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Softpanorama Solaris Bulletin, 2006

[Dec 21, 2006] Solaris Open Source Stack (SAMP=Solaris 10 OS, Apache 2.0.52, MySQL 5.0, and PHP 5) Quick-Start guide  by Viet Pham

November 2006 (Bigadmin)  This guide serves as a starting point for users to install, configure, and perform basic tuning of the open source stack SAMP (Solaris 10 OS, Apache 2.0.52, MySQL 5.0, and PHP 5). The article also covers PostgreSQL and Tomcat. The Solaris Zones feature (part of Solaris Containers technology in the Solaris 10 OS) is discussed to help users with scalability in mind.

Download the document as PDF.

[Dec 6, 2006] What's New and Recently Updated on BigAdmin

[Dec 6, 2006]  Computerworld review of X4600 by Paul Venezia

Among Opteron servers the most attractive midrange offering is Sun's x4600 server. Sun has blueprint paper for x4600-based virtualization ([PDF] Application and Database Server Consolidation on the Sun Fire X4600 Server Using Solaris Containers ).

 "the Sun Fire x4600 is a superb server with an obvious focus on virtualization, high-performance computing and database applications. If the local RAID controller supported RAID 5 and the local disk I/O had more headroom, this server would be nearly perfect."

 He also praised the motherboard design of the server:

Looking at Sun Microsystems Inc.'s brand-new Sun Fire x4600 M2, most would figure it for a quad-socket system. After all, at 4U (7 in. high), it matches the profile of the four-way HP ProLiant DL585 and Dell PowerEdge 6850. A quick peek under the hood tells a different tale, however: The Sun Fire x4600 M2 holds eight easily swappable sockets.

Armed with current dual-core Opteron processors, this equals 16 cores per server, so a full rack would bring the total to 160 cores. The Sun Fire x4600 M2 will also be able to run with the next-generation quad-core AMD Opteron chips, bringing the total core count per rack to an amazing 320. Packed with 128GB of RAM per server, that's a full terabyte of RAM in the same rack. At $51,995 for a single x4600 with eight dual-core Opteron 8128 CPUs, 32GB of RAM and two 73GB SAS drives, that power doesn't come cheap, but the x4600 offers quite a bit of bang for the buck.

While unpacking the x4600, the first thing I noticed was the enormous fan arrays. Two sets of four large fans sit right in the front of the case. The only cooling fans in the ehassis, they push air directly over the vertically mounted CPU modules, and they are surprisingly quiet during normal operation. Behind these modules are six half-height PCI-E and two PCI-X expansion slots with plenty of elbow room. The almost complete absence of ribbon cables was also surprising.

Hardware error conditions in the x4600 are handled with aplomb. Should a dual in-line memory module (DIMM) fail on any of the processor modules, the release handles light up. Further, pulling a CPU module out of the server and tapping a button will cause the socket containing the bad DIMM to light up using power from an on-board capacitor. All these features lead me to the conclusion that this is one of the best-designed server chassis I've ever seen.

Powering the x4600 are four 850-watt power supplies operating in a two-by-two redundant configuration. Although the system wouldn't power up with only two functional power supplies present, it would continue to run following the loss of the same two power supplies. This adds up to a lot of power consumption, but not as much as I expected given the server's overall performance and abundance of processors.

[Nov 14, 2006] Large cluster at MSU.

Mississippi State University (MSU) High Performance Computing Laboratory bought computing cluster based on more than 500 Sun Fire X2200 M2 servers running Solaris 10.

[Nov 14, 2006] IT Forum Microsoft launches interoperability group

In a blow to VMware and IBM twenty-five companies, including Sun Microsystems Inc., BEA Systems Inc., XenSource Inc., and Novell Inc., have agreed to join the Interop Vendor Alliance  announced by Microsoft. Other founding Alliance members include Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Business Objects SA, Citrix Systems Inc., NEC Corp. of America, Network Appliance Inc., Quest Software Inc. and Software AG.

