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I've had a NAS built on Nextenta that has worked great for a while. However, I'm looking to upgrade the NAS to run Solaris Express 11 as it's better support by my company's IT department, as well as having direct support from Oracle.

I've currently got two zpools, syspool containin the OS and 'tank' containing all the data. What would be the easiest way to run the upgrade to the latest Solaris 11 Express? Can I just run the installer and have it detect and import the existing 'tank' zpool when it first boots?

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I don't think you can upgrade directly from Nexenta do Solaris 11 Express since they've different user lands.

Reinstalling with Solaris 11 Express and importing the pool should work. I don't think Nexenta has done any incompatible changes at this point.

Beware that upgrading your pool after Solaris 11 Express is installed will not allow you to go back to Nexenta (since it doesn't support newer ZFS pool versions).

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As mentioned, you cannot "upgrade" the OS portion of the system. You can however, export your existing data zpool (tank), install Solaris on the OS disks and re-import them without any trouble.

Things that may not survive are iSCSI configurations, but if you're just using it as an NFS NAS, that configuration information is contained in the zfs filesystems. LDAP or AD integration will need to be recreated as well.

To expand on the upgrading your pool response, you don't need to run zpool upgrade on tank as Solaris 11 will continue to use it just fine. If you commit to using Solaris 11 and you need to use some of the newer features that come with the more recent zfs versions, then you'll want to upgrade the pool, but it's not a requirement to make it work.

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