There was a lot of interest generated by my last article titled "Build a (Very) Inexpensive Solaris 10 Workstation". Several topics were brought up in this feedback, among which these two questions "what tools does Solaris have for backups?" and "is it possible to make a restore DVD for Solaris?" struck me as particularly important. For reasons of my own, which I divulge in the Purpose section, I decided to pursue these questions and write an article.
A lot of my time and effort went into installing the OS, downloading and installing drivers for sound and networking, creating and customizing my accounts, setting up my webpage (and Apache), etc. Since this node is a "test box" intended to be "blown-away" for future OS installations, I wanted a way to preserve the current image in case I needed to return to my original Solaris 10 install (without having to start from scratch). One possibility was to purchase another hard drive to swap in place of the drive with the Solaris image. After careful consideration, I realized that not only would this be far more expensive than recovery from media, but also I would have no backup for the said drive should it fail anyway. The best and cheapest choice was to make a stand-alone (bootable) recovery DVD from my particular Solaris 10 install.
Sun has an archiving utility included with Solaris 10 called "flarcreate". It is a command line tool that can create a "Solaris Flash Archive" snapshot of your disk. This image snapshot can then be copied to an NFS shared file-system. To build a new workstation that is to be a copy of the original node, all one has to do is physically connect the new/blank machine to the network so it can access the NFS mounted image and boot it off a Solaris 10 installation DVD. Briefly put, the installation process will detect the network and ask the appropriate questions of what type of install you want (flash archive) and what location to pull the image from (NFS file-system).
This was only a partial solution for me because Solaris 10 did not natively support the on-board NIC in the Intel D201GLY motherboard on my system. NFS mounting anything during a build was out of the question. As mentioned above, however, one of the questions asked during an install is what location to pull the image from. From the given choices, you can select the local file-system, which means Solaris will pull it from the very boot media being used. The trick is to put a flash archive in the installation DVD. It so happens that on the web there are various how-to guides and FAQs explaining how to build such a stand-alone Solaris installation DVD. All of them, however, were for older versions of Solaris like Solaris 8 or 9. This new OS is quite different in structure from previous versions and after studying most of the how-to literature, I realized the enormity of adapting/upgrading said procedures to Solaris 10.
After even more research, I managed to find one individual who after requesting assistance from Sun and being told "this isn't supported" figured it out for himself. His procedure is listed at efnet.net. I will be using a version of his procedure modified to work on my system and I'll go through the flash image creation process as well. A few things of note; the procedures assume you're logged in as the root user, the commands to type in are blue and you must modify the steps to suit your particular machine's file-system names and layout.