Friday Dec 18, 2009

Big 2009 Finish for OpenSolaris Installation

As the end of 2009 approaches, there are a bunch of recent developments in the OpenSolaris installation software that I want to highlight.  All of the below will appear in OpenSolaris development build 130, due in the next few days.

First up is the addition of iSCSI support to Automated Installation (or AI).  You can now specify an iSCSI target for installation in the AI manifest.  It'll work on both SPARC and x86, provided you have firmware that can support iSCSI boot; on SPARC you'll need a very recent OBP patch to enable this support.  Official docs are in the works, but the design document should have enough info to piece it together if you're interested.

Next is the bootable AI image, which allows use of AI in a number of additional scenarios.  Probably the most generally interesting one is that you can now install OpenSolaris on SPARC without setting up an AI server first, by using the default AI manifest that's included on the ISO image.  One caveat is that the default manifest installs from the release repository; due to ZFS version changes between 2009.06 and present, this results in an installation that won't boot.  You'll want to make a copy of the default manifest and change the main url for the ai_pkg_repo_default_authority element to point to http://pkg.opensolaris.org/dev and put it at a URL that you can supply to the AI client once it boots.  Alok's mail and blog entry have more details.

Building on bootable AI, we've extended the Distribution Constructor (or DC) with a project known as Virtual Machine Constructor (VMC).  Succinctly, it extends DC to construct a pre-built virtual machine image that can be imported into hypervisors that support OVF 1.0, such as VirtualBox or VMware.  Glenn's mail notes a few limitations that will be addressed in the next few builds.  Anyone interested in building virtualization-heavy infrastructures should find this quite useful.

Finally, one more barrier to adding OpenSolaris on x86 to a system that's multi-booted with other OS's has fallen with the addition of extended partition support to both the live CD GUI installer and Automated Installation.  You can now install OpenSolaris into a logical partition carved from the extended partition.  Jean's mail has some brief notes on how to use this new feature.  I should also note at this point that a couple of builds ago the parted command and GParted GUI were added to the live CD, so the more complex preparations sometimes needed to free up space for OpenSolaris can now be done directly from the CD.

I'd like to thank my team for all the hard work that went into all of the above; they accomplished all of it with precious little help from me, as I spent most of the past three months either traveling around talking to literally hundreds of customers or working on architecture and design tasks.  Speaking of those, the review of the installer architecture is open, and I've also just this week posted the first draft design for AI service management improvements.

What's next?  Well, that will be the topic of my next post in early January.  It's time for a vacation!

About

I'm the architect for Solaris installation, with a lot of background in networking and system management. I also play a lot of golf.

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