This is puzzling. While I haven't tried it, I do not see why it
wouldn't be possible to change both of those things. Painful yes, but
not impossible.

I don't know for a fact that the zone configuration file is the only place that this is recorded and it is not a public stable interface. In fact the xml file itself isn't a documented stable interface (no man page) - zonecfg is meant to be the documented public interface to such things, and it will not let you change inherit-pkg-dir
once a zone has progressed beyond the configured state.

From the zones man page

Once installed, a zone's brand may not be changed unless the zone
    is first uninstalled.

From the zonecfg man page

Such resources are  not  modifiable  or  removable  once  a  zone  has  been
        installed with zoneadm.

For example, with the sparse/whole root issue, why couldn't you
shutdown the zone, modify the zone config, copy the various directory
structures and bits over and then boot it?

You might be able to trick it.  But it's a case of building something around
the behavior of something as opposed to the intended and stable contract.
And the format of the zone xml file has changed a couple of times
already and that's OK because it is not meant for public consumption.

Before zone cloning and attach/detach there were very clever folks slinging
them around with things like rsync (you know who you are....) and reverse
engineering all sorts of private interfaces. And it probably worked to some

But back to the point of the original question, the only two characteristics of
zones that I can find that are static once installed are the sparseness and

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