Chapter 2: Installation

Chapter 2: Installation



  • Explain how to install the Solaris operating system from CD/DVD, including installation and upgrade options, hardware requirements, Solaris OS software components (software packages, clusters, and groups).

  • Explain the purpose of the /var/sadm/install/contents file, and how to administer packages (how to display, add, check, and remove a package, and add a package into the spool directory) using the command-line interface.

  • Explain how to obtain, install, and remove patches and patch clusters using either the command-line interface or the Solaris Management Console.

Many people find installing an operating system to be incredibly boring. In fact, installations often rank on the excitement meter somewhere between watching paint dry and watching grass grow. Although no one is going to confuse a Solaris 9 installation with weekend entertainment, Sun has made improvements to the Solaris 9 installation process.

Even though installations might not be the most exciting things to administer, knowing how to properly install an operating system is a critical task. You might know everything there is to know about managing users and security, but if you can't put the operating system on the machine, there won't be any users or security to control.

Sun's exam objectives classify installations into three categories: operating system, packages (software), and patches. This chapter starts by examining how to install Solaris 9, continues with installing and managing software packages, and finishes by showing how to obtain, install, and manage software patches.

Installing Solaris 9

You can make all the jokes you want about how unexciting installing an operating system is, but the fact remains that you need to know how to do it. Everything that will happen on your computer depends on the initial installation process. Installing Solaris 9 might seem easy, but if the installation goes poorly, one of two things will happen: either you will have to deal with a system that isn't optimally configured, which could cause performance issues, or you will have to reinstall the operating system. Neither alternative is pleasant. The first step to ensuring a good installation is proper planning.

Planning the Installation

The planning phase of installation is one of the most overlooked tasks in all of computing. This is really unfortunate, because good planning before you install can save you a lot of headaches after you install.

Obviously, if you are installing only one computer, your planning will not be as detailed as if you were installing a large network. But there are still some important things to consider, such as whether it will be a new installation or an upgrade, whether your computer meets system requirements, where you will be installing from, and planning details such as host name, IP address, superuser password, and disk space allocation.

Choose Initial Installation or Upgrade

This decision should be pretty easy. If your system is running Solaris 2.6, 7, or 8, you can upgrade it to Solaris 9. If your system has any other operating system installed, or no operating system at all, you must choose an initial installation.

There might be times when you are running Solaris version 2.6, 7, or 8 but want to do a clean installation. That's fine too, as long as you understand the logistical differences between upgrading and installing. If you upgrade, Solaris will migrate as many system configuration options as possible, but if you do a clean installation, you will need to reconfigure everything after the installation is complete.

Whether you choose to perform an initial installation or an upgrade, you can use any of the four installation methods listed in the "Choose an Installation Method" section later in this chapter.

Review System Requirements

You need to make sure your system meets the requirements for Solaris 9. At a minimum, you need at least 96MB of RAM, although 128MB is recommended. If you use the CD-ROM to install, you will also need a slice (or partition) on your hard disk that's at least 512MB in size and is not already used to store files. Using the swap slice is recommended.

Your hardware platform must also support the Solaris 9 operating system. If your computer belongs to the sun4m, sun4u, or i86pc platform groups, you should be okay. The sun4m computers will be able to run Solaris 9 only in 32-bit mode (instead of 64-bit mode), and some sun4u platform machines will need an OpenBoot upgrade to run Solaris 9 in 64-bit mode. The sun4u computers that might need the OpenBoot upgrade are Ultra 1, Ultra 2, Ultra 450, Enterprise 450, and Enterprise 3000, 4000, 5000, and 6000.


The sun4d platform group is not supported in Solaris 9.

Unless your Sun computer is very old, you shouldn't have to worry about whether Solaris 9 will install. SPARCstation 4 and newer, Ultra, Blade, and Fire systems should all run Solaris 9 with no difficulties, save for a possible OpenBoot upgrade to support 64-bit mode. To determine your system's platform group, type uname -m from a command prompt.

Plan and Allocate Disk Space

Most modern computers have ample disk space for the installation of Solaris 9 and any software that the user could desire. If you have an older machine with a smaller hard disk, you could run into problems. Of course, you can add another disk, if needed, to provide additional space.

When you install Solaris, it will set up your disk space automatically based on a profile for the size of your hard disk. There are times, though, that you will want to customize disk allocation. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when planning your disk usage:

  • Servers require more disk space than clients. If this machine is going to be a server, you might need to allocate extra space for user home directories, which are located in the/export file system by default.

