Bringing up ZFS on my Ferrari

As I mentioned, I wanted to check out ZFS now that it’s finally available in the latest Solaris build. My plan was simple: to upgrade my Ferrari to Nevada B27 and then “blow away the Ubuntu partition and create a couple of 10GB partitions” to test ZFS. Well, it wasn’t quite that simple.

On Monday I borrowed a B27 DVD from a colleague and upgraded my Solaris partition. This went just fine, although I did run into a fiddly little xscreensaver bug that meant I had to snarf the B28a version of the Xorg bits. Never mind: I was now ready to repurpose that 20GB Ubuntu partition. But how? Solaris format/fdisk wouldn’t touch it. I booted up a Ubuntu LiveCD and used Linux fdisk: this let me change the type code to 0xbf, which is Solaris2, but Solaris still wouldn’t see it.

It turns out that Solaris only recognizes one primary Solaris partition on a drive; you can’t have more. So on Tuesday I rebooted the Ubuntu LiveCD and used fdisk to delete both the Solaris and Linux partitions (leaving WinXP untouched). I then created a new partition, and reinstalled Solaris from scratch; I sliced up the partition as 20GB root, 1GB swap, two 10GB slices for ZFS, and the rest in /export/home. Of course I now had to customize the system the way I like it, so I downloaded a ton of stuff, went home, and got things working during the commercial breaks while watching House.

Finally this morning I was ready to test ZFS:

zpool create -f test c1d0s5 [the -f flag because the Solaris installation had put a UFS filesystem on the slice]
zfs create test/tfs
cd /test/tfs

and start playing….

Verdict: if you want to experiment with ZFS, it’s a lot easier on a desktop machine where you can simply plug in another disk. You can use a laptop, but the chances that your disk layout will be appropriate are pretty slim; you should be prepared to repartition your disk and reinstall. Once you do, it all just works – kudos to Jeff and the team.

OK, next step is to try mirroring:

zpool create mtest mirror c1d0s5 c1d0s6
zfs create mtest/tfs
cd /mtest/tfs

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