Setting Up a SPARCstation

A gentle introduction to Sun Workstations and installing Red Hat Linux SPARC 4.0.
Setting Up A Boot Server.

The “images” directory on the CD-ROM and the ftp server contain both the floppy files (boot-v0.img and boot-v2.img) and a separate tftpboot.img file. As with the floppy images, the latest tftboot.img file can downloaded from one of the Red Hat mirror sites.

It is this latter file that is required for a network boot. The method used to configure the boot server is almost identical for Linux, SunOS and Solaris systems. We'll use an example configuration, where our boot server is a machine called and the SPARCstation client is The server IP address is

  • Assign an IP address for your new machine on the same sub-net as the boot server. In our example, the next available IP address for the client “coquet” is It's hardware Ethernet address (MAC) is 8:0:20:3:9:96.

  • Create a directory for the tftp boot files on the server. SunOS and Solaris machines use /tftpboot by default, and we can use this directory on a Linux system, too.

  • Copy the tftpboot.img file to the newly created directory.

  • Create a symbolic link from the tftpboot.img file to a unique file name which the SPARCstation boot PROM requests across the net. The format of the symbolic link is <CLIENT_HEX_IP_ADDRESS>.<ARCHITECTURE>. Take the IP address which you assigned in the first step and convert it, section by section, to hex and then add the architecture of your system. In our example, we need to convert into hex words and, since we aren't exactly sure what architecture our new system is, we'll create links for both 4c and 4m machines.

172     =       AC
17      =       11
172     =       AC
52      =       34
ln -s ./tftpboot.img AC11AC34.SUN4C
ln -s ./tftpboot.img AC11AC34.SUN4M

Note that unlike SunOS and Solaris, the same boot image can be used for both 4c and 4m architectures.

Figure 2. Connections to SPARCstation ELC

  • Enable the tftp daemon in /etc/inetd.conf. The syntax for this entry is slightly different between Linux and SunOS/Solaris systems. On the Sun systems there's a -s option which enables the daemon in “secure” mode. The Linux tftp daemon does not use this option and, if it is present in the config file, it treats it as a directory name and all tftpd accesses fail. The other difference between Linux and SunOS/Solaris is that most recent versions of Linux come with the inetd.conf file configured with the tcpd logging daemon configured as default.


tftpd dgram udp wait nobody /usr/sbin/tcpd\
        in.tftpd /tftpboot


tftpd dgram udp wait root /usr/etc/in.tftpd\
        in.tftpd -s /tftpboot
tftpd dgram udp wait root /usr/sbin/in.tftpd\
        in.tftpd -s /tftpboot
  • Reinitialize inetd using a kill -HUP <inetd PID> or by rebooting the server.

  • Ensure that the the client's Ethernet address is in the arp cache, and the rarp cache for Linux systems, on the server.

arp -s 08:00:20:03:09:96
rarp -s 08:00:20:03:09:96
Note the leading zero padding added to the Ethernet address in both cases.

The rarp command might produce this error:

cat: /proc/net/rarp: No such file or directory

It indicates that rarp isn't compiled into the kernel, and that the rarp module hasn't been loaded. Use insmod to load it and rerun the rarp command.

server# insmod /lib/modules/2.*.*/ipv4/rarp.o
If the module isn't present, you'll have to rebuild the kernel with rarp enabled.

The client system usually takes about three minutes to boot into the installation program. The screen changes from the default black-on-white to white-on-black with a much smaller font once the kernel loads. You'll start to see the normal Linux boot messages as devices are probed and identified. At the end of the boot sequence the system drops straight into the install program, and from that point onwards the prompts are pretty much self explanatory. There are still a few things to watch out for, though.

Virtual Consoles

Red Hat install makes virtual consoles available to the user during the whole of the installation process. <ALT>F1 gets you to the main installation screen, <ALT>F2 is a shell, <ALT>F3 displays informational messages from the installation program, <ALT>F4 displays console messages and <ALT>F5 displays messages from the individual package installation programs as they run.


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