The SPARC-Linux Xterminal Package


The Linux Terminal Server Project ( includes support for SPARC architecture machines. If you're looking for an alternative to SLXT, I recommend that you check it out.

"There hasn't been any activity on the SLXT pages recently, is it worth trying this old package?"
Yes, it's certainly worth trying. The self-contained nature of the package means that it should always work, no matter what revision your kernel or OS is (and as long as you are running X, of course). That's the reason these pages (and the packages) are still here. Read on...

The SPARC-Linux Xterminal package allows a diskless, low-memory, SPARC workstation to be used as an xterminal. The concept is basically that of Seth Robertson's "Xkernel", in that the workstation runs a cut-down Unix kernel and an X-server process, but very little else. This configuration enables low-end, limited-memory machines to run X-based applications at a speed approaching that of the server (the kernel and X-server are running on the SPARC client, while the application itself is running on the server. This can be a little confusing at first).
It's all Linux! There are no Sun binaries or libraries involved at all. The kernel and libraries are derived from Red Hat and SuSE SPARC releases and are redistributed here under the terms of the GNU General Public Licence (please see the file COPYING for details).
These are all pretty much Beta releases and anyone using the package should probably consider themselves a tester, rather than an end-user. Bug reports and, more importantly, fixes, are welcome, as are reports of other systems and releases on which this package has been discovered to work.
"LinuxMan" created and
drawn by Taro Peter Little.
The package should install as-is on most Red Hat, SuSE and Mandrake versions and, I think, Slackware. It should work with most versions of Linux, but there may be some manual tweaking required to have everything install in the correct place. Hopefully the error reporting from the install script is verbose enough to give strong hints as to what needs to be done.
You don't need to install SPARC-Linux Xterminal support on a Linux system (I have run it on Solaris 2.5.1), but the install and support scripts are biased very heavily towards Linux and you will most likely end up doing manual install and configuration.

What isn't the SLXT package?

The SLXT package is not intended to be a replacement for Sun's own XTerminal offerings. I don't have access to any Sun systems equipped with their XTerminal boot PROM, so I have no idea what a genuine Sun XTerminal is looking for at boot time. However, Murray Keys (mkeys AT has done some testing with his SPARC Classic-X and confirms that an attempted boot from an SLXT server fails with the message:-

Error while getting software from Boot Host

Jason Wohlgemuth sent me a link to some information taken from the Sun NVRAM/HostID FAQ which explains how to update the NVRAM settings on the Classic-X to have it transmogrify itself back into a Classic (which can run under SLXT). The changes are reversible, so you get two machines for the price of one.
Interestingly enough, the original source of this mini how-to was my old friend Gary Cook. Thanks to Gary and to Jason (and to Mark Henderson, author of the FAQ) for making this information available.

What do you need to run your SPARC as an Xterminal client?

For more information, pick up the SLXT-FAQ file, the CHANGES file and the slxt.lsm package info file.

If you're planning to install onto a network with existing Sun diskless, dataless or AutoClient systems, you should be aware of the potential problems before you start.

Late News...


Current Tarball
The revision 0.7g tarball is current, but I should emphasize that it does have some known bugs and will probably cause your cat to spontaneously combust (at the very least). The package itself is also considerably larger than previous versions (at approx 7MB) and unpacks to about 18MB on your system.

The main changes are:-

There are only very minimal changes to the documentation with this tarball, so you will find inconsistencies between the instructions and what is available in the package.

This version (0.7g) also has much of the xinetd code included, so it should work with Red Hat 7.1/7.2 and with other distributions which use xinetd by default. It now also recognizes non-ext2 filesystems.

0.7g also adds support for FreeBSD servers. This means that your SPARC-Linux Xterminals are now able to boot from i386 FreeBSD servers. For this single act I have probably earned the undying enmity of at least four separate groups...

The previous version, SLXT_0.5c.tar.gz is approximately 2.5MB and will take up slightly more than 6MB when installed. SLXT_0.5a.tar.gz is also still available for reference.

Development Tarball

There's not too much development in this tarball, I'm afraid. The updates are restricted mainly to manual pages and the FAQ. This version may not build on your system and may actually break any good, existing SLXT installation. Unless you have a desperate craving for manual pages, leave well alone.

Coming (but probably not very) Soon...

Kernel and Xserver
The latest
version already contains an updated kernel and updated versions of the Xserver and libraries. Also included are the "routed" daemon and the "route" utility, in response to the numerous requests I've had to have SPARCterminals boot from a machine on the local network and pick up their XDM and client services from other machines on remote networks.

Keyboard Mapping
Development versions as of 0.7f also have a library of Sun keymap files and the "loadkeys" utility included. This should allow you to set up non-US keyboards, though as yet, the number of map files is really rather small.

You can try changing mappings by updating the <TFTPBOOT>/SLXT_root/etc/keyboard file on the server. The keyboard mapping that you specify must exist as a file in the lib directory, <TFTPBOOT>/SLXT_root/usr/lib/kbd/keymaps, otherwise the mapping will fail.

As an example, the default keymap is "sunkeymap". The actual file is <TFTPBOOT>/SLXT_root/usr/lib/kbd/keymaps/sun/

Host Server OS
I get a steady stream of mail asking how to use SLXT with host servers running OSes other than Linux. The most common request, unsurprisingly, is for Solaris support.

Hits since 14th Oct 2001:
New hit-counter courtesy of web hosting to the elite (and to variously coloured baboons, of course).

If you happen to be looking for picture books for children with artwork that is out of the ordinary, may I suggest you try Jolly Spiffing Books (Amazon UK) / Jolly Spiffing Books (Amazon US).
Last updated: $Date: 2003/11/07 01:42:03 $.