Booting Process in Solaris

Understanding the booting process is important in the sense that you can get a clear idea when a system faces a booting problem if you are familiar with the booting sequence and steps involved. You can thereby isolate a booting phase and quickly resolve the issues.

Booting process in Solaris can be divided in to different phases for ease of study . First phase starts at the time of switching on the machine and is boot prom level , it displays a identification banner mentioning machine host id serial no , architecture type memory and Ethernet address This is followed by the self test of various systems in the machine.

This process ultimately looks for the default boot device and reads the boot program from the boot block which is located on the 1-15 blocks of boot device. The boot block contains the ufs file system reader which is required by the next boot processes.

The ufs file system reader opens the boot device and loads the secondary boot program from /usr/platform/`uname –i`/ufsboot ( uname –i expands to system architecture type)

The boot program above loads a platform specific kernel along with a generic solaris kernel

The kernel initialize itself and load modules which are required to mount the root partition for continuing the booting process.

The booting process undergoes the following phases afterwards :

1) init phase
2) inittab file
3) rc scripts & Run Level

1. INIT phase
Init phase is started by the execution of /sbin/init program and starts other processes after reading the /etc/inittab file as per the directives in the /etc/inittab file .

Two most important functions of init are
a) It runs the processes to bring the system to the default run level state ( Run level 3 in Solaris , defined by initdefault parameter in /etc/inittab )
b) It controls the transition between different run levels by executing appropriate rc scripts to start and the stop the processes for that run level.

2. /etc/inittab file
This file states the default run level and some actions to be performed while the system reaches up to that level. The fields and their explanation are as follows :

S3:3:wait:/sbin/rc3 > /dev/console 2>&1 < /dev/console

S3 denotes a identification if the line

3 is run level
wait is action to be performed

/sbin/rc3 is the command to be run.

So the fields in the inittab are

Identification : run level : action : process

The complete line thus means run the command /sbin/rc3 at run level 3 and wait until the rc3 process is complete.

The action field can have any of the following keywords :

Initdefault : default run level of the system

Respawn : start and restart the process if it stops.
Powerfail : stop on powerfail
Sysinit : start and wait till console in accessible .
Wait : wait till the process ends before going on to the next line.

3. RC scripts & Run Levels
Rc scripts performs the following functions :

a) They check and mount the file systems
b) Start and stop the various processes like network , nfs etc.
c) Perform some of the house keeping jobs.

System goes in to one of the following run level after booting depending on default run level and the commands issued for changing the run level to some other one.

0 Boot prom level ok> or > prompt in Sun.
1 Administrative run level . Single user mode
2 Multiuser mode with no resource sharing .
3 Multiuser level with nfs resource sharing
4 Not used
5 Shutdown & power off (Sun 4m and 4u architecture )
6 Reboot to default run level
S s Single user mode user logins are disabled.

Broadly speaking the running system can be in any of the folloing state

Single user – Minimum processes running , user logins disabled and root password is required to gain access to the shell .
Multiuser – All system processes are running and user logins are permitted

Run level of a desired state is achieved by a number of scripts executed by the rc program the rc scripts are located in /etc/rc0.d , /etc/rc1.d , /etc/rc2.d , /etc/rc3.d & /etc/rcS.d directories . All the files of a particular run level are executed in the alphanumeric order .Those files beginning with letter S starts the processes and those beginning with K stops the processes.

These files are hard linked to the files in /etc/init.d in order to provide a central location for all these files and eliminating the need to change the run level in case these scripts needs to be run separately . The files in /etc/init.d directory are without any S , K and numeric prefix instead a stop / start argument has to be supplied whenever these scripts are to be executed .

By default system has a number of rc scripts needed for run level transition but sometimes it becomes necessary to start some custom scripts at the booting time and turn them off at the shutdown . Custom scripts can be put in any of the required rc directory but following major considerations has to be kept in mind :

* The sequence number of the file should not conflict with other files.
* The sevices needed should be available by previously executed scripts.
* File should be hard linked to the /etc/init.d directory .
* The system looks for only those files beginning with letter K & S , any thing else is ignored , therefore, to make a file inactive simply changing uppercase K or S to lower case will cause system to ignore it .


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