Solaris 10 10/08 Installation Guide: Solaris Flash Archives (Creation and Installation)

Planning the Creation of a Solaris Flash Archive

You can create an archive from the master system for an initial installation. Or, if you have already installed an archive on clone systems, you can create a differential archive from two system images. The differential archive installs only the differences between the two images.

Planning to Create the Solaris Flash Archive for an Initial Installation

After you install the master system, the next task in the Solaris Flash installation process is to create a Solaris Flash archive. Files on the master system are copied to a Solaris Flash archive along with various pieces of identification information. You can create a Solaris Flash archive while the master system is running in multiuser mode or single-user mode. You can also create a Solaris Flash archive after you boot from one of the following:

Caution – Caution –

A Solaris Flash archive cannot be properly created when a non-global zone is installed. The Solaris Flash feature is not compatible with the 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:

Creating Solaris Flash Archives With RAID-1 Volumes

You can create a Solaris Flash archive when you have aSolaris Volume Manager RAID-1 volumes configured. The Solaris Flash creation software removes all RAID-1 volume information from the archive to keep the integrity of the clone system. With custom JumpStart you can rebuild the RAID-1 volumes by using a JumpStart profile. With Solaris Live Upgrade, you create a boot environment with RAID-1 volumes configured and install the archive. The Solaris installation program cannot be used to install RAID-1 volumes with a Solaris Flash archive.

Note –

Veritas VxVM stores configuration information in areas not available to Solaris Flash. If Veritas VxVm file systems have been configured, you should not create a Solaris Flash archive. Also, Solaris install, including JumpStart and Solaris Live Upgrade do not support rebuilding VxVM volumes at installation time. Therefore, if you are planning to deploy Veritas VxVM software using a Solaris Flash archive, the archive must be created prior to configuring the VxVM file systems. The clone systems must be then configured individually after the archive has been applied and the system rebooted.

Creating an Archive That Contains Large Files

The default copy method that is used when you create a Solaris Flash archive is the cpio utility. Individual file sizes cannot be over 4 Gbytes. If you have large individual files, you can create an archive with the pax copy method. The flarcreate command with the -L pax option uses the pax utility to create an archive without limitations on individual file sizes. Individual file sizes can be greater than 4 Gbytes.

Planning to Create the Solaris Flash Differential Archive for an Update

If you have a clone system that is already installed with an archive and want to update it, you can create a differential archive that contains only the differences between two images, the unchanged master image and an updated master image. The differences between these two images is the differential archive.

After you update a clone system with a differential archive, only the files that are in the differential archive are changed on the clone system. Scripts can be used to customize the archive before or after installation, which is especially helpful for reconfiguration.

You can install a Solaris Flash differential archive with the custom JumpStart installation method. Or, you can use Solaris Live Upgrade to install a differential archive on an inactive boot environment.

An unchanged master image should be saved after the initial installation so this image can be accessed by any of the following methods.

For step-by-step instructions, see To Create a Solaris Flash Differential Archive With an Updated Master Image.

Customizing an Archive's Files and Directories

When you create a Solaris Flash archive, some files and directories that are to be copied from the master system can be excluded. If you have excluded a directory, you can also restore specified files or subdirectories under that directory. For example, you could create an archive that excludes all files and directories in /a/aa/bb/c. The content of the bb subdirectory could be included. The only content would then be in the bb subdirectory.

Caution – Caution –

Use the flarcreate file-exclusion options with caution. If you exclude some directories, others that you were unaware of might be left in the archive, such as system configuration files. The system would then be inconsistent and the installation would not work. Excluding directories and files is best used with data that can easily be removed without disrupting the system, such as large data files.

The following table lists the flarcreate command options that can exclude files and directories and restore files and subdirectories.

How Specified? 

Options That Exclude 

Options That Include 

Specify the name of the directory or file 

-x exclude_dir/filename

-y include_dir/filename

Use a file that contains a list 

-X list_filename

-z list_filename

-f list_filename

-z list_filename

For descriptions of these options, see Table 5–7.

For examples of customizing an archive, see Creating a Solaris Flash Archive and Customizing Files (Examples).

Customizing an Archive With Scripts

After the software is installed on the master system, special scripts can be run during creation, installation, postinstallation and first reboot. These scripts enable you to do the following:

Guidelines for Creating a Custom Script

When creating scripts other than the reboot script, following these guidelines to assure the script does not corrupt the OS or otherwise disrupt the system. These guidelines enable the use of Solaris Live Upgrade, which creates a new boot environment for installation of the OS. The new boot environment can be installed with an archive while the current system is running.

Note –

These guidelines are not for reboot scripts that are allowed to run daemons or make other types of modification to the root (/) file system.

For an overview of Solaris Live Upgrade, see Chapter 2, Solaris Live Upgrade (Overview), in Solaris 10 10/08 Installation Guide: Solaris Live Upgrade and Upgrade Planning.

Solaris Flash Archive Sections

Solaris Flash archives contain the following sections. Some sections can be used by you to identify and customize the archive and view status information on the installation. For a further description of each section, see Chapter 5, Solaris Flash (Reference).

Table 2–2 Flash Archive Sections

Section Name 

Informational Only 


Archive cookie  

The first section contains a cookie that identifies the file as a Solaris Flash archive.

Archive identification  


The second section contains keywords with values that provide identification information about the archive. Some identification information is supplied by the archive software. Other specific identification information can be added by you with options to the flarcreate command.



This section follows the archive identification section. You can define and insert these sections to customize the archive. The Solaris Flash archive does not process any sections that you insert. For example, a section could contain a description of the archive or perhaps a script to check the integrity of an application. 


This section is produced for a Solaris Flash differential archive and is used for validating a clone system. The manifest section lists the files on a system to be retained, added to, or deleted from the clone system. This section is informational only, lists the files in an internal format, and cannot be used for scripting. 

Predeployment, Postdeployment, Reboot 

This section contains internal information that the flash software uses before and after installing an OS image. Any scripts that you have provided are included in this section.  



This section contains messages about the archive creation. The section also records the activities of predeployment and postdeployment scripts. You can view the success of the installation in this section by writing a script to send output to this section. 

Archive files 

The archive files section contains the files that have been gathered from the master system. 

When to Create the Archive for an Initial Installation

Create the archive when the system is in as static a state as possible. Create the archive after software is installed on the master system and before software is configured.

Where to Store the Solaris Flash Archive

After you create the Solaris Flash archive, you can save the archive on the hard disk of the master system or on a tape. After you save the archive, you can copy this archive to any file system or media that you choose.

Compressing the Archive

When you create the Solaris Flash archive, you can specify that the archive be saved as a compressed file by using the compress(1) utility. An archive that is compressed requires less disk storage space and creates less congestion when you install the archive over a network.