Installing Ubuntu on a Sun Ultra10

While trying to kill some time at work the other day, I was looking around the internet at my new favorite site, The Museum of Modern Betas, and I just started clicking on links. Eventually I came across a linux called Ubuntu that I thought might be cool to test out. But my real excitement came when I went to download it and saw there were two versions - a live CD that was also for installing the desktop version as well as a Server only install. What really caught my eye was the Ubuntu Server version for the sparc processor. I've had this Sun Ultra10 lying around for a year or two now with nothing to do since I could never quite get Solaris 9 to run apache, mysql and php.

So i downloaded this linux Distro for Sparc, burned it, and stuck it into my Ultra10. Too bad for me that I didn't get lucky. The installer just hung while saying Booting Linux.... I jumped on the trusty google and came across the article I needed at the Helmets on ! weblog. Surprising, it told me exactly what i needed to do. I had to upgrade/flash the OpenBoot Prom (OBP) which i guess is the sun/sparc version of a BIOS. To do that I had to find sun's flash utility, set a jumper to allow writing to the OBP and then run a little flash utility that told me I wasn't really updating from 3.12 to 3.31 even though after I ran the update I was running 3.31. So it all worked out for the best, I guess.

After flashing, I did a full power-off reboot and booted the install CD. I followed all the prompts on the installer and then booted into my successful install of Ubuntu Server 6.06.1 Sparc -- or so I thought. Never during the installer was i asked to supply a root password as I have been on ther other linux installs, Fedora and Mandriva. Luckily I had set up a user and could log on. Following the Helmets on ! tutorial, I tried installing openssh server so that I could do things while not at the console. Supposedly I just had to run sudo apt-get install openssh-server and life would be good. However, sudo asked me for a password and the one I used to log in with didn't work. So that made that install completely useless since I couldn't get root privileges so I couldn't install anything. Instead of trying to figure out how to set the root's password, I reinstalled Ubuntu hoping it would ask me for a root password this time. Yeah, it didn't.

I finally found an article on Cape Linux User Group (CLUG) that gave me some ideas to try. One was to boot into single user mode from LILO, but Ubuntu used SILO as its boot loader. So that didn't work. Then I saw at the bottom of the page a simple command much like one that I had tried before. sudo passwd root instead of sudo passwd. Pretty much I didn't quite understand how sudo worked, as I figured sudo passwd meant that I was becoming root and running passwd. It didn't work, so I was wrong. Putting the username behind it worked and it asked me for a password. For some reason this time it took my password I logged in with and then I was able to set the root password. All is good. Now it's off to get apache, PHP, and MySQL.

Once I got everything set up, I decided that 20gig hard drive was a bit small, so I went to the box of computer pieces and pulled out a 120gig. Sadly, after installing, I kept getting the error message, The file just loaded does not appear to be bootable. So maybe, back when this Sparc Ultra10 was made, it didn't support 120gig harddrives. So i put the 20gig back in and it booted just fine. The next step is to see if I can automount the 120gig.