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The Shœstring Foundation Weblog, Miscellaneous Byproducts

Matthias Bauer
bauerm (at) shoestringfoundation · org
reop pubkey
Vignettes by George Herriman and a small program

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Wed, 25 Sep 2019

PostScript to Schotter


A quick look at Georg Nees' computer-generated artwork Schotter made me code schotter.ps, a PostScript version of Schotter, which should look different every time it is rendered or printed (The picture below is a PNG of one possible rendering).

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Resurrection of a SUN


  • SUN Netra T5220: 64-threaded 8-core sun4v, 32Gb ECC RAM, four SAS Disk slots, two of them with 146Gb blank disks
  • Price in 2009: $22 000, got it for 100 Euros.
  • Nice.
    But the incompetent bungler who sold it forgot to mention that the security-mode was set to command, and he has got no password for it. So one cannot even change the boot device. Fortunately the default is disk net, so installation from net to disk was possible.
  • How to reset the security-mode?
    (The security-mode password is not the ALOM/ILOM password. Those are relatively easy to reset.)
    Install OpenBSD sparc64 over the net and run eeprom(4)?
    OpenBSD's eeprom cannot reset the security settings.
    Install FreeBSD sparc64 over the net, their eeprom does reset security settings?
    FreeBSD sparc64 does not support/run on sun4v.
    Install Solaris or OpenSolaris or Indiana or Illumos?
    • Solaris11 has a usb disk image,
      but OBP disk is a devalias to the first SAS disk, so USB is right out.
    • Take a Solaris disk image and write it to SAS disk on another machine.
      Turns out that all machines at work have HP SmartArray controllers that don't allow direct disk access, only RAID 0,1,6,10,..
    • Buy a RAID controller, put it in a PC, write image to SAS disk.
      But "JBOD" for an Adaptec ASR-5405 does not mean "Just a Bunch Of Disks". It means "Bunch of Disks the first blocks of which are polluted with metadata by the controller and so cannot be used to boot a system from a different controller". Idiots.
    • Install Solaris over the net.
      Oracle and the copies of the ruins of OpenSolaris Webpages only offer their Autoinstaller/Jumpstart which requires an Oracle/SUN Install server.
    • Set up a laptop with OpenSolaris as Install server.
      Installation fails because the networked bootloader requires additional parameters from OpenBootProm to select the image to be pulled by http/tftp in the next step. And the OpenBootProm is not accessible because of security-mode.
      But wait! The ALOM service processor allows to set a bootscript along with the logical domain selection to bootmode, perhaps one can put the parameters in the bootscript?
      No, they are 64 chars maximum, of which 30 already eaten up by setenv network-boot-arguments , and there are more required settings. Even if the install server gets IP 1.1.1.1 and the path of the TFTP URL is just one letter, the 64 chars do not suffice.
    • OpenIndiana or Illumos?
      Are x64 only, sparc64 port was dropped from the builds.
      But there are at least two independent builds by sparc64 enthusiasts: v9os and Tribblix.
      But both supply ISO images only, and boot cdrom will not work, because security-mode.
  • What did work after many sleepless hours:
    1. Install OpenBSD, they support sun4v and logical domains .
    2. Learn how to setup logical domains (not entirely trivial).
    3. Setup a logical domain with an actual (empty) SAS disk's block device as first vdisk and a Solaris ISO image as the second vdisk, and no vnet.
    4. Boot into control domain, connect to console of guest, discover that the logical domain's openbootprom could not boot from the empty disk, but is permissive enough to accept boot disk1.
    5. Boot the installer, install onto the physical disk.
    6. Shutdown. Insert that disk in the first slot.
    7. Boot. Discover that Solaris 10 refuses to mount the root zfs because the installer put the physical location in the zpool metadata, and since the disk resides in a different slot now, the metadata is incorrect. This is a known problem .
    8. Booting from ALOM with bootmode bootscript="boot -F failsafe" results in a rootshell,
      zpool -f import rpool
      automatically resets the phys_path of the Zpool.
    9. After a reboot into a a fully functional though historical Solaris system, eeprom shows that the installation process had reset the security-mode to none. So the problem was solved after step 5 above...

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