Monday, January 9, 2012

The Sparc ghetto

I recently obtained a Sun Fire V250 and an old Ultra 10 - some nice UltraSparc goodies to play with - yay!

Both are running Solaris 8, so of course, the first thing to do is spend some time getting some modern tools installed - SSH, Firefox. It looks like the old Blastwave team have split into two rival efforts - Blastwave and OpenCSW. OpenCSW looked a little simpler to get up and running so I went with that. Oh yeah, and of course, ditch NIS and use DNS.

The Ultra 10 is now dual-booting Solaris 8 and Debian for Sparc which I'm hoping will provide a native sparc buildhost for ReadyNAS binaries (since as noted earlier I had not much luck with cross-compiling!). I simply added another IDE hard drive, and from OpenBoot I either boot disk0 or boot disk1 depending on what flavour I feel like. There was one trick to getting the Debian installer working correctly, all cool after that. While it's not exactly fast, it's tolerable using WindowMaker for a desktop. I somehow think KDE or Gnome might be a bit too demanding for it though.

The Sun Fire V250 is rather different. It sounds like a light aircraft taxiing for take-off. This thing is noisy! However, it's also rather faster than the old Ultra 10. So far, it's just vanilla Solaris 8. However, since I pretty much don't wish to permanently reside in the Jurassic era, it's either going to need a newer Solaris, or some other operating system. I thought OpenIndiana might be worth a look-see, since it's the continuation of the now-murdered OpenSolaris project. Hmmm... no Sparc version available for download... what??? I mean, I know we all use x86 these days, but why no Sparc ISO images for what is essentially Solaris?

Seems the malady is wider-spread than I thought... can you download the latest Oracle VirtualBox binaries for Sparc? Why no, you cannot. x86 and amd64, for sure. You can get VirtualBox for Solaris 10 from Oracle. Still... odd, no?

Kinda feels like poor old Sparc users are in a ghetto :-(

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