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Ops Center 12c - Update - Provisioning Solaris on x86 Using a Card-Based NIC

Scott Dickson
Enterprise Systems Architect

Last week, I posted a blog describing how to use Ops Center to provision Solaris over the network via a NIC on a card rather than the built-in NIC.  Really, that was all about how to install Solaris on a SPARC system.  This week, we'll look at how to do the same thing for an x86-based server.

Really, the overall process is exactly the same, at least for Solaris 11, with only minor updates. We will focus on Solaris 11 for this blog.  Once I verify that the same approach works for Solaris 10, I will provide another update.

Booting Solaris 11 on x86

Just as before, in order to configure the server for network boot across a card-based NIC, it is necessary to declare the asset to associate the additional MACs with the server.  You likely will need to access the server console via the ILOM to figure out the MAC and to get a good idea of the network instance number. 

The simplest way to find both of these is to start a network boot using the desired NIC and see where it appears in the list of network interfaces and what MAC is used when it tries to boot.  Go to the ILOM for the server.  Reset the server and start the console.  When the BIOS loads, select the boot menu, usually with Ctrl-P.  This will give you a menu of devices to boot from, including all of the NICs.  Select the NIC you want to boot from.  Its position in the list is a good indication of what network number Solaris will give the device.

In this case, we want to boot from the 5th interface (GB_4, net4).  Pick it and start the boot processes.  When it starts to boot, you will see the MAC address for the interface

Once you have the network instance and the MAC, go through the same process of declaring the asset as in the SPARC case.  This associates the additional network interface with the server..

Creating an OS Provisioning Plan

The simplest way to do the boot via an alternate interface on an x86 system is to do a manual boot.  Update the OS provisioning profile as in the SPARC case to reflect the fact that we are booting from a different interface.  Update, in this case, the network boot device to be GB_4/net4, or the device corresponding to your network instance number.  Configure the profile to support manual network boot by checking the box for manual boot in the OS Provisioning profile.

Booting the System

Once you have created a profile and plan to support booting from the additional NIC, we are ready to install the server. Again, from the ILOM, reset the system and start the console.  When the BIOS loads, select boot from the Boot Menu as above.  Select the network interface from the list as before and start the boot process.  When the grub bootloader loads, the default boot image is the Solaris Text Installer.  On the grub menu, select Automated Installer and Ops Center takes over from there.


The key lesson from all of this is that Ops Center is a valuable tool for provisioning servers whether they are connected via built-in network interfaces or via high-speed NICs on cards.  This is great news for modern datacenters using converged network infrastructures.  The process works for both SPARC and x86 Solaris installations.  And it's easy and repeatable.

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