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Archive for August, 2009

Some exciting updates expected for Linux kernel 2.6.31

August 26th, 2009 Comments off

Recently I came across this article on h-online.com discussing some of the new features and functionality that is to be expected in the 2.6.31 Linux kernel. As I am usually more interested in data storage technologies, it was the file system and other storage concepts that drew my attention. I will only cover a few of the listed topics. You can read a full list of these patches provided in the h-online link I posted above.

Some updates include a large patch for the btrfs file system which tunes the file system to achieve greater performance. It is also noted that in this release btrfs will be less memory hungry and the SSD mode has been improved. Early benchmarks comparing both standard and SSD modes have shown the early implementation of SSD mode to be less than ideal. I am interested to see this improvement, especially as  Flash-based SSDs increase in usage and popularity.

During the development of btrfs I have been spending more time on observing the development process as opposed to taking it for early test spins. So when I make the following comment(s), I am not speaking directly from experience and if I make any errors in my statement(s), I hope the reader will correct me. As we are still early in the development stage and it is still too soon to tell, I wonder if btrfs will offer tuning with on-line volumes (as can be seen with ZFS). Most (if not all) modern Linux file systems are only capabable of processing file system options during mount time and in some cases with the remount option when invoking mount again. For example, in ZFS a character device node is available for management applications which are capable of pulling real time data and altering file system options on-the-fly. Here is a document with the diagram (reference page 10; sorry, I could only find a German copy of it; explanation found in last bullet point of section). If I wanted to disable/enable atime, compression, checksums, or alter quotas to both the entire storage pool and/or specific mounted volumes, I can do so on the fly with a simple zpool/zfs command. I am curious as to if btrfs  will implement a similar feature which can be extremely advantageous in storage administration environments.

Other patches include support for ext4 online defragmentation. I am surprised to see that ext4 is really starting to gain some grounds. Fedora currently implements it as the default file system in their latest release while Ubuntu provides it as an option during installation. It usually takes a while for a new file system to gain public trust and support.

Some other exciting patches include Fibre Channel Pass-Through support. I am curious to learn more about this functionality and if there is any relation (in functionality) to the SCST project hosted on SourceForge.

Categories: File Systems, Linux, SCSI, Storage Tags:

OpenSolaris: Installing gnome-launch-box

August 14th, 2009 Comments off

Mark your calendars, for 12 August 2009 deserves to be remembered for all eternity. At least it was an important day for me. Because one thing that I was missing on OpenSolaris and in the GNOME desktop environment was GNOME-DO. This application was one of many that truly made me efficient in a GNU/Linux environment. It is unfortunate though that a package of it does not exist in OpenSolaris. Even when installing Mono (pkg.opensolaris.org/contrib) and all the necessary components, I still had problems building the package. One day I may revisit that but in the meantime I decided to concentrate on building and installing the gnome-launch-box. For the most part, gnome-launch-box will do all that I really need it to do.

Going through the build process was no easy task as I was constantly bombarded with errors. It took almost a couple of hours of troubleshooting and research to finally get it to work. Below is a rough guide of the steps I took to install gnome-launch-box.

First and foremost I downloaded the latest build (version 0.4) and extracted its contents. In order to build and install the application, please verify that the following packages have been installed (verified in build 111b/2009.06 and build 118/2010.02):

  • sunstudio12u1
  • SUNWgnu-gettext
  • SUNWgnome-common-devel
  • SUNWxorg-headers
  • SUNWgmake

Navigate to the directory where the extracted contents exist and type the following lines. If you don’t the make process will invoke unresolved symbol errors.

petros@opensolaris:~/Downloads/gnome-launch-box-0.4$ LIBS="-lsocket -lnsl"
petros@opensolaris:~/Downloads/gnome-launch-box-0.4$ export LIBS

All the installed application need to be accessible in your current PATH. Run the configure script, gmake and the pfexec gmake install so that it can install the binary into /usr/local/bin/. Verify that the install path is set to your current path (~/.profile) and from the command line you can initiate the binary by its name:

petros@opensolaris:~/Downloads/gnome-launch-box-0.4$ gnome-launch-box

No matter how many times you call on the binary, it utilizes one and the same PID. If I do not need it I hit ESC or when I launch an application, it closes (into the background). This is a great feature and makes it easier on the system when I configure various hotkeys to launch application. For example, you can install the SUNWgnome-config-editor package so that you can use the gconf-editor to enable hotkey functions in /apps/metacity/global_keybindings and /apps/metacity/keybinding commands (in my case, <Control><Shift>q invokes the application). Here are some images of gnome-launch-box running on my desktop:

 gnome-launch-box 1

gnome-launch-box 2

 gnome-launch-box 3

Categories: OpenSolaris Tags:

Sun releases VirtualBox 3.0.4

August 6th, 2009 Comments off

Two days ago Sun Microsystems released the latest update to the VirtualBox virtualization application as version 3.0.4. You can download it here and view the Changelog here.

Categories: Linux, Microsoft, UNIX, virtualization Tags: