[Excerpted from a 2002-10-05 mailing list post, updated.]
Taxonomy of distributions. Your options are:
o Aurora SPARC Linux. A separately maintained SPARC port of RH
o Debian. Modern, highly maintainable, and my personal
distribution -- but it's a bit different from what many are used to.
o Splack/Slackware. Slackware discontinued its SPARC port
v. 7.1 (current is 9.0), but Splack is a separately maintained fork,
currently tracking Slackware 8.0, and is up to date.
o PLD GNU/Linux. Produced in Poland. No ISOs; you have to do
network installation. RPM-based, and probably another Red Hat fork.
o Fire Linux. UltraSPARC distribution derived from Linux from
o Gentoo, the most popular build-from-source distribution.
o Rock Linux, a build-from-source distribution. Current.
support is shaky.
o Linux-Mandrake. SPARC port hasn't been updated since 7.1
is 9.1), and would be a little long in the tooth but not too bad.
o SuSE. A set of five ISO images is available for v. 7.3
8.2). Probably discontinued.
o TurboLinux. SPARC port was probably discontinued with the
v. 6.1 developers' release (current is 8.0?), but it's difficult to
tell with TurboLinux, many of whose operations keep disappearing into
Japan following renewed corporate follies.
o SCO Linux (formerly Caldera OpenLinux). SPARC port was
at v. 2.2 (current is 3.1.1), and will be ancient if you can find it.
o Red Hat Linux. The SPARC port was discontinued at v. 6.2 aka
(current is v. 9), and will be ancient if you can find it.
o Vine Linux. A fork of Red Hat Linux 6.2 for SPARC, in the
o Kondara MNU/Linux. A fork of Red Hat Linux 6.2 for SPARC, in
Japanese language only.
o UltraPenguin. The grandfather of all SPARC Linux ports,
based on a very old (5.x) Red Hat tree. Discontinued in 1999.
You can still find ISOs, but why?
Or you could install NetBSD (I have 1.5.2) or OpenBSD. The
SPARC port (sparc64-only) is said to be now beta-level reliable.
One could make a good case for any of: Splack, Debian, Aurora, Gentoo,
NetBSD. Your call.