A quick walk through Fishworks configuration

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

That was easy...

That was easy...

Below is a quick walkthrough of my experience booting and installing the Fishworks VMware appliance; my thoughts follow.

Fishworks Boot Screen

Fishworks Boot Screen

Initial network configuration

Initial network configuration

Yes, Virginia, there is a command line

Yes, Virginia, there is a command line - but not a conventional shell

Web interface login screen

Web interface login screen

Network configuration

Network configuration

Configure DNS - pretty basic stuff

Configure DNS - pretty basic stuff

NTP is a good thing

NTP is a good thing

Name service configuration choices

Name service configuration choices

Active Directory integration for CIFS shares is straightforward

Active Directory integration for CIFS shares is straightforward

Fishworks phone home...

Fishworks phone home...

Storage configuration made fast and easy

Storage configuration made fast and easy

All done!

All done!

Thoughts: First off, as a VMware appliance and an introduction to Fishworks, this virtual machine is extremely well done; it gives users a low “activation energy” method to try out Fishworks. There’s a lot more effort involved getting a sixty-day loaner from Sun, as neat as that program is – even the logistics of racking and cabling the machine are relatively expensive in terms of time, after all. Of course, there are limitations inherent to a virtual machine; for example, I’d love to see how VMware ESX performs using a hybrid storage pool, but only real hardware can answer that. However, for most of my questions about Fishworks, the VM fits the bill.

Once you hit the VM’s virtual power button, it boots up quickly – faster than most OpenSolaris machines, subjectively – and the initial configuration is straightforward. Although I didn’t try it, it does appear that the machine can be completely configured from the command line, either at the console or over SSH. Once the system is configured, you have HTTPS or SSH remote administration access; however, SSH does not give you a standard Solaris shell, such as sh or bash. Instead, you get an interface very similar to Solaris’ zonecfg – a command line interface with multiple modes. (I suspect that a shell can be launched on the machine somewhere, somehow – it may even be documented – but I wouldn’t be stunned if it’s “unsupported.”)

The six-step configuration process via the web interface is smooth and consistent, and not particularly time-consuming – you get this sense that this is truly intended to be an appliance. My only complaints: The online docs were not immediately helpful (seriously – links to Wikipedia?), and when something does go wrong, you don’t get much more immediate help than this:

Uh-oh - how do I get to those log files?

Uh-oh - how do I get to those log files?

By far, the best part of the configuration interface is step six – the storage configuration. You see a list of your configuration choices, with availability, performance and capacity rated. The left-hand column shows a pie-chart breakdown of your storage utilization, with the tiny “Reserved” slice surely being a jab at NetApp. (Well, maybe not – but as a NetApp user, it sure got my attention.) Simply pick your RAID type, click “commit” and you’re on your way. Genius.

All in all, very impressive. Makes me wish even more that I had a pair of 7410s to put behind ESX. And Exchange. And SQL Server. And my CIFS and NFS users… you get the idea.

3 thoughts on “A quick walk through Fishworks configuration”

  1. Thanks for kicking the tires! On the online help: are you referring to the message that appears in the left column or the actual contents of the online help? (i.e., the result of clicking “HELP” in the upper right.) If you could be specific about which service had unhelpful help, we’ll be sure to get it improved for future versions…

  2. Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for the comment! When I said, “not immediately helpful,” I was referring specifically to the online help for LDAP, following the link from the left-hand column, as I tried to research why the LDAP service wasn’t starting.

    (I don’t want to be unreasonable: The user interface for Fishworks is leaps and bound ahead of anything that NetApp – or anyone else that I’ve seen – has today. And I can’t claim to have put much time into finding a solution for a problem – not yet, at least – that may simply be a mistake on my part.)

  3. Hi Andy,

    I have a Sun Storadge 7410 system with new (no software ) disk drive. How can i install Fishworks appliance on it. What packets do i need?

    Thanks B

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