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SmartOS is self hosting. Make sure you are running the latest release of SmartOS to do your builds.
SmartOS is built in a zone. Use the smartos-1.6.3 zone image (UUID 01b2c898-945f-11e1-a523-af1afbe22822)
Do not use any other zone image.
Import the zone image:
Your zone will need sufficient memory, space, space in tmpfs, and access to the ufs, pcfs, and tmpfs drivers. Below are some settings to make sure to include in your zone's json specification (make sure to set up a NIC as well... see How to create a zone ( OS virtualized machine ) in SmartOS for further details):
Use vmadm to create your zone, then you can use zlogin to log in.
SmartOS requires the illumos kernel source tree and a couple more repositories (kvm, ...) as well as various compilation tools to build. The following steps download the various source trees and binaries required for the build:
If any git clone operation launched by configure hangs, it can be interrupted with Ctrl-C and configure can be restarted (it will pick up at the last unfinished step). After configure finishes successfully, the build zone is ready for the build. One can make a snapshot of the build zone at this point and rollback later if the build fails for any reason.
Good luck! Build times for SmartOS on various hardware configurations should be similar to the build times for the illumos kernel itself which can be found in the illumos wiki, plus of course the time required to build the SmartOS-specific parts.
Before you can distribute your new SmartOS build, you need to install a couple of packages.
With those packages installed, you can now use the scripts in smartos-live/tools to build an iso or usb image.