Another (blog) engine change

Last year I wrote that I was changing my blog engine. I've made another engine change over the last few days, to Nikola . The primary driver of this change is that Solaris' shipping version of Go is quite behind the version required by Hugo and that has an impact on my ability to work on it if I desired.

Another reason is that I've been working on a work-related post or two lately, which I'm posting on this blog since they are for work that I've done which build on $DAYJOB.

In the end, the choice came down to Pelican or Nikola and the relative effort involved in translating Hugo 's gallery format into something else. The effort in translating my Markdown-formatted files into ReSTructuredText is pretty minimal, it will just take time.

Monitoring my PV Inverter

I'd like to share with you a way to build on the Solaris Analytics components sstored and WebUI that I use with our PV inverter.

In April 2013 we had 15 solar panels installed on our roof, providing 3.9KW. This came with a JFY SunTwins 5000TL inverter, which has the useful feature of data monitoring via an RS232 serial port. The installers provided a cd with a 32bit Windows app which, while useful to start with, did not allow me to push the generation data up to a service like

Not being interested in leaving a laptop running Windows on during daylight hours, I searched for open source monitoring software, finding Jonathan Croucher's solarmonj via whirlpool. Importantly, I also found a programmer reference manual for the inverter, although it is poorly translated. I also discovered that there are a number of gaps between what it describes and what packet analysis and the windows app actually do.

I'm not too keen on C++, but it built fine on the raspberry pi that I had available to use, and ran well enough. With a bit of shell scripting around it I was able to upload to and see how things were going.

Solarmonj has some attributes which I dislike: it's not (wasn't, at that time) a daemon, logfile generation isn't enterprise-y, it doesn't take command line arguments (so the device path is compiled in), doesn't handle multiple inverters from the same daemon, and doesn't let you send any arbitrary command listed in the spec document. It's single purpose - but performs that purpose well enough.

(Checking out Jonathan's github repo, I see that the version I was using did in fact get an update about 3 years ago, but I had the utility in "set and forget" mode, so never noticed).

I've written a new monitor which builds on Croucher's work, with these features: - written in Python, daemonises, is configurable, handles multiple inverters, updates and sstored as well as writing to a local file.

With this project I'm also providing sstored configuration files and a WebUI sheet:

JFY Inverter sheet in the Solaris Analytics WebUI

Zerothly, you can get all the code for this project from my Github repo. It's still a work in progress but it's at the point of being sufficient for my needs so I'm happy to share it.

Since this post is about how to plug your app into Solaris Analytics, I won't delve too much into the SMF and IPS components of the code.

At the end of my previous post on the work blog I mentioned that I would discuss using the C and Python bindings for the Stats Store. This just post covers Python bindings, leaving detailed coverage of the C interface for another day.

First of all, let's have a look at two basic architecture diagrams:

The C and Python bindings enable read-write access to sstored, so that you can write your own provider. We call this a "userspace provider" because it operates outside of the kernel of sstored.

For both bindings, we have three methods of putting data into sstored:

  • per-point synchronous (using a door_call())

  • per-point asynchronous (using a shared memory region)

  • bulk synchronous (using a door_call())

The code that I've written for this utility is using the asynchronous method which (at the bottom of the stack) depends on an mmap region which is shared between the daemon and the client process. Since we do not have a real speed constraint for updating sstored, I could have used the synchronous method. I'll discuss the bulk synchronous method later.

To start with, my daemon needs a connection to sstored. Assuming that the service is online, this is very simple:

from libsstore import SStore, SSException

sst = SStore()

(I've written the daemon so that each attached inverter has its own connection to sstored, so sst is a thread instance variable).

The user that you run this code as must have these authorizations:

  • solaris.sstore.update.res

  • solaris.sstore.write

Add these to the user by uttering

# usermod -A +solaris.sstore.update.res,solaris.sstore.write $USER

Once you've got those authorizations sorted, you can add the appropriate resource to the class. I've chosen to name the resources with each inverter's serial number. My device's serial number is 1522130110183:


# hr is Human-Readable, after we've processed the binary response
# from the inverter
hr_serial = 1522130110183
resname = RESOURCE_SSID_PREFIX + hr_serial

except SSException as exc:
    print("Unable to add resource {0} to sstored: {1}".format(
        resname, SSException.__str__))
    usesstore = False

stats = []
for sname in STATS:
            RESOURCE_SSID_PREFIX, hr_serial, sname))
    stats_array = self.sst.data_attach(stats)
except SSException as exc:
    print("Unable to attach stats to sstored\n{0} / {1}".format(
        exc.message, exc.errno), file=sys.stderr)
    usesstore = False
    sst = None

