Running Ubuntu 7.10 on SPARC

I had a SunBlade 1000 (UltraSPARC III based) system available, so I
started on a Friday afternoon project of getting Ubuntu installed on
this box. Here is what I did to get a running system, including a Gnome

1. Get the Gutsy ISO image from
and burn it. You must select the UltraSPARC version, which is –
unfortunately – only available for Ubuntu server (more about this

2. Run the installer from the CD. THis should be
fairly straightforward, but different if you are only used to the
desktop edition of Ubuntu. For starters, there is no Live CD with X
windows functionality included.

3. You should have a running
Ubuntu server system by now. Now in order to get the windowing
environment, you need to login and get the entire desktop:
    user@host:~> sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop
This should work for the kunbuntu, xubuntu, etc. desktop as well. Good luck trying.

4. During the install, you will likely be prompted to configure Xorg. If this fails for any reason, you can reconfigure X by
    user@host:~> sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
or even
user@host:~> sudo Xorg -configure

5. By now you should be able to start a naked Xorg server, e.g. by running

user@host:~> Xorg & sleep 15 ; killall Xorg
command will kill the X server after 15 seconds, in case the keyboard
mapping does not support <Ctrl> <Alt> F1 console switching
(try it out).

6. My system has and Elite3D graphics board
(sunffb), and even through Xorg would start just fine by itself, when
starting X through the gdm, the X server would die after a
split-second. To overcome this, I added an option to the gdm.conf file:

the command=/usr/bin/X line in the [server] section of gdm.conf. You need to add the following option at the end of this line:
gdm probes for Xinerama support, and the Xorg server for the sunffb
will die when being probed without enabling this.

7. After rebooting, the login screen should appear now.

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