By Glynn Foster on Jul 31, 2012
For years administrators have been maintaining complex frameworks for automated installation of Oracle Solaris using Jumpstart. It wasn't that the technology was particularly bad, but it was written a very long time ago, long before new technologies such as Oracle Solaris ZFS, Zones or SMF existed. Administrators prided themselves on the vast scripting capability it provided and the 1000's of lines of Korn shell scripts that were used for pre and post installation work to configure and tweak under the hood across all facets of the operating system and installed software. Various extensions like the Jumpstart Enterprise Toolkit (JET) were written to provide more functionality for the common tasks that administrators were often having to do in the data center.
There's no doubt that Jumpstart was a powerful tool and did the job that was asked of it. However, with the new features that were introduced first in Oracle Solaris 10, and now Oracle Solaris 11, it was about time for a replacement. And so the Automated Installer was born.
The Automated Installer is part of the new software deployment architecture introduced in Oracle Solaris 11. While it provides much of the same functionality included in Jumpstart, one of the key benefits was its tight integration into some of the other technologies in the operating system - it's ability to create, configure and install Oracle Solaris Zones; it's integration with the ZFS file system to install onto a root ZFS pool; and install software with automatic dependency checking from remote network based package repositories for a more consistent and repeatable provisioning system.
My colleague, Isaac Rozenfeld, has written an excellent how to guide for your first steps with the Automated Installer - How to Set up Automated Installation Services in Oracle Solaris 11. Check it out and enjoy!