Solaris redux

Allow me to hoist my suspenders and stroke my scruffy gray beard for a few moments…

I’ve been a Solaris user for a long time now. I started with SunOS 4.1.3 in college, hacked on a Solaris 2.5.1-based proxy firewall (ANS InterLock, w00t!) for a few years, helped get that product working on Solaris 7, and then ended up at Sun Microsystems during the development of Solaris 9 and 10. On my own time I began working on Linux, as it matured and Solaris’ future became dim. And now, at Mozilla, I’m happy with OS X (aka unix with a sensible interface).

But more recently, I’ve had a Solaris itch growing. Solaris x86 — once the unloved bastard step-child — has clung to life through some rough times, and today is an entirely usable desktop OS. Kudos to the folks who have made it compatible with lots of hardware and Linux apps. My return to Solaris has had a few false starts, though… I struggled to get it working under Parallels (on OS X) last year before losing interest, then got it working on a spare PC until the dying video card made is unbearable. Then when Fred finished his internship at Mozilla, I swiped his PC and scrounged some spare parts to get a respectable system built. [Dual Xeon @ 2.2 Ghz, 1 GB RAM].

One reason I’ve been interested in Solaris again is that they’ve got some really spiffy technologies, some of which should be appearing in the next OS X release as well. Most prominently: ZFS and DTrace.

I’ve already got ZFS working on my “new” box… What a joy! If only the rest of Unix was this slick to use. Here’s what I did:


1. Dug though a box of old hard drives, and found 3 old-but-serviceable 9.1GB drives. Tossed into case, hooked up cables, and booted.


2. Created a ZFS storage pool named “build”:

# zpool create build raidz c0t2d0 c0t4d0 c0t8d0

# zpool status -v build
  pool: build
 state: ONLINE
 scrub: none requested

        NAME        STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        build       ONLINE       0     0     0
          raidz1    ONLINE       0     0     0
            c0t2d0  ONLINE       0     0     0
            c0t4d0  ONLINE       0     0     0
            c0t8d0  ONLINE       0     0     0

errors: No known data errors


3. Not strictly needed; but created a ZFS filesystem in the pool for Firefox builds, and mounted it in a convenient place…

# zfs create build/firefox

# zfs set mountpount=/export/home/dolske/ff build/firefox

# zfs list
blob                  88.7M  60.9G  24.5K  /blob
blob/home             88.6M  60.9G  88.6M  /export/home
build                 1.92G  14.6G  32.6K  /build
build/firefox         1.92G  14.6G  1.92G  /export/home/dolske/ff

And that’s it! As far as command line based filesystem administration goes, that’s dead sexy. No formatting or partitioning needed. Just a few simple commands, and I’ve got a fast filesystem that’s striping across 3 devices, fault-tolerant, with error detection and correction. And that’s just the beginning of what ZFS can do.

You can also get some nice stats as the pool in use… Here I’m starting a build, with stats dumped every 15 seconds:

# zpool iostat build 15
               capacity     operations    bandwidth
pool         used  avail   read  write   read  write
----------  -----  -----  -----  -----  -----  -----
build        821M  24.4G      0      0      0      0
build        821M  24.4G      5      0  70.0K  8.53K
build        821M  24.4G      1     28  35.4K   128K
build        824M  24.4G     57    149   148K   181K
build        827M  24.4G     90    147   182K   227K
build        828M  24.4G     31     43   188K   211K
build        839M  24.4G     16     38   115K   663K


I’m not really maxing out the drives during a build, but it’s fun to watch. The surprisingly-readable ZFS Administration Guide has more info on what goodies ZFS provides.

4 thoughts on “Solaris redux”

  1. When I first used ZFS, I studied the ZFS admin guide too, and the thing was so easy to use I didn’t sleep the whole night. Kept reading and typing up those two commands zpool and zfs.
    ZFS is simple and great filesystem. Before ZFS, I used to be a bit scared of managing filesystems.

  2. Woot. Glad to hear you put my box (or its parts) to good use. ZFS sounds really interesting and easy to use. When I compare that to the Raid+LVM instance I was fighting a lot with recently, oh boy!

    Now am I right assuming that ZFS isn’t in the stable Linux kernel yet? 🙂

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