Volume 21, Number 5 - May 2005
|Recent Innovations from Sun
Conrad Geiger of Sun Microsystems
Thursday, May 19, 7:00 PM
The CACTUS Newsletter is a monthly publication, distributed to our members and other interested people. Visit the CACTUS Newsletter on the web at http://www.cactus.org/Newsletter/. There you will find archives of back issues, as well as instructions on how to subscribe to the e-mail distribution. We welcome newsletter submissions by our members. Please contact newsletter [at] cactus <dot> org for more information.
Conrad Geiger of Sun Microsystems will present on key topics and demonstrate how technology from Sun continues to influence our lives in the 21st century.
The themes to be presented include the following:
Did you know that since the end of January when it was released, there have been over 1.3 million free licensed downloads of Sun's new Solaris 10 operating system? Solaris 10 runs on all of Sun's SPARC processor based hardware as well as over 300 different Intel and AMD based laptops, desktops and servers. Sun's Solaris is available as open source at http://www.opensolaris.org and is free to all x86 and SPARC computer users.
About our speaker:
Conrad Geiger first joined Sun Microsystems in Seattle, Washington in 1987 and has served Sun in many technical roles. Conrad has been with Sun's Academic and Research Computing organization since 1997. Conrad's degree is from the University of Texas at Austin and has worked in the IT industry for almost 30 years. In addition to Sun, Conrad has technical work experience with UT-Austin, IBM, NeXT Computer, and Boeing. Today, Conrad is a Technical Architect based in Austin, Texas, where Sun employs over 400 hardware, software, identity management product development engineers. Sun maintains a large compute, "ranch" grid of over 2000 processors at the Austin facility to support the Sun engineering groups as they design new processors and products for Sun.
The next CACTUS meeting will be held on Thursday, May 19, 2005 at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30 PM for pizza and informal discussion), in the auditorium of UT Applied Research Laboratories. (See end of newsletter for directions to the facility).
President Randy Zagar began the meeting by stating that CentOS is not a derivative of the WhiteBox Linux distribution, but rather a sibling. They are both derived from Red Hat Enterprise System sources. Randy reminded us that after hearing from Red Hat's lawyers, CentOS replaced every occurrence of Red Hat with, "a prominent North American Linux vendor." CentOS uses yum for updates.
Gil Kloepfer announced that all of the CACTUS systems have their clocks synchronized now [Ed. note (Gil): I didn't say all of them yet, but I'm working on it]. Someone mentioned that a couple of our systems are getting hammered by windows machines in their co-location looking for vulnerabilities. Membership chair Luis Basto again announced that we still have members, and "they're all here." Treasurer Johnny Long said that we have enough money to buy pizza for a few more months. Program chair John Christy indicated that he is still trying to get Sun to present. Gil Kloepfer noted that his slides from his Asterisk presentation were getting mention in the Asterisk community. Gil volunteered Lenny Tropiano to do a presentation on MythTV. Other suggestions included cluster management, version control, a follow up about VoIP, and ntp. Someone mentioned that UT was looking for an experienced cluster administrator.
As soon as Randy Zagar introduced Mike and Mark from IBM, Gil Kloepfer asked them why they weren't running AIX on their laptop. Mike indicated that he had one ten years ago that dual booted Windows 3.0 and AIX. Mike explained the the RS6000 series was rebranded as the P-series. In typical IBM fashion, he streamed a long series of disclaimers on the overhead projector. Nowadays, the same hardware as the AS/400 is called the I-Series. IBM is leveraging common technology on all platforms, using IBM chips manufactured in a 300mm semiconductor facility opened in 2002.
Mike noted that the PowerPC is in the Martian Rover -- a BAE-developed RAD6000. The PowerPC was dual core. The Power5 series has a memory controller embedded in the chip. It also has added registers to enable simultaneous multi-threading. This feature allows the partitioning of a single processor to one-tenth of a processor (micro partitions). They typically run Linux or AIX 5.3. The Power Hypervisor manages processor partitions in firmware. Partitions can share disks and network adaptors, but PCI slots are dedicated to a single partition.
At this point Lenny Tropiano asked if Mike could make the LED flash 8's. Mike indicated that he once made a RS/6000 flash 666's at a trade show. He was a little surprised at the response when he asked how many people had worked with the RS6000 before. Everybody in the room had.
Mike then proceeded to show the entire model line to indicate the scalability of the product, which has only been out for four months. He indicated that the partitioning technology has not yet been certified as secure, but some work has been done on that front. For instance, before a partition releases memory, it scrubs it clean.
Ray Schaefer asked if we could get the Intel AIX source code.
