Repartitioning for Ubuntu and Solaris, Take 1

I started the Solaris 10 installation. The installer partitioning system doesn’t seem very smart. It did point out that I had over 20 GB free on my 120 GB hard drive. This, while I was starved for space all along. I forgot all about a few cylinders.

I decided to fix up my hard drive. I had a FAT32 partition with miscellaneous stuff in it, which I backed up to DVD. I deleted that, the FC6 partition which had nothing to backup, and the Ubuntu 6.06 partition which didn’t have much. (I haven’t been working on projects there – I use it mainly as an Internet desktop)

Ubuntu DVD download through BitTorrent took quite a while. Not that many torrent participants.
I kept the 20 GB NTFS partition for Windows XP, and deleted the rest. I installed Ubuntu and created the rest of the partitions using gparted: 20 GB for Solaris, 2 GB for swap, and the rest an extended partition. 20 GB for Ubuntu, for now. Extended is fine since GRUB is capable of opening logical partitions inside extended partitions, but not the LVM logical volumes used by Red Hat-based Linuxen. (confusing terminology!)
Solaris installation is very slow compared to Linux. Is it because they expect you to do it just a few times? When I started it, I realized that the 2 GB swap partition is a waste. Solaris will use a slice inside the single Solaris partition, anyway. The Solaris partitioner doesn’t allow you to keep a partition. Instead, if you leave it “unused”, it will delete it.

I installed Ubuntu first because I thought I needed a Unix I could work with to fix the partition table and GRUB, before installing Solaris. Only later did I realize that the Ubuntu installer/LiveCD would do the trick.

After installing Solaris, I realized that I could not boot Ubuntu. Of course, the Solaris installer made no provision for booting other Unixen. It added Windows. There was a warning that Linux partitions on the same hard drive were not supported. Now I know why.

I wrote down the Solaris grub commands on paper. I booted the Ubuntu LiveCD to mount the hard drive, added the Solaris commands to menu.lst, then ran update-grub and grub-install. I rebooted. No go. Ubuntu’s grub could not open the Solaris UFS slice, (hd0,1,a).

I tried to boot Solaris using the GRUB on the installation CD, but I got strange errors.

I’m out of time for now. Next thing to try: boot into the recovery shell on the DVD, then fix GRUB from there to boot Ubuntu. I’ll need to learn the Solaris GRUB management tools.

If this doesn’t work out, then I’ll fall back to running Solaris under VMWare. I’m already doing this at the office in our server. The minus side is I won’t learn how Solaris interacts with the raw hardware and booting system. The plus side might be that I’ll be more encouraged to run Solaris as a VM since it’s hosted under a “nice and friendly” Ubuntu.

I’m also obsessive-compulsive about the extra partition created. Not about the 2 GB – that’s only 1/60th of the hard drive – but that it’s one of four partitions you can create, the legacy of the old DOS days.

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