Monday, July 28, 2008


ZFS boot, Live Upgrade, and bfu

ZFS boot is now available in Solaris Express for both x86 and SPARC. (It's been available for a while for x86 (OpenSolaris uses a ZFS boot, and the package manager (IPS) makes good use of it), but only recently became available for SPARC.) Having gotten used to it on my laptop (running OpenSolaris), I finally converted my home machines to use a ZFS root file system.

Woohoo! Life is much simpler now! Well, okay, certain tasks that I perform frequently have become much simpler and take far less time. Specifically, when I've done a build of Solaris and want to BFU my system (i.e., upgrade my system to the build that has just finished), the process takes much less time than it used to.

As background, I use Live Upgrade (LU) on my systems at home. I keep one boot environment (BE) as a "pristine" copy of a recent Solaris Express release so I'll always have something to boot from. I have another BE that I use for BFU purposes so that I have an environment I can trash.

So here are the steps I used to perform to BFU my system:

In the above, the BE creation step is the expensive one. I don't think I've ever timed it, but it's on the order of one hour, which pushes the whole process to an hour and a half or so.

With a ZFS root file system and a version of Live Upgrade that makes use of the features ZFS, life becomes simpler. What LU does with ZFS is use snapshots and clones to copy an existing BE. The differences are then thus:

So a process that took about an hour and a half now takes less than ten minutes. Woohoo!

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