Each time we query the inverter, we get back binary data which needs decoding and extracting. This is the "feature" of the documentation which annoys me most: it doesn't match the data packet returned, so I had to go and click through the inverter's front panel while watching retrieved values so I could determine the field names and units. Ugh. Anyway, inside the thread's run() method:

stats = query_normal_info()
if not stats:
if usesstore:

Now comes the magic:

def sstore_update(vals):
    Updates the stats in sstored after stripping out the ignore[12]
    fields in JFYData. We're using the shared memory region method
    provided by data_attach(), so this is a very simple function.

    values = {}
    for idx, fname in enumerate(JFYData):
        values[self.stats[idx]] = vals[fname] / JFYDivisors[idx]

Then we go back to sleep for 30 seconds, and repeat.

An essential part of this project are the JSON metadata files that we provide to the Stats Store. Without these, the daemon does not know where the class, resources and statistics fit inside the namespace, nor does it know what units or description to provide when we run sstore info for any of these statistics.

All resources underneath a class must have the same statistics, and we need to decide on the resource namespace prior to adding the class to sstored. Here is the file, which in the service/jfy package I deliver to /usr/lib/sstore/metadata/json/site:

    "$schema": "//:class",
    "copyright": "Copyright (c) 2018, James C. McPherson. All rights reserved.",
    "description": "JFY Solar Inverter monitor",
    "id": "app/solar/jfy",
    "namespaces": [
            "name-type": "string",
            "resource-name": "inverter"
    "stability": "stable",
    "stat-names": [

This is validated by the daemon using the schemas shipped in /usr/lib/sstore/metadata/json-schema, and comes with a companion file On your Solaris 11.4 system you can check these using the soljsonvalidate utility. (Note that it's not currently possible to get sstored to dynamically re-read metadata definitions, so a svcadm restart sstore is required.

The last component that we have is the WebUI sheet, which I have packaged so that it is delivered to /usr/lib/webui/analytics/sheets/site.

This is accessible to you once you have logged in to your BUI instance and selected the Solaris Analytics app from the menu.

Prior to accessing that sheet, however, you need to configure the service. On my system, the attached RS232 port is /dev/term/0, and I have a API Key and System ID:

# svccfg -s jfy
svc:/application/jfy> listprop config
config           application
config/debug     boolean     false
config/logpath   astring     /var/jfy/log/
config/usesstore boolean     true
svc:/application/jfy> listprop devterm0
devterm0                 inverter
devterm0/devname         astring     /dev/term/0
devterm0/pvoutput_apikey astring     elided
devterm0/pvoutput_sysid  count       elided

To create your system's configuration, simply add in the appropriate definitions below. I suggest naming your inverter property group is a way that you find useful; the constraint is that it be of the type inverter:

svc:/application/jfy> addpg devterm0 inverter
svc:/application/jfy> setprop devterm0/devname = astring: "/dev/term/0"
svc:/application/jfy> setprop devterm0/pvoutput_apikey = astring: "your api key goes here"
svc:/application/jfy> setprop devterm0/pvoutput_sysid = count: yourSysIDgoesHere
svc:/application/jfy> refresh
svc:/application/jfy> quit
# svcadm enable jfy

Since I'm running the service with debugging enabled, I can see copious details in the output from

$ tail -f `svcs -L jfy`
[ 2018 Apr  4 06:46:22 Executing start method ("/lib/svc/method/svc-jfy start"). ]
args: ['/usr/lib/jfy/', '-F', '/var/jfy/cfg', '-l', '/var/jfy/log', '-d']

response b'\xa5\xa5\x00\x000\xbf\x101522130110183   \xfa\xcb\n\r'
response b'\xa5\xa5\x02\x010\xbe\x01\x06\xfd\xbe\n\r'
Registration succeeded for device with serial number 1522130110183 on /dev/term/0
Inverter map:
id   1: application
id   2: 1522130110183
{u'devterm0': {u'devname': u'/dev/term/0', u'pvoutput_sysid': u'elided', u'pvoutput_apikey': u'elided'}}
[ 2018 Apr  4 06:46:44 Method "start" exited with status 0. ]

And there you have it - a brief example of how to use the Python bindings for the Solaris Analytics feature.

If you have questions or comments about this post, please send me a message on Freenode, where I'm jmcp. Alternatively, add a comment to the github repo.

Seriously, firefox, what the heck?