[Nov 10, 2006] Sun Expands Virtualization Offerings

New version of T1 CPU will support heavy-weight (full hardware) virtualization. With this addition it looks like Sun will soon become the first and only hardware vendor that competes in all four virtualization weight categories:
  1. Super-heavy-weight (Hardware domain-based; high-end servers only, essentially "blades with common memory and I/O devices")
  2. Heavy-weight (full hardware virtualization; Sun calls it "logical domains"(Ldom); UltraSparc T1 "Niagara"-based servers will be the first -- the T1000 and T2000 servers with those capabilities are expected to begin shipping in Jan 2007). It's unclear if this enhancement will be backward compatible with T1-based servers produced before this date. 
  3. Medium-weight (Para-virtualization based on Xen; now available for X86 based servers only; Sparc has separate implementation that will be released in 2007 but two implementations will merge in the future)
  4. Light-weight virtualization (Zones). In Solaris 10 11/06, the next build of the operating system that will be released at the end of November, admins will be able to clone a Zone as well as relocate it to another box, through a feature called Attach/Detach. Also now it is possible to run Linux applications in zones on X86 servers (branded zones).
In comparison IBM mainly competes in just one category (heavy-weight virtualization: Lpars on Power architecture and VM on System 3xx architecture). Novell and Red Hat also in one category (Xen-based para-virtualization), Microsoft in two categories (heavy-weight virtualization and para-virtualization), FreeBSD also in one category (light-weight virtualization).

[Nov 10, 2006] Virtually Speaking Sun's Virtual Expansion

With LDoms, enterprises can run up to 32 virtual environments on a single server, Larry Wake, group manager of Solaris OS Marketing, told ServerWatch. Each of those partitions can then be divided further into Containers.

Up to 500 Containers can run on a single instance, though Wake admitted that such a scenario would be unlikely in a real-world deployment. It does, however, demonstrate the server's granularity.

Solaris' Container feature, which delivers essentially application-level virtualization, is a common denominator, between its SPARC and UtraSPARC span systems, Wake said.

Solaris 10 11/06, the next build of the operating system, will be released at the end of November. The version will include new capabilities for Containers. Admins will be able to clone a Container as well as relocate it to another box, through a feature called Attach/Detach, Wake said.

It wasn't just UltraSPARC T1 boxes that got a feature bump this week: x86 environments also received a virtual boost in the flurry of announcements.

In 2007, the systems vendor will offer full support for Xen functionality, this time in the form of a Solaris 10-based Xen hypervisor. Enterprises will be able to run concurrent Solaris 10, Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems as "guests" on a Solaris 10-based virtual machine, and will be able to reap the benefits of Solaris 10, regardless of the operating system running.

... Enterprises looking for a more production-ready x86 virtualization option, will need to be content with increased VMware support, however. Sun Fire x4600 and Sun Blade modular systems can now run VMware ESX 3.0.1.

Sun's remaining three enhancements, though equally touted, were more gravy than meat. The Sun Fire X4000 Galaxy servers have been upgraded with Rev F Opteron, AMD's next-gen Opteron processor and Solaris 10 Operating System.

Sun also announced Solution Customer Workshops, two-day sessions that aim to match customers' needs to Sun technology and determine an appropriate deployment plan. Sun estimates the value of these session as close to $10,000. Presumably, the revenue the systems vendor stands to bring in from the sale will exceed the $10,000 it invested in what is ostensibly a sales pitch.

Finally, Sun introduced the Life Cycle Services for Virtualization program consulting — education and support services to help architect, implement and manage customers' virtualization solutions.

... ... ...

More details on Sun's virtualization efforts can be found, here.

[Nov 10, 2006] IDEAS Insights Sun Logical Domains Open Door To Powerful UNIX Virtualization

October 18, 2006 Sun announced a new virtualization function for its Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers called Logical Domains (LDOMs). LDOMs are partitions that enable UltraSPARC-based servers to run multiple instances of operating systems simultaneously, whereby each instance can consume as little as a single processing thread. LDOMs complement Sun’s existing virtualization functions, including Dynamic Domains (i.e. hard partitions) and Solaris Containers (i.e. OS virtualization). Although each of these technologies provide similar capabilities as LDOMs, they have varying levels of granularity and different mechanisms for maintaining isolation between OS instances.


Indeed, LDOMs overcome some of the limitations of both Dynamic Domains and Solaris Containers. For example, LDOMs can be configured to use a fraction of CoolThreads processors, enabling far more precise utilization of server resources than Dynamic Domains, which require partitions to be configured in multiples of four processors. At the same time, LDOMs are more suited for general-purpose workloads than Solaris Containers, because they actually run their own instance of an operating system. Users may also have greater trust in the isolation provided by the firmware-based hypervisor in LDOMs than in the pure software implementation of Solaris Containers (see design presentation - PDF) .


