This is a crazy error. I got it consistantly when doing a install for Oracle 8.1.7 on an Solaris Box. The reason for it happening changed.
Once, I installed Oracle 184.108.40.206.0, it completed succesfully, with a database. I removed the database. Applied the 220.127.116.11.0 patchset and tried to create a DB with dbassit.. and got that error. It did appear that I couldn't apply the patch and THEN create a database, but I could install 18.104.22.168.0 create a DB then upgrade the DB to 22.214.171.124.0.
I ended up rebooting the server and I was able to create without a problem. Also, check you Solaris system kernal params and make sure they are set up correctly... or alt least are set up.