[Nottingham] linux on sparc

Paul Sladen nottingham at mailman.lug.org.uk
Tue Feb 18 12:45:00 2003

On 17 Feb 2003, mike wrote:
> i've got a old sparcStation5 (uh.how do I find out more?)

Plug a serial cable into "Serial A" configured 9600,8n1, turn it on and
watch the PROM output on boot.

Note that if you actually have a monitor and keyboard that whether it uses
the keyboard/screen or the serial port for console.

> I really want to get linux on it, but my sparc/solaris knowledge is
> almost nill.

Debian/Sparc is a good choice.

> Can anyone give advice on starting an install (boot floppy??)

Floppies?  CDs?  Nah, Sparcboxes net-boot by RARP and TFTP;  net-booting/
net-installing really is the easiest way to install to a Sun box.

They probably can be booted off a Windows box, but ideally you need another
Unix box around running rarpd and tftpd to boot from.

It is great being able to install and completely configure a machine without
a keyboard, mouse, CD or floppy going anywhere near it! (I tend to use a
laptop in the serial port and netbooting from another machine on the LAN).

There will be tonnes of documentation on the Debian.Org site, although I
have a half-written FAQ that I wrote for a Windows person on the exact steps
you actually needed to take.  I shall try and dig that up.

> best distro (yeah, debian)

Of course.  ;-)

(And bar Solaris, it is probably the best thing to run on a Sparc box--and
better in alot/most respects).

> and other gotcha's? It's gonna be used for web/media
> streaming(quicktime/helix).

Finding the binaries will probably be the hardest (unless it is nicely
compiled up and in the Debian archive already).

Try finding flash plugins for something like Opera-on-Debian-on-Sparc, which
although it is a contrived example does occasionally show up when you're
trying to use proprietary programs on rare combinations.  The simplest
answer is not non-Free stuff (that's why you're using Debian!  ;-).

I do however recommend Opera, since it is about the only browser that still
runs at a sensible speed on a Sparc5 era hardware.  Plus Opera provide
Debian/Sparc .debs!

> Location of tfm's

Most of the TFM's I know of are in Telehouse.

No War.    Nottingham, GB