Day 16 of 60: Reinstall

I've just had to carry out a complete reinstall of the OS, which was uncommonly tedious.

If you recall, I'd mentioned wanting to upgrade to Solaris 11b40 a few days ago, to get some of the latest and greatest DTrace functionality.

Having downloaded and burned the CD ISO images I was ready to go. So I backed up critical files (home directories, bits of /etc, and so on) and booted from the CD.

I was a bit concerned that there was no immediate "Upgrade" option presented on any of the menus I was presented with, and the documentation didn't distinguish between upgrade and fresh installations either.

By the time it got to the disk partitioning step I was getting a little nervous, and decided that it would be best if I stopped what I was doing and went away and read some more.

At this point there were no indications that anything untoward had been written to disk. I certainly wasn't expecting anything to change. Poking through the user interface there was a distinct lack of "Quit" options.

So I Big Red Switched (actually, Little Grey Pushbuttoned) the box.

This turned out to be a Big Red Mistake.

On next boot the kernel paniced. So I booted in to Failsafe mode, which worked with no problems. So back, to normal mode, and kernel panic again.

I went back and forth with this for a while, seeing if I can find any information about the panic backtrace (which appeared to relate to setting up the console), but no dice.

While I was doing this I hunted through some of the Solaris Express documentation.

Turns out that the reason the documentation doesn't talk about upgrades is because Sun considers it an "advanced" installation. Which is why I didn't find it previously.

And the installer, instead of displaying a "greyed out" upgrade option (which would at least prompt you to find out why it is greyed out) just doesn't display it at all.

Reading through, it looks like this snippet is why there was no upgrade option.

When you are upgrading the Solaris OS, you cannot upgrade a system that has non-global zones installed.

At least, I think that's why. There are other reasons why upgrading might not be an option, but, as I say, the installer doesn't tell you why it's hidden the option.

So, I bit the bullet and went for a fresh install. I've now got Solaris 11 b40 running. Since I'm planning on putting FreeBSD and Windows on this box for comparison purposes I've carved out 80GB of disk space for each.

Installation went fairly smoothly. The most disconcerting thing was the installer has a habit of throwing up dialog boxes, and then dismissing them if you don't respond after some period of time.

I can see why it does that, but the implementation's a little off. I'd like to see either a flag that says "Don't stop, run in unattended mode", or "Always stop and wait for interaction". There were a couple of times during the upgrade where I was busy on another system, and didn't notice an informational dialog come up, until I noticed the flicker as it disappeared. You're then left with a nagging sense of unease in case some important piece of information's just passed you by.

A couple of first impressions of the new build.

The boot process is a little chattier. Nothing too remarkable, but the SMF system rattles through a count of the services it's iterating over.

There's no /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. I had to grovel through /var/log/Xorg.0.log to extract the default config file that Xorg was using, copy to that xorg.conf, and edit it by hand again to get my UK keyboard to work, as the GNOME configuration widgets still don't do the right thing.

DHCP hostname generation is still broken. The DHCP client expects to get a hostname from the DHCP server. This is reasonable. But if it can't then it falls back to "unknown". I'd prefer it if it tried to get DHCP information at install time, and prompts the installer for a hostname if the DHCP server doesn't offer one.

Which reminds me -- using DHCP, why is the installer still prompted for DNS information if the DHCP server offers it up? At the very least those fields should be pre-populated with the information that the DHCP server provides.

Anyway -- I'm off to restore some files from the backup, and rebuild the zones I created. More Sendmail work this afternoon, with a bit of luck.

1 comment:

  1. [...] I’ve (finally) got Sendmail built, zones configured, DTrace working for functions declared static, and a mechanism for creating test SMTP sessions. [...]