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Here is a tried and tested process for performing a headless (i.e. no monitor) boot from a Gentoo Live-CD on an Ultra-5. Since the Ultra-10 is similar on the inside to the Ultra-5, it should work on an Ultra-10 too. This may even work for other SUN boxes.

This process is useful because many vintage SUN boxes have unusual (i.e. non x86-PC) video interfaces and require dedicated monitors.



Stuff you won't know for sure, but need to assume

Note: Since you have no monitor connected, it is difficult to determine the state of the process most of the time, so the steps may seem excessive. All you have to go on is the noise of the hard drive and CD drive, the CD driver activity indicator and the CapsLock indicator on the SUN keyboard.

So, here we blindly go:

Power-on to Boot prompt:

Booting to the Live-CD:

You should now be at the boot prompt. Type (carefully):

boot cdrom
- and hit the Enter key. There should be a flurry of activity on the CD drive for a few seconds and all will go quiet again, because you need to enter your kernel choice. Since this is a Ultra-5 (applies to Ultra-10 too), type:
- and hit the Enter key. There should now be some more activity on the CD drive during the booting process, which takes about 2 minutes. When things go quiet, you can assume that the booting process is complete and that you are at the Gentoo Live-CD prompt.

Starting the SSH daemon

The SSH-daemon does not run by default on LiveCD boot and the root password is auto-generated on every LiveCD boot, so the following two steps are required:

Set the root password

Type the passwd-command, password and password confirmation (shown as ****** below). Use a strong password that you know will work, or Gentoo will complain and may prompt you an indeterminate number of times to confirm your password. Remember to hit the Enter key after every line:


Start SSH


/etc/init.d/sshd start
- you hit the Enter key, right? There may be a brief flicker of CD drive activity. The daemon takes a few minutes to come up since random keys are generated in memory. You can't be certain if you have actually reached this point in the process, but you will find out soon enough in the next step (heh-heh).

Connect to your Ultra-5/10 on the network

Look for a new SSH service on your network

From your working Linux terminal on the same network (which obviously has a monitor), portscan for your machine, which should have a DHCP-allocated IP address. Assuming a subnet of 192.168.0.* on your network and a DHCP address-range starting at 150, type:

$ nmap 192.168.0.* -p 22

You should eventually get a response similar to this once the SSH service is up an running on your Ultra-5/10:

Starting Nmap 4.53 ( ) at 2008-01-24 12:03 GMT
Interesting ports on
22/tcp open  ssh

Bare in mind that there may be other SSH service running on your network - the trick is to find a new IP address with the SSH port open. Keep repeating the nmap-command until you get a positive response. If, after a few minutes, you still don't see a new SSH service on your network, then either a previous step has failed or your NIC is knackered.

Establish the SSH session

SSH to the machine you found on the network as user root using the strong password that you entered earlier on:

$ ssh root@
root@livecd's password:

Continue with the Gentoo Install

If you have managed to successfully log in to your Ultra-5/10 box, proceed with the SPARC installation as described in

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Last modified: Thu, 28 Aug 2008 06:23:00 +0000 Hits: 2,008