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Notes on OpenIndiana Installs

Some quick notes based on three days of playing with various ISOs and installer images. I need to install a working instance (i.e. not a “Live CD installer”) of OpenIndiana on a USB flash drive for my forthcoming NAS box; trickier than you might think. [Updated, 20110110]

  • Do’h: to boot from a USB flash drive, you will probably need to enable Legacy USB Support in BIOS.
  • All the existing OpenIndiana images are installers only; you can run them, but to actually obtain a persistent, running OS instance that can be modified and updated, you need to install from them to blank media.
  • The slim-cd example in the distribution-constructor package also produces an installer image (and requires over 8GB of working space to do so!). Presumably the definition of “distribution” incorporates a live disk installer.
  • The server text-install image (running under VirtualBox) wouldn’t recognise anything other than a hard drive as an install target; i.e. not a 2GB flash drive, despite the fact that 2GB ought to be adequate for a server install. (If this isn’t a bug or feature, it may be caused by my dodgy USB extender.) Update: no, 2GB isn’t considered adequate; think swap space allocation plays a part here. An 8GB stick works.
  • The full (graphical) installer does recognise flash drives, but realises that 2GB is not sufficient.
  • Finally managed to install OI to an 8GB stick, but had to do it by running the installer on a laptop as USB was flaky within VirtualBox (probably an issue with my Fedora server).
  • Note that an OI root on a USB stick can only be booted if the stick remains in the same port on the same system as originally installed, otherwise OI fails to find the ZFS root pool as the device ID (devid) has changed. See bug #4755 and this workaround involving ZFS import/export and using scsa2usb.conf to mark the stick as non-removable.
  • …However, booting from USB is s-l-o-w. Although this wasn’t helped by failures of the ipagent and network/location services.

It would be useful if OpenIndiana offered a similar feature to Knoppix, and could save configuration changes permanently to a small r/w device such as a flash drive or partition. That way, it wouldn’t require a full install to create a persistent OS image.