From a purely functional standpoint, Sun's introduction of LDOMs starts to close a competitive gap with its UNIX competitors, including HP and IBM, each of which have UNIX virtualization functions that required fewer compromises than Sun’s earlier offerings. For T1000/T2000 users, LDOM’s ability to run multiple customized copies of Solaris 10 may facilitate certain types of workload consolidation more flexibly than Solaris Containers, and their firmware-based design may also offer a more reliable platform for hosting Linux workloads compared to the pure software-based implementations of industry-standard virtualization products such as VMware or Xen.


However, the real value of LDOMs, hosting critical UNIX applications with fluctuating workloads more economically by configuring hosts for average usage rather than over-provisioning for spikes, may await implementation on Sun’s next-generation high-end server systems based on the Advanced Product Line (APL) processor. Neither Sun nor partner Fujitsu have promised LDOMs on APL-based systems. But on these platforms, which will have the ability to support true SMP implementations rather than the thread-based multiprocessing of CoolThreads, LDOMs will be suitable for efficiently scaling typical UNIX workloads, rather than only new applications with multithreaded designs.

[Nov 10, 2006] Jayakara Kini's Weblog Weblog Multiple Solaris Instance on one system

Jun 01, 2006  Logical Domains support was integrated into Solaris Nevada on May 16th.  With Logical Domains (LDoms), it would be possible to simultaneously run more than one instance of Solaris on one box.

LDoms is supported only on sun4v systems (with UltraSparc T1 processors).  So, why is only sun4v systems supported?  Thats because the UltraSparc T1 processor has Hypervisor support built in.  The firmware on sun4v systems also support it.  At this time the there are only two sun4v models: T1000 and T2000.

LDoms support for Solaris 10 is being integrated sometime in the next month.  After that both Solaris 10 and Solaris Nevada can be run simultaneously on one system.

To use the LDoms features:

  • Upgrade the firmware to the latest release.
  • Upgrade the Nevada release to build 41 or later (build of 17 May 2006 or later would also do)
  • Install the LDoms Manager (code name: Zeus) which is bundled separately.
At the time of writing this, the firmware and the LDoms manager is not available outside Sun.

I have some doubts here for which I did not find any documentation:
  • Does LDoms require at least one CPU per domain or can one CPU run multiple OSes.  If it does require one CPU per domain, then T1000 will not be able to run LDoms as it has only one CPU?
  • Is there is a limit on the number of domains that can be run on a box if there is no requirement of dedicated CPUs for a domain?
  • When will the new firmware and LDoms manager be available for all?
Well, I guess these would be answered soon.  Anyway, the possibilities of its usage, combined with Zones, is numerous.  I have been amazed by some of our customers who use Solaris in ways we did not even think is possible.  With LDoms and Zones, I'm sure it'll keep happening...

[Nov 10, 2006] Sparks and White Noise T1 Hypervisor and Logical Domains

October 02, 2006. Many people may not remember, but when the T1 was announced, it was stated it had a built-in hypervisor. Of course, now lots of people have their T1000's and T2000's. It would appear that Sun will release at some point a firmware upgrade to enable this feature to create Logical Domains so you can carve up a T1 based server.

Each LDOM will have it's own OBP instance and act just like a normal Solaris SPARC environment. The kicker is that this is all in firmware! This is not Zones or Xen. I see this as a huge step in the right direction for Sun and can only hope that it gets released soon. Here's an interesting article on the subject that gives a good idea of what will be possible. I especially like the slide on page 3 that shows CPU, Memory, and *I/O* being virtualized with the next version of Solaris. I'm really interested in finding out more about these features.

With these kinds of features in such a small package, it opens up a lot of possibilities for virtualization and consolidation. With the ability to have LDOM's running different versions of Solaris (10, 10u2, Solaris Express, etc) and run zone's inside of those domains is really interesting. This could benefit developers, engineers, and of course production environments. When the Niagara II servers come out, the performance will be there to take this to the next level. Of course, we'll all have to wait and see how this will unfold.

