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With over a million licensed users for Solaris 8, Sun Microsystems successfully launched the long awaited Solaris 9 O/S in May 2002. Soon after, Sun revamped their popular certification track to include two tiered certifications. With new objectives, the Certified System Administrator, is positioned to be one of the most popular IT certifications. In order to obtain your Certified System Administrator certification, one must pass two exams.
Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.
Welcome to Solaris 9, the latest and greatest operating environment (OE) offering from Sun Microsystems. This book is designed to help you get ready to take and pass the two exams required to become a Sun Certified System Administrator (SCSA) on Solaris 9.
This first chapter provides a bit of history about the Solaris family of operating environments and gives you information on critical system concepts. Although Chapter 1 does not specifically map to any exam objectives, the information herein is essential base knowledge before proceeding with the rest of the book. The concepts presented in this chapter appear repeatedly throughout this volume, and it will be assumed that you understand them. So without any further delay, let's take a look at how Solaris has evolved into what it is today.
A Brief History of Solaris
Solaris is based upon UNIX, an operating system that was originally developed in 1969 and became widely available in 1975. UNIX was (and still is) very popular among universities and governmental research facilities. By the time UNIX was released in 1975, it was written in the C programming language, which made it useable by a variety of hardware platforms. The operating system was becoming popular because of its portability as well as its ease of maintenance as opposed to previous lower-level, assembly-language-based operating systems. Even though UNIX is more than 30 years old, it still enjoys considerable usage and it is continually evolving.
The original Sun operating system, released in 1983, was called SunOS and was based on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) version of UNIX. The name was changed to Solaris when Sun first bundled OpenWindows with SunOS version 4.1.2 in 1991. The package was known as Solaris 1.0.
Possibly the most confusing part about Solaris is keeping track of the naming conventions. Like many other operating systems, Solaris has gone through a number of revisions and therefore quite a few titles. The most current versions are the second generation of Solaris (Solaris 2) and are based on UNIX System V Release 4 (SVR4). Solaris 2 was first released in 1992. Solaris 9 is part of the second generation of Solaris and is also referred to as SunOS 5.9. The recent release history for Solaris has been 2.5.1, 2.6, 7, 8, and now 9. Since Sun shifted to the single-number naming scheme, they name their operating system on the minor revision number. In other words, Solaris 7 is SunOS 5.7, and Solaris 8 is SunOS 5.8. So, although it might seem that Solaris 2.6 is ancient (after all, we are on version 9 now), it's really not that far back in history. Now that you know that Solaris is numbered based on the "minor" revision number, it should come as no surprise that the core architecture of Solaris 9 is in many ways similar to that of Solaris 7. There are just a lot of new bells and whistles.
To make matters even more confusing, the Solaris 7 operating system is occasionally referred to as Solaris 2.7. This is because it belongs to the second family generation of Solaris (which is also known as SunOS 5.x).
NOTE Scalable Processor Architecture (SPARC) chips are based on Reduced Instruction Set Computers (RISC) chip technology, which makes them very quick. SPARC was developed at Sun Microsystems and released in 1986. (As an aside, RISC is basically the alternative to CISC, or Complex Instruction Set Computers, which is what Intel and all Intel clones are.)
Features of Solaris 7 and 8
The key features of every version of Solaris are too many to list. However, knowing some key features of recent releases of Solaris might help give you perspective as to where this operating system has come from and, possibly, where it's going.
Here are some key features introduced with Solaris 7, which was released in 1998:
For the SPARC platform, 64-bit computing supported This feature was added primarily because of consumer demand. It provided for a more powerful operating platform.
UNIX File System (UFS) logging added This was done to improve file system consistency.
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) included LDAP is an industry-standard protocol. Because it's lightweight (read: quick) and reliable, it can be used to manage name databases.
Remote Procedure Call (RPC) security enhanced Increasing security over networks is never a bad thing.
Domain Name Service (DNS) Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) upgraded to version 8.1.2 At the time, this was the most current BIND version of DNS. BIND 8.1.2 included features such as Dynamic DNS (DDNS), improved zone transfers, and increased security.
Common Desktop Environment (CDE) version 1.3 introduced CDE greatly simplified end-user access. CDE was originally introduced with Solaris 2.6, and this version provided new features.
Netscape Communicator included Communicator provided an all-in-one online communications tool, including web browser and e-mail capabilities.
Improved access to AnswerBook2 This made getting answers to questions about Solaris easier.