Every now and again I see firefox taking up an entire core on my workstation. Today's thread of interest is #1:

$ pstack 19575
19575:  /usr/lib/firefox/firefox
------------  lwp# 1 / thread# 1  ---------------
 f21bf265 mmap     (1000000, fa9d97f0, 0, 806df3a, 0, 0) + 15
 0806df3a huge_palloc (8084b40, 34000000, 55600000, 807006d, e54bd608, bb03e498) + 64
 0807006d je_realloc (e54bd608, e35fc0a0, 19504, 80693c9) + 8ee
 080693c9 realloc  (cde84f80, cde84f81, 6020e100, f159bcc2) + 45
 f159bcc2 _ZN2js9MarkStack7enlargeEj (76d29960, e54bd608, fa9d9968, f15a1308) + 58
 f15a1308 _ZN2js8GCMarker8traverseIP8JSObjectEEvT_ (e54bd608, e54bd608, fa9d99b8, f15aa837, e54bd608, 76d29960) + 42
 f15aa837 _Z9DoMarkingI8JSObjectEvPN2js8GCMarkerEPT_ (f16b8000, dc54f064, fa9d99f8, f15b710d) + 39
 f15b710d _Z9DoMarkingIN2JS5ValueEEvPN2js8GCMarkerERKT_ (f16b8000, fa9d9ab0, fa9d9a28, f15b718e) + 42
 f15b718e _Z16DispatchToTracerIN2JS5ValueEEvP8JSTracerPT_PKc (e54bd608, fa9d9ab0, ee3e9323, f15b71e2) + 38
 f15b71e2 _ZN2js9TraceEdgeIN2JS5ValueEEEvP8JSTracerPNS_18WriteBarrieredBaseIT_EEPKc (e54bd608, e350fee0, ee30859c, f10d79e8, e54bd608, 3a7715a0) + 1e
 f10d79e8 _ZN2js9MapObject4markEP8JSTracerP8JSObject (fa9d9de8, e54bd608, fa9d9b78, f15a4883) + 1c0
 f15a4883 _ZN2js8GCMarker14drainMarkStackERNS_11SliceBudgetE (fa9d9b98, 0, 4378ac, f13376b7, e54bd608, fa9d9de8) + 4b3
 f13376b7 _ZN2js2gc9GCRuntime14drainMarkStackERNS_11SliceBudgetENS_7gcstats5PhaseE (f148e7e5, fa9d9c1c, e54bb4f0, f1350f5b) + 3f
 f1350f5b _ZN2js2gc9GCRuntime23incrementalCollectSliceERNS_11SliceBudgetEN2JS8gcreason6ReasonERNS_26AutoLockForExclusiveAccessE (568bb, 3e8, 5, f1351bff, e54bb4f0, fa9d9de8) + 26d
 f1351bff _ZN2js2gc9GCRuntime7gcCycleEbRNS_11SliceBudgetEN2JS8gcreason6ReasonE (fa9d9dc8, f1351e33, 5abff385, f1351e9e, e54bb4f0, 0) + 25d
 f1351e9e _ZN2js2gc9GCRuntime7collectEbNS_11SliceBudgetEN2JS8gcreason6ReasonE (f16b8000, f1b24820, fa9d9e00, f135223e, e54bb4f0, 0) + 16e
 f135223e _ZN2js2gc9GCRuntime7startGCE18JSGCInvocationKindN2JS8gcreason6ReasonEx (0, 0, fa9d9ea0, f13523b7, e54bb4f0, 0) + 8c
 f13523b7 _ZN2js2gc9GCRuntime13gcIfRequestedEv (e2f2b000, fa9d9ed8, fa9d9ee0, f1457b6b) + 55
 f1457b6b _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (fa9da250, fa9ddead, fa9d9f60, f1457c03) + 292
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (e54bb000, e2f26c38, ffffff8c, f1457c7c, fa9da0a4, e4a253d8) + 87
 f1457c7c _ZN2js4CallEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleINS2_5ValueEEES5_RKNS_13AnyInvokeArgsENS2_13MutableHandleIS4_EE (e4a25280, f1b24818, fa9da0a4, f13b4fb4, e54bb000, fa9da0c8) + 46
 f13b4fb4 _ZNK2js7Wrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (fa9da250, fa9da518, 1, f13a8784) + 200
 f13a8784 _ZNK2js23CrossCompartmentWrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (fa9da278, fa9da260, fa9da1a8, f13a6de3) + 104
 f13a6de3 _ZN2js5Proxy4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (e2d59c70, e54bb000, fa9da2d8, f13a7809, e54bb000, fa9da1f0) + eb
 f13a7809 _ZN2js10proxy_CallEP9JSContextjPN2JS5ValueE (4, e54bb000, 0, f14579ba) + 60
 f14579ba _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (fa9da660, 6eabb3c0, f1b24834, f1457c03) + e1
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (651d54b0) + 87
 f1457c2d _ZN2js13CallFromStackEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsE (0, 0, 0, f1652df7) + 1b
 f1652df7 _ZN2js3jitL14DoCallFallbackEP9JSContextPNS0_13BaselineFrameEPNS0_15ICCall_FallbackEjPN2JS5ValueENS7_13MutableHandleIS8_EE (0, f1b24828, 0, 2a74025f, e54bb000, fa9da578) + 4a7