NOTE: If Sun needs a beta tester, I'm available:)

Sun Ponders the Future of Virtualized Solaris by Timothy Prickett Morgan

November 2, 2006 (The Unix Guardian)
... ... ...
Sun is picking up a theme from the VMware subsidiary of EMC , which last year announced a tool called the VMware Player. With VMware Player, users can move their virtual machines around and "play" them on any X86 or X64 machine. At the time, VMware conceived of VMware Player as not just a tool for using VMs, but also as a new means of distributing software--in essence, a virtualized stack of software would be put in a VMware format and distributed using VMware Player, making this a virtual shrink wrapped box.

According to Ratcliffe, Sun is also thinking virtual machines are a means of distributing software, a kind of rapid deployment methodology that, to its credit, Sun was talking about years ago when it started up its N1 sales pitch to dot-com customers. Ratcliffe says that Sun will be encouraging customers to use virtualization tools to wrap and distribute applications.

"A lot of the focus on virtualization has been on running multiple operating systems on a server," explains Ratcliffe. "We are working on delivering pre-built stacks that are not just software on a DVD, but a set of fully integrated, pre-tested, and actually running software. We think this is the most interesting part of virtualization, and that it will become the standard way of deploying software. It will let you go from a dead, cold system to a running system in seconds."

Another thing that Sun is working on is expanding its Solaris container technology so it will be able to support earlier releases of Solaris on a machine that is running the latest release. Unfortunately for the 1.5 million or so Sparc/Solaris boxes out there in the world (that's my estimate), Sun cannot allow Solaris containers on a Solaris 10 machines to support Solaris 9, 8, 7, or 2.6 applications. The guts of the Solaris kernel in those versions of Sun's Unix are so different that they cannot easily be made to share a kernel and file system, which is how Solaris containers work. But, the good news is that when the next version of Solaris comes out--say it is called Solaris 11--this version will be able to support Solaris 10 containers. And so will Solaris 12, Solaris 13, and so on be able to support Solaris 10 containers, too. In the future, customers could upgrade their systems and operating systems to a new version or release, but leave their applications alone on prior releases, not having to port and recertify them until they see a need to.

On the virtual and logical machine hypervisor front, Sun is also expecting some of the key features of the Solaris 10 platform to give it an edge over competing implementations of these same technologies. "Today, the rush is to make sure you have the right mix of hypervisor technology to run multiple operating systems," says Ratcliffe. "We think this is going to change. We think people are going to want more functionality in their hypervisors."

So when Sun rolls out support for the Xen hypervisor in the first half of 2007, expect the company to make a big deal about the DTrace system telemetry, its related predictive self-healing, and user rights management features, and various security features that are all part of Solaris 10 today. "The way we will implement Xen will bring the benefits of Solaris 10 to operating systems that do not have these features," says Ratcliffe. "So rather than trying to make Solaris the operating system of choice, Solaris becomes the strategic choice of hypervisors."

For example, customers will be able to, for example, run a DTrace on Windows applications running on a Galaxy box inside Xen virtual machines, and thereby be able to better tune them and perhaps boost their performance or reduce the amount of resources they consume.

Of course, a hypervisor is just a new kind of single point of failure, and Sun as well as its customers are well aware of this. So Sun will be creating virtual machine methodologies that will checkpoint and snapshot running VMs from time to time, offering customers a chance for recovery.

But this capability of snapshotting and moving whole stacks of software also presents an interesting dilemma. "If you can checkpoint an entire system and recreate it, is this a security risk," asks Ratcliffe.

Sun has already developed data labeling technologies in the Trusted Extensions to Solaris, which are coming in the 11/06 update, that won't allow people with the wrong clearances to see data on a screen or move it to peripherals. Virtual machines will need similar kinds of controls and tight security. You won't have to hack an operating system any more, but just steal the hypervisor and software stack and hack it later at your convenience.

[Nov 10, 2006] Feature Story Sun's Approach to Virtualization

New sun4v platform

Sun Microsystems' comprehensive approach to virtualization lets customers apply the right technology in the right place at the right time. Today Sun is expanding its offerings with new systems, technologies, services, and tools that make it even easier for customers to simplify datacenters and maximize resource use through virtualization:

A Comprehensive, Flexible Approach

For an enterprise to be as agile and efficient as possible, Sun understands that virtualization must be available everywhere—at the server level, the network level, the desktop, and in storage solutions. Unlike competitors that take a one-size-fits-all approach, for years Sun has been providing a range of technology choices that span the datacenter to address customers' unique needs.

