SUMMARY: Transition to Solaris 2.3

From: Scott Wyckoff (
Date: Mon Aug 01 1994 - 15:59:47 CDT

     I have received many very useful transition tid-bits (many
from a helpful and knowledgeable SUN reps.) I have tried to
consolidate the responses into a useful document. I
have done little literary editing as I have my hands full with
the transition (and normal network/system management).

The overall consensus is to take it slowly!!!

     (1) Transition workstations first to Solaris 2.3

     (2) Make a list of applications you are currently running
and determine which ones run under Solaris 2.x or in BCP mode.
     (3) Setup a small test to ensure you get the results you
expect. Here in Vienna [Virginia] we have had 4.1.2/4.1.3
servers with Solaris 2.x clients for several years. Those
applications that have taken time to port to Solaris 2.x we run
remotely on the 4.1.3 servers. Such as, I will run my calendar
manager on the 4.1.3 machine and display back to my workstation
running Solaris 2.3. Those app's that have been ported I will
execute locally.
     I think the main problems when you have to migrate is the
applications ..1st check that your vendors sales the application
for Solaris...if you need to recompile applications you will need
to get gcc or Sparc Works or some other thing to recompile your
programs because Solaris doesn't have a compiler...
     The experience you gain by doing it in small steps like this
is invaluable ! You should also get *all* your users to nominate
*all* their software and make sure that it runs under 2.3. Get
them to log into this mini-network and check things out.

     (4) Setup a directory structure on the server to support the
two different app binaries. One for Solaris 2.x and the other
for SunOS. This is assuming you are using NFS. Leave the NIS
running. Change as little as possible at first.

     (5) Setup users workstations to execute the appropriate
version of the app.
- execute locally or
- execute on server and display back

     (6) When your critical app's run under Solaris 2.3 or in BCP
mode under Solaris 2.3 transition the server (I advise one server
at a time) to Solaris 2.3. Keep running NIS on the Solaris 2.3
server for the time being. Once you feel confident about the
configuration you can migrate the server to NIS+. But don't be
in big a rush to migrate to NIS+ unless your requirements

     (7) Once you have it down pat, do it to the rest of your
network over a long weekend. We followed this approach with
about 15 machines here, spending about 2 months on that build-up
phase (externally imposed anyway as we had to wait for memory to
be shipped). At the end of it though the transition went
amazingly close-to-smoothly.

It was also mentioned that there are a LOT of patches:

     One thing that comes in *very* handy is to make your /var
partitions large - you're going to be installing a lot of patches
in them. Look at the sizes of the recommended patches on the
SunSolve CD.

     NOTHING, I say NOTHING will work reliably if you do not
patch it.
     Make sure you get all the S2 patches.

     By the way the spc needs a patch as well. Which leads me
onto the subject of patches. My approach has been to install only
the recommended patches and others as and when needed. I did
install all the patches on the SOLARIS 2.3 Maintenance Supplement
on a SS10 client and that seems OK.

NIS+ appears to scare most people:

     People on the net complain a LOT about NIS+. I've put off
migrating to it, using SUNWnskit with 2.3 where possible. I may
pursue NIS+ more with the release of 2.4, though it'll probably
have to run in compatibility mode forever - I doubt all vendors
are going to adopt NIS+.

     A friend of mine (unidentified SMC employee) suggested that
NIS+ wasn't quite ready for my system, whose sysnetad (myself)
doesn't have that much spare time. He further suggested that the
transition kit (to run NIS on 2.x) was problematical.

     In summary, I'd seriously consider retaining good ol' yp.
My 2.3 machines are quite happy as clients.

     SunSoft education have improved our knowledge of and
confidence in NIS+. Indeed we have been involved in customer
configurations and bug workarounds. Watch out for the NFS mount
problem when root is in more than 8 groups. Obscure when
combined with automount.
     We intend putting NIS+ up before the end of the year. So
far, we have not run into any major problems. We don't hammer
the network and rebooting the server is not a major catastrophe
for us, if this was ever required.

