System Administration Guide: Basic Administration

Diskless Client Management Overview

The following sections and Chapter 6, Managing Diskless Clients (Tasks) describe how to manage diskless client support in the Solaris 9 release.

A diskless client is a system that depends on an OS server for its operating system, software, and storage. A diskless client mounts its root (/), /usr, and other file systems from its OS server. A diskless client has its own CPU and physical memory and can process data locally. However, a diskless client cannot operate if it is detached from its network or if its OS server malfunctions. A diskless client generates significant network traffic because of its continual need to function across the network.

In previous Solaris releases, diskless clients were managed with the Solstice graphical management tools. In the Solaris 9 release, the diskless client commands, smosservice and smdiskless, enable you to manage OS services and diskless client support.

OS Server and Diskless Client Support Information

The following table describes which Solaris releases and architecture types are supported by the smosservice and smdiskless commands.

Architecture Type 

Solaris 2.6 

Solaris 7 

Solaris 8 1/01, 4/01, 7/01, 10/01, 2/02 

Solaris 9 


SPARC Servers 






x86 Servers 






SPARC Clients 






x86 Clients 

Not Supported 

Not Supported 

Not Supported 



This table describes the combination of OS server-client configurations that are supported by the smosservice and smdiskless commands.


Solaris 2.6 Release Support  

Solaris 7 Release Support 

Solaris 8 1/01, 4/01, 7/01, 10/01, 2/02 Support  

Solaris 9 Support 


OS Server-Client OS Release

Solaris 2.6–Solaris 2.6 

Solaris 7–Solaris 2.6, or 7 

Solaris 8 1/01, 4/01, 7/01, 10/01, 2/02–Solaris 2.6, 7, or 8 1/01, 4/01, 7/01, 10/01, 2/02 

Solaris 9–Solaris 2.6, 7, 8 1/01, 4/01, 7/01, 10/01, 2/02 


Diskless Client Management Features

You can use the smosservice and smdiskless commands to add and maintain diskless client support on a network. By using a name service, you can manage system information in a centralized manner so that important system information, such as host names, does not have to be duplicated on every system in the network.

You can do the following tasks with the smosservice and smdiskless commands:

You can only use the diskless client commands to set up diskless client booting. You cannot use them to set up other services, such as remote installation or profile services. Set up remote installation services by including diskless client specifications in the sysidcfg file. For more information, see Solaris 9 9/04 Installation Guide.

Working With Diskless Client Commands

By writing your own shell scripts and using the commands shown in the following table, you can easily set up and manage your diskless client environment.

Table 5–3 Diskless Client Commands









Add OS services 



Delete OS services 



List OS services 



Manage OS service patches 






Add a diskless client to an OS server 



Delete a diskless client from an OS server 



List the diskless clients on an OS server 



Modify the attributes of a diskless client 

You can obtain help on these commands in two ways:

Required RBAC Rights for Diskless Client Management

You can use the smosservice and smdiskless commands as superuser. If you are using Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), you can use of either a subset or all of the diskless client commands, according to the RBAC rights to which they are assigned. The following table lists the RBAC rights that are required to use the diskless client commands.

Table 5–4 Required Rights For Diskless Client Management

RBAC Right 



Basic Solaris User, Network Management 

smosservice list

List OS services 



smosservice patch

List OS services patches 


smdiskless list

List diskless clients 

Network Management 

smdiskless add

Add diskless clients 

System Administrator 

All commands 

All tasks 

Adding OS Services

A Solaris OS server is a server that provides operating system (OS) services to support diskless client systems. You can add support for an OS server or convert a standalone system to an OS server with the smosservice command.

For each platform group and Solaris release that you want to support, you must add the particular OS service to the OS server. For example, if you want to support SPARC Sun4m systems running the Solaris 8 release, you must add Sun4m/Solaris 8 OS services to the OS server. You would also still need to add OS services to support SPARC Sun4c systems or x86 based systems that runs the Solaris 8 release, because they are different platform groups.

You must have access to the appropriate Solaris CD or disk image to add OS services.

Adding OS Services When the OS Server Has Been Patched

When adding OS services to an OS server, you might see error messages saying that you have inconsistent versions of the OS running on the server and the OS that you are trying to add. This message occurs when the installed version of the OS has packages that were previously patched and the OS services being added do not have those packages patched (because the patches have been integrated into the packages).

For example, you may have a server that is running the Solaris 7 release. You may also have additional OS services loaded on this server, including the Solaris 2.6 SPARC sun4m OS services that have been patched. If you try to add the Solaris 2.6 SPARC sun4c OS services from a CD-ROM to this server, you could get the following error message:

Error: inconsistent revision, installed package appears to have been 
patched resulting in it being different than the package on your media. 
You will need to backout all patches that patch this package before 
retrying the add OS service option.

Disk Space Requirements for OS Servers

Before you set up your diskless client environment, make sure you have the required disk space available for each diskless client directory.

In previous Solaris releases, you were prompted about diskless client support during the installation process. In the Solaris 9 release, you must manually allocate an /export file system either during installation or create it after installation. See the following table for specific disk space requirements.

Table 5–5 Disk Space Requirements for OS Servers


Required Space in Mbytes 







32 (default size) 


32 (default size) 





30 through 60 (depends on machine class) 

/export/root/diskless_client (clone of above)

30 through 60 (depends on machine class) 



200 Kbytes per machine_class.Solaris_version