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Deploying Solaris on x86: A Comprehensive Installation Guide

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    Sun Microsystems developed the Solaris operating system (OS), which has a rich history dating back to the 1980s. This robust OS was first introduced as a commercial Unix-based operating system and has been a cornerstone in the computing ecosystem for businesses.

    Over the years, Solaris has supported SPARC servers and workloads. Its advanced features and capabilities have made it a popular choice for running mission-critical applications for businesses. But now, as businesses move towards modern technology, these Solaris SPARC servers and workloads are not compatible with them. Thus, enterprises are migrating Solaris to x86-based architectures for better performance.

    In this blog, explore how businesses are shifting their Solaris SPARC workloads and servers to newer platforms like x86. This transition offers enhanced performance, improved security, scalability, flexibility, and minimized maintenance costs.

    Understanding Solaris Operating System (OS)

    In 1993, Sun Microsystems released Solaris OS which is a Unix-based operating system. In January 2010, Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle Corporation and renamed Oracle Solaris.

    Solaris Operating System Structure

    Solaris operating system provides support for SPARC and x86 servers from Oracle and other vendors. It is well known for its enhanced security measures, enterprise-grade reliability, and advanced features. Due to performance and stability, Solaris is mainly used for mission-critical applications like high-end computing, data management, and more.

    The most recent version of Solaris OS, Solaris 11, was released in 2011 and later introduced with a series of updates.

    Why are Businesses Migrating to x86?

    x86 is the processor’s name, which belongs to Intel’s family and shares the instruction set architecture framework. This prevalent processor is powering servers that are running on Unix and Linux operating systems due to its widespread use and availability for a wide range of software and hardware.

    Previously, the x86 family only included 16-bit and 32-bit processors, but now 64-bit processors, known as x86-64, are also available. The x86 architecture primarily uses CISC (complex instruction set) architecture, which evolves with time. Here, the extensions in the instruction set provide new advanced features to the processor, ensuring the older software still works. This means that these new processors can run on both modern technologies and are compatible with the older generation. It ensures that the same applications can run on a new platform as it was running on the previous original platform.

    CISC architecture

    Here are some benefits of x86 architecture:


    X86 processors have evolved and shown enhanced performance. Each new generation has become more efficient and faster than its predecessor.


    One significant advantage of shifting to x86 architecture is that it is highly compatible with its predecessors. It enables applications developed on previous versions to run smoothly on the newer x86 without any modification required, thus making upgrading systems effortless.


    X86 architecture is used in several applications, which makes it versatile and one of the most widely used microprocessors globally.

    Cost Effective

    Compared to proprietary RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Architecture)- based architecture, x86-based systems are more cost-effective, making them a preferable option.

    Industry Support

    x86 architecture is supported by several vendors, making working easy and an attractive option because of its flexibility, scalability, and compatibility.

    Also, businesses still relying on the aging legacy SPARC servers and wanting to modernize their infrastructure are migrating their Solaris to x86-based platforms.

    Installing Solaris on x86 Platform

    Here are some points to keep in mind while installing Solaris on the x86 platform:

    Assumptions for Installations

    Verify whether x86 platform is compatible with Solaris OS before initiating the installation process. Check the compatibility on the Solaris Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). Also, check whether the system has a graphical (GUI) interface.

    Basic System Requirements

    Check the system for the basic requirements for installing Solaris on x86. For example, if Solaris 10 is to be installed on an x86 platform, then the following requirements must be met.

    The minimum recommended requirements are mentioned below:

    • Physical RAM capacity should be a minimum of 1024 MB
    • Available hard drive space should be a minimum of 10 GB
    • Minimum CPU speed should be 400 MHz
    • CD-ROM or DVD drive
    • Integrated display or attached monitor

    Getting Installation Media

    Download the Solaris 10 installation image for the x86 platform, which is available on the Oracle website, and then create a bootable USB drive or DVD.

    Boot from the Media Obtained

    Insert the DVD or USB drive with the Solaris 10 installation on the x86 system and boot from it. Then, enter the BIOS setup and change the boot order from either the USB drive or DVD.

    Installation Type Selection

    Identify and select the console type for the system on which the Solaris operating system will be installed.

    System Configuration

    Initiate the system configuration, where you select the language, hostname, network configuration, time zone, root password, and other essential settings.

    Once the configuration process is complete, Solaris on x86 installation will begin, and the system will reboot.

    Note: The installation steps may vary depending on which version of Solaris on the x86 platform is installed.

    Eliminate the risks with vintage hardware and extend the life of Solaris’ application.

    life of solaris datasheet

    Stromasys: Trusted Partner for Legacy Migration

    For more than a decade, Stromasys has been providing legacy emulation and virtualization solutions to businesses across the globe. With Stromasys Charon SSP solution, businesses can easily migrate their aging SPARC Solaris on x86. It will not only minimize operation costs but also enhance performance.

    If your business is also struggling with the aging SPARC Solaris and wants to migrate it to the x86 platform, then you can easily get in touch with our season legacy experts, who can help you with all your queries so that you can efficiently run your mission-critical applications.


    Businesses are moving towards modernizing their infrastructure by migrating their legacy systems to a newer platform like x86, as it is both cost-efficient and enhances business operation performance. Installing Solaris on x86 could be a more beneficial process, as it will bring more benefits, but it also needs careful planning and execution. This transition of installing Solaris on x86 will ensure that businesses can seamlessly perform their operations and remain capable of meeting future demands.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. Can the Solaris Operating system run on both SPARC and x86 servers?

    Yes, the Solaris operating system can run on SPARC and x86 servers.

    2. Why are businesses migrating from SPARC to x86 systems?

    SPARC servers are legacy hardware that is not very scalable and flexible. Therefore, businesses are moving towards more modernized platforms like x86 servers for their mission-critical applications.

    3. What are some key features of Solaris?

    Some notable features of Solaris OS are ZFS (Zettabyte File System), advanced security measures, Solaris Zones for virtualization, and DTrace for system analysis.

    4. What is the key difference between SPARC and x86?

    SPARC is the RISC instruction set architecture, while x86 is the CISC instruction set architecture.

    5. What is the latest version of Solaris OS?

    The latest version is Solaris 11.4, and it is currently the first OS to complete the UNIX® V7 certification.