At this point, Mike turned over the presentation to Mark Kressin for the demonstration. From his laptop, Mark connected to a demo machine within IBM. He brought up the Power Management Console and illustrated a Power 5 Xseries server partitioned to run a database, WEB server, and various application servers. He invoked applications that loaded the individual partitions. He then demonstrated how to add resources to a particular partition, how to cap it's usage, and how to remove resources. He pointed out that this console dovetails nicely with IBM's "capacity on demand" offering. You can buy a server with more processors than you actually use, and turn them on later as required. He indicated that IBM will know when that happens and bill accordingly. Mark stressed that the Host Management Console (HMC) is firmware, not an operating system. The HMC is actually a separate unit.
We had the usual question and answer period, and the usual war stories from the membership. Mike and Mark also suggested other presentations that might interest CACTUS.
Thanks to Mike, Mark Kressin and IBM Corporation for the educational (and marketing) presentation.
I was recently contacted by John Christy, our programs chair, with some questions and comments about the direction of CACTUS. He suggested that the primary focus of CACTUS should be centered around career-building skills and networking with industry professionals. Last month's presentation and the upcoming one are examples of the kind of programs John would like to see. He said that presentations that do not build marketable skills are pulling valuable time from those that are and are the reason why our attendance is not as good as it could be.
I replied to John that while I felt that industry career-oriented presentations were helpful it was equally important to include technology demonstrations and Open Source discussions in our meetings. Further, I feel that if we remain solely a professional organization (meaning, concentrating mostly on "résumé-building skills") that we would end up becoming stagnant, only knowing what the sales people want us to know. CACTUS is much more than a professional organization. To me, it would become very boring if all we had were sales-based technology presentations.
John and I discussed the possibility that there may not be enough time during the meetings to properly cover technology topics such as VoIP and similar items. John suggested that we consider having special interest groups that meet between meetings that can concentrate on these kinds of things, and devote the monthly meetings to general-interest presentations, like the ones from IBM and Sun.
For this month's meeting, please think about the possibility of forming special interest groups (SIGs) and be prepared to discuss it. During your thought, consider the following questions:
In the interests of promoting full employment for our members, I thought I'd pass on some of the job tips I've run across recently.
J P. Morgan Chase has a position opening up for a Systems Support Team Lead. The successful candidate would lead a team of 12+ that provides 1st and 2nd level support of all owned environments (e.g. Unix, Websphere, NT, Sybase & Oracle, etc).
I have also heard that Northop Grumman has a new contract with the State and is looking for System Administrators who can work in Austin. They're looking for people with 5+ years experience with high availability Solaris/Unix and Windows environments.
Here's the position description:
A minimum of five (5) years of experience implementing, administering and supporting high availability Solaris or Unix and Windows infrastructures and applications. Experience supporting 3-tier distributed applications housed on a multi- platform implementation across multiple installed sites. Experience implementing monitoring and backup/recovery solutions. Experience with SAN setup and administration. Experience performing network/system security audits. Experience with 3-tier web applications a plus.
Education B.S. in Computer Science from a four (4) year accredited University preferred or equivalent related experience. Certifications Sun Solaris or any system certification a plus. Operating SystemsSun/Solaris - Windows 2000 Advanced Server Other Software CA Unicenter management software, IBM Tivoli Access Manager, Microsoft Exchange, Apache HTTP services, DNS, SMTP, Semdmail, Websphere, Veritas NetBackup, Code 1, Oracle RAC.
I'm hesitant to post contact information in the newsletter, so anyone interested in either of these positions should either bring it up at the next meeting, or contact me privately for more information.
We wish to thank Ian Remmler for renewing his membership.
To renew your membership, please send check or money order payable to CACTUS ($30/yr for regular membership and $100/yr for corporate sponsorship):
PO BOX 9786
Austin, TX 78766-9786
You can also pay in person at the general meetings. Please direct any inquiries or address changes to membership [at] cactus <dot> org.
CACTUS meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Applied Research Laboratories (ARL) in the JJ Pickle Research Campus (JJ PRC). We'll meet in the main auditorium located directly behind the guard's desk and main lobby.
Please do not show up earlier than 6:20 PM on the specified day. Enter through the main entrance at 10000 Burnet Road for ARL. Tell the guard that you are here for the CACTUS meeting. You will be required to sign a log book, but not required to wear a badge. The guards will direct you to the auditorium entrance. Limited parking in the front of the building is available, but more extensive parking is available in the large parking lot just north of the ARL building. After 6:30 pm, all entrances to JJ PRC, except for the Burnet Road entrance, are closed and locked. You can still enter the parking lot in front of the ARL building. No parking tags are necessary after 6:00 PM (but you will need to inform the guard in the booth that you are attending a meeting at ARL). See map for further details.
Online maps are available at:
As always, please leave the facility as you saw it when you arrived.