Creating bootable Solaris 11 USB drive

Download the requisite Solaris OS image from Oracle here.  You may need to create a free account first.

Note that if you are building a SPARC server e.g. T8-2, it comes with Solaris pre-installed.  You should start with this document here, connecting to the ILOM System Console via the SER MGT Port using the instructions here.

The instructions from Oracle are as follows, but I don’t like the way they say to use dmesg | tail to identify the USB device when lsusb to identify the make and model and df -h to identify the device name provide much clearer, humanly readable output.


  • On Linux:
    1. Insert the flash drive and locate the appropriate device.
      # dmesg | tail
    2. Copy the image.
      # dd if=/path/image.usb of=/dev/diskN bs=16k

For other client operating systems such as Solaris itself or MacOSX, instructions from Oracle can be found here.

In my case, the USB stick was mounted to /dev/sdg1 automatically when plugged into Linux desktop, so I unmounted /dev/sdg1 then changed to the directory containing my Solaris 11 image, then used dd as shown in the screenshot below.

The commands are therefore,

df -h to Identify the USB device e.g. /dev/sdg

sudo umount /dev/sdg1 to unmount the filesystem on the USB device

cd ~/Downloads/Solaris11 to change to the location of your downloaded image file

sudo dd if=sol-11_3.usb of=/dev/sdg bs=16k to write it to the USB device

Since dd is a block level, not a file level copy, you don’t need to make the USB device bootable or anything like that.  That’s all contained in the blocks copied to the device.



2 Replies to “Creating bootable Solaris 11 USB drive”

    1. If you follow the steps to the letter and click the link, the image you’ll download will end in .usb not .iso. There is a specific image intended for use as a bootable USB stick. Ordinarily images are .iso files but in the case of the Solaris USB Bootable image, it ends in .usb for some reason known only to Oracle?!

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