OpenSolaris on Mac Book Pro (No cigar yet...)

This is just a reflection at my first attempts at trying to make a dual boot Mac Book Pro with OpenSolaris Nevada Build 60. I got close but no cigar. The biggest problem I ran into I think was the warning sentence which is the last sentence for OpenSolaris bug id 6413235 which states:

"Please be advised that using this workaround, if there are any GPT headers on the disk, they will be cleared."

So I am guessing this is what is hosing my EFI boot partition, I will create a new entry when I do get it this working but just wanted to share what I have tried doing so far.

1) Install MacOSX on MBP
2) Run MacOSX update
3) Download and Install Bootcamp

4) Configured Bootcamp
a) partitioned disk (50/50 MacOSX & MS Windows)
b) skip creating drivers CD
c) chose not to install windows and chose to reboot system

5) After reboot, I tested to make sure that MacOSX runs normal

6) Then I reboot and boot NV60 DVD
a) I chose console install so I can get to command line option
b) From command line I run Solaris format command to do an interactive fdisk
c) While in interactive fdisk I Delete FAT32 Partition and Create Solaris Partition

7) Then I reboot again to make sure I can still run MacOSX. It runs normal and still identifies disk0s2 as MS Data Partition (everything looks good)

8) I now boot NV60 DVD again
a) Go to console option
b) Perform work around for OpenSolaris BugID 6413235
c) Exit console which restarts my NV60 console mode installation
d) Proceed with normal NV60 install with no problems

9) System reboots and EFI/MBR information must get wiped as system does not know what to boot
Again when everthing has been installed (MacOSX, updates, bootcamp,NV60) and after NV60 does its reboot all booting information in EFI/MBR partition is lost as I get a big "?" that shows up on the screen instead of my expect choice to boot Mac OS X or Windows.

I can boot NV60 DVD and enter console and see that partitioning information looks good in Solaris. I run Solaris format command to get interactive fdisk and it tells me something like:

Partition1 is unknown 200mb (bootcamp/EFI/MBR)
Partition2 is unknown 54G (Mac OS X)
Partition3 is Solaris 55G

I then run partition command with print option and it is says something like:
S1 is /
S2 is SWAP
S3 is /nv
S4 is /tx
S5 is /zfs
S6 is /zfs2
S7 is /export

When I boot MacOSX DVD I can see partitions but the are all marked as untitled and unknown. So partitions are there but I cannot boot into NV60 or MacOSX, so my only option is to reinstall Mac OS X from scratch and start over.

I know I can run Parallels or VMware Fusion and I have run both and my experience with both were not optimal as both functioned somewhat but performance and stability were issues for me.


Why would you want to replace MacOSX with Solaris? What would be the point?

Posted by Anonymous on March 31, 2007 at 06:36 AM CDT #

Have you read the blog of Paul?

Posted by Yong Sun on April 03, 2007 at 05:28 PM CDT #

You might want to use Solaris instead or in addition to Mac OS X since 99% of the system has code available (As OpenSolaris), while Mac OS X is limited to open-source and XNU, with WindowServer and Cocoa being proprietary. Solaris for developers also offers Dtrace (General-purpose profiling), ZFS (Snapshoting projects for instance), Zones (For simulating code and setups), and X11 (Which some people would rather run native than to use in a rootless like OSX) The thing is, with Leopard, ZFS will be there, so will Dtrace, and VMware is there too in addition to Parallels, while Solaris still had no commercial virtualization solution for non-Linux/Solaris operating systems. Mac OS X, abeit immature compared to Linux and Solaris will offer everything you'd need to develop, evaluation, and produce a product. Solaris at the moment is best on servers, and is best for developers who shell out Java code and Solaris-specific applications.

Posted by James Cornell on May 31, 2007 at 04:38 PM CDT #

On reason for using Opensolaris is its capability of allocating large memory pages to processes, which makes certain data-intensive computations run much more efficiently due to the lower number of TLB misses. See for example

and google for "optimize TLB misses"

Posted by Ivo on February 06, 2008 at 03:11 AM CST #

Other reasons that might pertain to developers and users on OpenSolaris -

ZFS is not experimental and has all features
Java 6 is supported and is not a preview
Memory allocator is more efficient, and faster
SMP support theoretically is better
ABI for kernel and user code is more stable and has a longer track record
SMF is better then launchd (Exception handling, concurrency, extensibility)
xVM (Xen) is fun to use and play around with
VirtualBox is now available and has networking (OSX still doesn't have TUN/TAP support under VirtualBox GUI)
Possibly more light weight depending on usage
Sun Studio (IDE, Compilers) may be beneficial to some developers versus XCode (For performance reasons)

Reasons not to:
OpenSolaris after 27 builds still hasn't fixed the EFI bugs in the installer
GRUB still installs into the MBR (It should be optional as others have said)
Dual boot is still painful due to the workaround
Sharing files between both systems using anything but FAT32 is painful (EXT2/3, NTFS and HFS+ support is still unstable and painfully slow)
Commercial support is lacking (Specific industry line of applications may be important to some)
Hardware support is lacking (If you need bluetooth you're still SOL and OpenSolaris still has yet to bundle the correct Yukon and Atheros drivers needed to support rev2/3 MacBook Pro's)

I'll be installing it again on my MacBook Pro today, since I just got it back from repairs less than a week ago. The above issues I can work around using NFS for file sharing and just dealing with the harsh reality of what happens to my partitions. I don't need bluetooth, and I don't need many commercial applications, if I do I have my Ultra 20 M2.

- James

Posted by James Cornell on April 29, 2008 at 01:33 AM CDT #

The reason it fails it that OSX now uses the GPT format to store partition information. GPT uses the MBR + other sector after that.
When you use fdisk (in Solaris) to manipulate the partitions this screws up the GPT data. Thus all your partitions are screwed.
Note: you don't have to reinstall everything but you know instead have to recreate the partition table manually.
I've done it. I've used 'testdisk' utility to scan the disk and recover the start/end sectors for each partition.
Then I've used the 'gdisk' utility to manually recreate each partition. Now OSX boots file. So far the only thing I've lost is the ability to select the Windows book when the MacBook starts up. I'll figure that out.

Hope it helps.

Posted by frankie on December 06, 2009 at 06:24 AM CST #

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Wences is interested in data center technologies including Web 2.0, Cloud Computing, Eco Computing, Solaris 10, OpenSolaris, Information Security and Server Virtualization.


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