Sunday, March 20, 2005

old PROM SPARC32 problem during Debian Woody installation

Got an ancient Ultra Sparc II (sun4m) whose task before is a firewall running on Solaris 2.6, it's got 448MB RAM and 10Mpbs Quad Ethernet port. I decided to install Debian on it as it's the only distro that supports sun4m, AFAIK. I had a hard time looking for Gentoo support but it was my first choice. I initially installed Debian3 Woody for SPARC. But I went into problems during the reboot to continue my installation for the base packages, because of the old PROM that does not support more than one 1GB under the /boot partition, the error was:

SILO buggy old PROMs don't allow reading past 1GB from start of the disk..
Read error on block 327684
Cannot find /etc/silo.conf (Attempt to read block from filesystem resulted in short read)
Couldn't load /etc/silo.conf

To solve this, I need to boot from my Debian CD installer on rescue mode, and mount / and /boot partition.
Then do the following steps:

ln -s . /boot/etc
ln -s . /boot/boot
mv /etc/silo.conf /boot
ln -s /boot/silo.conf /etc/silo.conf

path may vary as "target" may be appended before the directories for the mount point.

Then, edit /etc/kernel-img.conf, and add
link_in_boot = Yes

There was no vi editor installed yet, so I need to use nano-tiny.

Reboot my system and installation continued successfully.

I'd like to thank Ben Collins and Nathan Norman of debian-sparc mailing list for the help.

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