One computer, six operating systems (WinXP + 4*Linux + Solaris)

After my Linux/XP install last week, I managed to throw in Solaris into the blend. It wasn't simple, because a Solaris install had to be on a primary partition (you are limited to four with a standard msdos partition table) and it also had the side effect of rearranging your partition numbering.

On my first install, I decided to scrap a previous Ubuntu install, only to find out that Solaris overwrote my MBR, which I couldn't then restore to the GRUB boot loader.

What I did was to start over, starting with Solaris. WinXP is on a separate SATA hard drive, so I did not have to deal with it. The Solaris installer doesn't allow you to create Linux partitions. When I got to partitioning the drives, I created three empty DOS primary partitions (approx sizes -> 200Mb + 500Mb + 100Gb), plus the Solaris partition (20Gb). I let the installer do its deed, rebooted to check whether it was fine.

After this, I installed my four Linux distributions, accordingly to the last manipulation. With Ubuntu, the first Linux distribution installation I did, I reinitialized the partitions to Linux using the "cfdisk" command. I went through a normal Ubuntu installation, which also allowed me to repartition the largest of the Linux partitions in four equal parts of 20Gb (for each distro). I installed the other distros, making sure that /boot and /home were not rewriten.

When I finished installing the Linux distros, and rebooted the second time from the Solaris system, my GRUB boot loader had disappeared! I took out an Ubuntu CD, and repaired the MBR by mounting /dev/hda1 (/boot) to /mnt/boot, and then issuing "grub-install --root-directory=/mnt /dev/hda". Here is a copy of my menu.lst.

In Solaris, support for my network interface did not came "out of the box". It is a network adapter on an ASUS K8N-E Deluxe, which has a nforce3 chipset. I downloaded the free nfo driver, and burned the tar.gz on a CD. I followed the instructions in the readme, using amd64 as my architecture, and suncc as the compiler. For the network interface configuration, I followed this how-to for setting up a Solaris DHCP client. The driver loaded, but I did not have any connectivity. After changing a few things (by not configuring the driver under /kernel/drv/nfo.conf, and removing a few parameters to get from the dhcp server - configured on the last line of /etc/default/dhcpagent), I was able to configure my interface and access the external world.

After using Solaris for a while, I find its desktop environment (it is definitely gnome, or rebranded/modified gnome) to be slow to react. Maybe it's the graphics driver, as it isn't fglrx (with dual screen setup, like on the Linux installs). I've read reports that it is possible to have dual screens with the "ati" free driver (ATI doesn't have a release of its proprietary driver "fglrx", but I think it might be possible to make it work on Solaris if it does for Linux?), but I'm not planning to do it.



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This page contains a single entry by Cedric published on April 1, 2007 12:12 PM.

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