Once again QEMU saved the day...

Suppose you want to try out Xen for the first time, and you're a bit paranoid careful because, well, you don't want to break your system. No problem, just download the Xen 3.0 Demo CD Image (a live CD). Or so I thought; it took me a loong time to even find a download link for that beast. There seems to be no ISO image for 3.0.4, but only for 3.0.3 (gah!).

Anyways, the live CD seems to try to mount /dev/sda as my CDROM drive, which is... um... stupid, as that's a harddrive. A SATA harddrive to be more specific. A dm-crypt'ed hard drive to be even more specific. So there's no way the live CD can ever mount that. I was dropped into a minimalist shell, but couldn't figure out how to fix anything from there, and a quick look at the docs didn't reveal anything either.

So here's my fix:

  • Boot the normal OS, insert the live CD.
  • Start the live CD in QEMU: qemu -cdrom /dev/cdrom -boot d
  • Done. I had some problems with graphics in QEMU, so I chose the command line boot option of the live CD...

Nice huh? QEMU's hard drive is an IDE drive, it's called /dev/hda (instead of /dev/sda), thus the live CD works fine.

(Yes, I'm sure this could be fixed "the right way" too, but this is a nice way to get quick results, i.e. a working Xen test setup)

Help: How do I boot Debian on a Sun Sparc Ultra 10? [Update]

Dear Lazyweb,

I was trying to boot Debian on a Sun Sparc Ultra 10 box yesterday, without success. I got myself this Sparc box from eBay many months ago, but until yesterday it was merely standing around here and taking up valuable space (just like the other dozen or so computers standing around in my room). So I thought I should really make some use of it, finally...

I booted it up and noticed that it came with SunOS 5.8 pre-installed. It boots quite fine into the graphical login prompt, but I don't have the root password (or the password for any other account). So my first task was to reset the root password. But I failed so far.

Out of curiosity I connected the machine to my laptop and ran nmap on it. It has several ports open (e.g. ntp, ssh, X11, nfs, ...), so I could probably try to find a remote root exploit (or run an ssh brute-force attack) and crack it open that way ;) While I might try that later just for the fun of it, I wanted to simply boot a Debian first and change the root password manually. That sounded simpler at first...

Anyways, here's what I tried so far:

Boot into single-user mode

As I had no experience whatsoever with Sparcs, it took me some time to read up all the stuff I needed... After a bit of googling, I found out that I need to press STOP+A to get into the boot prompt (the box has OpenBoot 3.19). There, I can type boot -s to boot into single user mode. Unfortunately, you still need the root password to boot into single-user mode. Argh!

Boot from CD-ROM

Next, I found out how to boot from CD-ROM. Typing boot cdrom in the boot prompt should do the trick. So I downloaded and burned a the current Debian "businesscard" image for Sparc:

cdrecord -eject -v speed=2 dev=/dev/hdc -data -pad debian-31r1a-sparc-businesscard.iso

Booting seems to work partially. SILO seems to start fine, and I get to the "boot:" prompt. When I press Enter I get to the point where it says "Loading Linux..." but then the screen turns black and nothing happens anymore (hangup). The same happens when I type "linux" or "rescue" on the "boot:" prompt.

The monitor works fine, SunOS 5.8 can display graphics etc., so it's probably not a hardware problem.


After that, I tried to perform a network boot. This was fun and I learned a lot about RARP and TFTP, as I have never played with this stuff before. While the netboot part itself worked, it didn't solve my real problem, unfortunately...

First, I installed rarpd and tftpd on my laptop:

apt-get install rarpd tftpd

In /etc/ethers I added a line which tells rarpd which MAC address should be assigned to which IP address. I looked up the MAC address of the Sparc box (it's displayed when you boot) and then added "xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx" to /etc/ethers. I configured my laptop to have the IP address ifconfig eth0 broadcast netmask Of course, I plugged an ethernet cable in the Sparc box and in my laptop so they can talk to each other.

Then, I created /etc/xinetd.d/foobar which contained:

service tftp
disable = no
socket_type = dgram
protocol = udp
user = nobody
wait = no
server = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
# server_args = /tftp

This should tell tftpd to serve the Debian netinst boot image from /tftp, but that didn't work for me. So I commented out the "server_args = /tftp" and let tftpd fall back to the default location /tftpboot. You need to reload xinetd after any change: /etc/init.d/xinetd reload. Also, tftpd is compiled with TCP wrapper support, so you have to temporarily allow the respective connections, e.g. by adding "ALL:" to /etc/hosts.allow. Don't forget to remove that line again later on!

Now I downloaded the Debian netinst boot image for Sparc (hopefully the correct one):

mkdir /tftpboot
mv boot.img /tftpboot/XXXXXXX

You need to place that image into /tftpboot using the name under which the Sparc box requests it. I found that name by net-booting the Sparc machine and watching the network traffic with Ethereal on my laptop...

The final steps: boot the Sparc box, type STOP+A, type boot net. The Sparc machine gets the boot image from my laptop just fine (it seems), and I get to the "Loading Linux..." part again. But then I have the same problem as with the CD-ROM boot: the screen turns black, nothing happens anymore...


Update 2006-03-22: I have posted some lessons learned.

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