 2a74025f ???????? (2acf6833, 8021, 7b460c70, ffffff8c, 7b460c60, ffffff8c)
 651d54d0 ???????? (3444, e2d5f940, 4, d9d5d910, ffffff8c, 62e048c0)
 2a73f909 ???????? (2acf6370, 5, fa9daa18, 0, e2d5f940, 0)
 f162d642 _ZL13EnterBaselineP9JSContextRN2js3jit12EnterJitDataE (e54bb000, fa9da718, fa9da880, f1630993, e35cf448, f19105ac) + 15b
 f1630993 _ZN2js3jit19EnterBaselineMethodEP9JSContextRNS_8RunStateE (e54bb000, fa9da7dc, fa9da880, f1457837) + 10b
 f1457837 _ZN2js9RunScriptEP9JSContextRNS_8RunStateE (e2f2b000, fa9da868, fa9da870, f1457b3c, e54bb000, fa9da880) + 2d7
 f1457b3c _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (e54bb000, fa9ddead, fa9da8f0, f1457c03) + 263
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (e54bb000, e31e9438, ffffff8c, f1457c7c, fa9daa34, e4a252e8) + 87
 f1457c7c _ZN2js4CallEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleINS2_5ValueEEES5_RKNS_13AnyInvokeArgsENS2_13MutableHandleIS4_EE (e4a25280, f1b24818, fa9daa34, f13b4fb4, e54bb000, fa9daa58) + 46
 f13b4fb4 _ZNK2js7Wrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (f1b24800, e2d07190, fa9daa98, f13a8784) + 200
 f13a8784 _ZNK2js23CrossCompartmentWrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (e487ac10, fa9dab8c, f257263e, f13a6de3) + 104
 f13a6de3 _ZN2js5Proxy4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (e2d5f940, e54bb000, fa9dac68, f13a7809, e54bb000, fa9dab80) + eb
 f13a7809 _ZN2js10proxy_CallEP9JSContextjPN2JS5ValueE (4, e54bb000, 0, f14579ba) + 60
 f14579ba _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (fa9dafb0, 79c58750, f1b24834, f1457c03) + e1
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (e54be37c) + 87
 f1457c2d _ZN2js13CallFromStackEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsE (0, 0, 0, f1652df7) + 1b
 f1652df7 _ZN2js3jitL14DoCallFallbackEP9JSContextPNS0_13BaselineFrameEPNS0_15ICCall_FallbackEjPN2JS5ValueENS7_13MutableHandleIS8_EE (fa9daed8, f1b24820, fa9db1d8, 2a74025f, e54bb000, fa9daed8) + 4a7
 2a74025f ???????? (2acf59f4, 5821, 7ae939a0, ffffff8c, 52cd2840, ffffff8c)
 648bf320 ???????? (2444, d9d40a80, 1, 0, ffffff82, 7b858a60)
 2a73f909 ???????? (2acf5680, 2, fa9db368, 0, d9d40a80, 0)
 f162d642 _ZL13EnterBaselineP9JSContextRN2js3jit12EnterJitDataE (e54bb000, fa9db068, fa9db1d0, f1630993, e2d104f0, f16e0134) + 15b
 f1630993 _ZN2js3jit19EnterBaselineMethodEP9JSContextRNS_8RunStateE (e54bb000, fa9db12c, fa9db1d0, f1457837) + 10b
 f1457837 _ZN2js9RunScriptEP9JSContextRNS_8RunStateE (d6ec4800, f16b8000, fa9db1c0, f1457b3c, e54bb000, fa9db1d0) + 2d7
 f1457b3c _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (fa9db3ac, 238be150, fa9db240, f1457c03) + 263
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (e54bb000, e2f2b038, ffffff82, f1457c7c, fa9db384, e4a25208) + 87
 f1457c7c _ZN2js4CallEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleINS2_5ValueEEES5_RKNS_13AnyInvokeArgsENS2_13MutableHandleIS4_EE (e4a24fb8, f1b24818, fa9db384, f13b4fb4, e54bb000, fa9db3a8) + 46
 f13b4fb4 _ZNK2js7Wrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (fa9db5ec, fa9db8a8, fa9db400, f13a8784) + 200
 f13a8784 _ZNK2js23CrossCompartmentWrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (e4a25088, 84, fa9db470, f13a6de3) + 104
 f13a6de3 _ZN2js5Proxy4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (d9d40a80, e54bb000, fa9db4d0, f13a7809, e54bb000, fa9db4d0) + eb
 f13a7809 _ZN2js10proxy_CallEP9JSContextjPN2JS5ValueE (e4a25088, ffffff8c, fa9db520, f14579ba) + 60