  • If this computer is going to be a print or mail server, provide extra disk space for the/var file system.

  • Allocate at least 512MB for swap space.

  • If you are planning on using the crash dump feature savecore, make the/var file system at least twice as big as the amount of physical memory in your computer.

  • If you are going to be installing additional languages, make sure to provide enough disk space for each additional language.

  • Allocate the proper amount of space for the software group you plan on installing, as well as space for third-party applications.

One other good planning tip regarding disk space is to plan for future expansions and upgrades of Solaris. Sun recommends creating disk slices at least 30 percent larger than required. In other words, if you determine that your /var file system needs 1GB of space, make it at least 1.3GB. It's estimated that each new Solaris release needs about 10 percent more space than the previous release, so if you give your file systems room to grow, you won't have to reallocate your disk space for quite some time. Disk space is cheap, so don't skimp on it when planning file systems.

Pick a Software Group

There are more than 650 software packages listed on the Solaris 9 Operating Environment Package List. Fortunately, Solaris 9 has assembled them into five software groups for ease of installation. A software group is a collection of Solaris packages. Each group has a different intended function and requires a different amount of disk space. Obviously, the more software you install, the more hard drive space is used. Pick one of the following five clusters based on your needs (all disk space recommendations include swap space):

Core Solaris Software Group The Core software group is the smallest and contains the minimum number of files required to boot Solaris. It also includes some network software and the drivers needed to run the OpenWindows environment. For the Core software group, allocate a minimum of 1GB of disk space. For frame of reference, this group contains only about one-quarter of all available packages.

End User Solaris Software Group The End User software group contains enough files to run a networked Solaris computer, as well as the Common Desktop Environment (CDE). The recommended disk space for this group is 2GB.

Developer Solaris Software Group This group contains everything in the End User group and adds files needed for software development. These files include programming libraries, man pages, and programming tools, but no compilers. The recommended disk space for the Developer group is 2.4GB.

Entire Solaris Software Group Based on its name, you would think that this group contains all 650-plus packages. It doesn't, but it's missing only a few. Close enough. This package contains everything that's in the Developer group, plus software that is needed for servers. For this package, allocate of disk space.

Entire Solaris Software Group Plus OEM Support Finally, the package that has it all. It contains all software packages, which according to Sun include "drivers for hardware that is not on the system at the time of installation." Allocate 2.9GB of disk space for this package.

Generally speaking, the End User software group is appropriate for client computers, and the Entire software group (plus OEM support, if you want) is recommended for servers.

During installation, you can add or remove software packages from the group you select. However, be careful when doing so. Some packages are dependent upon others, and removing the wrong package can have drastic consequences. If you are going to customize your software group installation, be sure to first understand the interdependencies of the software you are adding or removing.


Memorizing exact disk requirements for software packages isn't the point of this section. Simply become familiar with the software packages available and the general disk requirements of each one. Also know some basic features of each group-for example, the Core group does not come with CDE.

Choose an Installation Method

There are four ways to install the Solaris 9 operating environment. They are suninstall, Web Start, JumpStart, and Live Upgrade.


The suninstall program is located on the Solaris 9 Software 1 of 2 CD. It is an installation program run from the command-line interface (CLI) only, which makes it a good choice if you have a system with only 96MB of RAM. Of all the installation methods, suninstall is the most basic and it installs only Solaris operating environment software. To install third-party software, you must either use a different installation method or wait until Solaris 9 is operational.

If you use suninstall, you will be asked to enter system configuration information manually. Therefore, suninstall is not recommended if you have a large number of machines to install. Instead, use Web Start Flash or a custom JumpStart installation. The suninstall program is run from the CD-ROM, but can be executed either locally or remotely.

Web Start and Web Start Flash

The Web Start installation program is included on both the Solaris 9 Installation CD and the Solaris 9 DVD. You can run Web Start with either a CLI or a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI). Web Start enables you to install the Solaris 9 operating environment, as well as any additional software. Essentially, Web Start creates an installation profile that is used by JumpStart to install the required software.


Web Start does require you to enter some system configuration information. Consequently, it is not recommended for use if you need to install Solaris on a large number of systems.

Web Start Flash enables you to install multiple systems, based on an original configuration. First you need to install a master system, which is simply a Solaris 9 computer with the configuration you wish to duplicate. Then you create a Web Start Flash archive from the master system, which can be used to install other machines quickly and without intervention.

