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We need to run standard Solaris 10 on a few development servers (Dell 530s) because we can't get a commercial application running on OpenSolaris (we're still trying). However, we are finding that sometimes when Solaris 10 goes to do the install, after setup screens, it can't find the SATA drive. We tried the BIOS setting described here: BigAdmin

On some Dells 530s, Solaris GA installs fine, but on others it doesn't. OpenSolaris always installs. Is there some way we can determine (eg. installing OpenSolaris and examining the SATA driver used) what OpenSolaris detected and use some option or driver from it to get Solaris 10 installed on our development Dell servers?

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3 Answers 3

If there was already a partition set up on the disk from another OS, it might have the wrong type of disk label. I've seen cases before where Solaris can't see a disk which is set up with an EFI label (say from a prior Linux installation). Using 'format -e' will cause it to ask you whether to switch to SMI. You can run the shell to issue this command within a single user Solaris media boot. If you do have this problem, switching to SMI and labelling the disk will allow the disk to be seen by the installer.

Other considerations: using the latest Solaris release (I think it is U7 now) so drivers are most current. Also check that the SATA cables have snug connections. I fought a server problem for some time before finding that swapped SATA cables made the second drive in a mirror stop going away.

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OpenSolaris and Linux installed fine so everything is connected properly. I'll try the latest release of Solaris that was just released the next time. –  anon Oct 30 '09 at 5:04
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Don't forget the format -e trick. I read in OpenSolaris forums a year ago that many people ran into this "no disks" message, especially on x86. Perhaps in later versions of OpenSolaris they recover from this situation more gracefully. Linux will use disk labels which are EFI format and trigger the problem. Depending on what order you have done these installs, you may be running into this issue with Solaris and you need to get to the shell to correct it prior to the installer attempting to detect disks. Solaris is behind Opensolaris in advanced features. –  labradort Oct 30 '09 at 17:43

If you're having different experiences between the same hardware model, I'd double-check that all of the BIOS settings -- particularly the SATA-related ones -- are the same. Look at one of your Dell 530s that Solaris 10 does install on, and see if the BIOS version is the same on a 530 that Solaris 10 doesn't install on.

Also, see what mode the SATA controller is in on the working 530: on some Dell desktops, I know Solaris 10 doesn't support AHCI but does support the 'legacy' mode for the SATA controller. If some of your machines are set to AHCI and others are legacy or IDE-emulation, that would explain the differences you're seeing.

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I can't seem to find a BIOS difference. Maybe it's the hard drive themselves? We put in some Seagate 1.5TB drives but Solaris 10 seems to have a problem with them. 500GB Samsungs ship in the PCs that work. –  anon Sep 14 '09 at 20:18

Is this 32 Bit x86? Solaris on 32 Bit Platforms does not Support Drive Sizes > 1 GiB

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I think Solaris is 64 bit, but the loader is 32 bit? Not sure. OpenSolaris installs fine. –  anon Sep 28 '09 at 15:21

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