 f14579ba _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (fa9db71c, 1, fa9db608, f1457c03) + e1
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (d9d40a80, fa9db720, ffffff82, f1457c7c, fa9db5fc, fa9db5f0) + 87
 f1457c7c _ZN2js4CallEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleINS2_5ValueEEES5_RKNS_13AnyInvokeArgsENS2_13MutableHandleIS4_EE (e54bb000, 29, fa9db738, f145c065, e54bb000, fa9db7d8) + 46
 f145c065 _ZN2js19SpreadCallOperationEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSScriptEEPhNS3_INS2_5ValueEEES9_S9_S9_NS2_13MutableHandleIS8_EE (e54bb000, fa9db760, 54df14a0, f1652875, e54bb000, fa9db7fc) + 427
 f1652875 _ZN2js3jitL20DoSpreadCallFallbackEP9JSContextPNS0_13BaselineFrameEPNS0_15ICCall_FallbackEPN2JS5ValueENS7_13MutableHandleIS8_EE (f1b24820, fa9db834, e35d5d00, 2a7401e8, e54bb000, fa9db8d8) + 237
 2a7401e8 ???????? (2ae0c852, 4021, 7b858a90, ffffff8c, 0, ffffff82)
 54df14a0 ???????? (2042, d9d3f0d0, 1, 0, ffffff82, 7b858a90)
 2ab50cd4 ???????? (2acf0414, 4821, 7b858af0, ffffff8c, 0, ffffff82)
 5ddfe7a8 ???????? (2042, e2d5b080, 2, 0, ffffff82, d9d3f0d0)
 2ab50cd4 ???????? (2acd3bc4, 4821, 7b858b50, ffffff8c, 0, ffffff82)
 51417888 ???????? (3444, e2d5b060, 3, 0, ffffff82, d9d36c60)
 2a73f909 ???????? (2acd34d0, 4, fa9dbe78, 0, e2d5b060, 0)
 f162d642 _ZL13EnterBaselineP9JSContextRN2js3jit12EnterJitDataE (e54bb000, fa9dbb78, fa9dbce0, f1630993, 2422, 1) + 15b
 f1630993 _ZN2js3jit19EnterBaselineMethodEP9JSContextRNS_8RunStateE (e54bb000, fa9dbc3c, fa9dbce0, f1457837) + 10b
 f1457837 _ZN2js9RunScriptEP9JSContextRNS_8RunStateE (416b7318, 416b6f10, fa9dbcd0, f1457b3c, e54bb000, fa9dbce0) + 2d7
 f1457b3c _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (fa9dbd50, e4a24728, 416b6c68, f1457c03) + 263
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (e54bb000, e31eb038, ffffff82, f1457c7c, fa9dbe9c, 1) + 87
 f1457c7c _ZN2js4CallEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleINS2_5ValueEEES5_RKNS_13AnyInvokeArgsENS2_13MutableHandleIS4_EE (8daff0e4, f1b24818, fa9dbe94, f13b4fb4, e54bb000, fa9dbeb8) + 46
 f13b4fb4 _ZNK2js7Wrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (6, 416b6c68, 416b7258, f13a8784) + 200
 f13a8784 _ZNK2js23CrossCompartmentWrapper4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (f2232a40, 0, fa9dbf98, f13a6de3) + 104
 f13a6de3 _ZN2js5Proxy4callEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSObjectEERKNS3_8CallArgsE (e2d5b060, 1010000, 10000, f13a7809, e54bb000, fa9dbfe0) + eb
 f13a7809 _ZN2js10proxy_CallEP9JSContextjPN2JS5ValueE (e7b08be0, ec112a00, 0, f14579ba) + 60
 f14579ba _ZN2js23InternalCallOrConstructEP9JSContextRKN2JS8CallArgsENS_14MaybeConstructE (fa9dc22c, 3, fa9dc118, f1457c03) + e1
 f1457c03 _ZL12InternalCallP9JSContextRKN2js13AnyInvokeArgsE (e2d5b060, 0, ffffff82, f1457c7c, f16b8000, fa9dc100) + 87
 f1457c7c _ZN2js4CallEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleINS2_5ValueEEES5_RKNS_13AnyInvokeArgsENS2_13MutableHandleIS4_EE (e54bb000, 29, fa9dc248, f145c065, e54bb000, fa9dc2e8) + 46
 f145c065 _ZN2js19SpreadCallOperationEP9JSContextN2JS6HandleIP8JSScriptEEPhNS3_INS2_5ValueEEES9_S9_S9_NS2_13MutableHandleIS8_EE (e54bb000, fa9dc270, 50a854c8, f1652875, e54bb000, fa9dc30c) + 427
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 2a7401e8 ???????? (2acd0acc, 4821, 6a5121a0, ffffff8c, 0, ffffff82)
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I'm embarrassed to admit it