Sun's approach to virtualization provides both bottom-line and environmental benefits. Energy-efficient systems from Sun that provide high compute density in small footprints enable customers to reduce the amount of space required, resulting in real estate, power, and cooling savings. Sun technologies also allow customers to consolidate servers and applications onto fewer systems for improved resource utilization, simplified IT management, and lower costs.

Sun's virtualization and consolidation capabilities help customers reduce IT costs by as much as $2 million a year, achieve 99.99 percent availability, deliver up to 80 percent system utilization, and simplify infrastructure management. Key technologies include the following:

Sun's Latest Innovations

At the core of Sun's virtualization approach is making it easy for customers to optimize their Web tier and business tier infrastructures. New innovations include the following:

Virtualization Made Simple

Sun is also offering a number of new and enhanced services, methodologies, and tools to make datacenter virtualization as easy as possible for customers:

By giving customers all the innovations needed to truly optimize their datacenters, Sun's comprehensive virtualization approach lets businesses reap cost savings today and more easily take advantage of opportunities tomorrow. Continued innovation will ensure that Sun remains on the cutting edge of virtualization advancements well into the future.

For more information go to

[Nov 7, 2006] Heads up Logical Domains for sun4v platforms support in Nevada at

With the putback of

  6391870 LDoms v1.0 Solaris Changes

Solaris Nevada now supports the Logical Domains (LDoms) feature. This provides the ability to create multiple software partitions on sun4v based platforms. Each of those partitions can run a separate instance of Solaris without affecting any other.

The LDoms product as a whole (Firmware and Solaris) implements the following ARC cases:

  Case Number                                           Case Description
   ----------------                                          -----------
FWARC 2005/633				Project Q Logial Domaining Umbrella
FWARC 2006/055				Domain Services
FWARC 2006/074				sun4v interrupt cookies
FWARC 2006/072				sun4v virtual devices machine description data
FWARC 2006/110				Domain Services MD node and other misc properties
FWARC 2006/105				LDOM support for NCP
FWARC 2005/739				sun4v channels
FWARC 2006/184				sun4v channels shared memory
FWARC 2006/140				sun4v channels transport protocol
FWARC 2006/195				Virtual IO Communication Protocol
FWARC 2006/135				sun4v channel console packets
FWARC 2006/075				Channel devices, Virtual Disk client and server 
FWARC 2006/076				Virtual Network Client and switch Bindings
FWARC 2006/081				Virtual Logical Domain Channel (vldc) Bindings
FWARC 2006/086				LDOM Variables
FWARC 2006/117				Virtual Console Concentrator Bindings
FWARC 2006/141				FMA Domain Services
FWARC 2006/174				NCS HV Update
PSARC 2006/152				Logical Domain Channels Transport API

Firmware Information

In order to use Logical Domains, firmware that includes support for LDoms is required. These firmware images are currently released by the LDoms team. More information on how to prepare and install a sun4v machine to use LDoms can be found at the following location:

Bug Filing

A new bugster product 'ldoms' has been created for filing bugs against Logical Domains software. The responsible manager is jay dot jayachandran at sun dot com and any Solaris bugs in the 'ldoms' product should be filed under one of the following newly created categories/subcategories:

      Cat/Subcat       Description
      ----------       -----------
      solaris/misc     LDoms Miscellaneous Solaris bugs
      solaris/dr       LDoms Dynamic Reconfiguration Solaris bugs
      solaris/io       LDoms Virtual I/O Solaris bugs
      doc/doc          LDoms Documentation bugs
If there are any questions on LDoms, please contact ldoms- internal at sun dot com Sincerely, Logical Domains Software Tea

[Nov 7, 2006] Sun servers to get new multi-OS abilities By Stephen Shankland

January 25, 2006, SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems later this year will introduce virtualization technology to let its newest Sparc-based servers run multiple operating systems simultaneously, thus catching up to a feature already built into Unix machines from rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

The technology, called logical domains, will be added to Sun's two UltraSparc T1 "Niagara"-based servers--the T2000 server Sun began shipping in December and the T1000 it plans to begin shipping in February, said David Yen, executive vice president of Sun's Scalable Systems Group.

