Debian on a Sun Sparc Ultra 10 - Lessons Learned

I recently had trouble installing/running Debian on my Sun Sparc Ultra 10. Lessons learned:

  1. There seems to be a huge crowd of people out there who own SPARCs (lots more than I would have expected)! I received tons of helpful comments, thanks everyone!
  2. Booting into single-user mode with "boot -s" requires you to enter the root password. However, you can use "boot -b", an undocumented feature, to do the equivalent of "init=/bin/sh". It doesn't quite work for me, I get "Cannot write to /foo/bar" errors (and I'm then asked to provide the root password, very funny), but that might be an unrelated problem...
  3. The problems I experienced (screen turns black, nothing happens) had a simple reason: there are two video cards in the box, but I only had a monitor attached to one of them. As things go, the bootloader used exactly the one where the screen was attached, but as soon as Debian started to boot, it would use the other video card. Which had no monitor attached. Hence I would not see anything. The installer was waiting for me to choose a keyboard layout and I was waiting for the installer to do just something... I suck. Solution: attach second monitor. Smarter solution: use some boot parameters to choose the video card I want to use (todo).
  4. None of the Debian boot images come with cfdisk or just plain fdisk (I tested businesscard, netinst, and the full install CD). Why? Do you use some other tool on SPARCs? Which?
  5. I cannot seem to mount my disks. There's no /dev/hda* (should I create them with mknod?) and trying to mount /dev/ide/* fails with some strange errors. I guess I need to read more docs, both SPARC-related as well as udev-related.

In related news: Sun has released the design of the OpenSparc T1 under the terms of the GPL. Great news, thanks Sun!


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A write up of what I did to get it to work

I've just succeeded in getting Debian 6 to run on an ULTRA 10. As I had to trawl the Internet to get all the information I needed (and this post was very helpful), I put together a description of all the tricks I had to use. Hope it's of some use.

Ultra 10 no go..

I have a sun sparc ultra 10 which I picked up on the check, I havent tried a net install, I just wanted it to boot the CD-ROM, however the CD-Rom drive was removed long ago and the two cd-roms I have didnt want to play one was broken, the other was a DVD-Rom drive, which I installed and burnt a copy of openBSD sparc64 ready for it to boot into, however when I insert the DVD into the drive and type boot cdrom.. cant find or load device cdrom.

I checked print env and that was fine, only thing I can think is that both the CD-Drives I got given with the box must both be defective.. One of them wouldnt even power on.. onwards with the net-install I guess!

Thanks for the info on booting...

I know this is an old thread, but it helped me get Linux up and running today! Just yesterday I got two Ultra 5's from work, last night I got them all ready at home and today installed Debian Sparc on one of them. 270Mhz/128Meg RAM never felt so good! Thanks for the tips, just another great thing to do with Debian...w00t!

My problem is that install

My problem is that install wont even boot. It reach "Booting Linux ..." and nothing more happends. Very frustrating!

Elite 3d?

at boot prompt try

linux append = "video=atyfb:off"