Solaris 8, released in 2000, had a considerable list of innovations as well. Some of the more notable ones include:
Support for Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the next-generation Internet protocol This was more of a preemptive upgrade. Eventually, the current IP addressing scheme (IPv4) will be converted to IPv6 worldwide.
Role-based access control (RBAC) RBAC allows users some administrative privileges without granting them superuser power.
Graphical Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) manager This graphical manager greatly eased DHCP administration.
Product Registry Created as an all-in-one software management interface, this feature enabled administrators to easily manage and delete installed software packages.
Support for the Universal Disk Format (UDF) file system UDF is used with CD-ROMs, DVDs, and other optical media.
Improved device configuration, through the Devfsadm command This eases administration and provides for automatic device configuration.
Smart Card support, based on the Open Card Framework (OCF) 1.1 standard OCF 1.1 provides for greater security by requiring users to validate with a Smart Card rather than a standard username and password.
SunScreen Not only is it a catchy name, but it's a dynamic packet-filtering firewall designed to protect your Solaris servers from would-be hackers.
As you can see, the previous two versions of Solaris have brought about many changes, and the ones listed barely begin to scratch the surface of all the new operating system enhancements.
Features of Solaris 9
Sun realized that their existing operating environments, Solaris 7 and 8, were solid. Although they added new features to Solaris 9, they didn't try to reinvent the wheel. As with all versions of Solaris, new features have been added for developers, system administrators, and end users. Because this book focuses on achieving system administrator certification, the following list of Solaris 9 features concentrates on system administrator and end-user enhancements. Here are some of the new features of Solaris 9:
Solaris 9 Resource Manager This allows for detailed control and allocation of system resources, such as processor and memory.
Integrated iPlanet Directory Server This makes use of the LDAP protocol and provides a distributed directory server capable of managing an enterprise-wide network of users and resources.
Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) This is now supported in IPv6, as is IPv6 over Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM).
Solaris Volume Manager This enables administrators to create and manage RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 5 volumes, transactional devices, soft partitions, and hot spare pools.
Patch Manager This provides for easy location, installation, tracking, and administration of software patches.
Enhanced installation features These include updates to Solaris Live Upgrade and Web Start Flash installation, and a new Minimal Installation feature.
Integrated Secure Shell (SSH) This supports the SSHv1 and SSHv2 protocol versions.
Enhanced CD features These changes include the ability to record to Compact Disc-Recordable (CD-R) and Compact Disc-Rewritable (CD-RW) devices with the cdrw command.
GNOME 2.0 desktop This is a popular graphical user interface that runs across multiple UNIX platforms and integrates seamlessly with the Internet.
For a complete listing of new features for a variety of Solaris versions, please visit the Sun documentation website at docs.sun.com.
Key System Concepts
Understanding the elements listed in this section is the first critical step to understanding how Solaris 9 works. Sun assumes that its certification candidates have a firm grasp of basic system and networking concepts, and doesn't directly test on such cursory information. But only after you understand the basics can you master more difficult and tested concepts.
These concepts are by no means unique to Solaris, or even UNIX for that matter. However, this section is primarily concerned with how these concepts relate to the Solaris operating environment. If you have solid computer experience, you are probably already familiar with most of these ideas, but you might not be sure how they fit into the Solaris world. By reading this section, you will be able to impress your techno-friends with your vast, detailed knowledge of often ambiguous computer concepts.
An operating system should be easy to define, right? After all, we use them every day. The operating system is the under-appreciated workhorse of the software side of your computer. It's always there, always running (at least in theory), and usually ignored (unless it's not running).
Operating systems are programs in their own right, with a few express functions. First, they provide an interface between the computer hardware and software. In a sense, they are the translator that makes the hardware and software play nice together. Second, based on the first function, they enable users to run applications. So, operating systems are applications that let you run other applications.
Sun makes a differentiation between an operating system and an operating environment. Technically, Solaris 9 is the name of the operating environment built around the SunOS 5.9 operating system. The operating environment consists of the core operating system and all bundled features, such as management programs and software. Even though delineation is made, no one at Sun is likely to get mad at someone calling Solaris an "operating system." At least I hope not, because I will certainly do it a lot in this book.
Kernel and Processes
The kernel is the brain of the operating system. Although kernels vary among operating systems, they all have some common characteristics. In the case of UNIX-based operating systems, kernels are written in the C programming language. Kernels are responsible mainly for managing computer input/output (I/O), allocating system resources, and managing processes.
