Solaris-Zones: Linux IT Marbles Get a New Bag

Solaris-Zones provides the ability to run Linux and Solaris on the same machine without all the overhead of full virtualization.
Zone Administration

We now have a zone defined, installed and running. The examples presented here illustrate some of the administrative tasks associated with zones: reboot, shutdown, halt and deletion of an lx branded zone. Pay close attention to the shell prompts to identify the zone in which each command is run.

Automated Zone Creation (zonetool.pl)

The zone creation steps are straightforward and simple. The process may take only a few steps, but they are manual and error-prone. The zonetool.pl utility (see Resources) automates the zone creation process and includes detailed POD documentation. Run zonetool.pl without arguments or with the --help option to display usage details. Listing 7 shows an example of using zonetool.pl.

Closing Thoughts and Ideas

With relatively small amounts of disk and memory resources, a single physical server can host hundreds of zones. Each zone is usable by any number of users, and a single-user zone provides extreme flexibility. A single user can create more than one zone to test both server and client environments, and the applications will believe they are on unique physical hosts. A zone user may have use of the zone's unique root password or unfettered sudo access within that zone without concern for security and stability of the global zone and other non-global zones.

The lx branded zone does have its limitations. Much of the zone's power comes from securely shared resources with the global zone. The zone shares a kernel with the global zone and, therefore, places limits on kernel modules and drivers. Because zones are not full VMs, the Linux distributions that can be installed in an lx branded zone are limited. Support for other Linux releases is possible, and further interest in this technology will inspire continued development and support for additional Linux distributions. Review the Resources section of this article for more information on this and related topics.

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