[conspire] pizza-boxes and Etch (broken ESP kernel module)

Peter Knaggs peter.knaggs at gmail.com
Sat Apr 21 13:16:07 PDT 2007

If you have fond memories of those old "pizza-boxes" they
call Sparc-stations, you may be sad to see that installing
from CD with Debian GNU/Linux 4.0r0 "Etch" isn't possible
any more, due to this quite-surprising errata:

Errata for release 4.0r0
sparc: CD installs for sparc32 may fail
    The esp kernel driver module is broken which means that installation
    from CD-ROM is broken for most sparc32 systems. We suggest you
    use the "netboot" installation method instead.

The reason I need to reinstall is that during the upgrade to Etch,
the system kept mysteriously returning to the "ok>" prompt while
configuring packages, effectively crashing each time. No kernel panic,
just the "ok>" prompt. Not something I'd ever seen before on Sparc,
and as far as I know the hardware is OK. So all in all, I'd tend to
be a bit wary of Etch on sparc32, and try the upgrade on a spare
machine first (which is what I'm doing here).

So now I'm off researching this mysterious "netboot" method,
which I guess I should have done before, as it sounds quite tempting...

I just hope the old SparcStation 20's can do it with the current PROM
level (which is ROM Rev. 2.22), otherwise some minor surgery may be


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