Solaris 8 Installation Notes, revised


These are Robyn's modifications to the notes supplied by Mike Patterson at this page. Robyn's comments are in bold face interspersed.


The diskset used creating these notes was the Solaris 8 install media, dated 2/02. (I use the 2/04 set.) These notes should be general enough to apply to using both the text and graphical install methods; both ask exactly the same questions, just presented in a different manner.

Information you'll need beforehand (should be self-evident, but just in case): hostname, IP address, gateway, netmask, and DNS servers (if required). The Mac consoles emulate (mostly) vt100. To boot a Sun from CD, get an ok prompt by power-cycling then sending a break before the machine starts and type "boot cdrom". (How you send a break depends on your console connection, e.g. Mac or Cyclades terminal server.) Press Stop-A if you have a Sun keyboard/monitor. The following docs assume you install from the Software 1 CD. All bets are off if you use the Installation CD. That one gives you fewer options.

(Aside: Sun CD naming. The CD to boot from is called "Solaris 8 2/04 Hardware Software 1 of 2". What this means is that it is the Feb 2004 release of Solaris 8 to support whatever new hardware there was at that time, and it is the first software CD. If you boot from the "Installation" CD it assumes you have a Sun graphics console, so don't use it.)

If you are connecting to the system console through the Cyclades terminal server, you will probably have better luck by running the Sun xterm (/usr/openwin/bin/xterm) instead of xhiered xterm. Set your terminal type to xterm. (When I used our xterm and terminal type vt100 or xterm, field highlighting and selections were all off by one.)

In general, the installation tool leads you through several sections of steps. It begins each section with a description of what you'll do in that section, and ends each section with a summary of your choices in that section and a chance to change your mind, go back and redo your choices. You start by picking what language you want the tool to use, setting up your terminal type and thus your key sequence for navigating through the sections. After that, you identify the system (name and network stuff), choose your Solaris software, choose and partition the disks to install on, and then let it run. (If I were fastidious I would organize the following steps into corresponding sections to match what the installer does.)

System Identification and Configuration

Select a language

  • Pick 0. English for your installation interaction.

Select a Locale

  • Choose the 0. English C (7-bit, ASCII) locale for the default locale.
  • Terminal Type

    • Pick your terminal type,
      • vt100 if on a Mac console,
      • xterm if you used xterm via Cyclades console.
      • Open Windows will start on a Sun console

    Open Windows installation

    • "The Solaris Installation Program" window appears -> click "Continue"

    Identify This System

    • Networked: Yes
    • Use DHCP: No
    • Primary Network Interface: usually select the default (eri0 in my case)
    • Hostname:
      • You may use the "." character, so you can set the hostname to be foo.math or foo.cs.
    • IP address:
    • System part of a subnet: yes
    • Netmask: (usually)
    • IPv6: No
    • After a few seconds you are given a confirmation screen -> Continue
    • Kerberos: No
    • Name service: DNS
    • Domain Name:
    • DNS Server Addresses:
      • Server's IP address:
      • Server's IP address:
      • Server's IP address: (for CS machines)
    • DNS Search List:
      • Search domain: (or
      • Search domain:
        • Just use This is all just for bootstrapping anyway. Later when we xhier we'll use the resolv-config pkg and will replace /etc/resolv.conf accordingly.
    • Confirmation screen -> Continue (or change if necessary)
    1. Set the timezone and confirm the date and time. This latter doesn't have to be precise, as you will later be using ntp to set the system clock. (Right?)

