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Old 07-14-2006, 09:55 PM   #1
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ZFS Root / Boot into ZFS from a usb flash drive

I have 6*200 and 6*300 drives in my server. A friend has volunterred the space i am gonna need to store whats on there now. Having eagerly read about ZFS i imagined the two arrays being setup as raid z arrays with a root file system for the OS (Solaris) and the rest of the pool for my data. However, because you can't boot ZFS, install solaris direct to ZFS you are basically saddled with a UFS partition.

There are some excellent guides on how to create a ZFS root file system and then get it to boot:

However these guides all use the 'boot and switch' technique leaving you with a UFS partition. I don't want that on any of the disks that i intend to be in my raid z arrays so that leaves me needing to figure a few things out.

I have a drive that i could temporarily attach to install solaris to and then i could create the zfs root file system from that install as per the guides. However, then i want to remove that extra drive as i have another intended use for it and no real place for it inside my server tower.

So what i really need to figure out is what little i need to bootstrap a ZFS root file system and whether i can create a bootable usb flash drive to get me into my ZFS root. I have looked into placing grub onto a usb stick:

What would that usb flash drive actually need to contain to get me into the zfs root file system? I have a 1GB stick to throw in there so it doesn't have to be super compact. Simple is better.

So yeah, I think with the guides i have linked here i could probably muddle through it but i think its wisest to always ask for all the information you can get. Also Last time i setup a *nix box was making an old amd k6-2 run ipcop for my uni housemates to share the internet. So i figured i'd as someone for the plain english of all this. Having said that, all help is welcome.
Old 07-15-2006, 04:13 AM   #2
Registered: Feb 2004
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Distribution: Solaris 11.4, Oracle Linux, Mint, Debian/WSL
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Solaris 10 update 1 and newer support booting from USB.

I suppose you only need create a Solaris 2 partition on the key and a minimal root slice able to mount the zfs filesystems.

You'll also need to install Solaris grub on the hard-disk or the key, to be sure ufs can be booted.

I don't think you'll find a lot of documentation about these topic, so I doubt it's going to be a simple task ...


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