     The one thing that I have yet to tackle is NIS+ I have the
SS1000 configured as a NIS client and continue to run a NIS
master and a couple of slaves under SunOS. I am more than a
little apprehensive about NIS+.

     Run NIS+ server in YP compatibility mode ( start rpc.nisd
with -Y option ).

Comments on Admintool:

     Admintool is nice as far as it goes but, if like me, you
feel that an administrator needs a bit of understanding about
what is happening ( essential when a) admintool doesn't work or
b) things go wrong ! ) then some digging into subjects like the
SAF and port monitor are required.

Comments on Printers:

     Another problem we have here is with printers (remember we
have a heterogeneous network) the print servers with SunOs works
pretty well ..but the print server with Solaris have a lot of
troubles especially with clients with Solaris (believe it or

     I have also avoided dealing with SVR4 printers and continue
to use only remote SunOS (lpd) printers. This was on advice from
Sun and on reading that Sun were revising the printer model in
SOLARIS. The SVR4 model IMHO leaves a great deal to be desired.

Some helpful tools:

     Research JumpStart ( AutoInstall ). This is an unbeatable
way to build and customize S2 clients ( along with loading 3rd
party sw/links/patches etc. ). If done properly, you can rebuild
20+ clients overnight, hands-free. You also may not have to even
back them up anymore...

     If you need to install many similar machines, I suggest you
take a look at our auto-install stuff:
You'll find the Solaris FAQ thereabouts too

Some general thoughts and experiences:

     We had to replace our 4/490 server ( NFS, mailhost, UUCP
connectivity for 20 sites plus Internet connection to provider )
with a SS1000. I was fortunate in having around 2 months to bring
up the 1000 on the network and learn about Solaris and test
things out like UUCP, modem configurations etc. If you have this
opportunity it is well worth it. SOLARIS for the administrator is
sufficiently different to make "baptisms by fire" unadvisable.

     All our clients continue to run SunOS 4.1.3 and mount
filesystems exported, oops shared, from the SS1000. This has
proven problem free. Likewise our mail boxes are shared from
/var/mail on the 1000 and mounted at /var/spool/mail on the SunOS
clients, again snag free. However, I have seen some discussion in
the sun-managers about 2.x mail differences although other than
problems with mail ( as opposed to mailtool ) I have had no
problems here either.
     Lack of process monitoring tools under Solaris is a problem
and I encourage you to obtain a copy of proctool ( sorry mine
came from our local Sun SE, though I saw a summary recently
indicating where this was available on the "net" ) which will
show you what is running and what resources the various processes
are using.
     Some of the minor irritants that I have encountered include
group id changes eg uucp is now 5 and the mail GID was formerly
news ( I think ).
     Try to keep the clients as identical as possible (ie
"clones", "KISS"applies).

     My closing advise is to plan. Make sure that you have
SOLARIS copies of all the essential software before you start. Oh
and I got VERY VERY badly bitten by the Sun serial parallel
controller (spc). If you have these note that the device driver
is INCLUDED with SOLARIS 2.3 do not install the SOLARIS device
driver that is supplied with the product.

     Other transition gotchas: Solaris 2.x needs more memory.
Make sure all your machines have at least 16MB. Also, check all
your peripherals to ensure that Solaris drivers are available.

     DO *NOT* use nispopulate more than one time....the first
time you start adding clients, use it, and from then on ALWAYS
use admintool.
     Keep the new and old as separate as possible, it will let
you live much longer and healthier.

Some specific answers:

1.- Will a SunOs client work with Solaris file server?
     Yes..and works perfect..I have all my home directories in
Sparc Server 1000 with 15 SunOs clients.

2.- Will a SunOs server work with a Solaris file server? Yes

3.- Will a SunOS NIS server work with a Solaris NIS+ server?
     -- Well a Solaris NIS+ server doesn't work alone :))
...seriously ... I think you must decide which one of this
services you want to use... what you can do is to have a Nis+
root server, a replica and 1 client just to see how it works (I
don't really like Nis+ because I always have troubles with Secure
RPC) and the rest of your network keep it with nis.

