Debian Ports Installation

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Installation of PA-RISC Linux

HPPA became an officially supported Debian architecture in release 3.0 (woody) and was dropped as of stable release 6.0 (squeeze). That's the reason that the latest available official installation CDs are available for Debian 5.0 (lenny) only.

The Debian ports project hosts a parisc version of debian unstable. We do NOT RECOMMEND to install debian unstable from debian-ports, because this repository has been frozen. Furthermore the udev package on debian-ports has a bug which will render your parisc system unusable. Nevertheless, the long term goal is to update the debian-ports repository with new versions. If you are interested of the current technical status of how parisc is being moved to debian-ports, see Debian_Ports.

Recommended installation of a new parisc machine is via the repository at

Linux kernel for PARISC

We recommend at least a vanilla or stable series Linux kernel 3.10. Kernel 3.9 (stable series) should be OK too, as it has most fixes backported. Kernel 3.8 (or below) is not recommended any longer.

New installation of a PARISC machine via repository on

  • Download the temporary boot image from
  • Burn the image as raw one to a cdrom or make it available as tftp bootimage
  • Turn on your parisc machine and boot this media (via cdrom or tftp)
  • This bootimage contains all tools (32- and 64bit bootkernel, fdisk, debootstrap, palo, scp, ...) to bootstrap a new debian unstable machine.
  • use fdisk to partition your disk. Create a palo boot partition first (needs to be in the first 2GB of a disk, fdisk type f0). A good size for the boot partition is 100-160 MB. Then create a root partition (any size) and a swap partition. Here is an example what "fdisk -l" could report (The Start and End sectors here are just examples. They can be different on your system):
   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1    *       2048      247807      122880   f0  Linux/PA-RISC boot
/dev/sda2          247808   142854143    71303168   83  Linux
/dev/sda3       142854144   143374737      260297   82  Linux swap / Solaris
  • format the /boot, /root and swap partitions:
palo --format-as=2 --init-partitioned=/dev/sda
mke2fs -j /dev/sda2
mkswap /dev/sda3
  • bring up your network (should be already done by an init screen, check your boot console). If you have a dhcp server you can run dhclient:
dhclient eth0
  • mount the new designed /root to /mnt/destroot:
mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/destroot/
  • run debootstrap. This may take some time (10-20 Minutes):
debootstrap --arch=hppa --no-check-gpg --include=palo --exclude=libsigc++-1.2-dev unstable /mnt/destroot
  • IMPORTANT: If you work on serial console, please remember to uncomment the following line in /etc/inittab else you won't see any login prompt on the serial console (kill -HUP 1 activates the change):
echo "T0:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyS0 9600 vt100" >> /mnt/destroot/etc/inittab
  • IMPORTANT: Remember to set your new root password and add /dev/sda1 as /boot partition:
echo "/dev/sda1 /boot ext2 defaults,noauto 1 1" >> /mnt/destroot/etc/fstab
chroot /mnt/destroot
passwd root
<now enter here your new password for root>
  • It would be worth to make machine accessible by ssh:
apt-get install openssh-server
update-rc.d ssh defaults

Then activate network auto start by adding the following lines into /etc/network/interfaces

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp # in case of dhcp
  • You are now finished with the initial initialization of the filesystem.
  • Now. reboot again from the CD/TFTP and choose to interact with IPL.
reboot now
Interact with IPL (Y, N, or Cancel)?> y
Press "1" to change the "initrd=0/ramdisk" line, replace this line by "root=/dev/sda2" and press "b" to boot now.
  • Search for the most recent Linux kernel (example here uses linux-image-3.10-1) and install it with the palo bootloader:
mount /boot
apt-get install palo
apt-cache search linux-image
apt-get install linux-image-3.10-1-parisc64-smp    - for 64bit SMP kernel
apt-get install linux-image-3.10-1-parisc          - for a 32bit UP kernel
palo --update-partitioned=/dev/sda --format-as=2 --commandline="1/vmlinux-3.10-1-parisc64-smp root=/dev/sda2 HOME=/"
  • You are finished. Reboot and enjoy.
reboot now

If you however observe that none of existing pre-compiled kernels supports your configuration well enough to get you boot into the working system you may return to #Now. reboot again from the CD/TFTP and choose to interact with IPL step and continue with Building_the_Kernel from here.

Old installation medias (Debian Lenny)

If you have an older parisc system (not a c8000!) you may use the Debian Lenny installation medias to upgrade.

  • The debian-5010-hppa-netinst.iso or the debian-5010-hppa-xfce+lxde-CD-1.iso may work.
  • Install Debian Linux. It's recommended to just install a minimalistic set of packages at this stage, since everything will be updated later to debian-unstable anyway. Furthermore every installed package may prevent your from easily upgrading.
  • After installation you should upgrade to debian-unstable via the debian-ports repository:
  • modify your /etc/apt/sources.list file to have this content:
deb unstable main
deb unstable main
# for unstable sources if you want to compile yourself:
deb-src unstable main contrib non-free  
  • now instruct apt to pull the latest package list:
apt-get update
  • packages in the debian-ports repository are signed. You will need to install the debian-ports archive signing key once (details see:
gpg --recv-keys 1C466F272FF7A9F4
gpg --export --armor 2FF7A9F4 | apt-key add -
  • make sure you run a recent Linux kernel, at least 2.6.32. If possible upgrade to at least kernel 3.9 which seems to be the most stable release.
  • run the usual command to upgrade your packages:
apt-get upgrade
  • if you run issues during upgrading packages, e.g. by strange dependency problems, it's often helpful to just deinstall some packages
  • finally you should be able to update most packages to a more recent (unstable) version. If you miss some packages, please drop us an email on the mailing list
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