Installing OpenSolaris 2008.05 as a guest in VirtualBox

To settle an argument and hopefully win a pint, I've documented the process for installing OpenSolaris 2008.05 into a VirtualBox vm on a Mac. For reference, the host is Mac OS X (10.5.3) with 2G RAM. 

So first off, here is my Guest Configuration:

Virtual Machine Configuration 

Note that I didn't skimp on guest Base Memory RAM (1 Gig) or Video RAM (32Meg). The Base Memory is 1 Gig because OpenSolaris is not the lightest of platforms (although it will work in 512Meg), and the Video RAM is 32 Meg because the Seamless Windows feature needs it to pull of the trick of allowing guest top-level windows to float alongside host app windows.

I've also chosen the Intel Pro Gigabit NIC and I've mounted the OpenSolaris-2008-05_gzip.iso as a CD which we'll boot off when we turn the machine on.

So here's what happens when your Start you Virtual Machine.

1. OpenSolaris boots of the LiveCD and takes you to:

LiveCD booted 

You can read the OpenSolaris license or just close that window. 

2. You then click on the Install OpenSolaris icon on the Desktop:

OpenSolaris installer 

Click Next to move on to the... 

3. Disk Parameters


I just accepted the suggested layout and clicked Next...

4. Timezone settings: 

 then Next again to reach...

4. Locale settings: 

 and Next again to reach...

5. User information: 

 and Next to reach the

6. Summary page where you check what you've entered.

 After clicking on Install here...

7. The Installer copies everything over:

 until it is Finished:

 8. Reboot

 Before you reboot, unmount the CD then click reboot to shutdown and boot off the fresh new virtual Hard Drive you've setup:


 and watch it come up.....



9. You can now Login to a freshly installed OpenSolaris machine. 

(Use the username you setup in step 5. )

11. You're in and good to go:


Voilà, OpenSolaris on a Mac!


But for optimal performance and user experience don't forget to install the VirtualBox Guest Additions into the vm. Here's how:

(a) In the VirtualBoxVM menu choose Devices...Install Guest Additions and you'll see the iso file mounted. 

(b) As an administrative user (root) run

  pkgadd -d /media/VBOXADDITIONS_1.6.2_31466/VBoxSolarisAdditions.pkg 


(c) choose all ...


(d) and after it completes, logout (to restart the X11 session) and login again.  

Now you really are all set to go.





Great info, it worked for me just fine.

Two suggestions:
1) use "su" command first to switch to super user / root mode
2) change the "_1.6.2_31466" additions version number detail to your specific installation. For me it was "_1.6.4_33808".


Posted by Ron Fredericks on August 31, 2008 at 12:43 AM BST #

Thanks for this. I won't have figured it out otherwise!

Posted by Mike on October 09, 2008 at 01:15 PM BST #

Thanks! Very cool.

Posted by Sean on October 17, 2008 at 01:37 PM BST #

Don't forget to mention Sun is so disconnected they don't even supply the 82801AA AC'97 Audio Driver with the operating system iso which is the primary default(ICH AC97)listed in the virtualbox graphical user interface audio section drop down. AKA Audio Controller. Fine bunch of logicians. I found this from the nexenta installer. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted by Dale DeWitt on November 23, 2008 at 02:25 PM GMT #

So that the same issue still exist in 2008.11 that the AC97 Audio driver not supported.

Posted by Albert on December 31, 2008 at 06:43 AM GMT #


I have followed all the instructions above and rebooted the virtualbox.

I have noticed that I can move my cursor from host to my virtual box without any capture messages. I am not sure if this relates to copying files from virtual box to host OS as well? Please advice.


Posted by sam on January 23, 2009 at 07:50 AM GMT #

@Sam - That's 1 of the things that installing the vbox additons does: it allows transparent interaction w/the virtual machine and the host OS (try playing with the copy/paste & mapping your host OS drives(or shares) into your virtual box! that's when the fun starts).

Oh, and the ability to automatically resize the virtual OS desktop to the Host window size is very nice, too! :)

Posted by Chad on February 06, 2009 at 08:09 AM GMT #

I'm running OpenSolaris right now in virtualbox and NOTHING I have seen about screen resolution works at all. I'm stuck with 1024x768 no matter who's advice I take. I am booting it from an iso image and it is not installed on my hard drive. I am tired of this... Can't install guest additions even when pointing to them. xVM command line commands do not work. This is pretty lousy.

Posted by 1769 on February 28, 2009 at 10:42 AM GMT #

Can someone please explain how I either log in as root/superuser/admin?

I can't get my head around it :\\

Posted by jawnthego on March 14, 2009 at 10:57 AM GMT #


Posted by Federico on March 14, 2009 at 11:41 AM GMT #

Navigate the filesystem with the file browser and when you have enough image burn in brain then use cd (change directory) as su to effectively change files using gedit xxxxx/xxxxxx/xxxxxx/file.extetc
Use man in front of a command if you don't know how to write to make it do.

Posted by Dale DeWitt on March 14, 2009 at 11:53 AM GMT #

Is there any specific reason why you chose the Intel Pro/1000 network adapter? I'm asking because, from time to time, we have packet loss on an OpenSolaris guest using the PCNet Fast III adapter, running on an Ubuntu x64 host with VirtualBox 2.0.4.

Would an upgrade to VirtualBox 2.1.0 help out here? I noticed that the Host Interface networking layer has been updated when running on Linux hosts.

Posted by Ringo De Smet on April 01, 2009 at 08:12 AM BST #


Is there a way to increase resolution to more than 1024x768? I needed a higher resolution for the virtualbox to occupy my full screen (1280x1024). Please advice.


Posted by sam on April 02, 2009 at 10:02 PM BST #

Make sure you install the Guest Additions.
When running the guest look to the Devices...Install Guest Additions menu


Posted by Fat Bloke on April 03, 2009 at 03:18 AM BST #

To change resolution:
Right Ctrl + F for full screen
Right Ctrl + G for autoadaptation to the window
Of course, extensions need to be installed !

On a Mac, Right Ctrl is left "Apple key", as mentionned in the bottom right of your WM window


Posted by openfred on August 07, 2009 at 04:53 AM BST #

The root/superuser account in OpenSolaris is a role. This means that one does not 'login' as root, rather one uses the pfexec(1) command to execute commands within the root profile (pf).

When installing OpenSolaris you will be asked for a user to create, this user will automatically be added to the users allowed to assume the root role.

For this reason there is less need to run 'su' and furthermore, users can belong to certain roles, root being one of them - on a per command basis - giving users some superuser rights without ever giving them a root password. This is useful for giving users access to commands that require root priviledges but that are not neccessarily destructive - such as snoop(1M).

To execute commands as root, run:

$ pfexec <command name> <arguments>

to add users to roles see roleadd(1M) and user_attr(4).

Posted by Jonathan Cowper-Andrewes on August 13, 2009 at 06:22 PM BST #

how to download OpenSolaris 2008.05

Posted by smsma on August 25, 2009 at 07:54 AM BST #

Hi, is there an alternative to login as direct root in open solaris? as i changed my account as root by editing the password file. now i am unable to login.

Posted by Syam on March 25, 2011 at 12:26 AM GMT #

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