SUMMARY bootable tapes

From: Robert L. Lamothe (
Date: Sat Oct 21 1995 - 01:58:01 CDT

Grettings All,

        I wish that I could say I recieved a fool proof solution to this
problem, but all the responses I recieved were varied in there approach,
that is, if it was considered doable at all. Here is what I got back.


        This is nowhere near an answer, but many moons ago I remember
trying to help someone with a similar problem (getting a bootable
tape). I think we may have had some success with dd'ing a boot block
(can't remember where we found it, but man -k boot should help) onto
the tape, followed by the data.

        It's a shot in the dark, but it might help.

From: mshon@sunrock.East.Sun.COM (Michael J. Shon {*Prof Services} Sun Rochester)
Here is an email from which I have extracted the relevant parts and
put them at the beginning.
I hope this will help. You did not mention the OS revision ;
boot tapes are not supported under 2.x

Michael Shon (716) 385-5065 michael.shon@East.Sun.COM

CCONSULT-BOOTTAPE: Toolkit enables customer to build custom SunOS installation tapes.

4.1.3U1 on Tape

Some customers still have a need for the SunOS 4.1.x distribution to be provided on tape (note: tape installation is not supported in Solaris 2.x). For one customer, we created a special SunOS 4.1.3U1 distribution on 4mm tape.

---- >From Thu Oct 19 07:59 EDT 1995

This question regularly comes up. This is a message I sent to someone else in response. Note that if you can lay your hands on an original bootable tape, it's not very difficult to make your own distribution tape. You just need the three first files on the tape (with different blocksizes), then you modify the miniroot, put in your installation script and have it automatically called at boot, and then append dump images of your system. The problem is that the old 4.1.1 kernel won't work on newer Sun hardware.

Sun sells two products for booting from tape: scp (from a Canadian firm) and a consulting package. Both are rather pricey, I think. Ask Sun.

-- Included message --

It's practically undoable. First, you need the MUNIX, which is a bootable kernel with built-in RAM-disk filesystem. The last version delivered by Sun is 4.1.1, which won't work with newer hardware. Then you need a special kernel for the miniroot. Since the miniroot is loaded into the swap partition, there must be some mechanism in the kernel that tells it to avoid the first 7 Mbyte or so in the swap space. I've tried to make a larger miniroot, but failed. Booting works, but it trashes its own miniroot filesystem after a few minutes uptime. Only a vendor, or someone else with sources, would be able to make these special kernels. Of course, a miniroot with Solaris-2 shouldn't be too difficult to hack together, since Sol-2 doesn't need a swap space. We've managed to put together a rather nice distribution of our system: one bootable 4mm tape with several (Solaris-2) ufsdump images which get automatically installed, along with a postinstall script asking some questions. Maybe we'll go to CD-ROM in the future, but right now it would just present an extra cost, since the customer needs to have a tape drive anyway, for backup. Note that booting from tape does not always work; some of the newer 4mm tape drives tell the openboot prom that it can handle block sizes up to 64k bytes, which makes openboot hang, as it expects 512 byte blocks. This might perhaps be fixed in a future prom version, although Sun has threathened dropping tape boot support altogether. Not very friendly...

Cheers - Pell -- From:

Try the following url:

Regards John O'Connor

---- From: (Glenn Satchell - Uniq Professional Services)

A bootable tape is not a boot image plus CD image. The two are quite different. Easiest way is to make a tape which consists of a series of dumps of the vanilla OS installation, and then boot from CD (any SunOS CD) and partition disks and restore the dumps.

regards, -- From: (Perry Hutchison)

It depends on the OS revision. 4.1.1 and earlier were actually supplied on tape and you may be able to find a set to copy. Later than 4.1.1 were never supplied on tape, so you have to do something clever.

For sun3, the first file on the 4.1.1 boot tape is the tpboot program and the second file is a table of contents which ideally ought to be replaced with one from the version being used or else edited to reflect the actual categories and sizes in the newer release. The tpboot file does not get installed onto the disk, nor is it AFAIK on the CD, so it has to be copied from an OS install tape of the proper kernel architecture. The TOC file is probably on the CD somewhere.

I don't know how similar sun4 is to this setup.

---- From: Roy Rapoport <>

It sounds like you've already got a copy of the CD, no? In this case, making a copy of the CD shouldn't be that big of a deal -- either find someone who has a CD-ROM burner (and it seems everyone is getting them, these days -- at $1800 or so, they're no longer pie-in-the-sky items), or go to a service bureau -- they might charge you $20-$40 or so, but wouldn't this be easier? Not to mention that even writable CDs are more robust than tapes, I believe ...


--- From:


I hate to be negative, and I could be wrong, but I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

I've heard of people trying to do similar things and giving up because it's not worth the effort.

The last company I was at hired Sun's consulting services to create a bootable tape ( SunOS4.1 ) which also contained their software. They were told that it was not feasible. That was when Sun still shipped their OS on tape, so it's probably even harder now.

I think you could accomplish what you want by basically:

1. let him boot from a later( but close) rev cd 2. mount up the partitions which need to be installed ( /, /usr, /opt) 3. populate those partitions from a 'tar' image of a newly installed system 4. run installboot ( from the new '/' to make the new '/' partition bootable.

I'd be interested to know if I'm wrong about this, so if you find a solution, please summarize it.

----- From: (Phil Hubbard x6177)

I've never done it, but I have a book that tells how to do it; "Unix Security: A Practical Tutorial", by N. Derek Arnold. The book is ISBN no. 0-07-002560-6. It's also a terrific book on security in general, BTW. -- * Robert L. Lamothe Corporate Technologies Inc. * * Systems Engineer 100 foot of John st. * * (508)459-2420 Lowell MA 01852 * * * * * * "All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own * * importance." *

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