SPARC II Linux Distro for Ultra5 and Ultra10

Blessed are the cheesemakers
Blessed are the meek
Blessed are the bignoses
Oooh, that's nice, isn't it?
-- from Monty Python's The Life of Brian

BigNose Linux is a binary Linux installation for Sun Ultra5/10 computers and is based on the Gentoo Linux meta-distro,  The BigNose Linux distro is primarily intended to quickly create a web server using the classical LAMP-stack  (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) with Joomla and a few other useful web-based management tools.

More about this  distro: www.bignoselinux.org

About this Distro

This distro is built for Sun Ultra5/10 computers with an ATI 3D Rage graphics card  and the Happy Meal network interface card (NIC) on the motherboard  and a minimum 4.5GB hard drive on the primary IDE interface. Support for other Sparc-based Sun computers and other hardware is not yet included for, but this distro may well turn out to work OK on other 64-bit, Sparc II-based Sun machines. Since this distro is based on the Gentoo meta-distro, you should be able to make most compatible hardware work once you are up and running if required.

This distro CD installs a binary installation on your Sun Ultra5/10 computer, which should save you many days of work (no, really) to get Linux installed  on your Ultra5/10. The distro CD also serves as a minimal LiveCD to help you recover your system.


Many people still own and love Ultra 5 and Ultra 10 machines since they are built like little fortresses and are very reliable and quiet. They are also dirt cheap on eBay (on average £20 per machine). They were, after all, the first 64-bit desktops available on the open market 10 years ago and they sure weren't cheap then. The nice thing is that  they use commodity hardware and any PC monitor and most IDE hard disks work with them.

Ultra 5 and Ultra 10 machines are  not particularly useful for today's graphical computing needs any more and even their 270MHz - 330MHz clockspeeds make them relatively non-performant when you get machines that have 10 times the clockspeed speed.

However, if all you want to do is build a quick web server or experiment with computer grids, this is one way to set such a system up and running at minimal cost and effort.


Download the ISO image, burn it to CD and boot your beloved Sun Ultra5 or Ultra 10 box up with it.

As you probably know, Sun machines are quite different to x86-based machines, so the booting process is also different. For starters, you need a Sun keyboard or a serial terminal to the machine.

Enter the OpenProm environment by hitting the Stop+A (L1+A on some Sun keyboards) key-combination. The prompt will change to ok. If you are at the boot: prompt, type halt to get the ok prompt.

To boot from the CD, type:

ok boot cdrom

You will eventually be greeted with a pretty message and a boot: prompt. At the boot: prompt, type the following:

boot: bignose

This will boot the live CD. To start the installation, execute the command:
# InstallDistro.sh

- and follow the installation wizard. If your hardware was as was expected, you should have a fully functioning webserver on you Ultra5/10 machine in under 30 minutes.

Included Packages

The following core software tools and packages are included:

  • Linux kernel 2.6.24
  • Apache Web Server 2.2.8
  • MySQL Database 5.0.24
  • PHP 5.2 6
  • Joomla 1.5.2

Also bundled are:

  • gcc 4.1.2,python 2.4.4,perl 5.8.8, tcl 8.4.1, webalizer, phpmyadmin, poxy, sendmail

The usual gang of supporting tools include:

  • make, gzip, tar, bzip2, nano. vi(m), hexedit, cpio, awk, sed, flex, m4, patch, diff, wget, links, etc...

Security tools, firewalling and authentication tools are:

  • fail2ban, iptables, openssh, openssl, openldap

Even though the on-board ATI Rage graphic card performs disappointingly, x11 has also been included with:

  • x.org 7.2, fluxbox 1.0.0, firefox, xterm


This Distro is a Gentoo-based Distro - see http://www.gentoo.org for more info.

For furhter documentation on how to maintain your BigNose system after installation, go to   http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/handbook/handbook-sparc.xml