longer required in the DHCP server setup.
  • If you're a developer, you no longer need to deal with realmode drivers, which were part of the bootloader required for previous Solaris releases.
  • Lastly, Independent Hardware Vendors can now deliver drivers at install time via CD/DVD in addition to floppies.

Q. Are Solaris Zones a better technology than Xen?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 17 October, 2006 | Published in

Xen and Solaris Zones aren't competing technologies. You should consider using them in a complementary fashion, because they actually operate at different levels in the software stack.

Xen technology virtualises the hardware to allow multiple operating system kernels to run simultaneously on an entire machine, while Solaris Zones virtualises the operating system to allow multiple operating system environments to coexist on a single Solaris kernel.

So depending on the problem at hand, you might decide to use these two technologies either independently or in combination.

Q. Can I run Linux applications on Solaris 10?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 12 October, 2006 | Published in

Well, at present yes and no...

If you are running Solaris 10 on an x86 system, there is a freely downloadable utility called "lxrun" that allows you to run Linux applications on the Solaris Operating Environment, Intel platform edition. Applications you can run with lxrun range from browsers and office productivity tools to graphic-intensive applications and games -- e.g. Applix, GIMP, GNOME, Netscape Communicator, Myth II and WordPerfect.

lxrun is available from:

- http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~steven/lxrun/
- http://www.sunfreeware.com

The next version of Solaris 10 is expected to include Solaris Containers for Linux Applications (SCLA). which will allow Linux applications to run unmodified on Solaris 10.

SCLA uses BrandZ (or Brand Zones) technology -- the underlying framework that allows to create Linux zones, as well as other non-native zones, on a machine running the Solaris Operating System. You could have a Red Hat zone, a Debian zone and a SuSE zone all running on the same Solaris 10 system.

But BrandZ technology is not limited to running Linux zones. It could also be used to develop brands that support a FreeBSD zone, a Darwin x86 zone, or Solaris zones that contain non-standard software collections.

BrandZ is the engineering project behind Solaris Containers for Linux Applications and it is already available today in the form of a development preview via OpenSolaris. You can download the latest source code and binaries to test-drive this technology from opensolaris.org.

The BrandZ infrastructure will eventually be available for both x86/x64 and SPARC systems, but SCLA is only expected to run on x86/x64-based systems running Solaris 10 in either 32-bit or 64-bit mode.

Q. Are there any good Open Source sofware for 3D Modeling, Texturing and Video Editing that I could run on Solaris?

Posted by : Dr. Root | 10 October, 2006 | Published in

Yes! There are many Solaris open-source applications you can install on your workstation, but let's take a look at a number of them to get you started:

3D Modeling:

Blender 3D: It's THE open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback; and a Solaris version of Blender 3D is available. The learning curve is a bit steep, but help is at hand from the online knowledge base, the forums and thriving user community on the web. Once you understand how Blender works, you will achieve spectacular results with it -- to get an idea, watch "Elephants Dream", a critically-acclaimed animated short movie that was produced with open source tools only.


GIMP: If you have Solaris 10 installed and if you're running the Java Desktop System, you can find the often over-looked GIMP under Launch > Applications > Graphics. This little gem is an image manipulation program with an arsenal of features that will remind you of Adobe Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. Adobe Photoshop users often say that GIMP is a bit difficult to learn, but the truth is that once you know where to find the features you're looking for, it's a very user-friendly and feature-packed image manipulation program.

Realtime Video Editing And Effects Software:

Jahshaka: A Solaris version is expected soon, and when it's available, you'll want to give this software a try.... If you're looking for a professional video editing software, you won't need to look any further. Jahshaka comes packed with professional features: editing and adding special effect is done in real time; the animation module is a true 3D compositing and effects system; and you can paint and design on moving videos, create music with all the tools the pros use and work in any format at any resolution -- All this while sharing files, projects and clips with users on your network or around the world. Very handy!

Have a go at Blender and GIMP and let me know your progress with them.
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