Solaris Installation Myths

02 Oct

Yesterday I met one of the Sun Campus Ambassadors, who wanted to meet me for the last few weeks. I was either out on business trips or in Bangalore, so I have setup an appointment with him yesterday. (Just in case anyone is wondering: even though Sun is no longer my employer, I still oblige all the past and future commitments on Sun technologies, especially the opensource ones.) I had a long chat with him about the general concerns people had about OpenSolaris installations on their PCs or in thier labs. Here are the most important concerns/issues quoted.

  • Installation is not smooth
  • Network detection can be smoother and better. (There are two orthogonal schools of thought here. a. We want automatic network detection. b. We want linux style manual configuration.)
  • How can I enable/disable services from UI.
  • How do I see the amount of RAM I have on the system
  • Issues with OpenSolaris grub: Doesn’t detect Vista partition.

This is a fairly long discussion, but we could go thru the way we can address many of the issues. Here are my responses by and large. BTW, they seem to use a very old build (Feb 2007) of Developer Express, so time to get the latest one. Once they get the latest one, most of the issues will have trivial solutions.

  • Install issues: Try out the new installer (I witnessed build 72, but I guess anything after build 70 is great.) There are automatic steps in install, not requiring you to go thru all the partitioning business by yourself. Just create a primary partition and point the install to use it, then it will create mount points and shuffles numbers by itself. More over, it also creates an update partition for you to try out newer builds, if you have enough space.
  • Network Interface issues: Build 70 onwards, you have nwam service enabled by default. I tested it literally by yanking out the ethernet cable from the machine and waited for the service to report the connection being disabled. This happens just within a second or so. Then I reinserted again to witness auto detection of the dhcp server and obtaining an IP address. So as long as your nwam service is active, you shouldn’t worry. Period. If you want manual enabling, then do this as root at a command prompt (you can see I am a command line person.) svcadm disable nwam. That should do. Now you will be able to configure your network manually by going thru “Administration -> Network“. If you ever want to enable nwam again, do a svcadm enable nwam. Enjoy the simplicity.
  • Enabling/Disabling services from UI: Go to “Administration -> Services“. If you are a non-root user, you will be asked for root password.
  • Checking RAM: Execute prtconf -pv | head -5. For more fun, explore other options of prtconf.
  • Grub issues: Fixed recently. Build 72 detected other partitions and installs for me. Go for it.

Well, this is just for starters. Hope this covers all the myths about Solaris installation and primary uses. Try out build 72 or later and prove me wrong, if you can. 🙂
BTW, I couldn’t cover source code management (subversion, mercurial etc.) in the short time I had yesterday, but I can do so, at some future point of time. Feel free to contact me if you have any other issues.

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