Processes are the running parts of an application. A common misconception is that an application is a process. That's not true, because many applications (especially newer games) will be running as multiple processes at one time. Such applications are known as multithreaded applications. Multithreading speeds up the application and allows for smoother execution. System tasks other than applications, such as daemons (which we'll discuss in just a bit), run as processes as well. In UNIX, all processes have a process identifier (PID), which is used by the kernel to identify and manipulate the process as needed.
In UNIX, the shell enables users to input information to be interpreted by the operating system. Consider the operating system to be the interface between the computer hardware and software, and the shell to be the interface between the user and the operating system. Shells also enable users to program commonly used or frequently used lists of applications to run with the execution of one command. These are called scripts, macros, or batch files.
Solaris 9 provides multiple shells, and each one has different features. The three most common shells are the Bourne shell (sh), the C shell (csh), and the Korn shell (ksh).
NOTE The Bourne shell is the default shell for Solaris 9. Shells will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 4, "User and Group Administration."
Although Sun provides a graphical user interface (GUI) for Solaris 9, the shell itself is command-prompt-based. For example, if you are using the Bourne shell, your prompt will be $-unless you are the all-powerful superuser, in which case your prompt will be #. Some other operating systems do use GUI shells, such as Windows Explorer. Keep in mind that even though Solaris 9 runs the Common Desktop Environment (CDE) GUI by default, CDE is not a shell.
Depending on where you look, you can find two common definitions for daemons. The first one describes a daemon as a program that runs automatically in the background without the need for user intervention. The second definition is that a daemon provides a service. The service can be administrative, such as cleaning up temporary files, or the service can be one that provides meaningful interaction to clients, such as a print daemon, DHCP server, or DNS server. Daemons run as processes, and can either start automatically when the operating system starts, or be started manually.
Like daemon, the term file system also has various definitions. There are two common ways to look at file systems.
One way to see a file system is as a collection of files that have a similar purpose on one logical section of the hard drive. Solaris provides many such file systems, including the root (/), /etc, /usr, /opt, /var, and others. These file systems will be further organized by using directories.
Another way to think of a file system is the specific method in which data is stored and organized on the hard drive. All data is written in bits (0s and 1s) in some way or another, but file systems logically make sense of the 0s and 1s. Here are some file systems supported within Solaris 9:
UNIX File System (UFS) for local hard disks
High Sierra File System (HSFS) for CD-ROMs
Universal Disk Format (UDF) for optical media, such as DVDs
Personal Computer File System (PCFS) for floppy disks
Network File System (NFS) for networked volumes
NOTE We will focus on file systems in greater detail in Chapter 7, "File System Management."
Clients and Servers
On networks, computers can be divided into two broad categories: clients and servers. Some operating systems, such as Novell NetWare, are designed to be a server only. Others, such as Microsoft Windows 98, are to be clients only. Solaris 9 is a versatile operating system that can be used as either a client or a server.
As a rule of thumb, end users sit at client machines and perform daily tasks. Clients will often request information (files and applications) from centralized servers, which are located in some sort of server room. Servers should be secured away from prying (or hacking) hands, because they often hold critical and sensitive information.
Clients make requests of servers, and servers fulfill client requests. A computer with the right operating system can function as both a client and a server at the same time. Solaris, and UNIX in general, is a powerful enough operating system to function as a client and a server at the same time.
Where to Get Help
As much as you might already know about the Solaris operating environment, you will never know everything there is to know about Solaris. Although my last statement might sound harsh, it's true. There is so much to know, including commands (and all related switches), concepts, and creative ways to fix problems you might encounter. Even if you know a considerable amount, it's unlikely that you will have every switch of every command memorized.
Fortunately, there are a number of resources that you can use when you get stuck or simply need a quick refresher. This section highlights the most common resource spots.
Excerpted from Solaris 9small TM/small: Sun Certified System Administrator Study Guide by Quentin Docter Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Part I: Solaris 9 Sun Certified System Administrator.
Chapter 1: Introduction to Solaris 9.
Chapter 2: Installation.
Chapter 3: System Initialization and Shutdown.
Chapter 4: User and Group Administration.
Chapter 5: Files, Directories, and Security.
Chapter 6: Device and Disk Management.
Chapter 7: File System Management.
Chapter 8: Managing Printers and Controlling Processes.
Chapter 9: System Backups and Restores.
Part II: Solaris 9 Sun Certified System Administrator.
Chapter 10: The Solaris Networking Environment.
Chapter 11: Virtual File Systems and NFS.
Chapter 12: Managing Storage Volumes.
Chapter 13: Advanced Security Concepts.
Chapter 14: Auditing and System Messaging.
Chapter 15: Naming Services.
Chapter 16: Advanced Installation Procedures.