OpenSolaris Bug In Time Slider, and Workaround

Our home media server, the computer that holds our household's music, photos, TV shows, and other stuff, is running on OpenSolaris.  Until recently, it was running on the November 2008 release (2008.11) but I recently upgraded it to the most current build (b128) because there are some great features in OpenSolaris that I'd like to take advantage of.  Two in particular are deduplication as part of ZFS (which will save space on the hard drives we have on that server) and Time Slider, a feature sort of like Apple's "Time Machine" except much more efficient about how it uses space to store the changes you've made since the last time you took a snapshot of the system.  TimeSlider is also much, much faster: on my Mac Book Pro, doing a Time Machine backup usually takes about 30-60 minutes and seems to want to examine almost 20GB of data.  On our home media server, which is similarly active, taking a Time Slider snapshot takes less than five seconds and the data is more reliable because it's not sitting on a single disk.  (single points of failure are bad)

So far, so good.  But I noticed that Time Slider didn't want to start.  I looked into it and there's an OpenSolaris bug that is causing the problem.  There's a workaround: delete any snapshots from November 2009.  The bug is known and it is being worked on.  In the meantime, I did delete November snapshots no problem, and then did the following to get Time Slider re-started:
  • from a shell, typed "pfexec svcadm clear time-slider" (translation: running with admin privileges, tell the services manager to clear any error conditions with the time-slider service because we've fixed the underlying problem)
  • From the desktop's menu bar, choose System -> Administration -> Time Slider and tell it to start the service.
Everything's now working peachy-keen.  And using Nautilus (the file browser that is part of the GNOME desktop that OpenSolaris uses), Time Slider functionality is built in.  This means you can look at your files and directories and easily scroll back to any point in time to get at older versions of files or directories.  Also, you can go to any directory and take a snapshot of it right now, instantly.  It's a nice feature; you can read more about it here.


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