Solaris Installation

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Just some notes relating to my recent work with the Sun Solaris operating system.

Also check out my Solaris Tips page.


Current Exierpeinces

Since last updating this article, I've come by three systems to run Solaris on - a Dell PowerEdge 2550 server, and two SunBlade 150 Sparc IIi workstations. Installation on both was trivial. I put SXCE (Solaris Express Community Edition) on the PowerEdge and Solaris 10 (the Sun release, heavily tested but missing the cutting-edge features of OpenSolaris) on the SunBlades - one setup as a workstation for me, and the other setup as my new mail server.

Laptop Installation

To keep it short, I tried to install Solaris to an existing partition on my laptop. The standard Linux GRUB won't boot UFS partitions/Solaris slices. I also wasn't able to get a chainloader to work. In short, the sure fire method of installing Solaris dual-boot with Linux is to start from scratch.

USB Hard Drive Install

I also attempted to install Solaris to a Western Digital MyBook 500GB external USB (and eSATA, though I don't have an eSATA PCMCIA card for my laptop) hard drive. Complicating things, however, is the fact that the HDD had three partitions - a 256GB FAT32, a 110GB Ext3, and a 89GB Ext3. I installed Solaris to the 89GB. Despite a week of work, I was unable to get Solaris to boot. It seems that the only sure-fire way is to install Solaris *first* on the disk. If I have any future success, I'll report it here.

First Experiences

My first trial of Solaris 10 after receiving the installation CDs in the mail was on a spare development system. Most of my development systems are old (used, freebie) towers running Linux. As a result, I was quite surprised (RTFM!) when the installation halted with a fairly cryptic error message:

....... Booting `Solaris`
kernel /boot/multiboot kernel/unix -B install_media=cdrom
    [Multiboot-elf, <0x1000000:0x13ab3:0x1290d>, shtab=0x1027258, entry=0x1000000]
module /boot/x86.miniroot

Error 28: Selected item cannot fit into memory

Press any key to continue...

After a quick look at the System Requirements, I found that Solaris requires 256 Mb RAM and 2 Gb of disk space - not nearly met by my target machine with 128 Mb RAM (more than enough to do my usual text-mode development).

Virtualized Install

After the above experience, I decided to setup a virtual machine on my laptop for Solaris work. I setup a machine with a maximum 4 Gb disk space and 512 Mb RAM - minimal stress on my AMD Athlon 64 laptop with 100 Gb disk space and 1 Gb RAM.

For this project, I decided to use my new 30-day evaluation version of VMware Workstation 6, running on the native host operating system, openSuSE 10.2 64-bit. I have pushed this system to the breaking point (and actually have had one processor replacement in 2 years so far), but I find no problems whatsoever running a fully-graphical Debian Edge in VMware while still keeping my normal functionality (Amarok, Firefox with ~12 tabs, Thunderbird, GAIM) in the host OS.


I put the x86 DVD into the laptop, and booted the VMware guest machine with the physical CD/DVD drive. The Solaris installation booted into the text-mode chooser, a refreshing sight. I chose option 1 for the automated installation, and was greeted with an X environment with a text terminal for configuration.

After choosing language, a graphical installer appears. The virtualized environment, as usual, did not interfere with my usual operations in the host OS. Network configuration is pretty basic, and after selecting DHCP and DNS (for name service), I had to manually enter the nameserver and domains to be searched - this was not configured via DHCP. I was pleasantly surprised at being able to enter a timezone as a numerical offset from GMT, instead of being forced to use the (also available) continent/country/region selection method. After time and date options, a root password is entered, and I selected to enable remote network services.

I did a custom install of the Developer group, removing some of the larger packages that I didn't need - some of the Java stuff, Java Application Server, StarOffice, etc. The first major thing that I noticed is that dependency resolution is manual - it presents you with a scrollable window listing all of the problems, which you can then solve manually. This took me half an hour or more.

Despite the minimum disk requirements, the 4 Gb that I allocated ended up being barely adequate.

Notice - this is a static HTML mirror of a previous MediaWiki installation. Pages are for historical reference only, and are greatly outdated (circa 2009).