Installing OpenSolaris/Solaris on a Fasthosts Dedicated Server

By Alasdair Lumsden on 29 Dec 2009

EDIT: Turns out that my server had dodgy wiring with the Eric card. Fasthosts fixed this and then I was able to get into the BIOS to change the boot order, rendering the below post rather unnecessary.

I was recently tasked with installing OpenSolaris on a Fasthosts Dedicated Server. Fasthost Dedicated Servers are cheap and cheerful. I would never put anything important on them, because if the shit hits the fan, you’re own your own. But they are incredibly cheap, so for un-important bits n pieces, they can make sense.

Unfortunately they only come pre-installed with Windows Server, CentOS or Ubuntu. Being a Solaris advocate, the first thing I wanted to do was kablam them with OpenSolaris.

The boxes rather usefully come with Raritan ERIC remote management cards. These remote management cards provide you with:

  • Keyboard, Video and Mouse remote access
  • Remote power management
  • Virtual CD-Rom

So, installing OpenSolaris should be a piece of cake, right? Sadly.. not quite. Fasthosts have either locked down the cards/servers so you can’t go into the BIOS/Alter the boot order, or the Eric KVM cards are deficient in that regard. Regardless of whether I chose PS2 or USB for the Keyboard emulation, pressing F2 or F12 on the BIOS boot screen yielded nothing useful.

Further, I had issues getting the Virtual CD Drive to mount. Rather unfortunately it can only access ISO images via Windows File Sharing. I set up a Samba Server, but the Eric card kept saying “Error accessing image”. It turns out your ISO image has to be in a sub-folder, and the path uses backslashes. So I finally got a CD mounted in the end.

Once I had the ISO Image mounted, I needed to get the server to boot it. Since we can’t change the boot order, I finally got around it by nuking the MBR of the harrdrive. There are actually two harddrives in the Fasthosts box I ordered, so I ran:

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M count=100
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=1M count=100

I probably only had to do the first 512 bytes, but more doesn’t hurt when you’re wiping the box anyway. Upon rebooting, sure enough, it started booting the OpenSolaris install CD. Magic!