Solaris 10 x86 Confession

Team,

I tend to participate in aliases and share problems I have run into. Tonight I have to confess that I croaked my Windows 2000 partition when I attempted to dual boot my laptop last Saturday. First let me reassure you that I know this can be done and I completed the process Thursday night. However, I will confess my failure in order to save you heartache and grief.

I am excited about trying out the new features of Solaris 10 x86 like DTrace and Containers. Download your copy of Solaris 10 x86 here. I first cleaned up my harddrive by deleting outdated files and taking out the trash. Then I defragmented my drive using the Windows 2000 Disk Defragmenter. This is important for resizing the Windows partition. Then I did follow RULE #1 and made a backup of my important files. I used the backup facility of the Nero tool (burning CDs, not Rome, get it.) I made 2 mistakes here. Mistake #1 was I did not follow RULE #2...Verify your backup and so several files would not restore later because of media problems. Mistake #2 was that I backed up my data starting at the level of 'My Documents,' not at the level of my User ID (one level up) which would have included my Application Data folder, that is my bookmarks file and my Outlook PST file. Now I have 'recent' backups of those files, but I lost 2 weeks of data when I thought I had fresh backups of these files.

My problem was not understanding some features of the tools I attempted to use. I picked the tool Partion Commander to resize the 40GB harddrive into a 25GB partition for Windows 2000 and a 14+GB partition for Solaris 10 x86. Unfortunately for me, Partition Commander installed a utility, checkmbr (Check Master Boot Record) which automatically attempts to reinstall a base Master Boot Record. When you install another OS like Linux or Solaris x86, the new OS must update the master boot record and offer you the choice of which OS partition to boot. The repartion worked and the Solaris x86 install worked fine. I rebooted Solaris x86 several times and was fine. The problem occurred when I rebooted the Windows 2000 partition and the automatic utility checkmbr found the Solaris boot partition chooser in the master boot record. It attempted to restore it to its original state and then neither partition would boot.

I believe you can and should do this. There are issues in doing this that are challenging but documents like this one can help you. I happened to have a Toshiba Tecra 9100 laptop which needs some BIOS updates:

Disable USB Legacy FDD support

Disable USB Legacy support for keyboard and mouse if a separate setting

Disable Parallel port

On Thursday night, I got out my Knoppix CD, which everyone should have in their CD case as a rescue CD. It has a utility, qtparted which I used to partition my hardrive. Other versions of Linux also have this utility. I then rebooted Windows 2000 and let checkdisk run to get used to the new partition size. Then I took my stack of 4 Solaris 10 x86 CDs and ran the install. Sucess! I am ironing out a few display issues but looking forward to writing my first DTrace program tomorrow.

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