Published April 2015
This lab is the first is a series of labs for Oracle Solaris 11. All of the labs in the series have these prerequisites in common:
Before starting the lab, ensure you have installed the following:
Also, you must enable hardware virtualization support in the BIOS. Oracle Solaris depends on those capabilities.
Download the template (that is, the virtual machine [VM]) called Oracle Solaris 11.2 Oracle VM Template for Oracle VM VirtualBox.
This page is found off the main Oracle Solaris downloads page.
Browse to the location where you downloaded the Oracle Solaris 11.2 VM and select it. Notice that Figure 1 mentions the OVF format, but the downloaded file is a .ova file, which is the entire archive (including OVF.xml). Click Continue.
Scroll down to check how much memory is allocated to the image. Oracle Solaris 11.2 (or later) requires a minimum of 2 GB of memory.
In this exercise, we will run Oracle Solaris 11 for the first time—getting a basic understanding of what's there:
On first boot, the System Configuration Tool runs, prompting you to enter system information providing an explanation of what is to follow. Note that during installation, you have to actively switch between the VM and your host OS. Oracle VM VirtualBox will open a window to explain this. After the VM boots, the environments are integrated, so when you move the mouse pointer over the VM, any input will be directed to the VM, and when you move the mouse pointer outside the VM, subsequent input will go to the host OS.
- Set the region.
- Set the country.
- Set the time zone.
For this example, we created the user demo during the configuration step, so we now log into that account.
The Oracle Solaris guest additions package creates tighter integration between the host OS and Oracle Solaris. For example, you can cut and paste text between the two operating systems. You can also put Oracle Solaris into full-screen mode. Do this now by selecting Machine > Switch to Fullscreen.
Exiting full-screen mode is most easily accomplished by moving your mouse cursor to the bottom middle of the screen, which will cause a menu to appear.
This will print out data about all the pools and subpools created. Because there is only one pool in use on this system, a more succinct way to get information is to just look at rpool with the
zpool list rpool
sudo cat /etc/sudoers
Doing this will give you privileges to run as the root user for five minutes. The demo account user attributes are in
/etc/user_attr. If you look at the contents of the file, you will notice that when the demo user was created, it was given the role of
type=root. Hence, it can operate with root privileges.
pkginfo -l SUNWvboxguestin the terminal window.
sudo(1),you can type in a command such as the following and enter the password of the
There are two ways to take a snapshot of your environment. The first is the traditional mechanism for VMs—capture all the information of that machine so that you can start it up from that saved state later. This includes a snapshot of the local file system.
To take a snapshot, from the VirtualBox menu, select Machine > Take Snapshot. Give the snapshot a name and optional description:
The other approach is using the capability of ZFS. There are two ways to do this: one for system administrators and one for users.
To create a snapshot (called a boot environment [BE]), use the
beadm(1M) command. A BE includes all the files Oracle Solaris needs to operate.
For example, to create a snapshot of the current Oracle Solaris environment, run the following command:
# beadm create
After a snapshot has been created, the SA would then perform some action that would impact the Oracle Solaris environment, say, adding new packages. In the unlikely situation there is a problem from this action, the SA can reboot to safety-net-be to get back to a known working state.
When updating packages, for example, installing the monthly Support Repository Update, a boot environment is typically automatically created and the patches will be applied to that BE, not to the running system. In that case, after updating, the SA would reboot into the just-created BE containing the updated Oracle Solaris environment. If, after some testing, the SA is not satisfied with the update, it is easy to reboot to the pre-update state.
Creating a BE (a copy of your current Oracle Solaris environment) is a very fast process and shows off one of the key feature of ZFS: What is initially copied are mostly pointers to data blocks in the file system, not data blocks themselves. Over time, as the current Oracle Solaris environment changes, blocks might need to be rewritten. The old version of a block pointed to by the BE created earlier would not be updated, but a new block would be created for the current BE with updated data. BEs are not only fast to create, they are very economical from a storage perspective because the copy, that is, the current BE, has only blocks that are different from the original environment. Over time as changes are made, and new blocks are modified, added, or deleted, the snapshot grows. ZFS snapshots are fast and efficient, but they are only a snapshot the Oracle Solaris part of the system (for example, anything that could be patched). So user directories such as
/export/home are not included in a snapshot. ZFS snapshots, though, are immensely helpful when making any system software changes, because it is a trivial reboot to get back to the previous environment.
beadm(1M) man page for information on how to select what BE to activate on next reboot, or any other of a number of administrative actions.
In any sort of production environment, backups are made on a regular basis. Individuals can augment these through Time Slider, a facility that allows taking frequent snapshots of a user's data. Time Slider can be accessed from the desktop through System->Administration-> Time Slider.
That's it for this very brief introduction. Now you have an environment in which you can begin to learn about all the great features in Oracle Solaris 11. And with the snapshot features mentioned above, you never have to worry about messing anything up, because you can always roll back to a prior known good state.
When you are ready to halt the VM, go to the upper left corner of the display and click System. From that menu, you can shut down the system.
For additional information about Oracle Solaris 11 and the technologies used in this lab, see "Taking Your First Steps with Oracle Solaris 11."
Jeff McMeekin is an Oracle Solaris product manager.