If you have some old Sun hardware you would like to run GNU/Linux on, the easiest way to get started is to use the CD-ROM images available at Aurora Linux. We’ve tried many different distributions, but the only one that we could get to load successfully is Aurora. Mebbe we are braindead, but if you have troubles, try Aurora. Aurora installs just as easily as Red Hat on i386 hardware. No fooling. A NetAdminTools tip ‘o the hat to the folks at Aurora. Just boot off of the first CD, and the rest is smooth sailing.
Of course, that was too easy. What we wanted to get going was the latest *everything*, so of course, we really wanted Gentoo on the box. There is something wrong with the Silo boot loader and the install routine on Gentoo, at least with our system. We suspect that it is because the console is on a serial port. Aurora had no problems, but Gentoo (1.1a) hangs right after the Silo prompt. So, what we did was install Aurora, create an EXT3 filesystem on another drive, and extract a stage3 tarball on the filesystem and hack at the system until we got it running. First, we created a partition and filesystem on a different drive (sdc) while running Aurora off of hda, and then mount it:
# fdisk /dev/sdc # mkfs -t ext3 /dev/sdc1 # mount -t ext3 /dev/sdc1 /mnt/gentoo # cd /mnt/gentoo
Now, let’s copy the stage3 tarball to /mnt/gentoo and extract it:
# cp /stage3-sparc64-1.4_rc2.tar.bz2 ./ # tar -xjf *.bz2
# cp /etc/resolv.conf etc/resolv.conf
Pretty much, we then hacked the install following this document. The key steps we took:
# cd / # chroot /mnt/gentoo # source /etc/profile # ln -s /usr/portage/profiles/default-sparc64-1.4 etc/make.profile # export CONFIG_PROTECT="" # emerge system # emerge egcs64-sparc # cd /usr/src # wget http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/ v2.4/linux-2.4.20.tar.bz2 # tar -xjf *.bz2 # make ARCH=sparc64 oldconfig dep clean vmlinux modules # make modules_install # gzip -9 vmlinux # cp vmlinux.gz /boot/vmlinuz-2.4.20 # cd /boot # ln -s vmlinuz-2.4.20 vmlinuz # emerge silo
Fill in the rest from the Gentoo documentation. For this box, sunhme needed to be in /etc/modules.autoload. We just added an entry in silo.conf on /boot on the the Aurora partition to load the Gentoo root partition instead, and copied the kernal above to Aurora /boot. One interesting thing is that the .config file cannot be created (it seems) from menuconfig, because tmpfs doesn’t show up correctly on the menus. Now, the directions on Gentoo say to use sed to edit the file. here is our .config file.
One final problem is that the terminals that agetty tries to run on don’t exist. There is an error “respawning too fast: disabled for 5 minutes” that pops up. Just edit inittab and comment out the problem agetty lines.