Nerdettes weblog

Just another view of/by

HOWTO Install Debian on an Sun LX50

While browsing through my backups, I also found this note from a former Sun Cobalt colleague of mine, Wouter van Reeven. I had a grin while reading. Im posting it though while maybe, out there, there are some lucky ones still owning an FKA Sun Microsystems’ LX50 and don’t know what to do with it. Or order a refurbished one here, at

sun lx 50

HOWTO Install Debian on an Sun LX50

“23 Steps To Ultimate Happiness :-)”

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

1) Get install cd iso images from Debian. Choose your local mirror from

I chose

(was :”>

Getting the first binary will suffice. If you’d like to also install ssh during the Debian install process, make sure to get the NONUS cd image.

2) Burn the image to a cd and boot the LX50 from it.

3) You are then presented with a welcome screen and a


prompt. Chosing F1 to F6 will inform you about command line parameters and if you chose F3 you’ll see a little list of options that can be passed for different boot methods. Choosing compact will load a kernel with SCSI support. We need that one. So, just type

boot: compact

and hit the ENTER key.

4) After a little while you’re presented with a screen to choose your language. I chose English and then English (United States).

5) More welcome screen. Just hit ENTER.

6) Configure the keyboard : just choose the keyboard that’s currently connected to the LX50.
In my case, querty/us (the first one).

7) Partition a Hard Disk : I chose this option to create three partitions on the hard disk. The first one is an 8 Mb boot partition (boot flag set), the second one all the rest but 520 Mb as / partition. The third one is a 520 Mb SWAP partition. This was done just for testing purposes. Feel free to partition at will.

8) Initialize and activate a Swap Partition : do this. At
bad block scan I said no.
Permanently erase? Yes!

9) Initialize a Linux Partition : this is next.
First I initialized /dev/sda2, no bad block scan, and mounted it to /. Then I initialized the /dev/sda1 partition, no bad block scan, and mounted it to /boot.

10) Install Kernel and Driver Modules : choose this option and then choose the cd rom as primary installation medium.

11) Configure Device Driver Modules : here we need to choose one option, being net -> eepro100. I didn’t specify any additional options and the installation of the module exited succesfully. Back at the net menu, choose Exit. Back at the main menu, choose Exit.

12) Configure the Network : choose this and just enter a hostname (in my case sc-lx50), choose eth0 as primary network interface, decide if you want to use DHCP (I didn’t want to). In case you didn’t choose to, enter the IP address, netmask, gateway, domain name and nameserver(s).

13) Install the base system : do this and choose the cdrom to install from.

14) Make system Bootable : do this and choose /dev/sda1 to install LILO in. It may them prompt you for additional partitions that have a boot signature, but in my case it only showed /dev/sda1. Then you’re asked to install a master boot record in /dev/sda so choose yes here. Afther this, you’re asked if you want the Debian system on /dev/sda1 to be the default boot os so choose yes here too.
NOTE : if you choose /dev/sda to install LILO in, the LX50 will also boot. You’re presented with some other questions in that case.

15) Make a boot floppy : do so if you like. It will create a rescue disk.

16) Reboot the system. Do this. Make sure to remove the cdrom from the cdrom drive!

17) After the reboot you’re presented with yet another welcome screen. Click OK

18) Specify then if the hardware clock is set to UT or not.

19) Next, choose your timezone.

20) Answer some questions about passwords and then enter a root password. Next, create another user if you like.

21) Remove the PCMCIA packages and decide whether you’d like PPP there or not.

22) Next, apt (the Advanced Packaging Tool) needs to be configured. For more info on apt, see

The easiest way to install the base system is to use the cdrom. So, select cdrom to be the source for apt. Make sure the cdrom is in the drive ;-)
When asked to scan another cd, answer no (unless you actually have more than one cd of course).
When asked to add another apt source, answer no.
When asked to use security updates from, choose no. We’ll all do that later.

There are two ways to install the packages apt has detected : tasksel and dselect. For some reason (which was very reasonable at the time I was told some three years ago) dselect is to be preferred over tasksel. So, when asked to run tasksel say no. When asked to run dselect say yes.

When you have entered dselect, press the space bar. To search for a package, press the / key and enter the name. To select a package to be installed, press the + key. To deselect, press the – key. Press ENTER when you’re done and start installing. Answer the questions presented to you, keep your fingers crossed and watch dselect do its job :-)

23) So, finally we’re done! Debian is installed on the LX50!