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Bug#422307: Sparc installation problem.


I wanted to resurrect my old SPARC to use as a web proxy/ dan's guardian server for my daughter and Debian supports my old box.

I tried etch sparc installer on the debian site but I am assuming that the known problem with the esp driver on the cd install is what almost made me quit and throw the old sparc into the trash bin. see here for info: http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/errata -> section "sparc: CD installs for sparc32 may fail"

I have however managed to get the machine installed from a Sarge CD and upgraded to Etch:
I had to figure out the hard way, that to get to the shells during install you have to set debconf priority to low AND BOOT_DEBUG=3....any other combination failed for me. I repeatedly tried BOOT_DEBUG=3 and never saw a menu where I could get to a shell until I used the low priority.
I had to find the dd trick to get the disk label back to a usable state. Otherwise my 2GB harddrives appeared to be 200MB drives.
What are the command line partitioning tools ?? :-) I know now, but to someone with no experience this would be daunting, if not unapproachable.

I am going to propose the following changes:
Could someone please upgrade the documentation to reflect the fact that on SPARC you have to use the correct combination of flags to get to the menu with the shells during install e.g.
boot: linux debconf/prioity=low BOOT_DEBUG=3
put the trick with dd onto the partitioning page and
which tools to load and WHEN so that you can get to them
which partitioning tools to use from the command line AND in what order, to discover and partition your disks.

Last, and this is the most important:
I was quite disappointed with the initial interaction with the installer.
Non of the documentation spells anything out if you happen to need to use the most bare bones nothing is working install. I would think(yah! I know) that the serial interface would be the primary installation mechanism on anything other than a PC(i386 or x86_64) and the fact that it would just stop working with no notification or messages is quite scary. Menu, Menu, Menu, lack of any response and no error or status messages should be avoided.

Before you wonder if I have a clue - I am a linux certified technical professional(and I code/hack for fun) that has been deploying linux for years but this is my first experience with anything debian based - if my clients don't use it I haven't had to learn it so no debian until now.

I'll be putting etch on a PC to give it a fair try since the sparc is a little older and more limited hardware.

Now if I can just find a couple if ethernet interfaces for the old sparc 20 so that I can setup the firewall/proxy/dan's guardian.


P.S.  Buona Fortuna! Ema.

Emanuele Rocca wrote:
Hello Anthony,

* Anthony Smith <anthony.smith@sbcglobal.net>, [2007-05-04 15:36 -0600]:
Image version: Sarge

Can you try a recent version of the installer?


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