Solaris X86 Compatible RAID Controller

Every time I have to spec a solution using Solaris, I always have to answer a bunch of questions in meetings about why Sun is so costly compared to Dell servers. Usually the reason for the higher price is not the servers (especially with X86 sun), but rather the storage. Since Sun does not offer a system with a RAID card, you always have to purchase a high-end disk enclosure that is capable of performing the RAID functions unless you want the performance degradation that comes with software RAID.

The good news is that there is finally a really nice PCI RAID card that works with Solaris! The bad news is that it only works with X86 Solaris, and Sun only goes so far as to say that it is”reported to work“.

Anyhow, no matter. Here is the deal:

According to Sun Big Admin, the Mylex Accelaraid 150 is reported to work with Solaris 9 04/04 to Solaris 10 03/05 (read Solaris 9 and 10 X86). The firmware and bios on the card needs to be: BIOS Version 4.10-50; Firmware 4.08-37.

Pity that there still does not seem to be a RAID controller that works with SPARC hardware. If someone would come up with that, it would make my life as a Solaris administrator a whole lot easier.

NetBackup, Solaris 9, and LTO2 drives

If you are using Veritas NetBackup on Solaris 9 with LTO Ultrium-2 tape drives, you will be constantly annoyed by slow tape write performance unless you use blocks of at least 256KB.

To resolve this, the first thing you’ll want to do is increase both the number of buffers and the buffer size on the media manager host:

Create and edit the file: /usr/openv/netbackup/db/config/SIZE_DATA_BUFFERS and add 262144 on the first line.
Create and edit the file: /usr/openv/netbackup/db/config/NUMBER_DATA_BUFFERS and add 16 on the first line.

These numbers with their respective quotes should be the only thing in these two files.

Next, since Solaris still has insanely low limits on its default shared memory subsystem, we have to increase these limits as to not exhaust them with the increased NetBackup Buffer sizes. We do this by editing the /etc/system file and adding the following lines.

set msgsys:msginfo_msgmni=1024
set msgsys:msginfo_msgtql=1024
set semsys:seminfo_semmni=2048
set semsys:seminfo_semmns=2048
set semsys:seminfo_semopm=128
set shmsys:shminfo_shmmax=33554432
set shmsys:shminfo_shmmni=512

It is now necessary to reboot the system for the kernel parameters to become active.

You should now notice a dramatic increase in tape write speed during your backups.