Solaris is in maintenance mode – but Oracle added a significant feature anyway

Don’t Panic if you run terabytes of RAM and need to understand a dumped snapshot

Oracle's Solaris operating system remains widely used, even though Big Red more or less froze development of the product in 2018 save for regular Support Repository Updates (SRUs) that add minor updates and bug fixes.

But on Wednesday the company announced a reasonably significant addition to the OS, called the ACT Service.

As explained by Big Red staffers Chris Beal, Hisao Tsujimura and Lijo George, Solaris boxes can wield up to eight terabytes of memory when powered by SPARC processors – or touch three terabytes when running on x86 silicon.

If a Solaris box experiences a system panic, the OS takes a snapshot of memory, compresses it, and sends it to Oracle. "Then our receiving server makes sure that nothing malicious is included in the snapshot of your memory, aka crash dump, by scanning it. All of this happens behind the scenes before our diagnosis starts," Big Red's trio explained.

But sending terabytes takes time. The post points out that even the world's fastest internet services – which Oracle asserts can be found in Monaco – would require 18 hours to upload a 2TB memory dump.

Enter the ACT Service. Instead of waiting for that upload, it will store the dump file locally – if there's enough space to do so – and generate an initial analysis report.

"ACT Service automates the initial analysis of your panic and reduces 'panic-to-initial diagnosis' time," Oracle's authors write. "It saves administrators time and to fight with the debugger, that they could use for something else during the crisis."

ACT Service is available to users of Solaris with Support Repository Update (SRU) 48, which was released in late July. Future SRUs – they emerge monthly – will also be able to install the Service.

Oracle has extended support for Solaris until the year 2034, meaning some sysadmins could be using the ACT Service for a dozen years. The Service's release may also give those admins confidence to persist with the OS – which, while powerful and embedded in many critical legacy systems, is clearly not the future of computing. ®

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