Installing OpenSolaris

Installing OpenSolaris

When we took on this ZFS Build project, we decided to use OpenSolaris for our ZFS system rather than FreeBSD or a Linux variant. We chose OpenSolaris for the ZFS server because ZFS was originally built for Solaris/OpenSolaris, and we suspected OpenSolaris would therefore include better support for ZFS.
OpenSolaris feels very similar to FreeBSD or Linux, but specific commands may be different. One nice touch is that the installer is included on the LiveCD.

To install OpenSolaris first download the latest version from Here . You should download the x86 LiveCD. Once downloaded, burn it to a disk and boot from it.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 1

The first screen that you’ll see during install allows you to select what version to boot. There are a lot of options. For most people, the default OpenSolaris selection is the best. We had to select the VESA driver as when we tried to install using the default selection it would hang during boot. We tracked it down to some sort of incompatibility with the video hardware in our system and the desktop environment. In any event, using the VESA driver allows us to get to the desktop.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 2

After a little while, you’ll be brought to a desktop. Don’t worry if it takes 5-10 minutes to get there. It’s booting off of the CD drive, and is sloooooow. Once you get to the desktop, you’ll see an option to “Install OpenSolaris”. Double clicking that icon will start a GUI installer for you to set up OpenSolaris.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 3

Starting the installer brings you to a screen that tells you a little about installing OpenSolaris, and where to find help about the setup procedure.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 4

You’ll now be directed to select which disk drive you want to install OpenSolaris on to. We selected one of the 40GB Intel X25-V SSD drives. After the installation is complete, we will mirror the contents of one drive to the other drive for a mirrored boot configuration.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 5

You’ll next be asked to select your time zone information – pretty straight forward. Simply select your Region, Location, and Time Zone.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 6

This is basically a language and data format selection. We’re obviously in the US, and English is our primary language so we will select English.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 7

Next you’ll want to set up passwords for the root account, and you’ll be asked to create a non-privileged user to log in with. We suggest strong passwords for all accounts created – something alpha-numeric with capital and lower case letters. You’ll also be asked to set the computer name. Since this will be the head end for out entire ZFS solution, we have named it zfs_head_end.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 8

You’ll now be prompted with all of the settings that you selected to confirm them. If you find any mistakes you can click “back” to go back and fix them. Click “Install” to confirm the selections and install OpenSolaris.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 9

A progress bar will appear and show you how close you are to having OpenSolaris installed.

OpenSolaris Installation Image 10

OpenSolaris is installed and ready to start for the first time. Remove the CD-ROM from your system and click “Reboot”. Your OpenSolaris system should boot up and be ready to use!

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 Configuration

11 Comments to Installing OpenSolaris

  • JD says:

    I am building a very similar setup with the same MB but an SC846A chassis. Did you give any thought to the performance of a SAS expander vs. direct attached? I ended up with the SC846A version of the chassis because I got a great deal on eBay but now need to buy additional controllers.

  • JD says:

    One comment that stumped me during my build. The updated (and required) G200ew graphics driver can be downloaded here:

  • nxion says:

    So Im intrested to know how did you add a drive the the root pool. I have opensolaris installed and want to know how to mirror the drive to another so I need to add a second drive like you have in your guide

  • admin says:

    We will be posting an article on how to add a mirrored drive to the root pool shortly. That should answer the questions that you have about adding it.

  • Benji says:

    What do we do now that OpenSolaris has been abandoned as a distribution by Oracle?

  • admin says:

    That is a good question Benji. There are a number of possible answers.

    1) Keep using OpenSolaris even though it is basically dead
    2) Use Nexenta Core Platform (free, open source, and based on latest OpenSolaris; )
    3) Use Illumos once it is available ( )
    4) Use Solaris 11 Express once it is available

    We will probably see more forks to OpenSolaris in coming months, so the options will probably get more diverse.

  • cryptz says:

    i am using openindiana in a test vm. I presented some drives to the system and mirrored the root pool. Ideally i would like to not waste and of the drive slots on the OS partition. I know it is possible to install to usb, my question is am i hurting performance in any way by doing so. I am not concerned with OpenIndiana boot times, but dont want to impact the performance of the box as it relates to sharing.

    Can you mirror usb drives?

    my system has 12 hot swap drives and 2 internal 2.5 drives. my intention was to use the 2 internal for ssd cache and the 12 drives for data so i really dont have a place for the OS unless there is a way to split the role the ssd’s play. I was under the impression cache used the whole disk.

  • admin says:

    cryptz: One possible solution would be to install the OS onto a SATA DOM (disk on module). The DOM would not need to be very big, since the OS won’t take up much room.

  • cryptz says:

    thats interesting i havent come across them before. given that they seem to be flash as well are they really any better then a usb 3.0 drive? i had 2 mushkin 16gb usb 3 flash drives that i was going to install inside the chassis of the server.

  • admin says:

    As long as the server can boot from the USB drives, it should work fine. I have not personally used USB drives for a mirrored boot, but I cannot see any obvious reason they would not work for that purpose. The best thing to do would be install them and make sure it works. Then pull one USB drive (to simulate a drive failure) and attempt to boot the server. Then put the USB drive in, let them resilver, and then pull the other USB drive to retest. If it can handle those tests, then it is probably safe to use. Best of luck. Let us know how it goes.

  • cryptz says:

    what is the realistic write workload like for the os drive? is there anything you have come across that could reduce the write load on the os partition?

    i remember reading something that zfs logs alot of information and there may be a way to reduce the logging but i cant find it now, I do not believe they were referring to the zil either.

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