Part I: Solaris 9 Sun Certified System Administrator

Part I: Solaris 9 Sun Certified System Administrator

Chapter List

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

Chapter 1: Introduction to Solaris 9

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).


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 enduser 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