Enterprise Software

Configure IT Quick: Install Solaris 9 on an Intel platform

This step-by-step tutorial walks you through the somewhat complicated installation of Solaris on x86 hardware.

If you want to run UNIX on your Intel workstations, but you're concerned about using open source software such as Linux, then Solaris 9 is the way to go. Solaris can bring the power of UNIX to the Intel platform just as it does Sun's own Sparc workstations. However, before you can use it, you've got to install it properly. Here's what you'll do.

Author's note
This Daily Feature focuses on installing Solaris 9 on x86. The basic routines you'll perform during the installation are the same whether you're installing on a Sparc workstation or an x86 workstation. For the purposes of this Daily Feature, I'll be installing Solaris on a Dell Precision Workstation 410—a Pentium III 500 MHz system with 512 MB of main memory, CD-ROM, and two IDE hard disks. In addition, the installation will be using the 4/03 release of Solaris 9 for x86. I'll be doing a fresh installation and not an upgrade, and I'll assume that no data exists on the drives that must be preserved. This Daily Feature assumes a reasonable familiarity with UNIX and some basic system administration abilities, such as understanding swap space and file systems.

Getting started
To begin the installation, place the Solaris Installation CD into the CD drive and reboot the system. This will cause the Solaris Installation CD to boot automatically when the system restarts. If the Installation CD doesn't boot, you may need to change the BIOS setting of the system to allow it to first boot from the CD drive.

Once the system boots, the first screen you'll see is the Solaris Device Configuration Assistant screen. This screen explains how the installation program will try to analyze all of the hardware attached to your system to decide what needs to be installed. It also explains how to use the keyboard keys and tells you that the mouse will not work during the nonwindowed part of the installation. You'll see three options on this screen:
  • A full scan to identify all system hardware
  • A specific scan to attempt to diagnose problems
  • An option to add a driver for a new piece of hardware

Because this is a new installation, press [F2] to continue with a full scan. The installation program will then scan the system. You'll see a progress indicator showing the status of the scan. Once the scan is completed, the Identified Devices screen will appear. This screen shows all devices the scan identified. You can choose to continue with that list or choose [F4]—Device Tasks—to change the configuration. The scan will probably do an accurate identification of all typical hardware, so long as you checked the Hardware Compatibility List as suggested during the preparations outlined in "Preparing to install Solaris 9 on an Intel server."

If something is missing or misidentified on the list, you can press [F4] to change the list. Do not make changes to the list unless you are positive of the change. If you make a change that winds up being incorrect, the installation program will install the wrong options for your system and probably hang either during the install or when you boot the operating system.

Once the device list is correct, press [F2] to continue. At this point, the appropriate drivers for your system will be loaded into memory to allow the installation to continue. This may take some time, depending on the amount of hardware and the speed of your system.

The next screen is the Boot Solaris screen, which displays a list of places to find the Solaris boot images. You should see a list of your hard disks, your removable devices, and any network you're connected to. You need to choose the location of the boot image for the installation. In this example, the boot image for installation is on the Installation CD. To boot from the CD, place an X next to the CD entry by scrolling to it and pressing [Enter]. Then press [F2] to continue.

A screen titled Running Driver will then appear, followed by a gray screen showing the Solaris boot occurring. There's no need for input during this process. Provided all the devices you chose earlier are correct, the boot will continue automatically. Several messages pertaining to hardware and the tasks the installer is going through appear as the workstation boots. You'll notice a spinning indicator that runs in the corner of the screen; it moves down by one line with each displayed item.

Finally, a list of 10 languages will be displayed. The language chosen here is only for the installation program, not the Solaris system. For this example, chose option 1—English. You'll eventually see a message about Starting Solaris WebStart Installation. This is the GUI tool you'll use for the rest of the installation.

Going graphical
Once the installer loads, the Solaris Installation Program screen is displayed. This screen explains that the installation is performed in sections, and after each section, you'll be able to edit your choices, commit them, and then continue to the next section. Press [F2] to begin the installation.

The first section of the installation is about the Windowing system. The Windowing system is installed first so you can use the GUI interface to complete the installation. The first screen you'll see is the Kdmconfig Introduction screen. You can choose to review the configuration of your monitor, video adapter, and mouse, or accept the list that is shown on the Identified Device screen. I've already reviewed the hardware, but I'd still recommend choosing [F2] for Review And Edit in order to test the configuration. Once you enter the Review And Edit screen, you can choose [F2] to Test And Exit. This will run a test mode for the Windowing system.

You should see a screen with an X cursor. You can move the mouse on this screen to make sure the mouse works. You'll then see a white screen with large colored buttons on it. At the bottom of the screen is a message asking if the screen is okay, with large Yes and No buttons. If the screen is displayed properly, and you can move the mouse and click on colors, choose Yes.

