Update 2009/10: I ran into this again installing S10U8 (released last week). Sun knows that their graphical installer is broken. It includes fdisk-based code to partition the disk, but the installer has a bad sanity check which rejects the installer's partitioning, preventing installation from completing. Their workaround is to run the text-mode installer, which lacks the bad check. Alternatively, you can manually partition the disk with fdisk before installing, because if the fdisk partitioning is not modified by the installer, the graphical installer skips its bogus sanity check.

I'm reinstalling Solaris 10 on a Thumper which came (last year) with a 2-year-old version of Solaris 10. Wanting to protect myself, I removed HDD0 (primary boot), and replaced it with HDD47 (part of the ZFS pool, which I will have to recreate because ZFS does not allow removing or changing RAID levels in a pool).

Unfortunately, when I boot the system this way, it goes through the BIOS screens and just sits there -- apparently it cannot get past the lack of a boot block on HDD0. So much for redundancy or failover! Perhaps it would have worked if I'd left bay 0 empty, but that's an unlikely scenario.

I mounted the S10U6x86 ISO from a Windows VM under Parallels (sadly, Sun's Java Remote Console app only supports virtual media on Windows -- not Mac OS X, although the console control works fine on the Mac), and ran through the installer -- which takes about an hour, because it's so amazingly slow. I booted the machine 2 blocks away, walked back to my desk, and was in time to see it probing Ethernet devices...

Anyway, I accepted the default fdisk partitioning (everything in partition 1), and set up a Solaris VToC within partition 1 (as the Solaris installer defaults, and as our other Thumper is configured), but the installer failed with a confusing error:

ERROR: The '/' slice extends beyond HBA cylinder 1023
WARNING: Change the system's BIOS default boot device for hands-off rebooting.

Note that I copied the Solaris VToC from our other Thumper which is running this way right now. The fdisk configuration is simply the default. Thinking I'd done something wrong, I rebooted (there's really no alternative at that point) and reran the installer -- another hour gone. At the end of the whole process, I got the error again. Fortunately, I found a blog post that mentions that error. Apparently the Solaris installer cannot actually create the fdisk partition which it suggests!! I put the disks back as they were, ran the installer a third time, and Solaris is installing right now -- so it can install into that fdisk layout, but it cannot partition the disk that way. FAIL.

See also: * Sun * Solaris