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