Each of the installation methods enables you to use a Web Start Flash archive. If you have multiple configurations, you can create as many archives as necessary. Be aware, however, that archives are very large and can quickly eat up chunks of disk space. Also, after an archive is created, it cannot be modified. If you require modifications to a Web Start Flash archive, you must create a new one.


Understanding how to use Web Start Flash is an objective for Exam II and is covered in more detail in Chapter 16, "Advanced Installation Procedures."


There are two types of JumpStart installations available in Solaris 9: factory JumpStart and custom JumpStart.

Factory JumpStart automatically installs Solaris on a SPARC computer when you insert either the Solaris 9 DVD or Solaris Software 1 of 2 CD and turn on the system. It installs Solaris based on a default profile, which is determined by your system model and disk size. The best thing about JumpStart is that you are not prompted for configuration information. JumpStart is the method for installing multiple machines.

JumpStart requires a boot image, which is pre-installed on all new SPARC-based computers. If you have an older SPARC-based machine, you can add the JumpStart installation method to the computer by using the re-preinstall command.

Custom JumpStart enables you to install one or more machines automatically based on profiles that you have created. Custom JumpStart provides the greatest flexibility in installation options and is recommended if you have a large number of machines to install. With custom JumpStart, you can define specific software installation requirements, pre-installation tasks, and post-installation tasks.


Using JumpStart is an objective for Exam II and is covered in more detail in Chapter 16.

Live Upgrade

Solaris Live Upgrade is new to the Solaris 9 operating environment and is an efficient, incredibly cool installation method.

With Live Upgrade, you create a duplicate boot environment on your existing Solaris installation. After the duplicate boot environment is created, you use a Web Start Flash archive to upgrade or perform a fresh installation on the inactive boot environment. The computer stays running the whole time. After the upgrade or installation is complete, you activate the inactive boot environment. The next time you reboot the system, the inactive boot environment is switched to active. If you have problems, you can reactivate the old boot environment, reboot the computer, and be back to your original configuration.

Live Upgrade can significantly reduce downtime associated with server upgrades. There is one negative, however. Because you are creating multiple boot environments, you need the disk space to support essentially two operating systems. It's a trade-off of time versus hardware, but it's a trade-off that can easily pay large dividends in production environments.

Gather Information about Your System

If you are using suninstall or the Web Start installation program, you will be prompted to enter system configuration information during the installation. Writing down the information you need before you begin the installation will make the whole process much smoother. Now the question becomes, "What information do I need?" Sun created an installation worksheet to help you gather information about your system; it is posted on Sun's website, at Here are some questions that you'll want to have answers to before installing:

  • What is your computer's name (hostname)?

  • What time zone are you in, and will you need to install additional languages?

  • Which software group do you want to install?

  • Are you on a network? If so:

    • What is your domain name?

    • What is your IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway (router), or are you using DHCP?

    • What is the name and address of your name server, if you have one?

    • Are there any additional network configuration requirements, such as a Kerberos server or Proxy server? If so, you will need their configuration information.

  • Do you want Solaris to wipe out your hard disks and reconfigure them automatically, or do you want to save existing data?

Using Sun's worksheet or answering these questions before installing might seem like a lot of work, but planning ahead and having your configuration information readily available can save you time and future headaches. Configuration worksheets are especially helpful when you have many computers to install. Consider worksheets critical if you are the one planning the network configuration and someone else is doing the actual installation.

You can use the worksheet on Sun's website (or make your own) for either installing or upgrading. As listed, the worksheet is designed for an initial installation. If you are upgrading, there are only a few minor differences. As an example, instead of asking whether you want to allocate disk space, it will ask whether you want to reallocate disk space. Also, upgrades will preserve data automatically, without prompting you.

Perform Optional Tasks

Depending on the type of installation that you want to perform, you might want to complete one or both of the optional tasks covered in this section.

Preconfigure System Information

You can preconfigure system information if you are installing fresh or upgrading. One of the annoyances of installing an operating system is responding to the prompts asking for system configuration information. JumpStart, Web Start Flash, and suninstall enable you to circumvent these prompts through preconfiguration.

There are two ways to preconfigure system information. The first is to use a sysidcfg file on a remote system or floppy disk, and the second is to use an available Network Information Service (NIS) or NIS+ database.

Of the two choices, the sysidcfg file allows for more preconfiguration options. However, information in sysidcfg is machine specific. So, if you want to use sysidcfg to configure the IP address and host name, you will need a unique sysidcfg file for each machine. For parameters that all machines will share, such as time zone, domain name, and name server, sysidcfg can save you a lot of time.

