Red Hat remasters buggy Linux for SPARC release

Some Sun4c users unable to boot machines

August  1998
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San Francisco (August 1, 1998) -- Red Hat Software, the North Carolina company that has risen to prominence as a leading supplier of packaged Linux software, last week began shipping its remastered version of Linux for SPARC following the discovery of numerous problems with the original CD-ROM.

Red Hat Linux 5.1 for SPARC, which was released by the company on July 1, contains several serious problems for Sun4c architecture machines. The worst of these is the inclusion of a multiprocessor kernel as the default for CD-ROM boots, with the result that Sun4c machines panic shortly after loading the kernel (unlike SunOS or Solaris, the SPARC-Linux kernel is architecture-independent, so a common kernel is used for both 4m and 4c machines).

In addition, a problem with the initialization of buffers in the network boot image (tftpboot.img) also causes SCSI problems on some machines with older revisions of boot PROM. Yet another problem prevents the creation of more than four partitions (slices) on hard disks.

Spotlight on Linux
  • How to put Linux on your SPARC
  • Interview with Linux creator, Linus Torvalds
  • Linux vs. NT. vs. Solaris
  • Red Hat fixes Linux/SPARC bug
  • Why Intel and Sun love Linux
  • Reader Survey: How do you like your Open Source?
  • Because boot floppies were not available for 5.1 at the time that the original CD-ROM was shipped, a combination of these problems meant that some customers with Sun4c architecture systems were completely unable to boot their machines.

    Red Hat was quick to identify the problems and had fixes available from their Web site only days after the original release hit the stores. Representatives for the company, which maintains a strong presence on Linux-related mailing lists, were quick to post updates on the fixes, and on the availability of a newly mastered CD-ROM. (The company has also posted both a request for more beta testers and a help wanted notice for "Quality Assurance Positions" within the past few weeks).

    The new CD contains fixes for the Sun4c boot problems, as well as an additional floppy boot image and some other, unrelated updates which have become available since the original was mastered.

    The fixes, including the new floppy and tftp boot images, are also available for free from the Red Hat FTP site.

    --John Little


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