Bootable AI ISO is way cool

Alok Aggarwal posted, just before Christmas, a blog mentioning that the ISO images for the Auto Installer in OpenSolaris are now bootable.  Not just for x86 but also for SPARC.

This is huge!  While it does not provide a LiveCD desktop environment for SPARC, it does give us a way to easily install OpenSolaris on  SPARC gear.  Previously, it was necessary to set up an AI install server (running on an x86 platform since that was the only thing you could install natively) and use WAN Boot to install OpenSolaris on the SPARC boxes.  Well, that was a tough hurdle for some of us to get over.

Now, you can burn the AI ISO to a CD and boot it directly.  The default manifest on the disk will install a default system from the pkg.opensolaris.org  release repository.   Or, better yet, build a simple AI manifest that changes the release repository to the dev repo and put it somewhere you can fetch via http.  When you boot up, you will be prompted for the URL of the manifest.  AI will fetch it and use it to install the system.

{2} ok boot cdrom - install prompt
Resetting ...

Sun Fire 480R, No Keyboard
Copyright 1998-2003 Sun Microsystems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
OpenBoot 4.10.8, 16384 MB memory installed, Serial #57154911.
Ethernet address 0:3:ba:68:1d:5f, Host ID: 83681d5f.

Rebooting with command: boot cdrom - install prompt
Boot device: /pci@8,700000/ide@6/cdrom@0,0:f  File and args: - install prompt
SunOS Release 5.11 Version snv_130 64-bit
Copyright 1983-2009 Sun Microsystems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Use is subject to license terms.
Hostname: opensolaris
Remounting root read/write
Probing for device nodes ...
Preparing automated install image for use
Done mounting automated install image
Configuring devices.
Enter the URL for the AI manifest [HTTP, default]: http://<my web server>/bootable.xml

See!  This is really easy and gives new life to really old gear.  In this case, the manifest is super simple, too.  I just grabbed the default manifest from an AI image and changed the repository and package to install.

$ pfexec lofiadm -a `pwd`/osol-dev-130-ai-x86.iso
/dev/lofi/1
$ pfexec mount -o ro -F hsfs /dev/lofi/1 /mnt
$ cp /mnt/auto_install/default.xml /etc/apache2/2.2/htdocs/bootable.xml

Edit this file and change

<main url="http://pkg.opensolaris.org/release" publisher="opensolaris.org"/>

to

<main url="http://pkg.opensolaris.org/dev" publisher="opensolaris.org"/>

Or as a speedup, add the mirror to pkg.opensolaris.org :

<main url="http://pkg.opensolaris.org/dev" publisher="opensolaris.org"/>
<mirror url="http://pkg-na-2.opensolaris.org/dev"/>

And change

<pkg name="entire"/>

to

<pkg name="entire@0.5.11-0.130"/>

You can add a mirror site for the repo in this manifest.  Or you can list other packages that you want to be installed as the system is installed.  The docs for the AutoInstaller talk about how to create and modify a manifest.

Some caveats that I found:  First, NWAM and DHCP might take longer than you think.  If you quickly try to type in the URL for the manifest, you may find that you have no network yet and become concerned.  I spent the better part of a day on this.  Then, I let it sit for a couple of minutes before trying the manifest URL and life was good.  My DHCP server is particularly slow on my network.

Second, not using the mirror, on a slow system took a really long time to install.  Have not diagnosed it to network download time or processing time.  I think some of both since things like the installation phase of babel_install took nearly an hour on one system.

Third, there must be a lower bound on what sort of system will work.  T2000 works just fine.  SF480R has worked fine.  My SF280R is busted - as soon as it's fixed, I'll try it.  Not so great on E220 and E420 systems.  They appear to work, but at the very end it says it failed.  The only failure message I can see this time is due to the installer finding a former non-global zone environment on the disk. But so far, my experience on UltraSPARC-II systems is that once the installation completes, it hangs on the first reboot or fails to boot at all.  I am not surprised that systems that are no longer supported are not supported by AI.  I think I saw in Alok's notes that OBP 4.17 was the minimum supported.  That means my USII boxes are right out, and  I think even the SF280.  I hate doing firmware updates, so I have not updated the SF480.

Fourth, when I tried to install on a system that previously had the root disk mirrored with SVM, zpool create for the root pool failed.  I had to delete the metadbs and the metadevices before I could proceed.

But, I am very impressed!  Bootable AI media is way cool.  Keep your eyes and ears open, though, for more developments in the AutoInstaller in the coming months.


Comments:

Hi
This is greate news!!
I have waiting for this in long time.

taf

Posted by Torbjorn Fallsen on January 16, 2010 at 06:10 AM EST #

I tested the bootable AI media before it was released. I know that SF280R will work and I did have the latest OBP on the system. The OBP level is 4.16.4.

Due to bug 9698, bootable AI will fail in ict.py on older systems like E220, E420, Ultra 2, Ultra 5, Ultra 10, E250, E450 ...etc. If they are hooked up with monitor and type 4 keyboard, ict.py will fail. If they are on tipline, it will not work either. I did play around with ICT.py to bypass the self identifying keyboard and the Ultra 80 was able to boot after install osol_130.

To find out whether bootable AI will work on your system with ict.py, you can run the command:

# kbd -s

If it returns error or say that it only works with USB/PS2 keyboard, then you know it will not work with bootable AI and install will fail when you get to ict.py.

The SVM mirror is also a known limitation and we do not want to destroy SVM mirror data.

Other than that, bootable AI works fine.

Posted by Mary Ding on January 23, 2010 at 02:08 PM EST #

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