Sunday, November 14, 2010

OpenSolaris (and OpenIndiana) Spends 50% of CPU Time in Kernel

A couple of days ago my client decided to prepare some new Java EE development environments and, when asked about which OS to choose, I suggested that he gave Solaris a try: since my client production servers run Solaris 10, he would benefit from a more homogeneous set of environments.

We installed a couple of test machines, one with Solaris 10 and another with OpenSolaris 2009.06, and we began installing the development environments and the required runtime components. The installation packages were SVR4: installation went straightforward on Solaris 10 while on OpenSolaris we had to resolve a couple of glitches. After a couple of day, test users were inclined towards OpenSolaris mostly because of its newer desktop environment: we started installing the remaining machines and started upgrading OpenSolaris to the latest dev release (b134).

Reduced Performance: CPU Time in Kernel When Idle 

The latest OpenSolaris dev release (b134) has got some known issues I wasn't concerned with since I already fought with in the past and can easily be resolved.

The surprise was discovering that all of the upgraded machines were affected by another problem: as soon as users rebooted into their b134 boot environment, the performance of the machine seemed to be pretty worse than when using the oldest (b111) boot environment.

prstat was showing no misbehaving process while vmstat indicated that the system was spending a constant 50% of the time in the kernel. With a quick search I easily pointed out this bug:

Repeating the steps outlined in the bug discussion confirmed me that we were hitting the same bug. We thus disabled cpupm in /etc/power.conf and the problem disappeared.

Upgrading to OpenIndiana

Although the bug is still listed as ACCEPTED, we decided to give OpenIndiana a try and upgrade a machine following the upgrade path from OpenSolaris b134. The upgrade went smooth and in no time we were rebooting into OpenIndiana b147.

The cpupm bug is still there, though. Nevertheless, it's a great opportunity for my client to test drive OpenIndiana and decide if it fits its needs. Nowadays, users will appreciate almost no differences between OpenSolaris and OpenIndiana (except for the branding.) As time goes by, we'll discover if and when Oracle will put back sources into OpenSolaris or if OpenIndiana is destined to diverge from its step-brother.

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