Thursday Jul 31, 2014

Configuring automatically multiple NICs at installation time with Solaris 11.2

Solaris 11.2 comes with several new and major features such as the Unified Archives, Open Stack integration and kernel zones to name a few. Alongside those major features many smaller but none the less useful enhancements are also introduced. One particular enhancement that has made my life easier is the possibility to automatically configure multiple NICs (network interface cards) at installation time.

After installing Solaris 11, on bare metal or in a Zone, the system needs to be configured at first boot. By default this process is manual: a system configuration wizard walks the user through different steps in order to gather such system parameters as the host name, IP address, net mask, time zone, root passwords and so on. Of course there exists a mechanism to make this process hands-off and fully part of the installation process. In order to do so a system configuration profile XML file needs to be provided at installation time, containing all the information needed to configure automatically the system. However so far, Solaris 11 only allowed the automatic configuration of a single NIC. On systems with several NICs, it was still necessary to configure all the remaining network interfaces, either manually, or by setting up a first boot script mechanism to perform this extra task.

In Solaris 11.2 this extra step becomes history: it is now possible to specify multiple NICs in the system configuration profile XML file in order get all NICs configured automatically during installation time. So how does it work? The best way demonstrating this would be to go through an example by installing a Solaris 11 Zone with two NICs and configuring them automatically. The first step is to create a simple Solaris 11 Zone with two NICs following Listing 1.

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