As Published In
Oracle Magazine
March/April 2012

COMMUNITY: Community Bulletin


Drill into Oracle Solaris 11

By Rick Ramsey


Find out how Oracle Solaris 11 will change your job.

In this issue, Rick Ramsey, Oracle Technology Network systems community manager, provides an update on Oracle Solaris 11.

After seven years of continuous development, Oracle launched Oracle Solaris 11 in November 2011 with a completely new approach to software packaging, patching, and management. This new architecture will dramatically change the way sys admins manage their software, as well as the way developers package and distribute it.

Those of us who are fans of Oracle Solaris 10 learned to recite UNIX SVR4 (System V Release 4) package nomenclature in our sleep. Times change, however, and we need to let go of the “old ways.” The economic pressures on data centers are too intense to waste precious sys admin resources on mundane tasks. Better to use them for higher-level duties, such as identifying performance bottlenecks, guarding against security breaches, and developing an effective provisioning strategy that includes the cloud.

Meet Image Packaging System

Oracle Solaris 11’s new packaging architecture, called Image Packaging System (IPS), spans the entire software lifecycle, including software installation, patching, upgrades, and removal. IPS takes the uncertainty out of software updates by relying exclusively on repositories.

Before any software is placed in these repositories, it will be validated by Oracle. Validation is an automated process that identifies and catalogs dependencies between the packages in those updates and patches. As a result, when you download a patch or update to Oracle Solaris 11, you don’t have to look through the ReadMe’s, cross-check dependencies, or spend any more time making sure the patch or update will work.

If you administered Oracle Solaris 10, you probably used JumpStart to manage your patches and updates. JumpStart uses profiles to help organize different configurations of software. IPS in Oracle Solaris 11 uses something similar but more powerful. It is called a manifest.

Web Locator

 Oracle Technology Network Home
 System Admins and Developers Home Page
 Best Way to Update Software With IPS in Oracle Solaris 11
 Best Way to Automate ZFS Snapshots and Track Software Updates
 Best Way to Update Software in Zones
 Oracle Solaris 11 Installation Resources
 Oracle Solaris 11 Package Management Resources

A manifest defines what a particular operating system image contains, including the names of the packages to be included in the image, the location of the repository from where they will be retrieved, any scripts used to create the new image, and more. IPS has default manifests for images that will be distributed on a CD or through an x86 or SPARC text installer, an x86 or SPARC AI ISO image, or a virtual machine. You can either edit those or create your own.

Another benefit of IPS is that it manages virtual versions of the OS in the same way as bare-metal versions. IPS lets you deploy a particular version of the OS into a bare-metal configuration, a zone, or Oracle VM Server for SPARC in exactly the same way. No need for a different manifest.

IPS provides three tools to help you manage software updates. The pkg(1) command is a traditional, full-featured command-line interface. Package Manager is a GUI that you can use to search and manage installed packages. Launch it by using packagemanager from the command line. Update Manager, also a GUI, helps you get a high-level view of full system updates. Launch it by entering updatemanager on the command line. In addition, you can continue to use pkgadd(1M) to support SVR4-based software from your Oracle Solaris 11 installation.

Because the new architecture and tools were bound to change the way sys admins manage Oracle Solaris software, we asked one of our favorite writers, Ginny Henningsen, to do a little research. Ginny downloaded Oracle Solaris 11 Express and used the new tools to perform routine software management tasks. She distilled what she learned into a series of three articles: “Best Way to Update Software With IPS in Oracle Solaris 11,” “Best Way to Automate ZFS Snapshots and Track Software Updates,” and “Best Way to Update Software in Zones.” To read Henningsen’s articles or find other resources to help you become familiar with IPS and its tools, go to the Oracle Solaris 11 product page of the System Admin and Developer Community of Oracle Technology Network.

Oracle Technology Network is all about sys admins helping sys admins. (And let’s not forget developers of C, C++, and Fortran applications that run on Oracle Solaris or Oracle Linux!). Join us. We’d love to have you around.

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