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Solaris 9 branded zones

Solaris zones are great for handling all those dev and test environments that seem to breed like cockroaches. The problem recently has been that lots of these environments have been on old sun4u architecture machines (which were cheap), whereas they should be on shiny new sun4v architecture machines (which are great for this sort of work).

Enter branded zones. Unlike a normal zone, which installs from the global zone, a branded zone uses a flar (Solaris flash archive) to install a different Solaris OE. In this case I’m going to go through setting up a Solaris 9 sun4u branded zone on a Solaris 10 sun4v T2000.

First of all, we need to apply a quick kernel patch to Solaris 10. Currently I’ve got:

bash-3.00# cat /etc/release 
                       Solaris 10 8/07 s10s_u4wos_12b SPARC
           Copyright 2007 Sun Microsystems, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
                        Use is subject to license terms.
                            Assembled 16 August 2007

For branded zones for this OE, we need to apply kernel patch 127111-01 at a minimum. Once that’s in place, it’s over to Sun’s website to download the branded zones support files.

There are two different packages – one to support Solaris 8 branded zones, and one for Solaris 9. Head on over to http://www.sun.com/software/solaris/containers/ and download the one you need.

Once you uncompress the TAR file, there’ll be a README, which explains minimum patch levels, and which version of the branded zones package you need to install. For Solaris 9 on the 8/07 release of Solaris 10, I need to install version 1.0 of the Solaris 9 containers.

Installation is pretty simple:

bash-3.00# cd /var/tmp/s9containers-bundle/1.0/Product/
bash-3.00# pkgadd -d `pwd` SUNWs9brandr SUNWs9brandu SUNWs9brandk

pkgadd will go away and do it’s thing – answer ‘yes’ to all the questions, and in a couple of minutes the packages are in place. And that’s it – you’re done! Time to install those branded zones.

Zone configuration is pretty standard, except we need to tell Solaris we’re installing a specific branded zone:

bash-3.00# zonecfg -z test-zone
test-zone: No such zone configured
Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
zonecfg:test-zone> create -b
zonecfg:test-zone> set brand=solaris9
zonecfg:test-zone> set autoboot=false
zonecfg:test-zone> set zonepath=/export/zones/test-zone
zonecfg:test-zone> add net
zonecfg:test-zone:net> set physical=e1000g1
zonecfg:test-zone:net> set address=
zonecfg:test-zone:net> end
zonecfg:test-zone> verify
zonecfg:test-zone> info
zonename: test-zone
zonepath: /export/zones/test-zone
brand: solaris9
autoboot: false
ip-type: shared
 physical: e1000g1
zonecfg:test-zone> verify
zonecfg:test-zone> commit
zonecfg:test-zone> exit

Note that the only real difference during zone configuration is branding the zone. Normally we wouldn’t specify the brand, and it would default to ‘native’.

Once the zone is configured, we need to install it. As we’re installing a branded zone, we can’t take the Solaris files from the global zone, so we need to use a flar as our boot image.

The process is very straightforward – we just supply the path to the flar as an argument to our zone install command:

bash-3.00# zoneadm -z test-zone install -u -a /mnt/flars/sun4u_sol_9_Generic_118558-11.flar 
      Log File: /var/tmp/test-zone.install.4436.log
        Source: /mnt/flars/sun4u_sol_9_Generic_118558-11.flar
    Installing: This may take several minutes...
Postprocessing: This may take several minutes...

        Result: Installation completed successfully.
      Log File: /export/zones/test-zone/root/var/log/test-zone.install.4436.log

And we’re done. Now just boot the zone and carry out the initial configuration as per normal.

Finally, a quick check to show off our sun4v architecture machine running a Solaris 9 sun4u branded zone:

bash-3.00# uname -m
bash-3.00# cat /etc/release 
                       Solaris 10 8/07 s10s_u4wos_12b SPARC
           Copyright 2007 Sun Microsystems, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
                        Use is subject to license terms.
                            Assembled 16 August 2007
bash-3.00# zoneadm list -cv
  ID NAME             STATUS     PATH                           BRAND    IP    
   0 global           running    /                              native   shared
   5 test-zone        running    /export/zones/test-zone        solaris9 shared
bash-3.00# uname -a
SunOS sunt2k-test 5.10 Generic_127111-01 sun4v sparc SUNW,Sun-Fire-T200
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