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Worth it to put linux on a sparc32?
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Paralox
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Joined: 06 Jul 2004
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Location: NYC

PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 8:11 pm    Post subject: Worth it to put linux on a sparc32? Reply with quote

I just got a sparcstation 20, with 4x250Mhz Cpus, half a gig of ram, and an accelerated video card.

It has a very old version of solaris on it, 2.6 I think.
It isn't of much use to me right now; I can't install any ports or build or install anything from after 1996, because the libs and userland are just so obsolete.
So I am stuck with motif and netscape for now.

But it feels like a shame to just let it sit on my shelf, It runs X so smoothly it feels like a P4, and it can boot from openfirmware to the graphical login within 8 seconds.
And it even runs the Java 1.0 graphics demos really smoothly.

I know it would make a really great desktop.
So, how much effort would it take to get linux 2.4 with the latest portage tree running on it?

I got the impression skimming through past threads that I would have to build it from stage1, using an older boot cd.
Is that right?

Has anyone done something like this before?
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dr_nailz
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Joined: 23 Jul 2005
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hehe I remember throwing out stacks of them as high as me :lol:
Not with the same specs though... that sounds very meaty for a sparcstation 20!
I've never tried Gentoo on one, but my guess would be it should be easy enough, and would make a nice home webserver :wink:
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Raistlin
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Joined: 17 May 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,
it's always worth it to put Linux on EVERY machine! ;)
No, seriously - I've collected several machines with different architectures: AMD, AMD64, Pentium-M, Via-EPIA, SPARC-64, Alpha, X-Scale,...
Most of the times it's quite funny having to deal with the specialities. And the older machines - as yours - usually make a good web-server ;)
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mark_alec
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Joined: 11 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moved from Kernel & Hardware to Gentoo on Sparc.
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appetitus
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Joined: 28 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:36 am    Post subject: Re: Worth it to put linux on a sparc32? Reply with quote

Paralox wrote:
I just got a sparcstation 20, with 4x250Mhz Cpus, half a gig of ram, and an accelerated video card.
...
Has anyone done something like this before?


Only about a zillion times.

Since Gentoo is a highly flexible distro, it's pretty easy to get this box running. Dig around in the archives for CD-installs prior to the decision to only support sparc64, you can install those, emerge --sync, and then build up to current stuff while using the machine. I've probably had linux running on over a 100 sparc32s, there are a few problems, but sparcs are EXCELLENT at network tasks (not GUI stuff, they might be OK on GUIs, but the video cards are limited). There is also suppose to be a current sparc32 install, but I just emerge a couple packages a day and easily keep up the old sun4ms.
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Risk
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Joined: 05 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I just got a sparcstation 20, with 4x250Mhz Cpus, half a gig of ram


If this is correct, then you have a very rare SPARCstation 20 indeed. Most especially since the "fastest" processor available for them are the ~200MHz Ross HyperSPARC (v8 SPARC) w/ 2.25R PROM. See http://mbus.sunhelp.org/modules/index.htm

Note that the 2.4 kernel is not capable of symmetric multiprocessing at the current time nor is it expected to ever include such support. The further caveat is that the 2.6 series kernel is not yet "stable" for any SPARC architecture and it is unknown when it will be (if ever).

As for doing this, I currently run several SPARCstation 20 machines w/ SM81 and HyperSPARC 150MHz modules. They all run 2.4.32-r5 successfully, but not in multiprocessor configurations. I use KDE 3.3 on some of these machines, but your best bet may be fluxbox or a similar minimal window manager.
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waldeck
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Joined: 08 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Risk wrote:

The further caveat is that the 2.6 series kernel is not yet "stable" for any SPARC architecture and it is unknown when it will be (if ever).


I'm running gentoo 2006.1 with latest 2.6 kernel on 4 sparc64 machines, including a Ultra10 I use as a firewall/web-cache :P They all seem very stable to me. Actually I never saw them crash, except for my Ultra60 which has a Creator3D videocard. The Xorg-7.1 sunffb X server crashes everytime I try to run glxgears or any glx-enabled app for that matter. Seems that something is missing, but I can't get any usefull information from my logs. Still looking up on this. The only thing I'm really longing for right now is a nice java run-time :( Hope one comes out soon.

By the way, I have two sparcstations 20 happily running gentoo-2005.0.

---
Linux cyclop 2.6.17-gentoo-r3 #1 PREEMPT Wed Jul 19 15:54:10 BRT 2006 sparc64 sun4u TI UltraSparc II (BlackBird) GNU/Linux
gcc-4.1.1
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