Navigating the tar(1) Pit on an R710

Posted on Tue 15 March 2016 in misc

In honor of Pi Day, I've decided to do something completely irrational: use my Dell R710's tape drive for backups of SmartOS's ZFS datasets. The Dell RD1000 is a bit of a weird beast - it's an internal tape drive that presents as a SATA USB disk. I can only assume this tortured firmware kabuki is an attempt to make it easier for Windows admins to do tape backups, lacking Unix's proper tape handling tools like tar and mt, while making it more complicated for Unix users. This is a running theme with Dell servers.

SmartOS in particular is a pain in the behind to get working with the RD1000 because half of the usual Solaris/Illumos tools are missing and the other half don't always match the Solaris documentation. Here's a walkthrough. All commands must be run from the Global Zone as root.

  1. Identify the RD1000 with diskinfo

  2. Wipe the disk by running format -e, selecting the RD1000 from the list, and typing format at the prompt.