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|System Administration Guide: Oracle Solaris Containers-Resource Management and Oracle Solaris Zones|
Cloning allows you to copy an existing configured and installed zone on your system to rapidly provision a new zone on the same system. Note that at a minimum, you must reset properties and resources for the components that cannot be identical for different zones. Thus, the zonepath must always be changed. In addition, for a shared-IP zone, the IP addresses in any net resources must be different. For an exclusive-IP zone, the physical property of any net resources must be different.
Cloning a zone is a faster way to install a zone.
The new zone will include any changes that have been made to customize the source zone, such as added packages or file modifications.
Solaris 10 5/09: When the source zonepath and the target zonepath both reside on ZFS and are in the same pool, the zoneadm clone command automatically uses ZFS to clone the zone. When using ZFS clone, the data is not actually copied until it is modified. Thus, the initial clone takes very little time. The zoneadm command takes a ZFS snapshot of the source zonepath, and sets up the target zonepath. The system names the snapshot SUNWzoneX, where X is a unique ID used to distinguish between multiple snapshots. The zonepath of the destination zone is used to name the ZFS clone. A software inventory is performed so that a snapshot used at a future time can be validated by the system. To clone a source zone multiple times, the zoneadm command allows you to specify that an existing snapshot should be used. The system validates that the existing snapshot is usable on the target.
You cannot use manual snapshots, such as the type described in Creating and Destroying ZFS Snapshots in Oracle Solaris ZFS Administration Guide. This type of snapshot lacks the data to perform a validation.
You might want to clone a source zone many times but not want to have a new snapshot for each clone. The -s parameter to the clone subcommand allows you to specify that an existing snapshot taken from a previous clone should be used. See Solaris 10 5/09: How to Clone a Zone from an Existing Snapshot.
Because the contents of a snapshot represent a zone from a point in the past, it is possible that the system has been updated in some way, such as by patching or upgrading, since the snapshot was taken. The fact that the zone was upgraded could render the snapshot invalid for use as a zone on the present-day system.
Note - You can specify that a ZFS zonepath be copied instead of ZFS cloned, even though the source could be cloned in this way.
See Solaris 10 11/06: Cloning a Non-Global Zone on the Same System for more information.