Let's file this under "embarrassing misses which I hope make me a better engineer": I've been beating up getting the Solaris Userland build of Python Cryptography updated from the somewhat-old v1.7.2 to the current v2.1.4. The first thing I realised is that we needed a new version of cffi. Pretty easy to update, though that mean I had to update xattr too (all updates, like bugs, have friends).

After migrating cffi from building with Studio to gcc and mucking around with patches I finally had something could install in a crash-n-burn kz in our cloud. Yay, or so I thought.

When I tried to run pkg verify in that kz with the new packages, the packaging system died in a heap with an error that I distilled down to this:

$ python2.7   
Python 2.7.14 (default, Jan 31 2018, 05:35:05) [C] on sunos5
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> from cryptography.hazmat.bindings._openssl import ffi, lib
>>> from cryptography.x509 import certificate_transparency
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/vendor-packages/cryptography/x509/", line 7, in <module>
    from cryptography.x509 import certificate_transparency
ImportError: cannot import name certificate_transparency

What on earth does that mean? A week or so of googling and delving deep into the code left me no wiser. I came across one "solution" on stackoverflow which said to "merely" update pip from v7 to v9 and "that solved everything". That's not what I think of as a solution. It might be sufficient for an end-user, but I'm not in that position; I'm the bloke who's doing the release engineering aspect to make sure that the end-user doesn't have a problem.

After finally realising that there's a Python Cryptography channel (#cryptography-dev) on I wandered in and asked for help. Alex asked if I got an exception from

from cryptography.hazmat.bindings._openssl import ffi, lib

which I didn't, but a subsequent from cryptography.x509 import certificate_transparency got me the same ImportError I noted above. THAT got me wondering if cffi was built correctly. As it happens, it wasn't (all my fault, yes):

>>> import cffi
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/vendor-packages/cffi/", line 4, in <module>
from .api import FFI
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/vendor-packages/cffi/", line 3, in <module>
    from .error import CDefError
ImportError: No module named error

In short order this lead me to copy the bits from my build system's proto area directly to the crash-n-burn kz for both cffi and cryptography, and boom I could import certificate_transparency.

You can see where this is going - a quick check of the proto areas for files which weren't included in each package manifest, updating the p5m (along with pkgfmt) and a gmake publish:

$ cd build/prototype/`uname -p`
$  for f in `find usr  -name \*py -o -name \*h -o -name \*so | \
   sed -e"s,python[23].[745],python\$\(PYVER),g" |sort |uniq | \
   grep -v  cpython`; do \
        grep -q "$f" ../../../$P5M || \
        echo "file path=$f" >> ../../../$P5M; 
$ cd ../../..
$ pkgfmt $P5M

I'm kicking myself that I forgot to include that tiny step in my efforts over the last week, but I won't in future.

Coot-tha, yay!

The last few years haven't been particularly good for my fitness, with a combination of pretty hectic workload, increasing school activities for the children and recovering from my left knee meniscus repair in 2016. So last year's cycling effort of 2100km (achieved almost completely in the last 3 months of the year) was really nice. Really, really nice.

I've started off this year a little better - I've exceeded my 150km weekly goal each week except for the first week of the year, and I'm at 1245km ridden out of my 4000km goal for the whole year. Yay me!

Last week I was really stoked to pull out a 102km effort (in 4h5m), and late yesterday figured that I really should have a crack at Mt Coot-tha again. The last time I rode it (rather than walked!) was on 7 March 2014, and at that point I'd ridden only about 200km for the year - so the effort involved was quite large.

Today.... yes, the effort involved was still quite large (and I'm feeling a bit more knackered than after last week's 102km, to be honest). On the positive side, however, I rode 71.3km in 3h7m compared to nearly-four-years-ago's 70.1km in 3h21m. I managed to get up both of the climbs that I'm interested in, and do so in personal best times so I'm pretty happy.

Here they are, along with the overall tracks and summaries from 2014 and today:

Oracle Instant Client v12.2 for Solaris now available via IPS

A little over two years ago I wrote that the Oracle Instant Client v12.1 was now available in IPS format from so it was a very simple matter to utter

# pkg install *instantclient*

and you would get the Instant Client packages installed (with a correct RPATH, too).

The Database group released v12.2 a few months ago, and after a delay caused by the significant reorganisation of the Systems division, I am really pleased to announce that we have that version packaged in IPS format as well.