"This calendar year, on the T2000 and T1000, we will introduce our first generation of virtualization to bring people beyond the container technology Solaris 10 already offers," Yen said in a meeting with reporters and analysts at Sun's offices here. "We have real customers demanding it," particularly in the financial services industry, he added in a later interview.

Running multiple operating systems is useful for making a single computer more efficient and is a major trend in the server market today. Building the feature into Sun servers will address a key piece that's been missing from the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's mainstay product line.

Sun is feverishly working to restore its server group's fortunes. The company's server shipments dropped 6 percent in its most recent quarter.

To run multiple operating systems on a Sparc server now, Sun has offered only hardware partitions, a relatively inflexible method that lets higher-end Unix servers be subdivided into four-processor partitions. At the other end of the spectrum, a Solaris 10 operating system feature called containers lets a single instance of the operating system appear to be several--but that technology offers less protective isolation for different applications.

"This is something that Sun has needed to do for a long time in order to get parity with HP and IBM," said Gabrial Consulting analyst Dan Olds. The next step will be to make sure the feature fits into higher-level management tools, he said. "They need to show customers that their systems have the ability to manage IT resources according to business need--without human intervention--in order to catch up to HP and IBM."

The movement to run multiple operating systems on a single server has been maturing long enough that even comparatively lowly x86 servers have the ability through use of VMware's virtual machine software. And an open-source software project called Xen is under way with similar features.

Xen is the future, Yen said. Although the company developed its own logical domain software, Sun eventually expects it will become one with Xen.

"Eventually we expect Xen will get industrywide acceptance, and we'd like to be part of it. Some time, probably in the second half of 2007, we will merge," Yen said.

John Fowler, who as head of Sun's Network Systems Group is Yen's counterpart, said Xen for his x86 server group is gradually maturing.

"A lot depends on Xen 3.0 getting done. This is not up to marketing intent but to the engineering gods," Fowler said. "This kind of software is pretty hard. There's rocket science in elements of the stack and in making sure you get it right and it doesn't fall over."

Xen and operating system companies "have talked optimistically about this spring" for Xen 3.0, but "I think it'll take a little bit longer. I think this year is very possible," Fowler said.

Firming up firmware
The logical domain feature will be available in an update to the T1000 and T2000 firmware, software that runs at a lower level than the operating system, Yen said. The update won't degrade performance or require customers to recertify their software, he added.

That firmware has another important function, Yen said. It provides a new foundation for Solaris. As Sun worked to move Solaris to x86 chips such as Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron, the company realized it needed a more flexible connection between the operating system and the chip it's using. The firmware provides that new interface, he said.

"All Solaris has to do is talk to the API (application programming interface) presented by that layer," he said.

The layer also will ease development for the programmers who work on Linux for Sparc-based computers, Yen said. "To facilitate Linux porting...we will publish the API for the internal firmware," he said.

Sun will release the underlying hardware description of the UltraSparc T1 by the end of March, he reiterated. And Sun will also release its UltraSparc 2005 specifications, which detail extra features Sun's chips have that aren't in the Sparc V9 standard promulgated by the Sparc International organization.

Sun has shipped thousands of T2000 systems so far, Yen said. Most customers are buying just one or two for evaluation purposes, but a global telecommunications company placed an order on Tuesday for 75 of the machines, he said.

Yen said that late this quarter or early next quarter, T2000 and T1000 customers will get a new option: an expansion device that increases the number of input-output slots that are available.

[Nov 2, 2006] Microsoft makes Linux pact with Novell CNET by Joris Evers and Stephen Shankland

Sun might indirectly benefit from further weakening of Red Hat position as well as better Open Office interoperability with Microsoft products. 

November 2, 2006 (CNET ) ... The companies will create a joint research facility at which they will build and test new products, and work with customers and the open-source community. The focus will be on three technical areas: virtualization, Web services for server management, and Microsoft compatibility...

... ... ...

Novell will offer a version of Suse Linux Enterprise Server with optimized virtualization features for Windows Server Longhorn; Microsoft, in turn, will sell a version of the upcoming Windows server product that is optimized to run the Novell software in a virtual environment, he said. Neither company, however, will sell the other's operating-system product.

... ... ...

The two companies also said they will provide each other's customers with patent coverage for their respective products. Moreover, Microsoft said it will not enforce its patents against individual, noncommercial Linux developers.

