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Re: Debian instalation on an SGI Indy workstation

Install starting from CD will probably be the easiest for you then.

Try going here to download the CD netinst image:


If the Etch RC1 candidate does not work, try going down the page further and pick up the daily build.

It would also be helpful to go here and burn this Gentoo LiveCD as well:


It has been a while, and honestly I don't remember for sure if the debian CD was SGI bootable or not. Either way, the gentoo one is. The important part is getting a kernel running and getting to a command shell as simply as possible. We'll install your choice of OS afterward.

Check the jumpers on your CD-ROM drive to be sure that 512 byte sectors are enabled. If the drive was ever used on an SGI or SUN workstation, then you can almost bet that was already done.

Is it safe to assume you have an XL or XGE graphics option in the machine? (XGE was the designation for the combination of XL graphics and R5K CPU as opposed to an R4xxx series CPU. The graphics board is the same in either case.) If you have an XZ, then I beleive you will still need to go the serial console route.

Hopefully you have XL and we can work from the regular graphics console. Serial isn't too bad if we have to go that route.

Assuming you have a graphics console, fire up the system and at some point it will present the "Booting.... (stop for maintenence)" prompt on the screen. Quickly click the mouse on stop for maintenence. That will take you to a menu screen in a couple seconds. On the menu screen, there should be an option that takes you to a command prompt or command monitor.

The first thing you need to do here it type "hinv".

This will give you a hardware inventory. Verify that it shows the CD-ROM, and make note of the numbers shown in the line that looks like "scsi(0)cdrom(4)".

This means that the drive is on controller 0, and the ID is 4. When you get to the point of actually trying to boot a CD, you will need this info.

Before you do anything else, PLEASE type the command "printenv". This will show all the configuration settings stored in the prom's static ram. Write down all the entries shown on a sheet of paper. Be careful to note which letters are capitalized and which are not. Write this down, because if things get really wrong, you'll need this to completely restore the system back to the way you started with it.

Go ahead and put the Gentoo CD in the drive. You should be able to exit the command prompt and get back to the graphical monitor. From there, the Gentoo CD should boot using the "install system software" menu option.

For the Debian CD, stay at the command prompt and try doing a command like this:

ls dksc(0,4,8)

The 0 is the controller ID, the 4 is the SCSI ID of the drive, and the 8 is like a partition number. If that does not work, try using partition values from 0 - 10 and see if you get anything at all. If none of those shows a directory listing, then the debian CD is not bootable and you will have to boot the Gentoo CD to get the kernel up and running the first time.

Assuming the "ls" command worked, remember those numbers. In the listing, look for something like "sash" or "arcboot" or "arcload" or even just an installer image of some sort.

You would use a command something like this to boot the file:

boot -f dksc(0,4,8)arcload

Experiment with these and let me know how far you get. I'm actually going to start the process tonight on an O2 R5K that I just obtained, so I'll have up to date info to help you better.

The objective that we are after is this:

[1] Boot the box into a linux kernel and get a command shell however we have to do it.

[2] Wipe the disk, and repartition it.

[3] Create an oversized volume header of about 50 MB or so on the hard disk.

[4] Use the running linux to get networking functional, or use the CD to get access to the 9+ MB debian installer image file. We use dvhtool to push that image into the volume header on the drive.

[5] You now have a "permanent" bootable installer stored on the disk itself outside of the normal file system. You can at any time boot into the installer to recreate the system or repair the installation on the live file system.

This is a little trick that I learned that makes life so much easier.

Please understand that there is some trial and error involved, and it will take a couple days as we work through these steps.

The important thing is, YOU WILL HAVE A RUNNING SYSTEM very soon provided that all your hardware is working correctly.


On Thu, 18 Jan 2007, [ISO-8859-15] Nuño wrote:

Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 21:06:23 +0100
From: "[ISO-8859-15] Nuño" <niglesi@gmail.com>
To: J. Scott Kasten <jscottkasten@yahoo.com>
Cc: "[ISO-8859-15] Nuño" <niglesi@gmail.com>,
    Debian Mips <debian-mips@lists.debian.org>
Subject: Re: Debian instalation on an SGI Indy workstation

El Thu, 18 Jan 2007 12:56:27 -0500
"J. Scott Kasten" <jscottkasten@yahoo.com> escribió:

A lot of the information that you will find out there is becomming
outdated.  I've done this several times.

First question, do you have a SCSI CDROM for the machine, or can
borrow  one for a day?  If so, that might save you a whole lot of time
getting  started - especially as people often botch it the first time
and end up  redoing it.

I've got one. A very old one, it only works on a concrete "position" :)
Maybe 4th hand, HI-tech  :)

If not, then you'll need to go the netboot route with a DHCP server,
TFTP  server, etc...

Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2007 02:02:16 +0100
To: Debian Mips <debian-mips@lists.debian.org>
Subject: Debian instalation on an SGI Indy workstation
Resent-Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2007 19:04:27 -0600 (CST)
Resent-From: debian-mips@lists.debian.org


I want to install a debian system on an Indy SGI station.
For the moment I have not access to the machine, but I'm looking
for information.
I've found this HOWTO: http://www.pvv.org/~pladsen/Indy/HOWTO.html

Well, I only want to know if anybody has done it to have some more

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