Yesterday I decided to give up wrestling with a recalcitrant Solaris 9 box (specifically, an Enterprise 250), and install Linux on it instead. My first stop was Debian, but unfortunately while the installer started up fine for both stable and testing, in neither case did I get output which included a cursor, so wasn’t able to navigate the screens (the keyboard seemed to work, but I couldn’t reliably tell what it was doing). Thus, onto Ubuntu 6.06. Which worked beautifully, cursor and all, and is now running happily.
Although I did discover New Things about the Sun boot process; viz that it will automatically pick up whatever’s on the first partition and has no MBR. In my case, this was still Solaris 9. I messed around with boot magic & nvalias a bit but couldn’t locate the Linux partition correctly (or couldn’t boot it, one or the other), so in the end decided it was quicker to reinstall over the old Solaris 9 partition as well as the previous free space - keeping it would have been something of a waste of disk space, really, since it’s not working anyway.
A further note, however, about the Ubuntu installer: it will only boot from the CD (on this architecture) if you are booting the machine from cold - i.e. turn it all the way off & all the way back on again, hit Stop+A as soon as the smonitor comes up, & type ‘boot cdrom’ at the ok> prompt. If you stop the boot (of whatever) halfway through, get back to the ok> prompt, & type ‘boot cdrom’ from there, it dies with “Illegal instruction”. (details here & other suggestions for fixing this - looks like a fix is on its way).
Sadly no joy with Ubuntu on my SunBlade 100. I’ve tried Debian stable (died with ‘cramfs wrong magic’ error - bug report although apparently fiddling with the memory might work), testing (died with ‘Illegal Instruction’ - lots of bug reports, although there is active work going on on this if you check the debian-sparc mailing list); and now Ubuntu 6.06, but still the “Illegal Instruction” error (& booting from cold doesn’t make a difference). I haven’t yet tried the firmware upgrade suggestion, or tried *much* with netboot, mind; some day when I have some spare time!
Edited to add: After sibre commented below that they’d got Ubuntu booting on their Blade 100, I had another go, in case I hadn’t booted cold enough. First go no joy: got further than previously, but hung at “rtc_init: no PC rtc found”. Second and third tries, got significantly further than that, but install hung during/just after the “Detecting hardware” stage. I may give auroralinux, linked below, a go at some point.
Further edit: Many thanks to Shane (see comment below)! Cold boot + typing
install ide=nodma at the SILO prompt got Ubuntu 6.06 successfully installed on the Blade 100. For the record: Debian etch installer beta-3 version gets further than before (again, requires cold boot) but for me hung just after “Detecting network hardware”.