Monthly Archives: February 2024

Mirroring OmniOS: The Complete Guide; Part One

Chapter Ⅰ

I know that “Complete Guide” and “Part One” are oxymorons, but hey, be happy that I’m publishing in parts, otherwise I’d completely ignore this blog post.

Two weeks ago I decided to play with illumos again. I was speaking with a friend and we were sharing our frustrations regarding Open-Source contribution. We write the code, we submit, we get feedback, we submit again, and then we’re ghosted. It’s like the LinkedIn or Tinder version of Software Engineering.

Then I asked him about his best open-source experience and he told me “illumos of course!”.

I was amazed. I thought you had to be very technical in order to even build illumos, but turns out they have an amazing documentation on building illumos and OmniOS (an illumos distribution) has done work to make sure that the system can be self-hosted (i.e. The OS can build itself).

So, I decided to fire up OmniOS on our hackerspace server running FreeBSD inside a bhyve VM.

The installation went smoothly, but the IPS packages were slow to download, and I might be wrong (please correct me if I am) but IPS doesn’t seem to be keeping a local copy of the files. It always downloads. Is that configurable?

Regardless. I thought that the best way to contribute is to advocate. In order to do that I needed to make sure that IPS servers are fast in Armenia. Hence the mirroring project started.



Here are some terminology that I will use in this blog post, just so we are on the same page.

  • OmniOS: an illumos distribution
  • Origin: OmniOS’s IPS servers at
  • Local: A copy of the Origin
  • Repository: A collection of software
  • Core: The Core Repository of OmniOS
  • Extras: The Extra Repository of OmniOS
  • IPS or PKG: The Image Packaging System and its utility, pkg
  • Zone: an illumos Zone (similar to FreeBSD Jails, Linux Containers, chroot) running on OmniOS

Now that we are on the same page, let’s talk about our setup and what we need.

  • An internet connection: duh!
  • A domain name: I decided to use Yes, I’m lucky like that.
  • A publicly accessible IP address.
  • A server: I am running OmniOS Stable (r151048) inside a VM. You can use bare-metal or a cloud VM if you want.
  • Storage: I am currently using around 50GB of storage, expect that to go around 300GB when we get to Part Three

Pre-Mirroring Setup

Before we setup our mirror, let’s make sure that we have a good infrastructure that we can maintain.

Here’s what we’ll create

  • A Zone that will act as the HTTP(s) server using nginx at IP address
  • A Zone that will do the mirroring using IPS tools at
  • An virtual dumb switch (etherstub) that will connect the Zones and the Global-Zone (a.k.a The Host) together. The GZ will have an address of
  • ZFS datasets for each Core and Extras Repository (for each release)

Please note that there are many ways to do this, for example, having everything in a Global Zone, running IPS mirroring and nginx in a single Zone, not using etherstub at all, etc. But I like this setup as it will allow us to “grow” in the future.

From now on, omnios# means that we’re in the Global Zone and zone0# means we’re inside a Zone named zone0.

Let’s start with setting up our etherstub and connecting our Global Zone to it

omnios# dladm create-etherstub switch0
omnios# dladm create-vnic -l switch0 vnic0
omnios# ipadm create-if vnic0
omnios# ipadm create-addr -T static -a vnic0/switch0


Now, we will setup our Zones using the zadm utility. Install zadm by running

omnios# pkg install zadm

After installing zadm, we’ll create a dataset for our Zones

omnios# zfs create -o mountpoint=/zones rpool/zones

This assumes that your ZFS pool is named rpool.

Finally, we can create our Zones. Running

omnios# zadm create -b pkgsrc www0

will open your $EDITOR, where you need to modify some JSON, here’s what mine looks like!

   "autoboot" : "true",
   "brand" : "pkgsrc",
   "ip-type" : "exclusive",
"dns-domain" : "", "net" : [ { "allowed-address" : "", "defrouter" : "", "global-nic" : "switch0", "physical" : "www0" } ], "pool" : "", "scheduling-class" : "", "zonename" : "www0", "zonepath" : "/zones/www0" }

After saving the file, zadm will install the Zone.

Now let’s setup our mirroring Zone. Do the same but change the Zone name to repo, the brand to lipkg (and -b lipkg) and set the IP address to

All we need now is to forward the HTTP/HTTPS traffic to www0 Zone and allow all Zones to access the internet using NAT.

Create and edit the IPFilter’s NAT file at /etc/ipf/ipnat.conf, here’s an example configuration

map vioif0 ->

rdr vioif0 port 80 -> port 80 tcp
rdr vioif0 port 443 -> port 443 tcp

Make sure you set the correct interface name and the correct external IP address.

Finally, we can boot our Zones!

omnios# zadm boot www0
omnios# zadm boot repo

You should see the following output when you run zadm again

omnios# zadm
NAME              STATUS     BRAND       RAM    CPUS  SHARES
global            running    ipkg        56G      12       1
repo              running    lipkg         -       -       1
www0              running    pkgsrc        -       -       1

Great! Let’s setup the mirroring process.

