Installing Solaris
...on a Sparc
...on x86
Installing OpenSolaris
Upgrading OpenSolaris
...Which version of OpenSolaris do I run ?
...Release or developer trunk ?
Updating OpenSolaris
Upgrading Solaris 10
...u4 to u5
...u5 to u6

Installing Solaris

On a Sparc

  • on prompt 'ok' (stop-A to get there), type 'boot cdrom'... to boot the Solaris 10 CDs !
  • check the compatibility list with Sun's Device Detection Tool: download the Sun Download Manager first, then launch the detection tool: javaws sddtool_20.jnlp &
  • make sure all network interfaces (hme0, hme1...) are plugged to the local network
  • for network configuration, beware that using DHCP means the network interfaces are expected to receive their IP address AND hostname from the DHCP server. If hostname is not sent, a script is mandatory to set it at each boot. Otherwise use static IP addresses, setting the gateway and the network mask.
  • default install is okay to use. It creates 3 partitions
    • c0t0d0s0 for / (5059 MB in my case)
    • c0t0d0s1 for the swap (512 MB)
    • c0t0d0s7 for /export/home (13885MB)
  • for software installation, select the Entire Group of Solaris 10 Software. Companion Software (freeware utilities such as gcc, make, xpdf etc) are nice to have.

On x86

The first thing to do is check one's hardware is compatible with Solaris. Sun offers a Java based detection tool . It requires installation of a JRE 1.5. This tool worked fine on my host.

Then, the installation basically goes as follows. Most of the time, default selects are appropriate and there are no changes to do. That's cool.

  • GNU Grub install : select Solaris (default)
  • Select Solaris interactive installation (default).
  • Select English as language. Actually, I usually hate to chose any other language, because translations are so poor I have to 'reverse' back to English to hope to understand what's going on... My advice here is definitely, select English, unless you really don't understand English (but then, I wonder how you cope everyday as a computer science engineer).
  • Set your hostname.
  • Set timezone, and root password
  • Ask for a Standard Installation (not Flash)
  • Configure for automatic eject and reboot
  • Then, select Locale: initial locale POSIX C looks fine
  • select solaris software: entire distribution (4740 MB)
  • select disks to install Solaris (they are labeled cXdY). It's possible to use fdisk to create a Solaris Partition.

Installing OpenSolaris

Download and burn the latest CD of OpenSolaris. The current release (2008.11) fits on a single CD. It is both an installation CD and a Live CD. Let OpenSolaris boot from the CD, then click on "Install OpenSolaris" to get the work started.

Upgrading OpenSolaris

The only thing you need to do is:
pfexec pkg install SUNWipkg
Then, relaunch the update manager from a GNOME environment, and have it download all updates. It'll download approximately 800Mb, so depending on your bandwidth, it may take time. Once all packages are downloaded, it's quite quick to update. It'll configure a new boot environment. Reboot, everything's fine ! Yeeeaaah !
The upgrade process actually creates a new boot environment so that, once the upgrade is complete, you can still boot the old (or the new) version.
$ beadm list
BE            Active Mountpoint Space Policy Created          
--            ------ ---------- ----- ------ -------          
opensolaris   -      -          7.57G static 2009-01-03 13:18 
opensolaris-1 NR     /          3.59G static 2009-07-20 22:38
On a ZFS point of view, the boot environments correspond to two different file systems:
$ zfs list -o name,mountpoint,canmount,mounted
NAME                      MOUNTPOINT           CANMOUNT  MOUNTED
rpool/ROOT/opensolaris    /                      noauto       no
rpool/ROOT/opensolaris-1  /                      noauto      yes
Note that, of course, only one of these file systems is actually mounted. In my case, the new file system with 2009.06 is rpool/ROOT/opensolaris-1.
$ zfs list
NAME                       USED  AVAIL  REFER  MOUNTPOINT
rpool/ROOT/opensolaris    7.18G  5.42G  6.75G  /
rpool/ROOT/opensolaris-1  3.43G  5.42G  7.40G  /
There are shared blocks between both file systems, because not all files change when a system is upgraded, so they are not updated, and get shared between both file systems. Keeping both boot environments takes disk place. If you are short of disk space, you can safely remove the old boot environment and will get back the size of the unshared, no longer used files (don't expect 7G back). The command is :
$ beadm destroy opensolaris
$ beadm list
BE            Active Mountpoint Space  Policy Created          
--            ------ ---------- -----  ------ -------          
opensolaris-1 NR     /          11.80G static 2009-07-20 22:38
$ zfs list
NAME                       USED  AVAIL  REFER  MOUNTPOINT
rpool                     42.2G  5.76G  1.42G  /a/rpool
rpool/ROOT                10.3G  5.76G    18K  legacy
rpool/ROOT/opensolaris-1  10.3G  5.76G  7.41G  /
rpool/dump                 895M  5.76G   895M  -
rpool/export              28.7G  5.76G    19K  /export
rpool/export/home         28.7G  5.76G   654M  /export/home
rpool/export/home/axelle  28.1G  5.76G  27.7G  /export/home/axelle
rpool/swap                 895M  6.55G  88.3M  -

Which version of OpenSolaris do I have ?

Do uname -a, and have a look at the "snv" version.
Versionuname label
Another solution is to cat /etc/release.

Release or Developer versions ?

Like Ubuntu and Debian have stable and unstable versions, OpenSolaris has a release version (stable) and a developer branch (unstable). To install and download packages from the release version, have the package manager (/usr/bin/packagemanager) use this URL:
or this one for the developer version:

Updating OpenSolaris

pfexec pkg image-update -v
or updatemanager. or packagemanager (for packages).

Upgrading Solaris 10

u4 to u5

You need the u5 DVD (available from Sun's website). The other alternative is to perform a live upgrade, but it seems somewhat complicated, you need a backup disk etc: try it for servers you can't stop.

With the u5 DVD, it's very simple:

  • boot on the DVD
  • the beginning is like a normal installation: set hostname, timezone, root password...
  • specify this is an upgrade and not a full re-install. The upgrade procedure will remove your u4 patches and proceed with u5 installation.
  • let the system install reboot (remove the DVD)

After reboot, the system failed to mount my ZFS partitions (/usr/sbin/zfs mount -a). It complained /opt wasn't empty: indeed, the installation procedure had put Star Office 8 in /opt, whereas I already have a ZFS /opt partition: so the ZFS /opt failed to mount. This has been easily fixed by temporarily moving Star Office to /, mounting the ZFS partition, and then moving back Star Office to the new ZFS /opt.

Apart from this slight problem, upgrade proceeded without any problem. It even kept my specific network driver, and of course did not overwrite any other partition than /.

u5 to u6

The nice thing with u6 is that it supports ZFS boot. If possible, do not use CDs but DVDs: there's a known bug on CD 2 that occurs from time to time.