[rescue] Sparc OS Install over serial

Patrick Finnegan pat at computer-refuge.org
Wed Jan 7 20:51:31 CST 2004

On Wednesday 07 January 2004 19:14, Jonathan C. Patschke wrote:
> On Wed, 7 Jan 2004, Adam Kropelin wrote:
> > If the PROM can keep up with commands at 9600 baud you just need a
> > script to convert your binary into a series of PROM commands. Then
> > just cat the darn thing out the serial port. No "server" software
> > needed.
> That's essentially what I'm saying.  However, unless you were booting
> the same OS each time, you'd want a tool that could load an arbitrary
> kernel image.  VTserver has the framework in place to do such a
> thing, plus it can act as a terminal.
> However, there's no reason that the "compiler" that generates OBP
> commands from a blob of machine code couldn't be a self-contained
> external entity.  That would let you do what you describe.

There's two problems, though.  Once you use VTserver to load the memory 
image, you're a bit stuck... you won't be able to use VTserver as a 
data transfer device[1]; if you could it wouldn't be something that's 
very useful without modifying VTserver itself[2].  You then can't use 
the console as a SLIP/PPP connection; if there's a second serial port, 
however you could possibly use that for the PPP/SLIP connection.

[1] I strongly doubt the copy of Solaris/*BSD/Linux you'll want to 
install has drivers for the DEC TU58 that's emulated with VTserver.  
You could probably write one yourself, but that seems pointless...

[2] If you wrote you drives for the TU58, you'd get a whopping 512kB of 
storage... a pair of 256kB emulated tape drives.  That's not enough for 
the 'base' packages of any OS I know of that you can install on a 
Sparc/Ultrasparc.  In fact, you could put many times that much data 
into the ramdisk image that you load via OpenBoot.  You could modify 
VTserver to emulate bigger tapes, but at that point, why not use PPP or 

Purdue University ITAP/RCS
Information Technology at Purdue
Research Computing and Storage

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