"Today, Novell is the only company in our industry that is able to provide the customer not only with the code to run Linux, but also with a patent covenant from Microsoft," Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, said at the event.


In addition, Microsoft promised not to assert patents against developers being paid to create code for OpenSuse, Smith said.

... ... ...

For Bill Schrier, chief technology officer for the city of Seattle, the arrangement means that Suse Linux is now an option.

"We don't use any open-source products today and one reason is because of the intellectual property issues," he said. "In this case, where Microsoft says they won't assert their patents, it makes Linux more attractive to us."

[Oct 30, 2006] Oracle’s Red Hat support spells trouble for Sun InfoWorld Column 2006-10-30 By Neil McAllister

Sun used to provide slightly cheaper support then Red Hat. Oracle undercut this price so this advantage is lost. Still Solaris stands on its own as an enterprise OS (and it serves as Oracle standard 64-bit platform) and in this role it competes more with AIX and HP-UX then Linux (although X86-64 changed that).  So this development might hurt Sun a little bit on low end but it is not applicable to midrange and high-end server were Oracle mainly used. Actually IBM AIX is the major Sun's competitor in his space due to Power 5 CPUs scalability. But all three major Unix vendors have sizable Oracle deployment (surprisingly HP-UX is a strong contender in this space and many large corporations use HP-UX to run Oracle).

According to WimCoekaerts, Oracle's director of Linux engineering, Oracle's own production servers are rolled out with Linux -- not Solaris -- and Linux is now the de facto standard platform for 9,000 Oracle developers.

Sun is quick to point out the technical advantages of Solaris over Linux, and to be fair, they are numerous; score a point for Sun. What's more, Solaris is open source, just like Linux.

... ... ...

Sun says that, when you run the numbers, Red Hat's subscription pricing is expensive compared with what you get with a Solaris license. Oracle apparently agrees, because its baseline Linux support contract will be priced at half what Red Hat charges.

In short, whatever the effect Oracle's Unbreakable Linux has on Red Hat, it will also have a heavy impact on Sun.

[Oct 30, 2006] FAQ - Oracle Validated Configurations

For the list of systems (currently approximately a dozen) see Oracle Validated Configurations

August 14, 2006 Oracle Validated Configurations are pre-tested, validated architectures with software, hardware, storage and networking components together with documented best practices for deployment. Oracle and its strategic partners offer and recommend these configurations to enable end-users to deploy fully tested solutions to achieve standardization with high performance, scalability and reliability while lowering infrastructure costs.

... ... ....

Oracle is seeing significant end-user demand for Linux x86-64 architectures and is fully committed to developing, advancing and promoting the 64-bit commodity Linux. All new chipsets and servers are now being shipped with x86-64 architecture, thereby offering a much wider hardware selection to end-users than some of the other architectures. Therefore, Oracle has chosen to initially make Oracle Validated Configurations available on Linux x86-64.

[Oct 30, 2006] Oracle The biggest Linux vendor you've never heard of InfoWorld Column 2006-06-12 By Neil McAllister

Oracle is involved with Linux, Coekaerts says, foremost because Oracle uses Linux. A lot of Linux. Right now almost 10,000 Linux servers are in use internally at Oracle. Essentially, every production server at Oracle is a Linux server. In addition, about 9,000 developers at Oracle are using Linux to develop products.

A lot of that can be attributed to one simple factor: cost savings. "We use Linux for the same reason all the other companies are using Linux," Coekaerts says.

< a lot oks to optimize database performance, it's easier to do with an open source, community-driven OS than a proprietary one. Hence the number of Linux kernel contributions from Oracle engineers; as a fast research and prototyping tool, Linux can't be beat.

The end result of all this in-house Linux experience is a whole lot of in-house expertise. In a way, then, it was only natural for Oracle to enter into the Linux support business. It's not widely recognized, but Oracle has provided enterprise Linux support through its Unbreakable Linux program for about four years. Now, with its new Oracle Validated Configurations initiative, it is poised to take that a step further.

An Oracle Validated Configuration is essentially what it sounds like. Oracle and its partners have selected specific combinations of hardware and software -- including server hardware, chip sets, Linux OSes, drivers, and storage -- and subjected them to approximately 60 to 70 tests designed to tax each system to the limits of its performance. The Validated label means you're getting a complete system that has been fully configured, certified, and optimized to run Oracle, down to specific kernel module parameters.