We've made a few changes to the package naming, so that you can install both 12.1 and 12.2 on your system at the same time. There's also a mediator so that /usr/bin/sqlplus will point to the preferred version. To install this new version via IPS, you do need to have access to the Solaris 11 Support Repository. (Visit to get started).

root@burn11x:~# pkg install -nv *instantclient*
           Packages to install:       9
           Mediators to change:       1
     Estimated space available: 8.50 GB
Estimated space to be consumed: 1.75 GB
       Create boot environment:      No
Create backup boot environment:      No
          Rebuild boot archive:      No

Changed mediators:
  mediator instantclient:
           version: None -> 12.2 (vendor default)

Changed packages:
    None ->,5.11-4:20171026T193617Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171027T004528Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171026T193622Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171027T004524Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171026T193618Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171027T004526Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171026T193619Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171027T004538Z
    None ->,5.11-4:20171026T194032Z

If you had the 12.1 packages installed already, then a pkg update would get you the renamed packages (database/oracle/instantclient-121).

NVLists for fun and profit

Over the years that I've worked on Solaris, I've come to know and love libnvpair. We use it all over the place, from the kernel and up to bits of userspace. If I was reimplementing fwflash today, I'd use libnvpair rather than <sys/queue.h>.

One of the things that you might not be aware of is that we ship python bindings for this library, and while they're not perfect, they are very, very useful. Let's have a look at how you can delve into one particular feature of your Solaris system: the zpool cache.

Before we start, you need to know that /etc/zfs/zpool.cache is NOT AN INTERFACE, if you edit that file you could muck up your zpool configurations, and this post is just an example of how we can extract nvlist data.

With that warning proclaimed, let's have a look at this file.

On our Solaris media server I have a large pool called soundandvision to store our photos along with music and movies that I've ripped from CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays over the years. Here's what zpool status tells me about this right now:

$ zpool status soundandvision
  pool: soundandvision
 state: DEGRADED
status: One or more devices has been removed by the administrator.
        Sufficient replicas exist for the pool to continue functioning in a
        degraded state.
action: Online the device using 'zpool online' or replace the device with
        'zpool replace'.
  scan: resilvered 1.60T in 6h36m with 0 errors on Thu Jul  6 22:07:18 2017


        NAME                         STATE      READ WRITE CKSUM
        soundandvision               DEGRADED      0     0     0
          mirror-0                   ONLINE        0     0     0
            c2t3d0                   ONLINE        0     0     0
            c0t5000039FF3F0D8D9d0    ONLINE        0     0     0
          mirror-1                   ONLINE        0     0     0
            c0t5000CCA248E72F12d0    ONLINE        0     0     0
            c0t5000CCA248E728B6d0    ONLINE        0     0     0
          mirror-2                   DEGRADED      0     0     0
            c0t5000039FF3F0D2F0d0    ONLINE        0     0     0
            spare-1                  DEGRADED      0     0     0
              c0t5000039FE2DF1C15d0  REMOVED       0     0     0
              c0t5000C50067485F33d0  ONLINE        0     0     0
          c0t5000C50067485F33d0      INUSE

errors: No known data errors

Yes, I do need to pop along to my local PC bits shop and replace that removed disk. What can we find out about that disk, though?

Wow, I really left this post incomplete, didn't I!

Long Fat Networks

Living in Australia generally means that you're on the end of a Long Fat Network (LFN), internet-wise. That's a serious technical term which is important to the networking stack when determining optimal data transfer sizes.

Two of my colleagues down in Melbourne are also with Aussie Broadband and using the top (100Mbit down, 40Mbit up) NBN speed tier. We also have company-issued hardware vpn units because we work from home fulltime. I was delighted at the bandwidth available from Aussie for our connections to work systems in the SF Bay Area, and when I had cause to update my systems to a new build I observed that it now took about 55 minutes on our media server, rather than the 80-90 minutes it took with the SkyMesh connection.

There was a fly in the ointment, however, because my colleagues and I calculated that while we should be getting 1Mb/s or more as a sustained transfer rate from the internal pkg server, we'd often get around 400kb/s. Since networking is supposed to be something Solaris is good at, we started digging.

The first thing we looked at was the receive buffer size, which defaults to 1Mb. Greg found so we changed that for tcp, udp and sctp. While fasterdata document talked about using /usr/sbin/ndd, the Proper Way(tm) to do this in Solaris 11.x is with /usr/sbin/ipadm:

 # for pp in tcp udp sctp; do ipadm show-prop -p max-buf $pp; done

tcp   max-buf               rw   1048576      --           1048576      1048576-1073741824

udp   max-buf               rw   2097152      --           2097152      65536-1073741824

sctp  max-buf               rw   1048576      --           1048576      102400-1073741824

To effect a quick and persistent change, we uttered:

# for pp in tcp udp sctp; do ipadm set-prop -p max-buf=1073741824 $pp; done

While that did seem to make a positive difference, transferring a sample large file from across the Pacific still cycled up and down in the transfer rate. The cycling was really annoying. We kept digging.

