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on Dec 10, 2012 21:04.

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h1. About the Global Zone

The global zone is the parent to all other zones and serves as the management layer of SmartOS from which you administer to other zones. A single administrator is in charge of the global zone and manages properties of all other zones, such as resource allocation and resource management. As the global zone administrator, you control and instantiate zones through three basic steps:
In SmartOS, the global zone is distinct from all other zones.  The global zone is the parent to all other zones and serves as the management layer of SmartOS from which you [administer|DOC:Administering the Global Zone] to other zones. You use the global zone to monitor and manage the system health, capacity, and throughput of non-global zones. A single administrator is in charge of the global zone and manages properties of all other zones, such as resource allocation and resource management. As the global zone administrator, you control and instantiate zones through three basic steps:

* *Configure:* Defines the networking and privilege sets for the zone.
* *Run:* Boots the zone and starts services.

The global zone is what you boot into when you boot up and log into SmartOS. You can think of the global zone as the "base OS". Non-global zones are the various OS and KVM instances that you manage through the global zone. The terms "global zone" and "non-global zone" help distinguish between references to the virtual machines contained by the global zone and references to things inside a virtual machine.


The key to working in a SmartOS environment is understanding how to administer and work with the global zone. The global zone is effectively a read-only hypervisor because SmartOS is not installed locally. It boots directly from either USB, CD-ROM, or PXE into a mostly read-only environment. When you boot to SmartOS, you essentially load it into memory and run it off of a ramdisk. This means that most changes you would want to typically make in the global zone will not persist or are simply not allowed. For example:

* Any changes you make to SMF services are reset with each reboot.

SmartOS is specifically designed as an OS for running virtual machines, not as a general purpose OS. As a global zone administrator, you should only use the global zone for creating and managing non-global zones. All other work should take place directly in non-global zones. However, there are some changes you can make directly in the global zone.

{tip}For a good breakdown of changes you can make, see this [blog post|http://www.perkin.org.uk/posts/smartos-and-the-global-zone.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter] by Jonathan Perkin of Joyent.{tip}