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Archive for March, 2010

Announcement: dsms 10.05 beta release 2 available for download

March 29th, 2010 Comments off

An announcement to all interested in the Data Storage Management Suite: the 10.05 beta release 2 is currently available for download. This release only supports OpenSolaris UNIX (2009.06 & 2010.03), Red Hat Linux 5.x and Ubuntu Linux 8.04 LTS. This will be expanded to Solaris 10 by the official release. Soon after, other Linux distributions will be supported. Note that for beta releases everything must be built from source which can be obtained from the download site.

The Beta Release 2 has some bug fixes. For more details on those fixes you can review the listing on the DSMS project in our bug tracker.

As this is still a beta and not official stable release (1 May, 2010), it is advised to not use this on a production and live system. It should be used for test purposes only and when a bug is found, it would be greatly appreciated if it were submitted to our bug repository.

Documentation is still being worked on and should be completed within the next 1.5 weeks. Note that it is unclear on whether a third beta release will become available before the stable release.

OpenSolaris and ZFS: The beauty of snapshots.

March 20th, 2010 Comments off

Two days ago, I ran through a long needed image update to the OpenSolaris 2010.03 preview. I was updating through the pkg update manager from build 129 to build 134. So when I say, it was much needed, I wasn’t kidding. Anyway, after over 1 GBytes of updates was completed, a new boot environment (BE) was created with the native ZFS snapshot feature and I shut down the PC for the night.

The next day I turned the PC on into the latest boot environment to find that my gnome-terminal was giving me problems. The obvious symptom was that certain characters were not being echoed and their was misalignment with every entry and output displayed within the terminal.

petros@opensolaris:~$ ls
            .    ..    Desktop Documents    [ ... more results ... ]
                   petros@opensolaris:~$

After some research I came across OpenSolaris bug 12380: image-update loses /dev/ptmx from /etc/minor_perm. The fix (workaround) was simple: boot into the previous boot environment, mount the newest boot environment and clone the /etc/minor_perm from the one to the other. The steps are as follows:

[reboot into previous BE]
$ pfexec beadm mount [newest BE] /mnt
$ pfexec sh -c "grep ^clone: /etc/minor_perm >> /mnt/etc/minor_perm"
$ pfexec touch /mnt/reconfigure
$ pfexec bootadm update-archive -R /mnt
$ pfexec beadm unmount [newest BE]
[reboot newest BE]

And the problem was fixed. It was quick and easy thanks to ZFS.


			
Categories: File Systems, OpenSolaris, Solaris, Storage Tags:

Revisited: ZFS, Btrfs and Oracle.

March 19th, 2010 5 comments

This entry is a continuation of one published in May of 2009. In fact it is relating to a comment made earlier today which I responded to in brief words. I am now taking the time to offer my viewpoint on the whole ZFS licensing under the CDDL and the reasoning for it.

It wasn’t until I started working with the OpenSolaris kernel and by working I mean, modifying code and going through the build process that I finally realized why OpenSolaris was licensed under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). A lot of other people and companies have claim to code used within Solaris. That includes copyrighted code to which Sun does not have the authority to publish in an open source license. This is why they needed to work with a weak copyleft license such as the Mozilla Public License and modify it to their expectations. The CDDL was eventually approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a valid open source license and Sun Microsystems was then able to release code under its limitations.

Now before I continue I wish to describe 3 different open source licensing models: (1) the strong copyleft license, (2) the weak copyleft license and (3) the non-copyleft license.

The strong copyleft license is a project based license in which it requires that any derived code from the original project must remain under the original license. This method of licensing makes it nearly impossible to link with code under a non-strong copyleft license. As a result of this approach, strong copyleft licenses are often referred to as viral licenses. The most popular of these licenses is the General Public License (GPL) with 3 available versions. The Linux kernel is licensed under this and its success and growth can be attributed to it.

The weak copyleft license is similar to the strong copyleft license except that it is file-based instead of project based. This means that if there are any modifications to a file, the original license must apply; but that file can be combined in a project with code under a different license. This method makes the type of licensing non-viral. The CDDL and the MPL are categorized as weak copyleft licenses.

The third type is the non-copyleft license which offers no requirement for derived works to stay under the original license. In fact, there is also no requirement for derived code to be released under any open source license. This makes it simple for someone to take an open source project and use it as a basis for a proprietary product. A best known example is the BSD license; and Apple’s adoption of FreeBSD kernel code in their XNU kernel or NetApp and their use of FreeBSD in their customized storage appliances.