The next thing we investigated was the congestion window, which is where the afore-mentioned LFN comes in to play. That property is cwnd-max:

 # for pp in tcp sctp; do ipadm show-prop -p cwnd-max $pp; done

tcp   cwnd-max              rw   1048576      --           1048576      128-1073741824

sctp  cwnd-max              rw   1048576      --           1048576      128-1073741824

Figuring that if it was worth doing, it was worth overdoing, we bumped that parameter up too:

# for pp in tcp sctp; do ipadm set-prop -p cwnd-max=1073741824 $pp; done
$ curl -o moz.bz2
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
  3 3091M    3  102M    0     0  4542k      0  0:11:36  0:00:23  0:11:13 5747k^C

While that speed cycled around a lot, it mostly remained above 5MB/s.

Another large improvement. Yay!

However... we still saw the cycling. Intriguingly, the period was about 20 seconds, so there was still something else to twiddle.

In the meantime, however, I decided to update our media server.

I was blown away.

23 minutes 1 second

Not bad at all, even considering that when pkg(1) is transferring lots of small files it's difficult to keep the pipes filled.

Now that both Greg and I had several interesting data points to consider, I asked some of our network gurus for advice on what else we could look at. N suggested looking at the actual congestion algorithm in use, and pointed me to this article on High speed TCP.

High-speed TCP (HS-TCP ). HS-TCP is an update of TCP that reacts better when using large congestion windows on high-bandwidth, high-latency networks.

The Solaris default is the newreno algorithm:

 # ipadm show-prop -p cong-default,cong-enabled tcp
tcp   cong-default          rw   newreno      --           newreno      newreno,cubic,
tcp   cong-enabled          rw   newreno,     newreno,     newreno      newreno,cubic,
                                 cubic,dctcp, cubic,dctcp,              dctcp,
                                 highspeed,   highspeed,                highspeed,
                                 vegas        vegas                     vegas

Changing that was easy:

# for pp in tcp sctp ; do ipadm set-prop -p cong-default=highspeed $pp; done

Off to pull down that bz2 from again:

 $ curl -o blah.tar.bz2
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100 3091M  100 3091M    0     0  5866k      0  0:08:59  0:08:59 --:--:-- 8684k

For a more local test (within Australia) I made use of Internode's facility:

$ curl -o t.test
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100  953M  100  953M    0     0  10.0M      0  0:01:35  0:01:35 --:--:-- 11.0M

And finally, updating my global zone.

 # time pkg update --be-name $NEWBE core-os@$version *incorporation@$version
            Packages to update: 291
       Create boot environment: Yes
Create backup boot environment:  No

DOWNLOAD                                PKGS         FILES    XFER (MB)   SPEED
Completed                            291/291     2025/2025  116.9/116.9  317k/s

PHASE                                          ITEMS
Removing old actions                       1544/1544
Installing new actions                     1552/1552
Updating modified actions                  2358/2358
Updating package state database                 Done
Updating package cache                       291/291
Updating image state                            Done
Creating fast lookup database                   Done
Reading search index                            Done
Building new search index                  1932/1932

A clone of $oldbe exists and has been updated and activated.
On the next boot the Boot Environment be://rpool/$newbe will be
mounted on '/'.  Reboot when ready to switch to this updated BE.

real    12m30.391s
user    4m4.173s
sys     0m21.496s

I think that's sufficient.

Ten years ago

Since about 5:30pm last night, we have had the keys to our home for ten years. After the mad scramble to clean out the rented unit in Sydney, we took our time driving up the coast before pulling in to the driveway and collecting the keys from the letterbox. The house was dark and very, very empty. We wondered what we'd gotten ourselves in to ("eeeek, it's real!").

The next day, our belongings arrived - the 20ft shipping container that everything fit into had gone via train and then truck. Charlie (codercat) arrived the day after that, and was rather grumpy. I don't think she liked flying or being cooped up.

Since that day in 2007, we've done a few things: turned the second garage space into my home office, renovated the pool, kitchen and laundry, gone through IVF to bring our two amazing children into this world, gotten through J's brain tumour and treatment, and tiled the loungeroom.

We've met so many people who have changed our lives since we moved into the area, people who we might never have met if we had moved to a house even a few streets away.

We had a small celebration of the event for dinner last night: I cooked J the dish that I first cooked for her, and we had a rather nice bottle of bubbly.

Here's to the next ten years!