Solaris 10 8/07 Installation Guide: Planning for Installation and Upgrade

Chapter 7 Upgrading When Solaris Zones Are Installed on a System (Planning)

This chapter provides an overview of how Solaris Zones partitioning technology relates to upgrading the Solaris OS when non-global zones are configured.

This chapter contains the following sections:

Solaris Zones (Overview)

The Solaris Zones partitioning technology is used to virtualize operating system services and provide an isolated and secure environment for running applications. A non-global zone is a virtualized operating system environment created within a single instance of the Solaris OS. When you create a non-global zone, you produce an application execution environment in which processes are isolated from the rest of the system. This isolation prevents processes that are running in one non-global zone from monitoring or affecting processes that are running in other non-global zones. Even a process running with superuser credentials cannot view or affect activity in other zones. A non-global zone also provides an abstract layer that separates applications from the physical attributes of the machine on which they are deployed. Examples of these attributes include physical device paths.

Every Solaris system contains a global zone. The global zone has a dual function. The global zone is both the default zone for the system and the zone used for system-wide administrative control. All processes run in the global zone if no non-global zones are created by the global administrator. The global zone is the only zone from which a non-global zone can be configured, installed, managed, or uninstalled. Only the global zone is bootable from the system hardware. Administration of the system infrastructure, such as physical devices, routing, or dynamic reconfiguration (DR), is only possible in the global zone. Appropriately privileged processes running in the global zone can access objects associated with the non-global zones.


For More Information 

The following sections describe how you can upgrade a system that contains non-global zones. 

Upgrading With Non-Global Zones

For complete information on creating and configuring non-global zones 

Chapter 16, Introduction to Solaris Zones, in System Administration Guide: Solaris Containers-Resource Management and Solaris Zones

Upgrading With Non-Global Zones

After the Solaris OS is installed, you can install and configure non-global zones. You can upgrade the Solaris OS when non-global zones are installed. If you have branded non-global zones installed, they are ignored during the upgrade process. Changes to accommodate systems that have non-global zones installed are summarized below.

For step-by-step instructions on using Solaris Live Upgrade when non-global zones are installed, see Chapter 9, Upgrading the Solaris OS on a System With Non-Global Zones Installed, in Solaris 10 8/07 Installation Guide: Solaris Live Upgrade and Upgrade Planning.

Table 7–1 Limitations When Upgrading With Non-Global Zones

Program or Condition 


Solaris Flash archives 

A Solaris Flash archive cannot be properly created when a non-global zone is installed. The Solaris Flash feature is not compatible with Solaris Zones partitioning technology. If you create a Solaris Flash archive, the resulting archive is not installed properly when the archive is deployed under these conditions:

  • The archive is created in a non-global zone.

  • The archive is created in a global zone that has non-global zones installed.

For more information about using Solaris Flash archives, see Solaris 10 8/07 Installation Guide: Solaris Flash Archives (Creation and Installation).

Using a command that uses the -R option or equivalent must not be used in some situations.

Any command that accepts an alternate root (/) file system by using the -R option or equivalent must not be used if the following are true:

  • The command is run in the global zone.

  • The alternative root (/) file system refers to any path within a non-global zone.

An example is the -R root_path option to the pkgadd utility run from the global zone with a path to the root (/) file system in a non-global zone.

For a list of utilities that accept an alternate root (/) file system and more information about zones, see Restriction on Accessing A Non-Global Zone From the Global Zone in System Administration Guide: Solaris Containers-Resource Management and Solaris Zones.

ZFS file systems and non-global zones 

If a non-global zone is on a ZFS file system, the upgrade process does not upgrade the non-global zone. 

Backing Up Your System Before Performing an Upgrade With Zones

You should back up the global and non-global zones on your Solaris system before you perform the upgrade. For information about backing up a system with zones installed, see Chapter 26, Solaris Zones Administration (Overview), in System Administration Guide: Solaris Containers-Resource Management and Solaris Zones.

Disk Space Requirements for Non-Global Zones

When installing the global zone, be sure to reserve enough disk space for all of the zones you might create. Each non-global zone might have unique disk space requirements.

No limits are placed on how much disk space can be consumed by a zone. The global zone administrator is responsible for space restriction. Even a small uniprocessor system can support a number of zones running simultaneously. The characteristics of the packages installed in the global zone affect the space requirements of the non-global zones that are created. The number of packages and space requirements are factors.

For complete planning requirements and recommendations, see Chapter 18, Planning and Configuring Non-Global Zones (Tasks), in System Administration Guide: Solaris Containers-Resource Management and Solaris Zones.