Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More Sun T2000 "minor changes"

As the Sun hardware manual for the T2000 series states that "minor changes" would need to be made to installations of Solaris 10 on that hardware, I thought I'd enlighten everyone what these changes actually are.

  1. As stated previously, this is the only hardware from Sun on which hardware drive mirroring for boot drives must be configured before installing the OS. This is bad enough. Read on.

  2. When you add this to a pre-installation script to create the mirror before the disk is set up in JumpStart (tm) (r), the whole install bombs out with a "unable to write VTOC label" error. This is because while the drives are being synced for the (hopefully only) first time, some weird lock gets set.

  3. When the sync operation on the drives completes, both mirrored disks are wiped. At least it warns you. The problem is, they're binary-wiped, and don't have the Sun format disklabel magic at the beginning. Not fixing this causes the next attempt to JumpStart the machine to bomb out too.

  4. On the T2000's, one obscure reference in this document alludes to the need to add the line "set pcie:pcie_aer_ce_mask=0x1" to /etc/system. Mmmmkay, I understand this is an issue, but for gripes' sake why put it into that document? Nobody looks there, which brings me to point 5:

  5. Your search engine and user interface for is probably one of the worst web sites ever created my man. It's slow as molasses, and the searches return little of value. Most people prefix "" to their Google searches because that sucks a whole lot less.

  6. And why do the issue numbers listed in the above-mentioned documents not link to the bug database? Not a bug, but a feature, huh?
I think as long as people depend on consultants to stand these systems up, nobody will ever really know the cost of ownership of this garbage.

Ah... it's a paycheck, and it pays by the hour...

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sun, Solaris, oh my...

So this place I work for sends me over to the client site to clear up some "issues" with "following industry best practice." What a shock I was in for. Seriously. I don't blame Sun entirely for this, but they sure don't make it easy. Here is what I discovered:

  1. Sun systems administration courses apparently tell you to install everything on a production machine. Everything, including the (now in Solaris 10) gnome palm-pilot development utilities. Including the kanji terminals. Security? Fuck it, let's install the Sun Web Console and webmin. Imagine the surprise when people are shown this document (pdf).

  2. With that confusion out of the way, it seems that true points of pain never seem to get addressed, and in fact seem to get exacerbated with every version. Let's talk Solaris Zones. For the marketecture terminology-allergic like me, this is effectively a collection of scripts to control resources to chroot environments, with some things (like NICs) virtualized. It's not a true virtual machine, but good enough. So, try to do a minimal install that supports that... just once. Not only do you need to install half of X windows (always useful on servers without video cards!), but basically another 300MB of software. Yah, well thought out, that is. So, nicely branded userlinux on Solaris with cute create scripts, but you need to install all this other crap. Thanks.

    I heard this got fixed in "Solaris Express" - the Sun beta operating system. Nice, sounds like a Red Hat release with a .0 on the end.

  3. Solaris package management system still sucks. You still have all these undocumented dependency chains all over the place (see complaint #2, above). Yeah, I heard of Sun's Jet system, but adding DHCP to the environment there was out of the question.

  4. Every vendor for sun software (that would be PeopleSoft and Oracle...) has some jacked up dependencies they need installed in the OS. I have no idea why they do this, other than developers being too bored, and wanting to re-invent the wheel again ("but mine is better, really, it's square!"). Sure, installing everything solves this, since there is no need to experiment. Plus, you can use the X-windows installers. Yeah...

  5. Now, don't get me wrong, the T1000's and T2000's from Sun are actually really cool pieces of kit, but boys, did you think about it when you selected the raid controller? Unlike all your other RAID controllers, you can't turn on drive mirroring after the fact. It needs to be done before the OS is installed. Evidence here. Thanks, you jerks.

  6. Lastly, why on God's earth would you still keep your 32 and 64 bit Java packages separate, after your "What's New in Solaris 10" page states you got rid of the stupid "if the package name ends in x, it's a 64 bit package" and then still keep the 64 bit JVM as a separate one? To add insult to injury, the SUNCuser meta-cluster (collections of collections of packages to install, to the uninitiated, purportedly for "easier installations") does not install the 64 bit JVM on 64 bit hardware. You're killing me!
Alright, that's enough ranting. No matter how tempting, and no matter how much less newer releases of Solaris suck less than the preceding ones, it's an exercise in frustration each time. When my prior employer's Sun rep was told that I was to be working in an all-Solaris shop for a while she apparently almost had her BigBucks Latte coming out of her nose, she laughed so hard. Apparently I gave their sales engineers the hardest time ...

Labels: ,