The Oracle stamp of approval doesn't just benefit Oracle users. Because Oracle is such a heavyweight application, it tends to highlight problems more quickly than other kinds of software. A system that runs Oracle well is almost guaranteed to run other applications well.

By comparison, Coekaerts says it typically takes customers nine to 12 months to get full server stacks properly configured when they do it themselves. "We're saving lots of people's time, including our own," he says.

But the bigger picture is one of perception. Over the long term, Coekaerts would like to see Oracle recognized for the contributions it has made to Linux throughout the years. As the world's second-largest software company, Oracle's influence over the industry isn't going away, but its reputation as an outsider in the world of open source just might.

"We're doing Linux the way we should be doing it," Coekaerts says. "We're trying to use our influence to do something good."

[Oct 28, 2006] Oracle Announces The Same Enterprise Class Support For Linux

On October 25, 2006 Oracle announced its own support for a clone of Red Hat. It is evident that Oracle will eat Red Hat lunch, but this is also a severe blow to Suse (making Novell almost irrelevant in enterprise Linux space).  Some people think that this is a revenge for Jboss, but big business is not about retribution.  Still details are pretty interesting and somewhat damaging for Solaris at mid-range: Sun should be very careful with licensing and cost of support to avoid the falloff...

Currently, Red Hat only provides bug fixes for the latest version of its software. This often requires customers to upgrade to a new version of Linux software to get a bug fixed. Oracle's new Unbreakable Linux program will provide bug fixes to future, current, and back releases of Linux. In other words, Oracle will provide the same level of enterprise support for Linux as is available for other operating systems.

Oracle is offering its Unbreakable Linux program for substantially less than Red Hat currently charges for its best support. "We believe that better support and lower support prices will speed the adoption of Linux, and we are working closely with our partners to make that happen," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. "Intel is a development partner. Dell and HP are resellers and support partners. Many others are signed up to help us move Linux up to mission critical status in the data center."

"Oracle's Unbreakable Linux program is available to all Linux users for as low as $99 per system per year," said Oracle President Charles Phillips. "You do not have to be a user of Oracle software to qualify. This is all about broadening the success of Linux. To get Oracle support for Red Hat Linux all you have to do is point your Red Hat server to the Oracle network. The switch takes less than a minute."

"We think it's important not to fragment the market," said Oracle's Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven. "We will maintain compatibility with Red Hat Linux. Every time Red Hat distributes a new version we will resynchronize with their code. All we add are bug fixes, which are immediately available to Red Hat and the rest of the community. We have years of Linux engineering experience. Several Oracle employees are Linux mainline maintainers."

[Oct 26, 2006] Halloween Special: Cobalt, RIP?

(LinuxToday) For those of you that weren't at the wake, Cobalt was a Linux-based appliance developed in the late 90s. Praised for it's elegant simplicity, millions of these servers were sold. Sun bought Cobalt in 2000 for an estimated $2B in stock. In January of 2003, Sun took a $1.6 billion charge against earnings and put Cobalt into an end of life track (ok, they killed it).

Many have speculated that Sun did in the Cobalt products because they were cannibalizing the lower end of the Solaris line. Others link it to their ever shifting Linux strategy. The purpose of this post is not to question Sun's decision, that would be beating a dead horse (sorry, the macabre keeps creeping in).

In fact, we should give credit to Sun for releasing the source code of the two main product lines under an open source based license.

During my walk down memory lane, I was surprised to have found that there are active user groups (some even call themselves fan clubs) that are keeping the dream alive. There are patches to the 2.6 kernel that are specifically identified as Cobalt related. I have heard reports of "cubes" that have run non-stop for years.

[Oct 25, 2006] DDJ Portal Blog/Sun Gets Rubyfied by Jon Erickson 

On the heels of last weekend's Ruby Conference in Denver (for a report, see Jack Woehr's blog), Sun Microsystems made a Ruby-related announcement of its own. Led by Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo, the chief maintainers of JRuby, a 100% pure Java implementation of the Ruby language, Sun has released JRuby 0.9.1. Among the features of this release are:

In related news, Ola Bini has been inducted into JRuby as a core developer during this development cycle.
Details are available at Thomas Enebo's blog and Ola Bini's blog