Note: If the test begins and does not show the color display mentioned above after a few minutes, you'll need to reboot manually and start over. Be sure to make better Display/Mouse choices the second time.

If the test screen does not display properly or the mouse does not work, you can return to the Review And Edit screen. The list of devices and characteristics determined by the system scan will be displayed. The Windowing system requires information on the Video Driver/Card, the attached Display, and the mouse in order to function properly. If the system scan has not made appropriate choices for your system, make the necessary changes by placing an X in the appropriate box and pressing [F2]. For example, if you place an X in Change Video Device/Monitor and press [F2], you'll be presented with a list of possible video devices. Choose the one you want by placing an X next to it and choosing [F2] to continue. If you are unsure about any of the video characteristics, it's best to choose a known configuration, such as VGA compatible and 1024x768 screen resolution. You can change these characteristics after the installation.

Once you're happy with all the choices and have returned to the Review And Edit screen, choose No Changes Needed—Test/Save And Exit. A test screen will be displayed. Once the test is completed satisfactorily, a Solaris splash screen will be displayed as the Windowing system is loaded.

Disk layouts
Next, I’ll look at the beginning of the disk layout process. Since you're performing a clean install, there will be no Solaris Fdisk partition present. This screen will look a lot like the opening screen of a DOS or Windows Fdisk window. It will be all text inside the Windowing environment. The window will be titled Console.

Solaris needs to have both an x86 boot partition and a Solaris partition in order to install. The x86 boot partition is approximately 11 MB, and the Solaris partition needs to be at least large enough for the Solaris binaries part of the installation. You'll be able to add another Solaris partition later in the installation for other file systems.

You'll be presented with the following options:
  • Use The Default lLout
  • Run Fdisk To Manually Edit The Disk
  • Exit

I'm assuming the system is clean and can be used for a Solaris installation only, in which case you’ll choose option 1. Once you choose option 1, a warning will be issued:
Is this OK [y,n,?]

After choosing yes, you'll need to choose a swap space size. The default of 512 MB is shown. You can change this by entering the number of megabytes you want to reserve for swap space. The installation program will ask if the swap slice should begin at the beginning of the disk. Choose yes, as this will allow you to build the most flexible disk layout.

The installation program will display information including the disk slice about your swap space. You may want to record that information. The same warning message will be displayed:
Is this OK [y,n,?]

Choose yes. At this point, the installation program will copy all parts of the operating system it needs to complete the install. During the copy, you'll see the message: Copying mini-root to local disk. This will take several minutes, depending on the speed of your CD and your system.

Once this is done, the system will reboot and the installation will continue from the hard disk slice you designated as swap. After the installation, the information in the swap space will be removed to free the swap space. You'll be prompted to remove the installation media and continue with the reboot. Since the installation program is running from the CD, wait until the reset happens before removing the CD.

When the system restarts, a boot manager screen will appear, asking which partition you want to boot from. Simply wait a few seconds, and the system will boot itself. You should see both an x86 boot partition and a Solaris partition now.

You'll see most of the same messages as you did during the CD boot. The screen will change to a blue background and the Windowing system will take over. The Welcome screen will be displayed. It contains information necessary to configure Solaris. Once you've read the screen, click Next to continue.

Configuring the network
You'll then see the Network Connectivity window. Here you'll begin setting the network options for the system. You can choose between Networked or Non-networked. For this example, choose Networked. Click Next to continue.

The DHCP window will appear, giving you the choice of using DHCP or not. For this example, choose the No radio button and click Next. In the following window, Host Name, you'll see instructions for naming the machine, including what characters are legal for the name. In this example, the host name will be Webber. Enter the host name in the text box and click Next.

The IP Address Window appears next, giving instructions on how to enter an IP address. Enter your IP address, in this example, and click Next. The Net Mask window explains how to enter the netmask and what the default netmask is for the installation. The default is, and this is correct for this example. Click Next.

At this point, you'll see the IPv6 window. IPv6 is the new version of the Internet Protocol. It will have no effect if you aren't on a network that supports IPv6, but it offers extended capabilities if the network supports it. Choose Yes and then click Next.

The next window is Set The Default Route, which explains what a router is and what the purpose of a default route is. The choices on the window are Detect One, Specify One, and None. I recommend Specify One, as not all routers advertise themselves. Choose the Specify One radio button and then click Next.

Since you chose Specify One on the Set The Default Route window, the next Set The Default Route Window asks for the IP address of the default router. In this example, the IP address is Enter the IP address in the text box and click Next.

You'll then see the Kerberos window. If your network supports Kerberos security, you should choose Yes. If you're not sure, choose No. In the case of this example, there is no Kerberos Security on the network, so choose the No radio button and click Next.

