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Installing the Altiris Agent for Unix in a Global Zone

Created: 08 Oct 2007 | 4 comments
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Dieselboi's picture
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My buddy, an Altiris SE called me to ask how I dealt with the Altiris Agent and Solaris 10 local zones. Since he didn't know and answer, I thought maybe you'all would like to know too.

Solaris 10 introduced the ability to create local zones or containers. For you Windows engineers, a local zone is similar to a Virtual Machine, yet it isn't independent of the host system. There are shared resources across the board. When you install Altiris on the Global Zone using the aex-bootstrap script or via the Altiris console, it also installs it in the local zones, but they fail to function properly. The trick is to install into the Global Zone and the Global Zone only then follow up with the local zones.

To do this, you do not use the aex-bootstrap script. You need to get your hands on the actual package that installs the Altiris agent and a configuration file.

That package is named aex-nsclt-6.2.1378-sol-sparc. It comes zipped and is located on your NS server\NSCap\Bin\Unix\Agent\Solaris\Sparc\.

The configuration file can be extracted by navigating in the Altiris console to the Altiris Agent Installation page and then clicking on the Install Altiris Unix Agent tab. Add a single host and highlight it and choose Install Settings button below. This launches the Install Settings window. One of the tabs is the Install XML. Save that to a file named .aex-agent-install-config.xml and put it in the same directory as the package and make them accessible to the host.

To install:

From the Solaris host (note, root access required,) you copy the above two files to local folder or setup a mount and do a pkgadd -G command like the following:

# pkgadd -G -d ./aex-nsclt-6.2.1378-sol-sparc

The -G option installs the package in that zone only. the -d command tells Solaris to get the package from the current directory. The pkgadd command will them run and prompt you about what to install. Choose the Altiris Agent for Unix and Linux. It will then prompt you to "Enter path to package base directory" - the default path is /opt/altiris/notification/nsagent. You will need to manually input that. The rest of the agent's configuration information is in the .aex-agent-install-config.xml file. The installation will proceed with a couple more confirmations.

Local zones:

Once the Global Zone has the Altiris Agent installed, you can proceed to install Altiris into the local zones as you would any other client using the aex-bootstrap script.

Couple of other tips:

  1. When doing agent upgrades (usually automated) you need to manually run the upgrade package on the Global Zones or the automated method will walk all over your global and local zones.
  2. When working with local zones, you have the ability to "clone" or make copies of existing hosts or zones. If those existing hosts have Altiris installed, be sure to delete the host.GUID file after cloning in order to not have duplicate GUIDs in Altiris. Simply deleting the file and then running an aex-sendbasicinv will recreate a new GUID file. The host.GUID file is located in /opt/altiris/notification/nsagent/etc/. If you don't do this, the symptom is the new systems and old may or may not show up in the Altiris console.

Enjoy!

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Pmaddison's picture

Has anybody tried doing this by just running the agent in the global zone and then pulling the local zone information and pushing that to the Altiris DB via custom inventory?

The use of licenses for each zone and running an agent in each one seems very wasteful, especially when you have hundreds of zones running on a given server.

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Dieselboi's picture

Pmaddison,
You make a point and no, I have not tried that. What we have tried is to have a text file in the Global Zone that lists all local zones and then do a custom inventory to create a data class for that. We're not moving zones as much as originally though, so our data isn't changing.

One challenge with not having Altiris on each zone is that you won't get inventory. That may not be needed in your environment, but in ours, each individual zone is unique, so we rely on software inventory for our reporting. Also, just inventorying the Global Zone will not give you user data on the locals.

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aspradlin's picture

I followed the above instructions and I'm still getting my Local Zones and Global Zone walking all over each other. I'm not a UNIX person. I got the Global up and functional per the directions and then the local zone. But I was getting strange conflicts in the processes and agents. I deleted the host.GUID in my local and it removed it from my in Global!!! Any idea's whats going on, or should the Local Zones be installed in a different dir?

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Guy Don's picture

If there is only a global zone, can the agent be installed through the NS console by pushing? Or the agent has to be installed manually on the local machine?

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