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Solaris Flash


Explain Flash, create and manipulate the Flash archive, and use it for installation.

The main feature of Solaris Flash is to provide a method to store a snapshot of the Solaris operating environment, complete with all installed patches and applications. This snapshot is referred to as the Flash archive and the system that the archive is taken from is referred to as the master machine. This archive can be stored on disk, CD-ROM, or tape media. You can use this archive for disaster recovery purposes or to replicate (clone) an environment on one or more other systems. When using a Flash archive to install the Solaris environment onto a system, the target system we are installing the environment on is referred to as the installation client.

When you're ready to install the Solaris environment using the Flash archive, you can access the archive on either local media or across the network. Furthermore, when installing from a Flash archive onto the installation client, the install can be modified from the original archive to accommodate things such as kernel architecture, device differences, or partitioning schemes between the master machine and the installation client.

In this section, we describe how to create the Flash archive and how to install the operating system on an installation client from a Flash archive.


Flash Install Enhancement A Flash installation can now be used to update a system, using a differential Flash Archive. Previously, a Flash Install could only be used to perform an initial installation. A new install_type of flash_update is available with Solaris 10.

Creating a Flash Archive

The first step is to identify the master machine. This system will serve as the template for the archive and all software and data on the master machine, unless specifically excluded, will become part of the Flash archive that will be installed on the installation client.

Next, make sure that the master machine is completely installed, patched, and has all of its applications installed. Depending on the application, you may want to create the archive before the application is configured however. This will allow you to configure the application specifically for each system it is running on. To ensure that the archive is clean, it's recommended that the archive be created before the master machine has ever gone into production and while the system is in a quiescent state.

Finally, determine where the archive will be stored. You can store the archive onto a disk, a CD-ROM, or a tape. Once the archive has been stored, you can even compress it so that it takes up less space. Because these archives can be used for disaster recovery, store the archive somewhere offsite.

You'll use the flarcreate command to create the archive. The syntax for the command is as follows:

flarcreate -n name [-R root] [-A system_image] [-H] [-I]  [-M]  [-S]  [-c] \
[-t  [-p posn] [-b blocksize]] [-i date] [-u section...] [-m  master] \
[-f   [filelist | -] [-F]] [-a author] [-e  descr | -E  descr_file] \
[-T  type] [-U key=value...] [-x exclude...] [-y  include...]\
[-z  filelist...] [-X filelist...] archive

The options to the flarcreate command are described in Table 14.24. In the previous command syntax, <archive> is the name of the archive file to be created. If you do not specify a path, flarcreate saves the archive file in the current directory.

Table 14.24. Command Line Options for flarcreate

The Following Option Is Required



-n <name>

The value of this flag is the name of the archive. This is a name stored internally in the archive and should not be confused with the filename used when storing the archive.

The Following General Options Are Available

-A <system_image>

Create a differential Flash Archive by comparing a new system image with the image specified by system_image.

-f <filelist>

Use the contents of filelist as a list of files to include in the archive.


Use ONLY files listed in filelist, making this an absolute list of files, instead of an addition to the normal file list.


Compresses the archive by using the compress command.


Do not generate a hash identifier.


Ignore the integrity check.


Only used for a differential archive, and is generally not recommended. This option bypasses the integrity check of a clone system.

-R <root>

Creates the archive from the file system tree that is rooted at root. If you do not specify this option, flarcreate creates an archive from a file system that is rooted at /.


Skips the disk space check and doesn't write archive size data to the archive.

-x <exclude>

Excludes the file or directory from the archive. If you specify a file system with -R root, the path to the directory to exclude is assumed to be relative to root.

-y <include>

Includes the file or directory in the archive. This option can be used in conjunction with the x option to include a specific file or directory within an excluded directory.

-X <filelist>

Uses the contents of filelist as a list of files or directories to exclude from the archive.

-z <filelist>

The filelist argument contains filenames, or directory names, prefixed with either a plus (+), to include in the archive, or minus (-) to exclude from the archive.

Options for Archive Identification

-i <date>

If you do not specify a date, flarcreate uses the current system time and date.

-m <master>

If you do not specify a master, flarcreate uses the system name that is reported by uname -n.

-e <descr>

Specifies a description.

-E <descr_file>

Specifies a description is contained in file descr_file.

-T <type>

Specifies the content type of the archive.

-a <author>

Allows you to specify the author of the archive.

Additional options are available, such as for creating the archive on tape and adding some user-defined options. Information on these options is found in the online manual pages and in the Solaris 10 Installation Guide in the Solaris 10 Release and Installation Collection.