For detailed information on how to create a sysidcfg file, please use the Solaris 9 Installation Guide from Sun Microsystems, available at

The only item that neither sysidcfg nor NIS/NIS+ can preconfigure is power management. If you wish to preconfigure power management, you have to use a custom JumpStart installation and create a finish script to create an /autoshutdown or /noautoshutdown file on the computer. The /autoshutdown file enables power management, whereas /noautoshutdown disables it.

Prepare to Install from the Network

If you are going to be installing your computers over the network instead of from a local CD-ROM or DVD drive, you need to prepare your local area network servers for the installation. You can install from a remote server that either has the installation media copied to its local hard disk or has its CD-ROM or DVD drive mounted and available for remote use.

Installing over the network is a three-step process:

  1. Create an installation server. Use the setup_install_server command to copy the Solaris 9 Software 1 of 2 CD to the server's hard disk, and the add_to_install_server command to copy the Solaris 9 Software 2 of 2 CD to the server's hard disk. If you want to add the Solaris Web Start user interface software to the installation image, you can use the modify_install_server command.

  2. Create a boot server if needed. You need a boot server only if you are installing computers that are not on the same subnet as your installation server and you are not running DHCP.

  3. Add systems to be installed from the network. From the server, use the add_install_ client command for each system you want to install from the network. Each client computer will need to be able to find the install server, boot server (if necessary), sysidcfg file or name server for preconfiguration information (if necessary), and JumpStart profile if you are using a custom JumpStart installation.

Performing the Initial Installation

After you've taken care of your planning activities, it's time to begin the actual installation. You will need to perform an initial installation if your hard disk does not have an operating system on it, or if it has an operating system other than Solaris 2.6, 7, or 8. You can still choose to do an initial installation even if you do have an upgradeable operating system. The specific steps required to install Solaris 9 on your computer will depend upon which installation method you choose.


Because they are included in objectives from Exam II, Web Start Flash and JumpStart will be covered in Chapter 16.


Of the installation options, suninstall is the most rudimentary. It runs only through a command-line interface and comes on the Solaris 9 Software 1 of 2 CD, not the Solaris 9 DVD. This program also does not allow you to install any additional software, just the Solaris operating environment. To use suninstall, you will need both Solaris 9 Software CDs, as well as the Solaris 9 Languages CD if you are supporting additional languages besides English.

Here are the steps to install Solaris 9 by using suninstall:

  1. Choose to install from the CD-ROM drive or from the network.

    • If you choose the CD-ROM drive, insert the Solaris 9 Software 1 of 2 CD.

    • If you are installing from the network, change to the directory where the installation media is located to make sure the files are available.

  2. Boot the system by using one of the following methods.

    • If the system is new out of the box, turn it on.

    • To boot from the CD-ROM, type boot cdrom at the ok prompt.

    • To boot from the network, type boot net at the ok prompt.

  3. Provide answers to the system configuration questions. It's best to use your installation worksheet that you completed earlier. If you have complete preconfigured system information, you will not be prompted for answers.

  4. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Solaris 9. When the installation is completed, suninstall will prompt you to reboot or will reboot automatically after a brief delay.

  5. Examine your installation logs for any errors. The installation logs will be located in the/var/sadm/system/logs and /var/sadm/install/logs directories.

  6. Install any additional software as needed.

The list of steps to use suninstall might seem a bit simplistic. Realize, though, that the installation program is designed to walk you through the whole process. If you have your installation worksheet, you will find the installation process very straightforward. The hardest part is usually the planning.

Web Start

Solaris Web Start can be used to install Solaris 9 from a local or remote CD-ROM, DVD drive, or over the network. Like suninstall, Web Start can use a command-line interface, but Web Start also features a user-friendly graphical interface for installing Solaris.


Web Start can be used to install Solaris 9 from a CD-ROM or DVD drive that is not attached to the local machine. For information on how to do this, please see the Solaris 9 Installation Guide, Appendix B, "Installing or Upgrading Remotely."

Most people prefer Web Start to suninstall simply because of the graphical interface. Also, Web Start will enable you to install additional software (suninstall does not) and Web Start can be run from a DVD. Here are the steps to install Solaris 9 by using Web Start:

  1. Choose to install from the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive or from a network image.

    • If you are installing from the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, insert the Solaris 9 Installation CD or Solaris 9 DVD.

    • If you are installing from a net installation image, change to the directory where the installation media is located to verify that the files are available.