     -- NIS servers and NIS+ servers don't get along. There
should be no trouble mixing them on a subnet, but not for the
same domain. NIS+ in compatibility mode does not allow for NIS
slave servers, I gather.

     -- Yes, This does work. I might add that you can run NIS on
Solaris 2.3 and SunOS or NIS+ on both.

     -- if you run NIS+ all your servers need to run NIS+. If
you have SunOS 4.1.x clients, you need to run NIS+ in NIS
compatibility mode. Alternatively, you can get the SUNWnskit,
which is ypserv for Solaris 2.x. Ypcat doesn't work on all
tables in a NIS+ server. (NIS+ servers and NIS server cannot be
run together.)

     -- NIS clients work fine with NIS+ servers *if* the server
is started in NIS compatibility mode. NIS+ clients do *not* work
with NIS servers. NIS slave servers do *not* work with NIS+
masters. Basically, I'd say to convert your NIS master first. If
you have any NIS slave servers, convert them to NIS+ replica
servers (equivalent to NIS slave servers) next - they'll have to
be offline until you convert them. Then go for the clients.

4 - Will a SunOS client work with a Solaris NIS+ server?
     -- Yes, set the SunOS client as a yp client and start the
NIS+ deamon up in compatibility mode .ie. with the -I flag.
     -- This drops the security level
     -- You can also run "SUNWnskit" on your 5.x machine, to have
plain ol' NIS.

     -- Yes, but only in NIS emulation mode. Not recommended.
However, you can buy a separate NIS package for Solaris.

5 - Will a Solaris client work with a SunOS file server?

     -- Yes... A 5.x client may have trouble with a 4.1.x file
server, tho. You need to patch the 4.1.x fileserver, to get file
locking to work.

     -- Solaris clients work with SunOS servers and vice versa.
(We've done both). You may need to get both system up to a
certain patchlevel: you especially need to run the most
up-to-date lockd patch on the SunOS 4.x servers, or the Solaris
2.x clients will complain.

6 - Is the binary compatibility program useful?

     -- Yes, BCP or the Binary Compatibility Package is very
useful for supporting the execution of pre-Solaris 2.x
applications. These app.'s which are not in ELF format can be run
without recompiling, provided they meet certain requirements.
The requirement may vary based on the instruction set of the
Solaris 2.x system. But for the most part the following are true.

     * Must not access libkvm or /dev/kmem .ie. can't mess with
the kernel.

     * Must not write directly to system files

     * Must not rely on customer-supplied drivers or ioctls

     * Must not trap directly into the kernel

     * Must use only publicized SunOS interfaces

     Applications meeting these requirements can run
simultaneously with native Solaris 2.x applications when BCP is
installed. There is no special action(s) that you must take in
order for the app's to run. The system takes care of all this
transparently. However, you will see a slight performance hit
running the app in BCP mode.

     -- The BCP mode in Solaris 2.3 is adequate: it works for
most stuff, except for anything linked with pixrect, sunview etc.
If you linked your stuff against non-sun shared libraries, you'll
need to provide these libraries on your Solaris 2.x machines in
/usr/4lib. There is no reliable way of knowing whether a program
will work under BCP mode other than testing the program for some
period of time.

In closing:

Good luck and its not THAT bad!!
Setting up a mixed environment is not as bad as it may seem.
Generally Solaris and SunOS work pretty well together.

Many thanks to:

Dan Stromberg - OAC-DCS <> (Steve_Kilbane)
hebert@sunrock.East.Sun.COM (Jim Hebert {*Prof Services} Sun
Rochester) (Dances on keyboards (Louis Brune)) (Marco A. Gaspar R.)
Mike.Grove@East.Sun.COM (Mike Grove - Federal S.E. Vienna Va.)
John DiMarco <> (Mike Jones)
Fintan Keeling <>
epl@Kodak.COM (Gene Loriot) (Markus Buchhorn) (Duncan Laidlaw (Vcr Computers))
Casper Dik <>

* Scott Wyckoff Phone: (703) 487-3120 *
* Sun System/Network Manager FAX (703) 487-3351 *
* Defense Information Systems Agency E-Mail*
* Center for Engineering Reston, Virginia *

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