The Name Service window allows you to choose the proper type of name service to look up locally unknown hosts on your network. The choices are: NIS+, NIS, DNS, LDAP, and None. Each requires certain information to operate properly, which will be requested on the next screen. Choose the appropriate type for your network. For this example, choose the DNS radio button and click Next.

In the following window, Domain Name, you'll enter the appropriate domain name for your network. This is usually the same as all the other systems on your network. For this example, enter the domain name bobo.net and click Next.

Since you chose DNS as your name service, the next window is DNS Server Address, which asks for the DNS server IP address. You can enter up to three DNS servers that your network knows routes to. In this example, the DNS server is Enter the name server IP address in the first text box and click Next.

The DNS Search List window explains that this information is used to search for unknown hosts by name. Enter any domains you always want to search when looking for an unknown machine. In this example, enter bobo.net in the first text box and click Next.

You'll then see the Time Zone window, which affects how the clock is maintained on the system. You can choose:
  • Geographic Continent/Country/Region
  • Offset From GMT
  • Time Zone File

For this example, choose Geographic Continent/Country/Region. It's the Solaris default and is usually quite accurate. Offset From GMT will ask for a number of hours or fractions of hours from GMT, either plus or minus. Time Zone File will ask for a file that contains the time zone information. After you choose Geographic Continent/Country/Region, click Next.

The Continent And Country window will then be displayed. Click on the arrow next to the continent on which you live. For this example, click on Americas. A list of countries will be displayed. Click on the arrow next to the appropriate country. For this example, choose United States and, in the list of regions that appears, choose Mountain Time. Click Next.

You'll then see the Date And Time window. The installation program takes the time from the system hardware clock, so it will probably be close to correct. Adjust the time as necessary and click Next.

The Root Password window will ask you to enter and confirm the root password. The password can be any alphanumeric string. Enter the password and confirm the password in the text boxes, then click Next.

The next window is the Proxy Server Configuration window. If a proxy server is used on your network, enter the host and port in the text boxes. For this example, choose the Direct Connection To The Internet radio button and click Next.

Finally, you'll see the Confirmation Information window. This is the first of the sections where you can review your information and choose to go back to correct errors or continue with the installation. Read through the information to be sure it's correct. If you've made any mistakes, choose the Back button to navigate to the window where you want to make a change, then navigate back again using Next. Once you're sure the information is correct, click the Confirm button.

The system is then configured with your information. Files are written, such as /etc/hosts, /etc/defaultrouter, /etc/nsswitch.conf, and /etc/passwd, from the information you provided. If the installation program detects any settings that are incompatible or unusable, it will notify you and request that you make a change.

Entering Web mode
Once the configuration is completed, a Solaris Splash Screen will appear, followed by the Installer continuing in Web mode. The Kiosk, as Sun calls the controlling application, will run in the background and a Welcome window will be displayed. Click Next to continue the installation.

Now, the Installer Options window will appear. It gives you the opportunity to control how the system behaves once the installation is completed. If you have specific tasks you want to perform right after the installation, such as adding host files or password files to the system, you can set either or both of the prompts to No. For this example, choose both Yes radio buttons and click Next.

You'll then see the Specify Media window. In this window, choose where you'll install your Solaris software. For this example, choose the CD/DVD radio button and click Next. The Insert Disc window will appear. Had you chosen a media other than CD/DVD, other windows would have been displayed as appropriate to the media. Insert the Solaris Software 4.03 1 of 2 CD and click OK. The Initializing window will be displayed with a progress bar.

The next window is Select Type Of Install. You can choose Default Install to allow the software to install as usual, or Custom Install if you want to change locations and disk layouts. Choose the Custom Install radio button since you're building your own file systems, and click Next to continue.

The Select Software Localizations window allows you to choose more than one local language to install based on the needs of your user community. Click on the North America arrow, check the box for English (United States) (en_US), and then click Next.

After that, the Select System Locale window will appear. This window lets you choose the default locale. For this example, choose the radio button for English (United States, ISO8859-1) (en_US.ISO8859-1) and click Next.

You'll then see the Select Products window. This window lets you choose other products to install from the installation CDs. If you click on the arrows, you'll see an expanded list that allows subselections. The choices include documentation for all languages and two Sun freeware products. In this example, you won't select any other products. Click Next to continue.

The Additional Products window allows a search for other products to install from CD/DVD, Kiosk Download, or Local or Network File System. If you have other products to install, choose the appropriate location. Choose the None radio button and click Next.

The Select Solaris Software Group appears next. This window allows you to choose which Solaris Software to install. Choose Entire Group Plus OEM. Each software package has a pair of radio buttons for Default Packages or Custom Packages, and a listing of the size of the packages. Since you want to customize your file systems for the example, choose the Custom Packages next to the Entire Group Plus OEM, and click Next.