  2. Boot the system by using one of the following methods.

    • If the system is new out of the box, turn it on.

    • To boot from the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM, type boot cdrom at the ok prompt.

    • To boot from the network, type boot net at the ok prompt.


    If you wish to run Web Start in CLI mode instead of GUI mode, use the boot cdrom nowin or boot net nowin commands to boot without the windows interface.

  3. Answer the system configuration questions. Use your installation worksheet that you completed earlier. If you have preconfigured system information, you will not be prompted for answers. After you answer the system configuration questions, the Solaris Web Start Kiosk and Welcome to Solaris dialog box appears if you are using the GUI.

  4. On the Installer Questions screen, decide whether you want to reboot the system automatically and whether you want to eject the disc after installation. Click Next.

  5. On the Specify Media screen, choose the media type that you will be installing from. Click Next.

  6. Choose an initial installation or upgrade installation.

  7. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.

  8. Check your installation logs for any errors. The installation logs will be located in the /var/ sadm/system/logs and /var/sadm/install/logs directories.

Like the suninstall process, Web Start is easy to use and doesn't require a great deal of thought. Most of your time during a Web Start installation will be spent watching the blue progress bar creep along your screen as software packages are installed.

Upgrading from Previous Versions

If you want to upgrade from your current installation of Solaris 2.6, 7, or 8, you can use the same tools you used to perform an initial installation. In fact, the steps listed in the "Performing the Initial Installation" section will work. Just be sure to choose an upgrade installation instead of an initial installation when prompted.


To see which version of Solaris you are running, type uname -a or uname -r at a command prompt.

One of the useful features available for upgrading Solaris is the disk space reallocation feature (also called auto-layout) provided with suninstall, Web Start, and custom JumpStart. If during the upgrade the installation program determines that the existing file systems do not have enough space for the upgrade, the auto-layout feature will attempt to alleviate the situation by reallocating disk space. It's important to know that the auto-layout feature can't actually grow existing file systems. It works by backing up the existing data, deleting the file system, re-creating a larger file system, and restoring the data. If auto-layout cannot reallocate space the way it wants to because of insufficient available disk space, you will have to manually reallocate enough space for the upgrade. The suninstall program enables you to manually reallocate disk space, but Web Start Flash archive extraction does not.

When performing an upgrade as opposed to an initial installation, there are some additional pre- and post-upgrade tasks you need to complete.

Pre-Upgrade Tasks

There are a series of pre-upgrade tasks that you will need to perform before you begin your upgrade. However, the actual upgrade process should be as simple as installing a fresh copy.

One of the first things to be aware of before you attempt an upgrade is that you cannot upgrade your system to a software group that is not installed on your system. In other words, if your current Solaris 8 installation has the End User Software Group installed, you cannot upgrade to the Entire Software Group. If you now want the Entire Software Group, you will need to perform an initial installation.

If you already have Solaris 9 installed on your computer and you want to upgrade to a Solaris 9 Update release, you need to be aware of changes to installed patches. If the patch is part of the Solaris 9 Update release, it will be reapplied to your system. However, if the patch is not part of the Update release, it will be removed from your system. Using Sun's Patch Analyzer (which appears automatically in Solaris Web Start and suninstall) can help determine which patches will be affected by the upgrade.

The most important thing you can do before beginning an upgrade is to back up your existing system. In fact, it's so important that I'm going to mention it here in the text as well as in a warning. Obviously, if you don't care about the data on the system, then backups can be ignored. However, many people who care about their data forget about this crucial task. If you don't have your data backed up and something goes wrong during the upgrade, you might lose all your original data. It's a mistake you'll only make once.


Always back up critical data before beginning an upgrade!

The last thing to check before beginning an upgrade is to see whether there are any existing problems on the computer. Check for potential problems or release notes regarding upgrade conflicts. Also, if your current machine is having particular problems, you will want to fix them before upgrading.

Post-Upgrade Tasks

When you perform an upgrade, both the suninstall and Web Start programs attempt to merge existing local software settings with the new Solaris software. Most of the time, no problems arise. However, if there are problems, they could be serious enough to make your system not boot. After you upgrade, follow these three steps to ensure proper operation:

  1. Review the /a/var/sadm/system/data/upgrade_cleanup file to determine whether you need to correct any local settings that the installation program could not preserve.


    You must review the /a/var/sadm/system/data/upgrade_cleanup file before you perform your initial reboot, or it will be erased.

  2. Correct any local modifications that were not preserved.

  3. Reboot your system by typing reboot at a command prompt.