Upgrading OpenSolaris from 08/11 to 09/06

After a long wait OpenSolaris 09/06 is here. I have been expecting this release for a very long time!!

Upgrading from my OpenSolaris 08/11 to 09/06 was very simple, but because of my setup I found some difficulties. Let me explain the problems I found and the solutions I learned.

How to upgrade

You can upgrade from 08/11 to 09/06 very easily. Just follow this screencast, for example by Markus Weber.

I love this way to upgrade the system. Since zfs is transactional, you can rollback the whole upgrade if things go wrong. As far as I understand this is what happens when you upgrade:

  • All packages are downloaded to your disk.
  • A new "Boot Environment" is created. This means both a new entry in the grub boot menu and a new "zfs snapshot" of your system.
  • All packages are installed.
  • After upgrade is complete, you can boot both from your old and your new boot environments.
  • You can rollback your upgrade by booting from the old boot environment and using the Package Manager to delete the new Boot Environment.

This way to do things is very comfortable. I wish I had this with Linux several years ago! It would have saved me lots of headaches.

The problem I found

I started upgrading from 08/11 to 09/06 late at night, and since my network connection is not very good things were slow. So I decided to go to bed.

Good morning: your disk is full!

When I got up the next morning I found a bad surprise: my small root partition was full, there was no disk space, so I had a bad upgrade of 09/06 and the 08/11 version was not operative since the disk was full.

Of course this is a problem of mine: I didn't clean up my small root partition (due to historical reasons I have a small root partition and two big ones for software and home directories).

zfs transactions: I couldn't delete to create any more free space!

So I was in panic!! I couldn't boot the system in multiuser mode because the disk was full. Since zfs is transactional, a full disk means you can't do transactions, so you can't do anything, you can't remove stuff to free disk space, for instance!!

The solution was simple: I had to boot in single user mode: it was easy:

  • Press 'e' in the boot menu to edit the boot line
  • Press 'd' to delete the "splashimage" line.
  • Press 'e' in the line starting with "kernel$" to edit it.
  • Go to the end of the line and remove ",console=graphics", and add " -s" (single user) and "-m verbose" to see what's going on.

After that I could log in as root. I followed the trick by Alan Hargreaves and I did an "cat /dev/null > /var/log/Xorg.0.log".

I had then some free space, so transactions were back, and I could now "rm" stuff.

So I did. I cleaned up things and moved some stuff from my home directory (still in the root zfs pool) to another zfs pool.

So I did make some free room for the upgrade.

Rollback, try again

At this point I could boot normally, so I used the "Upgrade Manager" to delete the badly installed "09/06" image.

I used the "Package Manager" to try out the installation. For my surprise the Package Manager used some cache mechanism so I didn't have to download the whole thing. That was good news!!

This new upgrade was very fast (no downloads) and things were very well: everything worked fine.

First impressions

I'm delighted with this new release of OpenSolaris. Things I've seen so far:

  • All my devices are correctly detected.
  • The new Package Manager is faster.
  • OpenOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird and other stuff are updated to latest versions.
  • Shutdown is very fast now

I've also installed "Codeina", a new package by Fluendo that allows you to install (or buy) multimedia codecs for OpenSolaris. I updated my MP3 plugins (these are for free) very easily. I still use stuff from Life With Solaris for the rest of my multimedia codecs (AVI and FLV, etc.).

Lessons learned

Even though I found problems during the upgrade (because of my root partition being too small) I found the whole upgrade very sound and comfortable: I could rollback the thing and reinstall again very easily, and things are working well.

So, to summarize: congratulations to the whole OpenSolaris team: this new release is VERY good.

By the way, Ian Murdock (yes, the Ian in Debian) explains that this release of OpenSolaris will be the basis for Solaris 11 or whatever it's called.

Enjoy Open-Solaris, Antonio

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