How To Create A Live Upgrade Boot Environment

Solaris Live Upgrade is an excellent way to manage Solaris operating system upgrades and patches. Live Upgrade allows the system admin to upgrade or patch a running system with the only downtime being the server reboot once the upgrade or patch is complete. Live Upgrade accomplishes this “trick” by employing boot environments.

A boot environment is essentially a copy of the operating system and other auxilliary files on disk. Live Upgrade requires a server to have at least two boot environments, a primary and an alternate. In such a setup, the primary boot environment (PBE) continues to run while the alternate boot environment (ABE) is being upgraded or patched.

In this example I partitioned the boot disk such that there are dedicated slices for two boot environments. After mirroring the disks with Solaris Volume Manager (SVM), the metadevice d0 became the default boot partition. In this example, this will be the current boot environment. I assigned the metadevice d3 to hold the second boot environment.

To start the process, we create the boot environments by running the lucreate the command. The -c option assigns a name, s10_be0, to the current boot environment in d0 and turns it into the primary boot environment. The -n option names the new boot environment s10_be1. This will become the alternate boot environment. -m specifies the filesystem information for the new boot environment, namely / (root) filesystem in metadevice d3 created as a UFS filesystem.

It’s worth noting at this stage that apart from /usr, I have also included the other two directories, /var and /opt, that gets updated during upgrades in the root filesystem. With 146 GB disks (even 300 GB disks) becoming more common nowadays and the use of the logadm utility, the convenience of having /usr, /var and /opt in one 40 GB root filesystem far outweighs the necessity of having a separate /var filesystem.

# lucreate -c s10_be0 -n s10_be1 -m /:d3:ufs
Determining types of file systems supported
Validating file system requests
The device name  expands to device path
Preparing logical storage devices
Preparing physical storage devices
Configuring physical storage devices
Configuring logical storage devices
Analyzing system configuration.
No name for current boot environment.
Current boot environment is named .
Creating initial configuration for primary boot environment .
WARNING: The device  for the root file system mount point </> is not a physical device.
WARNING: The system boot prom identifies the physical device  as the system boot device.
Is the physical device  the boot device for the logical device ? (yes or no) yes
INFORMATION: Assuming the boot device  obtained from the system boot prom is the physical boot device for logical device .
INFORMATION: No BEs are configured on this system.
The device  is not a root device for any boot environment; cannot get BE ID.
PBE configuration successful: PBE name  PBE Boot Device .
Updating boot environment description database on all BEs.
Updating system configuration files.
The device  is not a root device for any boot environment; cannot get BE ID.
Creating configuration for boot environment .
Source boot environment is .
Creating file systems on boot environment .
Creating  file system for </> in zone  on .
Mounting file systems for boot environment .
Calculating required sizes of file systems for boot environment .
Populating file systems on boot environment .
Analyzing zones.
Mounting ABE .
Generating file list.
Copying data from PBE  to ABE .
100% of filenames transferred
Finalizing ABE.
Fixing zonepaths in ABE.
Unmounting ABE .
Fixing properties on ZFS datasets in ABE.
Reverting state of zones in PBE .
Making boot environment  bootable.
Setting root slice to Solaris Volume Manager metadevice .
Population of boot environment  successful.
Creation of boot environment  successful.

Let’s have a look at the boot environments that we created. We find that both boot environments are complete; i.e. they can be used to boot with. We also find that s10_be0 is the boot environment currently in use (active now) and it is the boot environment that will be used the next time the server is rebooted (active on reboot). We will change this is in the next step.

# lustatus
Boot Environment           Is       Active Active    Can    Copy
Name                       Complete Now    On Reboot Delete Status
-------------------------- -------- ------ --------- ------ ----------
s10_be0                    yes      yes    yes       no     -
s10_be1                    yes      no     no        yes    -
# luactivate s10_be1


The target boot environment has been activated. It will be used when you
reboot. NOTE: You MUST NOT USE the reboot, halt, or uadmin commands. You
MUST USE either the init or the shutdown command when you reboot. If you
do not use either init or shutdown, the system will not boot using the
target BE.


In case of a failure while booting to the target BE, the following process
needs to be followed to fallback to the currently working boot environment:

1. Enter the PROM monitor (ok prompt).

2. Change the boot device back to the original boot environment by typing:

setenv boot-device rootdisk

3. Boot to the original boot environment by typing:



Modifying boot archive service
Activation of boot environment successful.
# lustatus
Boot Environment           Is       Active Active    Can    Copy
Name                       Complete Now    On Reboot Delete Status
-------------------------- -------- ------ --------- ------ ----------
s10_be0                    yes      yes    no        no     -
s10_be1                    yes      no     yes       no     -

Note that the alternate BE ‘s10_be1’ is now marked ‘active on reboot’. Let’s reboot the server to validate the change.

# shutdown -g0 -y -i6

Shutdown started. Wednesday, 2 November 2011 2:03:53 PM EST

Changing to init state 6 - please wait
Broadcast Message from root (console) on solaris_serv Wed Nov 2 14:03:53...
Log off now or risk your files being damaged
: {snip}
svc.startd: The system is down.
syncing file systems... done
: {snip}
SPARC Enterprise M4000 Server, using Domain console
Copyright (c) 1998, 2010, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2010, Oracle and/or its affiliates and Fujitsu Limited. All rights reserved.
OpenBoot 4.24.15, 32768 MB memory installed, Serial #95389486.
Ethernet address 0:21:28:af:87:2e, Host ID: 85af872e.

Rebooting with command: boot
Boot device: rootmirror:d File and args:
SunOS Release 5.10 Version Generic_144488-06 64-bit
Copyright (c) 1983, 2010, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Hostname: solaris_serv
Configuring devices.
Loading smf(5) service descriptions: 2/2
Reading ZFS config: done.

solaris_serv console login:

Once the server is up check that ‘s10_be1’ is now the active BE. Also, check that the root filesystem now lives in slice d3.

# lustatus
Boot Environment           Is       Active Active    Can    Copy
Name                       Complete Now    On Reboot Delete Status
-------------------------- -------- ------ --------- ------ ----------
s10_be0                    yes      no     no        yes    -
s10_be1                    yes      yes    yes       no     -
# df -h /
Filesystem             size   used  avail capacity  Mounted on
/dev/md/dsk/d3          39G   9.8G    29G    26%    /