The following example shows how to use the flarcreate command to create the Flash archive:

flarcreate -n "Solaris 10 Ultra Archive" -a "WS Calkins" \
-R / -x /var/tmp /u01/ultra.flar

In the previous example, we are creating a Flash archive named "Solaris 10 Ultra Archive." We are specifying the author (creator) to be labeled as "WS Calkins." The -R option specifies to recursively descend from the specified directory. We also specify the -x option to exclude /var/tmp. The last part of the command specifies which directory to store the archive in and what to name the archive.

After entering the command and pressing the Return key, the flarcreate command will display the status of the operation as follows:

Full Flash
Checking integrity...
Integrity OK.
Running precreation scripts...
Precreation scripts done.
Determining the size of the archive...
7462766 blocks
The archive will be approximately 3.55GB.
Creating the archive...
7462766 blocks
Archive creation complete.

When the operation is complete, I can see the archive file by issuing the ls command as follows:

ls -l /u01/ultra.flar
-rw-r--r--   1 root    other   3820943938  Sep 3 11:12 \ ultra.flar

The flar command is used to administer Flash archives. With the flar command, you can

  • Extract information from an archive

  • Split archives

  • Combine archives

To use the flar command to extract information from an archive, use the following command:

flar -i /u01/ultra.flar

The system displays the following information about the Flash archive:

content_name=Solaris 10 Ultra Archive
content_author=WS Calkins

For additional information on the flarcreate or flar commands, refer to the online manual pages or the Solaris 10 Installation Guide in the Solaris 10 Release and Installation Collection.

Using the Solaris Installation Program to Install a Flash Archive

In the previous section we described how to create a Flash archive. In this section, you learn how to install this archive on an installation client using the GUI-based Solaris installation program.

The Flash archive was created on a system named ultra10 with the IP address of and placed into a file system named /u01. On ultra10 we need to share the /u01 file system so that the archive is available to other systems on the network via NFS. You use the share command to do this. NFS and the share command are described in Chapter 9.

Initiate a Solaris installation from CD-ROM. When prompted to select the Installation Media as shown in Figure 14.1, select Network File System.

Figure 14.1. Specify Media window.

Click on the Next button and you'll be prompted to enter the path to the network file system that contains the Flash archive as shown in Figure 14.2.

Figure 14.2. Specify Network file system path window

After entering the path, click on the Next button and the Flash Archive Summary window will appear as shown in Figure 14.3.

Figure 14.3. Flash Archive Summary window.

The selected archive will be listed. Verify that it is correct and then click on the Next button to continue. You'll be prompted to enter any additional archives that you would like to install, as shown in Figure 14.4.

Figure 14.4. Additional Flash Archives window

We have no additional archives to install, so you'll click on the Next button and the system is initialized as shown in Figure 14.5.

Figure 14.5. Initialization window.

After the system initialization is finished, you'll see the Disk Selection window displayed as with a normal GUI-based installation. From this point forward, the installation will continue as a normal GUI-based installation. The difference is that you will not be asked to select the software that you want to install. Instead, the entire Flash archive will be installed. When the installation is complete, the system will reboot (if you selected this option during the earlier dialog), and the login message will appear. The final step is to log in as root, configure your applications, and make system-specific customizations. The system is now ready for production use.

Solaris Flash and JumpStart

Earlier in this chapter, we described how to set up a JumpStart installation. If you recall, we set up a boot server, which provided the information that a JumpStart client needed to boot across the network. We also set up an install server, which supplied the Solaris image, and we created the profile and rules configuration files which provided additional setup information such as disk partitions and software packages.

You can utilize a Solaris Flash archive in a JumpStart installation, but first you need to add the installation client to the JumpStart boot server as described earlier in this chapter.

The next step is to create a profile for the installation client. This was also described earlier in this chapter. However, when using JumpStart to install from a Flash archive, only the following keywords can be used in the profile:

  • archive_location

  • install_type For a full flash archive install, specify this option as flash_install. For a differential flash archive, specify flash_update.

  • partitioning Only the keyword values of explicit or existing must be used.

  • filesys The keyword value auto must not be used.

  • forced_deployment

  • local_customization

  • no_content_check Used only for a differential flash archive.

  • no_master_check Used only for a differential flash archive.

  • package Only used for a full flash installation; cannot be used with a differential flash archive.

  • root_device

Here's an example profile for an installation client using a Flash archive:

install_type    flash_install
archive_location nfs://
partitioning explicit
#8 GB / and 1GB swap on a 9GB Disk
filesys    rootdisk.s0    free        /
filesys    rootdisk.s1    1:449    swap

The rules and sysidcfg files for the Flash installation client would be the same as described earlier in this chapter.

When finished configuring the profile, rules, and sysidcfg files, and assuming the Flash archive is available on the install server in a shared file system, you can boot the installation client using

boot net - install

The automated installation will proceed without further intervention and the system will be installed using the Flash archive.

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