Adventures in OpenSolaris - Getting to SATA

Note: This entry is part of series which starts here

I am continuing to experiment with OpenSolaris on an old computer that I have. I decided I wanted to put more disks in the server and begin to research what cards where available. The Hardware Compatibility List lists 2 different PCI based SATA cards that are known to work. Both of the cards have the Silicon Image 3112A chipset in them.

I headed over to my local computer store, MicroCenter, and they had a SIIG 4 channel SATA card with the Silicon Image chipset on it. Knowing it would be a 50/50 chance that it would work I went ahead and picked it up.

I installed the card and hooked up a SATA drive I had available. On boot the card showed up in the boot screens and it detected the drive. Good sign. Once OpenSolaris was up and running, though no luck. Looks like the 50/50 bet had played against me. OpenSolaris did not recognize the card.

I started googling around and found a lot of hits. Some said the cards did not work. Some said that if you ran the update_drv command it would work. I tried running the command but still no luck. Next I hit upon a couple of Windows users who where having issues with the card. Some of the responses hinted at using different firmware on the card. This hint got me to this OpenSolaris bug ID. Seems as if the card ships in a raid configuration which does not work with OpenSolaris. You can go to the original manufacture and get a different bios for the SATA card that presents the disks as JBOD instead of RAID and it will work.

The download page for the chipset can be found here. The next challenge is how to update the bios on the card? There is a DOS based or a Windows based utility in the downloads directly. Obviously since I am running OpenSolaris, the Windows utility was not going to be of much use to me. The computer does have a floppy disk, so DOS boot it was!

This led to probably the most amusing or ironic step of this whole process. I found myself building a DOS boot disk using a USB floppy drive attached to my Mac, passed through to a Windows Virtual Machine.

There are 3 versions of the bios available. One passes the disks through as plain disk, one builds the raid, and one is to be used the chipset built into motherboards. Make sure pick the correct one!

With my SATA card bios flashed to the new version, I rebooted. This time OpenSolaris can see the sata disks.

My adventure continues with building my ZFS file share.

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