Five Solaris Resources You Need to Keep Up to Speed

By Charlie Schluting | Oct 9, 2008 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/netsysm/article.php/3776996/Five-Solaris-Resources-You-Need-to-Keep-Up-to-Speed.htm

Charlie SchlutingWhether you’re deeply interested in Solaris, Sun hardware, or just want to keep up with what Sun’s up to, there are a few convenient places you can go. Sun-loving (or hating) sysadmins and managers alike can learn about new developments, innovations and trends that might affect their next purchase. Being informed about Sun’s roadmaps may also drive strategic decision-making at the company level.

The perfect example is the x4500, or Thumper as it’s called. This ultra-powerful server with 48 1TB disks and the power of ZFS has changed the way people do many things, including video storage, database hosting and iSCSI VM hosting. Since we brought up iSCSI Target support in Solaris 10, this is also a good time to mention that these resources are wonderful for keeping track of when your latest server-crippling bug has been addressed.

Here are five resources you may not have been aware of, and why you might want to read them on a regular basis:

forums.sun.com

First, we have Sun Forums: the new, friendly support mechanism that doesn’t require you adhere to strict rules or partake in USENET. It’s a forum, like many other Web forums you’ve undoubtedly seen. The forums are well designed and quite helpful. You’ll find sections for nearly every topic you’re interested in, including Java, systems administration, hardware and more.

The Sun forums have powerful community backing and you’re likely to get answers to your questions there. In fact, you’re often likely to find forum threads whilst searching for Sun topics on Google. As with all forums and community-centric support mechanisms, remember to be critical of the advice you get, and don’t assume everyone is an expert. On the other hand, there are plenty of experts who frequent the forums, so don’t discount their worth.

Sun Managers

Sun Managers is a peculiar mailing list; peculiar, but effective. It’s designed to provide a quick turnaround to aid people in real-time troubleshooting. Thousands of people read and respond to messages immediately, so chances are you can get a quick and accurate response within a few minutes.

Unlike other mailing lists where you’re inundated with posts, complaints and responses, you only see the questions and resolutions on this list. The protocol is:

  • Post your question.
  • Receive private responses and determine which ones solved your issue.
  • Post a response to the list with “summary” in the subject line, outlining what the possible resolutions were and give credit to those who helped you.

This is an incredibly effective system, and you’ll be amazed at the number of responses you get to most questions. It is almost always true that someone else has solved the problem you’re confronting and has advice that will resolve it. The next time you have a Sun hardware or software problem or question, try posting it here. Once you’ve subscribed to the list, feel free to reply to some of the questions, even. If you’re wrong, the whole list doesn’t see it, just the person who asked.

Blastwave

Blastwave is not strictly a reference or reading resource, but it’s the most important site out there for Solaris users. Blastwave properly packages GNU tools for Solaris 8, 9, and 10. They are the only software resource that consistently provides current and correctly compiled applications for Solaris. Even huge systems like the KDE desktop can be installed with a single command using blastwave.

OpenSolaris Communities

OpenSolaris is all about participation. Solaris has improved leaps and bounds in the last few years, due in large part of the opening of the OS. In addition to getting involved with OpenSolaris itself, the OpenSolaris Web site also offers a glimpse at upcoming projects.

For the longest time I was waiting for iSCSI Target support, and the best place to look for the status of this was the OpenSolaris iSCSI page. I was able to see how the coding was coming along, and once it was stable I was kept up to date on the status of its backport to Solaris 10. The open source nature of Solaris is very helpful for planning: for example, do we wait for iSCSI Target support, or buy a NetApp?

If you want to know what’s coming in Solaris, or if you’re considering taking the plunge and running OpenSolaris on all your servers, you’ll need to spend some time taking advantage of these wonderful community resources.

Blogs!

Everyone loves blogs, even the CEO. It was very exciting to watch Sun’s and NetApp’s CEOs blogging back and forth, responding to each other when the big lawsuit first started to unfold.

Aside from the entertainment value, blogs.sun.com is a wonderful way to stay in touch with Sun’s thought process, from the CEO down to kernel developers. You’ll find out about new features, hear how existing products are doing and gain a little insight into what Sun is planning.


Charlie Schluting is the author of Network Ninja, a must-read for every network engineer.