Mirroring Setup

Let’s create a ZFS dataset for repos for each release

repo# zfs create -o mountpoint=/repo rpool/zones/repo/ROOT/repo      
repo# zfs create rpool/zones/repo/ROOT/repo/r151048      
repo# zfs create rpool/zones/repo/ROOT/repo/r151048/core 
repo# zfs create rpool/zones/repo/ROOT/repo/r151048/extra

And then we use the pkgrepo command to create a repository

repo# pkgrepo create /repo/r151048/core
repo# pkgrepo create /repo/r151048/extra

And finally, we can start receiving the packages from Origin to Local

repo# pkgrecv -s  -d /repo/r151048/core  '*'
repo# pkgrecv -s -d /repo/r151048/extra '*'

This will take a while depending on your internet connection speed and the load on OmniOS’s Origin. It’s like a good investment, we spend load and time now so we save traffic and time later 🙂

After it’s done, we need to set the publisher of these repos the same as Origin.

repo# pkgrepo set -s /repo/r151048/core   publisher/prefix=omnios
repo# pkgrepo set -s /repo/r151048/extra/ publisher/prefix=extra.omnios

And we’re done!

Now need to serve these repos using IPS’s depot server.

We will create two instances of the depotd server, one for core and one for extra.

  • r151048/core will run on 5148
  • r151048/extra will run on 1148
  • (in the future) r151050/core will run on 5150
  • (in the future) r151050/extra will run on 1150

We start with core

repo# svccfg -s pkg/server add r151048_core
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_core addpg pkg application
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_core setprop pkg/inst_root = /repo/r151048/core/
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_core setprop pkg/port = 5148
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_core setprop pkg/proxy_base =

And we do the same for extra

repo# svccfg -s pkg/server add r151048_extra
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_extra addpg pkg application
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_extra setprop pkg/inst_root = /repo/r151048/extra/
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_extra setprop pkg/port = 1148
repo# svccfg -s pkg/server:r151048_extra setprop pkg/proxy_base =

Finally, we enable the services

repo# svcadm enable  pkg/server:r151048_core pkg/server:r151048_extra
repo# svcadm restart pkg/server:r151048_core pkg/server:r151048_extra

Let’s check!

We’re good! Now let’s setup Nginx 🙂

The Web Server

This part is pretty easy, we login into www0, install nginx, and setup some paths. I will be posting a copy-pasta of my configs, I assume you can do the rest 🙂

www0# pkgin update
www0# pkgin install nginx

Thank you SmartOS! 🧡

In my nginx.conf, I added

include vhosts/*.conf;

and then in /opt/local/etc/nginx/vhosts I created a file
named, which looks like this

server {
        listen 80;

        location /.well-known/acme-challenge/ {
          alias /opt/local/www/acme/.well-known/acme-challenge/;

        location / {
            return 301 "";

server {
    listen       443 ssl;

    ssl_certificate      /etc/ssl/;
    ssl_certificate_key  /etc/ssl/;
    location /r151048/core/ {

    location /r151048/extra/ {

    location / {
# This needs to be changed, later... add_header Content-Type text/plain; return 200 "ok..."; } }

Finally, we just need to enable nginx

www0# svcadm enable pkgsrc/nginx

and check!

Using the Local Repos

This part is actually pretty easy. We just need to remove everything that exists and add our own. I will be running this on a computer named dna0.

dna0# pkg set-publisher -M '*' -G '*' omnios
dna0# pkg set-publisher -M '*' -G '*' extra.omnios
dna0# pkg set-publisher -O omnios
dna0# pkg set-publisher -O extra.omnios
dna0# pkg publisher PUBLISHER TYPE STATUS P LOCATION extra.omnios origin online F omnios origin online F

We’re good! 🙂

Fetching Updates

By the time I wanted to publish this I noticed that there’s a new OmniOS Weekly Update, so I thought, hey, maybe I should try updating the Local Repo as well… how do we do that?

Turns out I just need to pkgrecv again, and then run a refresh command.

pkgrecv -v -s -d /repo/r151048/core/ '*'
pkgrepo -s /repo/r151048/core refresh

And looks like we’re good! Maybe we can setup a simple cronjob 🙂

Final Notes

This has been an amazing experience. Since I started using OmniOS two weeks ago, I’ve setup the mirror, I installed two OmniOS deployments on production for two organization, and I talked about it during our Armenian Hackers Radio Podcast. With this mirror completely setup, I can advocate even more!

I’d like to send my thanks (and later, my money) to the OmniOS team for the amazing work they’re doing, special thanks to andyf for answering all of my questions, neirac for pushing me to try more illumos in my life and everyone who contributed to the docs and blog posts that I used. I’ll leave some links below.

Finally, for the coming (two) posts I will talk about mirroring (for ISO/USB/ZFS images) and the pkgsrc repository run by SmartOS/MNX.

Thank you for reading and thank you, illumos-community for being so nice ^_^

That’s all folks…


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