    System Installation

    1. You almost always want to do an Initial, Standard install. (Initial means you're wiping the disk and starting fresh. Standard means you're using the CDs, not a Flash archive.)
    2. Set your geographic region. The choice depends on purpose of the machine. If it's a single-user workstation, then USA English will suffice. (Don't use Canadian -- the keyboard layout changes.) If it's a central server for a group that may include visitors from foreign countries, you may want to install more locales. Then again, this may be more the job of dedicated font service machines, not every workgroup server.
    3. And you generally want to install 64 bit support, if the machine is indeed 64 bit. Most, if not all, should be.
    4. You almost always want to do an "Entire Distribution 64 Bit" install type, unless your disk space is severely constrained.
    5. I disagree with previous point. To try to reducee excess software as a security and manageability concern, not a disk space concern, I suggest choosing the smaller "Developer" set, and then customizing it by adding System Accounting. (Other suggested customizations include adding freeware tools and shells with a thought to not needing the corresponding xhiered packages, but then again, other xhiered pkgs depends on those, so you can't avoid them. Oh well.) Here are a bunch of details.
    6. Now you begin the disk selection section. If the machine has more than one disk you'll be shown the list and you can choose which disk(s) will have the OS installed. Can't tell you exactly what to do in every case here, but typically we put the whole OS in a single paritition on one disk, and if there is another disk and both disks are large enough, we mirror them for safety.
    7. You will be asked if you want to preserve existing data (usually not).
    8. You will then have to lay out your filesystems. Autolayout works, but usually sets up extremely small swap partitions and doesn't take xhier into account, of course. So you always want to repartition.
    9. Very recent Solaris 8 install tool no longer allows you to put the swap slice at the "front" of the disk, even though Sun used to ship systems that way. It forces the root slice to be first. Oh well.
    10. You almost never want to mount remote filesystems; you will generally be installing patches and applications via xhier.
    11. You can choose either a manual or an automatic reboot at the end of the install. (I like manual just so I can see the tail end of the installation messages before they disappear in a reboot.)


    After the reboot, you will be asked for a root password, and then the second CD. It will then reboot again.

    You'll need the Languages CD next if you installed anything other than the default locale.

    At this point your basic OS installation is done.

    You will still need the second CD if you want to install DiskSuite. This application is located in Solaris_8/EA/products/DiskSuite_4.2.1 on that CD. The GUI and SNMP support are generally not required. If you want to set up striping, mirroring, or RAID 5, and the machine does not support these features in hardware, then you need DiskSuite. The GUI and SNMP support are generally not required. But which ones are those? Looks like you would need SUNWlvma, SUNWlvmr, SUNWlvmg, SUNWmdg (maybe that's the GUI), SUNWmdnr, SUNWmdnu, SUNWmdr, SUNWmdu, SUNWmdx. Probably doesn't hurt to install them all.

    Machines with Lights Out Management will probably require the LOM package be installed. 2/02 has this package on the "Supplemental Software for Solaris 8" CD, and it is located in Lights_Out_Management_2.0/Product. cd there, then
    pkgadd -d .
    and install everything. But that includes lots of languages - why bother? Looks like SUNWlomm SUNWlomr SUNWlomu are all we need. This does not require a reboot afterwards.

    Subsequently we want to remove certain stuff that causes problems. Unfortunately you can't deselect it back when you chose your installation profile because of dependencies, but you can remove it afterwards with pkgrm. Patrick recommends removal of Netscape, SNMP, and Java/JDK. Run pkginfo >/tmp/pkginfo and then grep -i for netscape, snmp, simple, java, jdk, and remove all the likely-looking packages you find. E.g.

       SUNWdtnsc, NSCPcom,
       SUNWjsnmp, SUNWsasn, SUNWsasnx, SUNWmibii
       SUNWjvdev, SUNWjvjit, SUNWjvrt, SUNWjvman, SUNWjvdem, SUNWjmfp, SUNWjcomx,
       SUNWjcom, SUNWj2pi
       SUNWj3dev, SUNWj3dmo, SUNWj3rt, SUNWj3man
       SUNWj2dev, SUNWj2dem, SUNWj2man, SUNWj2rt

    (I don't know, some of this makes me nervous. Looks like things such as smart card, management console, and other stuff will stop working when the java/jdk stuff they depend on is gone.)

    Mount the UW Solaris patch depot and install the Recommended patch suite. Do not leave the machine alive on the network after basic OS installation without applying these patches! The patch depot used to be on an NFS server called "uwfile" but IST moved it to a machine called "honey" which has the convenient alias of "sunpatches". Some notes on doing the patch installation are on this page.

    Read the printed Product Notes that came with the machine if this is a new machine. There may be other things you have to do. For example, the Sun V440 offers hardware mirroring of disks. Recommended. And the Product Notes reveal various things you need to do and know about to enable that.

    If you're using DiskSuite, e.g. to mirror the system disk if hardware mirroring is not available, this may be a good time to set it up. Or do it later if you're pressed for time.

    Before xhiering, you'll have to manually tweak /etc/default/login to allow remote root rsh/rlogin. After distributing the sunos5 package, you'll see that package complain about being unable to patch /etc/default/login, so undo your manual change and xh-install sunos5 again.

    Here are my rough notes on xhiering.

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    Topic revision: r2 - 2005-04-02 - LawrenceFolland
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