Josef “Jeff” Sipek

Meili upgrades

A couple of months ago, I decided to update my almost two and a half year old laptop. Twice.

First, I got more RAM. This upped it to 12 GB. While still on the low side for a box which actually gets to see some heavy usage (compiling illumos takes a couple of hours and generates a couple of GB of binaries), it was better than the 4 GB I used for way too long.

Second, I decided to bite the bullet and replaced the 320 GB disk with a 256 GB SSD (Samsung 840 Pro). Sadly, in the process I had the pleasure of reinstalling the system — both Windows 7 and OpenIndiana. Overall, the installation was uneventful as my Windows partition has no user data and my OI storage is split into two pools (one for system and one for my data).

The nice thing about reinstalling OI was getting back to a stock OI setup. A while ago, I managed to play with software packaging a bit too much and before I knew it I was using a customized fork of OI that I had no intention of maintaining. Of course, I didn’t realize this until it was too late to rollback. Oops. (Specifically, I had a custom pkg build which was incompatible with all versions OI ever released.)

One of the painful things about my messed-up-OI install was that I was running a debug build of illumos. This made some things pretty slow. One such thing was boot. The ZFS related pieces took about a minute alone to complete. The whole boot procedure took about 2.5 minutes. Currently, with a non-debug build and an SSD, my laptop goes from Grub prompt to gdm login in about 40 seconds. I realize that this is an apples to oranges comparison.

I knew SSDs were supposed to be blazing fast, but I resisted getting one for the longest time mostly due to reliability concerns. What changed my mind? I got to use a couple of SSDs in my workstation at work. I saw the performance and I figured that ZFS would take care of alerting me of any corruption. Since most of my work is version controlled, chances are that I wouldn’t lose anything. Lastly, SSDs got a fair amount of improvements over the past few years.

Timesavers: ZFS & BE

I’ve mentioned Boot Environments before. Well, earlier this week BEs and ZFS snapshots saved me a bunch of time. Here’s what happened.

I was in the middle of installing some package (pkg install foo) when my laptop locked up. I had to power cycle it the hard way. When it booted back up, I retried the install, but pkg complained that some state file was corrupted and it didn’t want to do anything. Uh oh. I’ve had similar issue happen to me on Debian with aptitude, so I knew that the hard way of fixing this issue was going to take more time than I’d like to dedicate to it (read: none). Thankfully, I use OpenIndiana which has ZFS and BEs.

  1. Reboot into a BE from a while ago (openindiana-3). The latest BE (openindiana-4) was created by pkg about a month ago as a clone of openindiana-3 during a major upgrade.
  2. Figure out which automatic ZFS snapshot I want to revert to. A matter of running zfs list -t all rpool/ROOT/openindiana-4 | tail -5 and picking the latest snapshot which I believe is from before pkg messed it all up. I ended up going an hour back just to make sure.
  3. Revert the BE. beadm rollback openindiana-4@zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2011-10-25-19h11
  4. Reboot back into openindiana-4.

After the final reboot, everything worked just fine. (Since the home directories are on a different dataset, they were left untouched.)

Total downtime: 5 minutes
Ease of repair: trivial

Your Turn

Do you have a corrupt package manager war story? Did you just restore from backup? Let me know in a comment.

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