Playing with Solaris

Posted by Mikael on 2007-08-22 13:39, section: Computers

A few days ago I installed Solaris 10 on one of my computers so that I could give it a try and perhaps learn a few things. So far my experiences have been quite interesting...


The first order of business after installing Solaris was to set up the boot manager so that I could boot both Solaris and Windows XP without having to do a lot of trickery in the BIOS boot order settings. This turned out to be more troublesome than I at first thought. The main problem I encountered was that the 'installgrub' program that comes with Solaris and it's specially patched GRUB build didn't want to install itself on the MBR of any disks that didn't have any Solaris partitions. Since I was planning on installing GRUB on the "real" primary master's MBR (this would be the drive that contains the NTFS partition with Windows XP on it) I would have to devise some sort of workaround.

I had already switched the boot order of the primary and secondary masters around so I could reach GRUB on the secondary master (now primary) and boot Solaris. But with this configuration Windows XP refused to boot as it generally disapproves of booting from the secondary master, it wants to be on an active partition on the primary master or it just won't boot.

The first thing I tried was to figure out a way to trick installgrub into installing GRUB on the real primary master but I gave up on this after a couple of hours as it yielded no result. Instead I decided to attempt to lure Windows XP into thinking that it was being booted from the primary master, that way I could keep GRUB on the MBR of the secondary master and still boot both operating systems.

After about an hour of googling and reading some of Sun's own documentation I came up with the following entry in my /boot/grub/menu.lst:

title Windows
        map (hd0) (hd1)
        map (hd1) (hd0)
        rootnoverify (hd1,0)
        chainloader +1

By remapping the primary and secondary masters (again..) and making the partition active I was luckily able to boot Solaris and Windows XP without entering the BIOS settings every time I needed to change operating systems.

The rest

After accomplishing my first goal I decided to start learning about Solaris itself rather than the GRUB boot manager. The first thing I decided to do was to explore the Solaris Management Console and add another user with administrative privileges in the management console. This turned out to be quite easily accomplished by simply adding my user and creating a new role that had full access to everything in the smc.

When I felt I had poked around smc long enough it was time for me to start customizing the system a bit more, I knew I didn't want to be running Xorg on the machine as I prefer sitting in front of my mac and using SSH tunneling to display any GUI applications. Xorg would have to go! Another nosedive into the documentation on revealed that 'svcs' was the proper way to turn off "services" in Solaris these days and a couple of quick commands later I had disabled Xorg and a few other unneeded services.

This is about as far as I've gotten, I'm still reading through "System Administration Guide: Basic Administration" and "System Administration Guide: Advanced Administration", but for now I haven't made any other major changes but hopefully there's more to come, I suspect I'll need to install the GNU toolchain sooner or later...

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