Jumpstart from OSX

Dec 09, 2008

I recently built a new file server on which I planned to install Solaris 10 10/08. I’m not a fan of CD/DVD installs, so wanted to jumpstart via PXE, though I only had OSX handy.

Here’s how I installed my new machine (gromit.adsl.perkin.org.uk/ from my iMac ( over the local network.

Note that since writing this piece I’ve updated to Solaris 10 10/09, and have changed the examples to use that instead.

Step 1, Prepare File System

First off, create a dedicated file system which we can export our jumpstart configuration from. You can probably skip this and just use any existing file system but this way everything is self-contained and we avoid NFS exporting more than we need.

We use HFSX to ensure that the file system is case sensitive, HFS+ can cause problems with pkgadd(1M).

$ hdiutil create -size 1g -type SPARSE -fs HFSX -volname "install" install
$ hdiutil attach install.sparseimage -mountpoint /install

Next up, download and mount sol-10-u8-ga-x86-dvd.iso.

$ open sol-10-u8-ga-x86-dvd.iso

Step 2, NFS

Share /install and the DVD via NFS with the correct options. -alldirs allows clients to mount from any point within that file system (which jumpstart requires), and -maproot=root is also required by jumpstart. As this allows root-owned files to be created, make sure you understand the security risks.

$ sudo vi /etc/exports
/install                  -alldirs -maproot=root
/Volumes/SOL_10_1009_X86  -alldirs -maproot=root
$ sudo nfsd checkexports && sudo nfsd enable

Step 3, DHCP

For DHCP I happen to already use my Cisco router as a DHCP server on the local network, so added the following configuration:

ip dhcp pool gromit.adsl.perkin.org.uk
   hardware-address xxxx.xxxx.xxxx
   bootfile /boot/grub/pxegrub
   client-name gromit
   domain-name adsl.perkin.org.uk
   dns-server xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx

however, given this is a guide for setting everything up under OSX I also tried using ISC DHCP on OSX to prove it can be done that way too.

I used pkgsrc to install it (I’ll add another blog some time showing how to set up pkgsrc)

$ cd /usr/pkgsrc/net/isc-dhcpd
$ sudo bmake package

And here is my DHCP configuration file in full:

option domain-name "adsl.perkin.org.uk";
option domain-name-servers xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx;
ddns-update-style none;
log-facility local7;

subnet netmask {
    option routers;

group {
    filename "/boot/grub/pxegrub";

    host gromit {
        hardware ethernet xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx;
        option host-name "gromit.adsl.perkin.org.uk";

Finally, start DHCP with:

$ sudo /usr/pkg/sbin/dhcpd

Most parts of these configurations should be self-explanatory. The /boot/grub/pxegrub entry is important for our next step, and I’d recommend using that exact pathname for reasons explained later.

Step 4, TFTP

Now, enable the TFTP server which comes with OSX. I added the -s option so tftpd would chroot to the tftpboot directory, both for security reasons and also to ensure that paths specified as /path/to/file would work correctly (relative to /install/tftpboot).

I also changed the location of the tftpboot directory so that everything was self-contained within the UFS image. In previous attempts I didn’t do this and ran into problems with GRUB which I think are again caused by case-insensitive file systems.

$ sudo vi /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist
$ mkdir /install/tftpboot
$ sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/tftp.plist

You can then create a test file and check that it’s working as you expect, using:

$ echo "testing" >/install/tftpboot/testfile
$ printf "verbose\ntrace\nget testfile\n" | tftp localhost
$ rm /install/tftpboot/testfile

Step 5, GRUB

Next up, configure PXE booting using GRUB. We need to copy the GRUB images and configuration from the Solaris install DVD then modify it for our environment:

$ rsync -av /Volumes/SOL_10_1009_X86/boot/grub /install/tftpboot/boot/
$ rsync -av /Volumes/SOL_10_1009_X86/boot/multiboot /install/tftpboot/sol10u8x/
$ rsync -av /Volumes/SOL_10_1009_X86/boot/x86.miniroot /install/tftpboot/sol10u8x/

As we are copying the boot files from the DVD, they come hardcoded with particular pathnames to e.g. the menu.lst file. While it may be possible to pass extra parameters to pxegrub and load this from a different path, I simply recommend doing as I do and replicating the /boot/grub/ path structure so that everything Just Works.

The menu.lst file includes kernel arguments and allows you to choose which type of install to perform at startup. My file listed below has 3 choices:

  • Unattended install using a graphical environment (if available). The “install” keyword after the kernel instructs it to perform an unattended install, so long as it can find the necessary settings from sysidcfg etc.
  • As above, but force the use of the console and do not start a graphical environment (using the “nowin” keyword)
  • A manual install, so you need to go through the steps of layout out disks, selecting packages, etc.
$ vi /install/tftpboot/boot/grub/menu.lst

title Solaris PXE Unattended Install
    kernel /sol10u8x/multiboot kernel/unix - install -B \
    module /sol10u8x/x86.miniroot

title Solaris PXE Unattended Install (console)
    kernel /sol10u8x/multiboot kernel/unix - install nowin -B \
    module /sol10u8x/x86.miniroot

title Solaris PXE Manual Install
    kernel /sol10u8x/multiboot kernel/unix -B \
    module /sol10u8x/x86.miniroot

Anyone used to doing jumpstart but with RARP/bootparams will notice the symmetry between install_config etc in the GRUB configuration and similar options in /etc/bootparams. Make sure that the full kernel arguments are all on one line, and that there are no spaces in between the install_media=..,sysid_config=.. options.

Step 6, Jumpstart

Finally, set up your Jumpstart configuration. Here’s what I personally use, you may want something different:

$ mkdir /install/jumpstart
$ cd /install/jumpstart
$ vi sysidcfg

Ordinarily this file is processed using a check script available in the jumpstart_sample directory on the Solaris DVD, however this only works from a Solaris host. To create the rules.ok file, we need to strip out any comments and put entries on one line, then create the checksum (although this isn’t actually necessary).

$ vi rules # emacs sucks :)
hostname gromit.adsl.perkin.org.uk - profile -
$ cp rules rules.ok
$ echo "# version=2 checksum=$(cksum -o 2 rules | awk '{print $1}')" >> rules.ok

Machine profile. This gives me a full Solaris install (minus OEM stuff) on mirrored ZFS disks with additional dump/swap space (the defaults made dump a bit too small I found).

$ vi profile
install_type    initial_install
pool            store auto 4g 4g mirror c1t0d0s0 c1t1d0s0
bootenv         installbe bename sol10u8x
cluster         SUNWCall

Step 7, Make A Cup Of Tea

With everything set up you should be able to enable PXE booting in your BIOS and watch it automatically install. One small minor problem you may have if you don’t have a BIOS which allows you to hit F12 or similar and choose PXE booting for one boot only is that it will infinitely cycle through installing, rebooting, installing, rebooting.. until you change your boot options.

If this happens, I recommend making more cups of tea until you happen to return in time to change the BIOS settings. If you aren’t able to do this for a while, you may need to add the extra steps 8, 9 and 10 titled “Visit The Bathroom”.

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