For no particular reason, a Sparc workstation is on it’s way – part 2: it arrived!

It arrived a couple of days earlier than expected, ahead of the other multiple parts that I needed (keyboard, mouse, scsi disk etc).

It’s a bit grubby and scratched up, but not that bad for an older machine:

It’s incredibly heavy though, wow, it must way at least 60 pounds.

Inside looks like there is the Creator 3D graphics card, and a SunPCI card (more on that later).

I have a Sun5c keyboard and mouse, so plugging them in, attaching a monitor and powering on …. nothing.

Uh oh.

I started to go down the path of running the diags over the serial connection, and using my Atari ST as a terminal, but before I got to far with that I though I should check basics and make sure everything is well seated.

Turns out both cards were only half in their slots. One more try, but still nothing. Next, pulled the CPU board out and gave it a blow and then reinserted…. power on, fans running, diags run and we have a banner:

Next up, waiting until Monday for my SCSI disk to arrive with disk sled, and then we’ll start a Solaris install!

For no particular reason, a Sparc workstation is on it’s way

I was shopping for one of these on ebay:

By Caroline Ford – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

But then got caught up on the idea that an Ultra 5 with IDE disk support might be a better idea:

By Liftarn –

After a lively discussion in the Facebook Vintage Unix Machines group about the pros and cons of older Sparcstations, Ultra 1 and 2, vs Ultra 5/10, I decided to shop for an Ultra 1 or 2. I made an offer on one but didn’t get it. And then I decided to go for an Ultra 60 since it was cheaper than anything else I could find, although in a unknown working condition, other than ‘it powers on’. So when it turns up it will be a learning experience to see if it’s actually in working condition or not.

I believe from photos from the ebay listing that there’s a SunPCI card in there, so that will be interesting to play with, and also the Creator 3D graphics card.

On my shopping list of needed parts:

  • a Sun Type 5 keyboard and mouse (with Sun mini DIN connector)
  • a 13W3 video to VGA adapter
  • an SCA SCSI disk
  • possible future purchase, a SCSI2SD adapter

Installing Solaris 2.6 under QEMU

I’ve been looking at picking up a used Sun Sparcstation from eBay. It occurred to me that I’ve never installed an early version of Solaris before, so wondered if I could give it a try under QEMU since it’s emulates different hardware, including Sparc.

There’s an awesome step by step guide on Adafruit that takes you precisely each step to get Solairs installed un QEMU. You can follow the steps in their article here, so I won’t repeat all the steps here.

The key steps before you get to the install are creating a disk image:

qemu-img create -f qcow2 sparc.qcow2 9663676416

and then booting with the Solaris iso image as the cdrom and the disk image attached:

qemu-system-sparc -M SS-5 -m 128 -drive file=sparc.qcow2,bus=0,unit=0,media=disk -drive file=solaris_2.6_598_sparc.iso,bus=0,unit=2,media=cdrom,readonly=on

After this point it’s following through the steps in the install.

Here’s qemu booting up for the first time:

Here’s the Solaris installer starting up:

After the install had completed, here’s the rather impressive for it’s time CDE desktop: