What’s New in Solaris Express 6/05 (Nevada Build 15)

Each of the last few Solaris Nevada builds has had some issue or another which
tripped it up, and we never managed to get a May SX release out the door (we
were also pretty swamped preparing for OpenSolaris).
Happily, today marks the release of Solaris Express 06/05 (or Nevada Build 15). Get it
at the usual place.

To be clear, the Solaris Express release is a tested intermediate release intended as
a preview of new functionality. This is slightly less bleeding edge than what you’ll
find in OpenSolaris (and this is not
the same as the OpenSolaris Community Express, which is Build 16), but not by much.
The difference is that the official SX releases are managed to a reasonable quality level, and
come with release notes, docs, etc.

Wow, this is a massive upgrade. We’ve got major new functionality in pretty much
all corners of the product.

This is also the first Express release which goes to eleven. In other
words, typing uname -r now yields 5.11.

Notable New Features in Solaris “Nevada”, Build 15 (06/2005)

New Boot

  • The “new boot” x86 boot architecture arrives, deleting the swilly old
    realmode drivers, the old loader, and the old ACPI stack. The new
    architecture uses GNU GRUB, the Intel ACPI intepreter, and doesn’t
    need realmode drivers. Boot should work on a wider array of devices,
    including USB drives (assuming BIOS support).

  • The stupid black-text-on-white is gone, replaced by a much more
    eye-friendly white-on-black.

  • bootadm(1m) and installgrub(1m) were added.


(please note that most of this is stolen out of Alan’s ‘blog. You
can go there for all of the details)

  • Better defaults for halt/shutdown/reboot commands for gdm2
  • login screen changes for 1400×1050 screens
  • X.org nv and 810 drivers get updated
  • Virtual Keyboard and Mouse support: Multiple Keyboards and Mice simultaneously! Hooray!
  • xgamma, xrandr, xvidtune and xvinfo
    support in the X client libraries.


  • The Large Page OOB (or Out-Of-the-Box) project means that large
    pages will be automatically supplied to applications
    based on segment sizes, alignment and TLBs. On my laptop,
    Xsun, metacity, vncviewer, and other processes immediately
    began useing large heap pages!

  • Large Pages for Kernel Memory (LP Kmem) is employed on
    sun4u platforms; this means that kernel dynamically allocated
    memory will be located on large pages when possible, meaning
    a lower overall TLB footprint.

  • 64-bit division on AMD-64 platforms is now about 50% faster.

  • Kernel bignum now uses a SPARC optimized version, and RSA in the
    kernel is now about twice as fast.

  • The e1000g (Intel Gigabit) driver gets a lot faster on AMD64 systems
    due to some bug fixing.

  • Large page support has been added for executables, libraries, and


  • DTrace now shows probe argument types and stability when you use
    dtrace -lv. Hooray! I’m really happy to have this.

  • DTrace now supports more sophisticated string handling via
    strchr(), strrchr(), strstr() and strtok(), substr(), index() and rindex().

  • Zones now provide very precise error messaging about mount problems
    which prevent zones from booting, a source of trouble for some users.

  • pmap(1) is a lot less disruptive to the process being examined.
  • Kernel stack traces on x86 (for example, in MDB) are much more reliably
    found and accurately printed.

  • ::findleaks now works even when kmem debugging is turned off. So you
    can check whether your production systems are leaking memory (although tracking
    down the leaks will be much more challenging).


  • The “Nemo” project, aka GLDv3 project has integrated. BGE (broadcom)
    has been migrated to use the framework. GLDv3 enables dynamic switching
    between polled and interrupt modes (meaning higher performance), link aggregation
    (i.e. trunking), proper VLAN support, and other goodies. Administration is enabled
    via the dladm(1m) command.

  • xge(7d), Neterion‘s 10GB nic driver, was also
    migrated to use the Nemo framework.

  • The bge (Broadcom) driver is extended to support BCM5721, BCM5751,
    and HP ML370 G4.

  • INADDR_NONE is added as a constant in <netinet/in.h>.
  • Support for MLDv2 and IGMPv3.
  • Support for the TCP_CORK option.


  • This is cool: metasync(1m) operations can now be cancelled and
    resumed later, via the new -c option.

  • rmformat now supports devices > 1TB in size. rmformat -l now
    lists additional media information.

  • The NFS kstat client statistics nfs:0:nfs_client now include
    NFSv4 activity.

  • Support in sd(7d) for >2TB luns. On x86, support for > 65535 cylinders
    is implemented for disks with VTOCs (so, up to 1TB). Larger disks are
    supported with EFI labels.

  • Support in UFS and in lseek(2) for skipping past the holes in files
    which are holey.

  • vold support for hot removal and insertion of devices. You shouldn’t need
    to restart vold on hot insert/remove of devices anymore! Hooray!

  • EMC Clariion Storage is now supported by MPxIO multipathing.


  • Door interfaces (doors are a very fast IPC mechanism in Solaris) have been revised.
    See door_setparam(3c) and door_getparam(3c).

  • auditd(1m) has been migrated to an SMF service.
  • nForce4 audio should now work.
  • The Nvidia ck8-04 (nge) NIC is now supported.
  • Sendmail gets an upgrade to 8.13.4, and support for TLS.
  • ipmitool upgraded to 1.8.0
  • Webmin upgraded to 1.200
  • Samba upgraded to 3.0.11

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