Continuing where I left off, it would not have been possible to open source the Solaris kernel for the OpenSolaris project if it weren’t for the CDDL license. In turn, ZFS would have been incompatible with the CDDL license if it were licensed under the GPL; although it has no conflict with non-copyleft licenses such as the BSD license. Because of this and now because of Oracle’s admitted support and commitment to Solaris, I doubt this licensing will change; especially to merge it into the Linux kernel. That is why we should be grateful that: (a) ZFS is available under an open source license making it impossible for it to disappear and (b) that Oracle has been committed to Btrfs and bringing an enterprise class solution into the Linux kernel.

This is why we have choices. If you want ZFS functionality, use OpenSolaris or Solaris. If you don’t necessarily need ZFS and are more comfortable with Linux, you have a lot more distributions to choose from. Or if you want ZFS and a familiar Linux environment, there is also Nexenta.

Categories: File Systems, Linux, OpenSolaris, Solaris Tags:

Announcement: dsms 10.05 beta release available for download

March 9th, 2010 Comments off

An announcement to all interested in the Data Storage Management Suite: the 10.05 beta release is currently available for download. This release only supports OpenSolaris UNIX (2009.06 & 2010.03) and Red Hat Linux 5.x. This will be expanded to Solaris 10 by the official release. Soon after, other Linux distributions will be supported.

In the beta, everything must be built and installed from source. You can download the source package from here. The README.txt highlights the installation instructions and so does the project page linked above.  Ensure that you have GCC and the GNU binutils installed for proper building and installation.

As this is still a beta and not official stable release (1 May, 2010), it is advised to not use this on a production and live system. It should be used for test purposes only and when a bug is found, it would be greatly appreciated if it were submitted to our bug repository.

While this product is in beta, time is now being spent to write a nicely detailed and thorough manual covering not only the suite and also various testing methodologies. To read a little more information about this suite of test tools, reference the project wiki and even my previous blog post.

AMD RAID-on-Chip: A valid technology? Or is it just too late in the game?

March 5th, 2010 Comments off

Back in December I just came across this article for an AMD RoC (RAID-on-Chip) that will be embedded into servers to provide uninterrupted RAID functionality. A quick question came to mind as I was reading this: “Considering today’s storage capabilities and low cost equipment, who will be using this?” And honestly I was not able to come up with an answer.

In an earlier blog post I had mentioned the rise in usage of software RAID. Small to Medium sized Business (SMB) have been running to these low cost solutions. And why not? You are able to get more bang for your buck. For instance, by running OpenSolaris, one is able to use the redundancy of the ZFS file system (with single/double parity or mirrored RAID), file system level snapshot, data deduplication, and more. On top of that, there is a checksum calculator to ensure that all data corruption (noisy and silent) are never a threat. Take these ZFS pools and share them via NFS/CIFS, over ftp/http to even mapping them over iSCSI, Fibre Channel, AoE or FCoE protocols. The operating system (with all bells and whistles) is freely distributed under the CDDL license. The only costs will be the hardware equipment (a server or two and if external storage is needed, a JBOD) and the storage administrator. For years, servers have been equipped with LSI Logic (or other) RAID controllers that have proven to be just as efficient as anything else to handle local storage. Now when you look at larger enterprise scale companies, they are not going to want a server to manage their RAID. Instead they will keep the external storage managed externally with special purpose RAID controllers managing hundreds of terabytes to petabytes of data storage and apart from all the nodes in a cluster accessing that equipment.

But going back to the server, how practical is it to have an implemented RoC? With today’s level of high speed computing, does it make that much of a difference if the RAID is accomplished on the chipset as opposed to the operating system? If so how easy is it to recover from data corruption or any other error? Unless you are setting up a small home or small business server, what if you wanted additional functionality such as snapshots, data deduplication and checksum validation? You still have to go to the operating system and have some sort of volume manager on top of the RoC grouped volumes. No offense to Dot Hill even though they were a direct competitor to one of my previous employers (Xyratex). According to their numbers posted on Google Finance, financially they have been struggling for at least the past 5 to 6 years and this is a great opportunity for them. Although it is in my opinion that this would have been a valid technology back in 2001 and not 2010.

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