System Administration Guide: Devices and File Systems

Automatic Configuration of Devices

The kernel consists of a small generic core with a platform-specific component and a set of modules. The kernel is configured automatically in the Solaris release.

A kernel module is a hardware or software component that is used to perform a specific task on the system. An example of a loadable kernel module is a device driver that is loaded when the device is accessed.

The platform-independent kernel is /kernel/genunix. The platform-specific component is /platform/`uname -m`/kernel/unix.

The kernel modules are described in the following table.

Table 5–2 Description of Solaris Kernel Modules


Directory Contents 

/platform/`uname -m`/kernel

Platform-specific kernel components 


Kernel components common to all platforms that are needed for booting the system 


Kernel components common to all platforms within a particular instruction set 

The system determines what devices are attached to it at boot time. Then, the kernel configures itself dynamically, loading needed modules into memory. At this time, device drivers are loaded when devices, such as disk devices and tape devices, are accessed. This process is called autoconfiguration because all kernel modules are loaded automatically when they are needed.

You can customize the way in which kernel modules are loaded by modifying the /etc/system file. For instructions on modifying this file, see system(4).

Features and Benefits of Autoconfiguration

The benefits of autoconfiguration are as follows:

Autoconfiguration is used when you add a new device (and driver) to the system. In previous Solaris releases, it was necessary to perform a reconfiguration boot if you added a device to a system that is shutdown. Starting in the Solaris Express 10/06 release, device configuration enhancements make a reconfiguration boot unnecessary when a device is added to a system that is shutdown.

You can add, remove, or replace devices in the Solaris OS while the system is still running, if the system components support hot-plugging. For information about hot-plugging devices, see Chapter 6, Dynamically Configuring Devices (Tasks).

What You Need for Unsupported Devices

Device drivers needed to support a wide range of standard devices are included in the Solaris release. These drivers can be found in the /kernel/drv and /platform/`uname -m`/kernel/drv directories.

However, if you have purchased an unsupported device, the manufacturer should provide the software that is needed for the device to be properly installed, maintained, and administered.

At a minimum, this software includes a device driver and its associated configuration (.conf) file. The .conf files reside in the drv directories. This software might also include custom maintenance and administrative utilities because the device might be incompatible with Solaris utilities.

For more information about what you need for unsupported devices, contact your device manufacturer.