The Disk Selection screen allows you to choose which physical disks on your system should be used for the installation. Since you want to use both disks in this example, click on c0d1 in the Available Disks list and click the Add button. Then click Next.

The Select Disks For Fdisk Partition Customization window lists the disks chosen in the last window with a check box to indicate that you want to customize the disk. For this example, choose both check boxes and click Next.

The Customize Fdisk Partition—Disk c0d0 window will then appear. This window allows you to create partitions in which file systems will be stored. By default, when you choose the two partitions back in the first Fdisk window, the entire disk is used. Since no changes are necessary to this disk, click Next to continue.

The next window is Customize Fdisk Partition—Disk c0d1. This disk needs to have a Solaris Partition added so you can build file systems on the disk. Choose any of the partitions and label it as a Solaris partition. For this example, make the size 20480 MB. Click Next to continue.

The Preserve Data window will then appear. If the partitions have data on them, you'll be notified and asked if you'd like to preserve them. Since this install is assuming there's nothing on the disks, choose the No radio button and click Next.

You'll then see the Gathering Disk Space Requirements window. Solaris will check the disk allocations and your choices of software to install, and will continue if you have allocated enough space. Otherwise, it will ask you to modify your choices.

Once enough disk space has been allocated, you'll see the Lay Out File Systems window. This window will have a proposed file system layout for the default installation. In this example, you'll need to modify the map. Click the disk you want to modify (in this case, c0d0) and click the Modify button to continue. The Disk c0d0 window will show seven possible disk slices to use. The first and second are the swap slice and the root slice. Leave those two as shown, but make the following changes:
  • Remove the entry in number 7.
  • Change number 3 to read
    /usr/local 512 MB
  • Change number 4 to read
    /tmp 1024 MB
  • Change number 5 to read
    /local1 4096 MB

Click OK, and you'll be returned to the Lay Out File Systems window.

Choose the second disk (for this example, c0d1), and click the Modify button to continue. The Disk c0d1 window will open, with the same slice options as the prior disk. Edit the window to have the following:
  • Remove the entry in number 7.
  • Change number 0 to read
    /var 512 MB
  • Change number 1 to read
    /users 12288 MB

Click OK to continue. Check the entries on the Lay Out File Systems window to be sure they are correct, then click Next.

The Ready To Install window shows all the choices made for the installation. Read the list and be sure all the choices are correct. Use the Back button to make any changes and navigate back to the Ready To Install window. Once everything is correct, click the Install Now button to continue.

The Installing… window will appear with a progress bar. The steps being performed will be displayed as the progress bar moves. This step will take some time to complete. Once the installation is complete, a window will be displayed for 90 seconds with a Continue and a Pause button. Click the Pause button so you can read the Installation Summary window underneath. Once you've read the window, click Next.

A Specify Media window will appear that gives two choices of where to find the Solaris 9 Software 4/03 2 of 2 CD. Choose the radio button for CD/DVD and click Next. You also have the option to skip the install of the second CD by clicking the Skip button. The CD drive will open and the Insert Disc window will appear. Insert the CD and click OK. A Reading CD/DVD window will be displayed while the CD is read, followed by a Launching Installer window while the installer is restarted. The software will be extracted from the CD and a Ready To Install window will show what is to be installed. If you need to make corrections, choose Back. Otherwise, click Install Now to continue.

Another Installing… window will open with a progress bar as this software is copied and installed. Once Installation Part 2 completes, another chance to pause the installation will be shown. Click the Pause button so the Installation Summary window is displayed. Choose the Exit button to finish the installation.

The Launching Installer window will be shown, followed by the Additional Products Installation window. Since there are no additional products to be installed, the Pausing window will be displayed immediately. Click the Pause button to see the Installation Summary window.

Once that is completed, you can either let the system reboot automatically or choose the Pause button again and reboot manually. As the system reboots, you'll see the same boot message as you did during the installation, only this boot will be from the installation you just created.

You may see an error related to the mailer daemon, sendmail, since that was not configured in the installation; it will try to start itself on boot. Ignore the message, and it will time out and the system will boot. If everything installed properly, you should see a Welcome screen and be able to log in as root. Congratulations! You've installed a Solaris 9 x86 system.

Post-install wrap-up
The example shown above gives you an idea of how to handle a basic Solaris installation on x86. The installation preparation and the actual steps are the same for a Solaris install on Sparc.

Many important details that you should consider in a real production system setup were not covered here. Each system administrator has his or her own ideas of how to install a system after doing it a few times. Solaris offers features such as Flash, which allows the administrator to clone systems, as well as preconfiguration options, which allow many of the questions in the windows to be answered from a file, decreasing the amount of time necessary to install the system.

At this point, you have a fully functional Solaris system that is ready to act as a Web server, e-mail server, print server, and home server for a network.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox