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In the long run, I went with an Windows XP-only configuration and ran Linux and Solaris as virtual machines with VMware server. I spent a little time trying a couple of Solaris Nevada (Open Solaris) installs in a multi-boot setup with Linux and XP. I didn't test much once the installations were (more or less) successful. I did figure out how to keep the Solaris install from screwing up the ThinkVantage button's ability to boot the rescue and recovery partition (see below). Otherwise, the native install notes here are minimal.
The (short version of the) multi-boot setup: defragment the original XP installation from the running XP, spin up a Knoppix Live CD, use Gparted to shrink the NTFS XP partition, move the sevice partition "down", create a Solaris primary partition, create an extended partition, create a FAT32 "scratch" logical partition, create a Linux swap logical partition (shared), create two Linux partitions - one for a 32 bit install and one for a 64 bit install.
Solaris Nevada 64a
Boot the install DVD. Selecting "Developer Edition" from the grub menu gets the "SunOS Release 5.11" banner, a blinking cursor, then nothing but a blinking cursor. Reboot and edit the grub menu to add this to the kernel line:
That lets things proceed until
Fatal server error: no screens found
XIO: fatal IO error 146 ...
ERROR: The X Window System failed to initialize. The most likely
cause is that you graphics display device is not supported
And adds that for a text mode install it is necessary to select a Solaris Express install, not the Developer Edition. So try that... and it actually works. On reboot the Solaris grub menu comes up and offers a choice of Solaris Nevada snv_64a X86, Solaris failsafe, Windows, and Diagnostic Partition. I chose SNV_64a and once it came up (in text mode) I installed the nVidia graphics driver per instructions here. It worked well. Networking worked. That's about all I tested.
After the Solaris installation, the ThinkVantage button doesn't access the rescue and recovery partition any more. See below.
Solaris Nevada 67
Initial installation requires the same tapdance as above. In this case on reboot it seems to try to start the X server, and goes to a black screen. It responds to a power button press, but nothing else that I can see. So reboot to failsafe mode to install the nVidia driver (above) - but failsafe just goes to a blinking cursor, like the unmodified install boot does. So - it seems that when booting in 32 bit mode (installler boot, failsafe boot, or just a 32 bit OS boot) it needs the acpi user option listed above. That let me boot failsafe mode and install the nVidia driver. One could probably also add "-s" without the quotes to the 64 bit grub entry and boot the 64 bit OS in single user mode. This might be easier than the chroot manipulation necessary in failsafe mode when installing the driver.
For either of these installs it makes sense to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and make the "-B..." addition to the kernel line permanent for the failsafe option. It also makes sense (to me) to add a "normal" 32 bit boot option to the menu. The 64 bit kernel line looks like this:
The 32 bit line looks like this:
kernel$ /platform/i86pc/kernel/unix -B acpi-user-options=8
NOTE: There is a bug in this Solaris version that causes a strange font corruption. In some kinds of text window - vim for instance - moving the cursor over characters causes them to convert to some strange unreadable marks. They sometimes switch back again with another cursor "swipe". This is reported to be fixed in SNV_70 and later.
Solaris messes up the ThinkVantage button
(Some of this is guesswork.) A Solaris installation damages the ThinkVantage button's ability to boot the rescue and recovery partition. This happens when the installer modifies the drive's master boot record. The Solaris install philosophy is to make sure that something will boot after an install. To that end, it will install a "vanilla" master boot record that boot the first active partition. The installer also sets the Solaris partition active so tha the grub boot manager gets invoked and one can select Windows or the service partition (if they are still on the drive) or Solaris. At this point the damage is done. The Lenovo MBR repair tools aren't able to restore the magic interaction between BIOS and the MBR.
It is possible to keep the Solaris installer from replacing the MBR code by simply setting the Solaris partition active (with Linux fdisk on a Knoppix Live CD for example) before starting the solaris installation. Obviously, this requires creating the partition before the installation is begun.
As of this writing I have Solaris 10 U3 and Solaris Nevada build 70 virtual machines running in VMware server under Windows XP. For some reason the S10 VM will boot in 64 bit mode but SNV_70 will not. Otherwise they seem to run well once VMware tools are installed in each running VM. See my (skimpy) notes here.
This is an attempt to build a usable Solaris live CD. It is a noble idea but seems to be still in its early stages. The web site is here. I experimented briefly with version 0.6.1 on the T61. On boot one is presented with these choices:
32 bit no acpi
32 bit no acpi verbose debug
boot from hard disk
32 bit use linux swap - experimental
32 bit no acpi use swap - experimental
I was able to get things to come up by selecting 32 bit, then the Xfce window manager (KDE might be fine too...), then when presented with "Review/Modify current Graphics Configuration" the only combination I could get to work was by selecting "Disable Custom Monitor Probe" and "VESA". Everything else would fail with the nVidia Quadro NVS140M graphics hardware in my T61.
The "no probe" and "VESA" combo produced a stretched 800x600 screen. Ugly but usable. Wired networking worked.
According to its website, Open Solaris Project Indana is an effort to create a binary Open Solaris distribution based on a live CD. I did some quick fiddling with the Live CD (in-preview.iso) a few weeks ago - date uncertain. The boot-time options were:
OpenSolaris Developer Preview (32 bit)
OpenSolaris Developer Preview text console (32 bit)
OpenSolaris Developer Preview (32 bit, No ACPI)
Boot from Hard Disk
After an epic struggle with the GUI boot options I was able to get the text console choice to boot. The user name and password are both "jack". The root password is "opensolaris". There is a Sun blog entry that describes how to get VESA mode graphics running, but what a PITA: Indiana VESA If You Need. Ouch.