View Full Version : How to boot a Sun 2/50

June 22nd, 2013, 09:55 PM
Lately I acquired a Sun 2/50 with keyboard (but does not have modular to DB15 adapter, so the KB is not attached to the CPU yet), it can power on and passed self test and shows below statements:

Probing I/O bus: ie
Using RS232 A input.
Auto-boot in progress ...
Boot: ie (0,0,0) vmunix

I see there is no SCSI 50 pin connector at the back of the CPU but I also have a Shoebox 511A with Micropolis 1558 harddrive and Sun 3.5.1 tapes (Wikipedia said it works with Sun 2), can someone give advice how to boot the 2/50? Also what is the pin out of the keyboard? I would like to attach the keyboard to the CPU as well. Thanks..

June 25th, 2013, 11:22 AM
I know nothing about this model but Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun-2)tells me that it's a diskless workstation.

"The server could support diskless (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diskless_workstation) Sun-2/50 clients through the Ethernet board"
"A desktop disk and tape sub-system was introduced for the Sun-2/50 desktop workstation. It could hold a 5 " (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive_bay#5.25.22) disk drive and 5 " tape drive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tape_drive). It used DD-50 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D-subminiature) (sometimes erroneously referred to as DB-50) connectors for its SCSI (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCSI) cables, a Sun specific design. It was often referred to as a "Sun Shoebox"."

I assume you have the "shoebox" connected?

June 26th, 2013, 04:04 AM
Is there a larger than usual d connector on the back of the 2/50? Three rows of pins? If so, that's the scsi-1 connector to the shoebox and you'll need it connected to the workstation to try and boot locally. Once hooked up you can boot from tape like normal.

Otherwise, set up your files for tftp on a linux server and point the boot string at the kernel there for a network boot.

This is all from very slender memory of X-terminals nearing a couple of decades ago but the principles are the same. There are some Sun 2 users on CC-Talk & (especially) The Rescue list http://www.sunhelp.org/mailman/listinfo/rescue who might be more help than I am.

June 26th, 2013, 10:14 AM
There's a guy at typewritten.org who is REALLY experienced with the early generation Sun gear. I'm sure he can help you with any booting issues.

June 27th, 2013, 06:19 AM
Thank you all your response, yes, I do have the disk & tape subsystem exactly like the shoebox shown in wiki and I also have the DD50 cable but the Sun 2/50 itself does not have the connector, whether it was there and removed later I don't know, but when I connect the shoebox to Sun 3/60, it does make noisy when the workstation is turned on.

Does it mean when I put the tape in and turn the thing on, it will boot from the tape? I know nothing about the netboot.... but it seems many people do that way.

June 28th, 2013, 12:20 AM
I think this is the board you need in that 2/50 to add SCSI:

Your 2/50 is trying to boot over ethernet because that's all it has to boot from (ie is for Intel ethernet).

For testing the tape when hooked up to the 3/60 you'll have to issue a boot command in the PROM monitor. You would have to enter a command like "bst()" . There can be command arguments that go inside the () depending on the SCSI ID or which file on the tape you're accessing.
If you have a high enough PROM version you can also boot from a CDROM though you might have to hunt for one that will work with such old hardware. A CDROM might work on a 3/60 but certainly would never work on a 2/50 no matter what PROM it has.

Your best bet for the 2/50 would be to setup a Linux or *BSD boot server. I've only net booted Sun-3's before but it looks like a Sun-2 is a little different setup (looks like you need a ndbootd server instead of tftpd, but other than that I don't know what else you would need that's different).

You might look at this page:
That explains how to setup an emulated Sun-2/120 and boot SunOS. That would help you get acquainted with commands and booting and installing.

As for netbooting take a look at the Sun-2 pages of NetBSD.
You could also try to netboot SunOS but it will be tricky setting up the filesystem. You have to know where and in what order to unpack the tarballs from the tape image, which might take a lot of experimenting. There is a site out there that explains how to netboot SunOS for a Sun-3. That would probably help a lot with figuring out how to unpack SunOS manually.

Hope this will help you some. :)

June 28th, 2013, 12:56 AM
I forgot to mention that the 2/50 is currently not supported by NetBSD so SunOS would be the only option. The FAQ's for netbooting at netbsd.org could be a lot of help to you though.

June 28th, 2013, 06:16 AM
That is the board, yes. Technically the board is the the one plugged into that board. He has the memory board, which passes through a 6U VME slot for the SCSI board (or the SkyFFP, but not both) to plug into.

The connector is not active without the SCSI board fitted. Sun sold them as an assembly under various part numbers, depending on the amount of RAM and whether the SCSI board or the SkyFFP board was fitted (or neither board was), but there's no reason really somebody couldn't add a SCSI board (and connector, if necessary) to a board without one and have it work properly.

June 28th, 2013, 07:25 AM
Thanks all for the idea, yes, my 2/50 should have the SCSI board, and again with the DD50 connector.

In summary, below are what I have:
1) CPU board and keyboard without adapter (and no mouse) - PROM0 is 1066-4 and PROM8 is 1068-4
2) another RAM board + SkyFFP SCSI
3) Shoebox 511A and DD50 cable
4) 5x SunOS 3.5 tape and 2xSunOS 4.0.3 Domestic 68030 1/4" boot format tape
I have Sun 3/60 (diskless) and Sparc Voyager (working)

Any idea on how to utilize this to set up the Sun 2/50 is greatly appreciated..


June 28th, 2013, 03:10 PM
SkyFFP is not SCSI. It's a floating point accelerator.

June 28th, 2013, 03:14 PM
Apparently the Sky FFP is a floating-point accelerator.
That means you still need the SCSI card plus you're missing the DD50 connector on the RAM board. Which means you'd have to either add one or find a RAM board that came with the connector. Personally, I'd try to locate a board with the DD50 connector rather than risk damaging that RAM board you have.

There seem to be several part numbers for RAM boards of various capacities. I imagine Sun added the DD50 port depending on how the machine was ordered?

All this Sun-2 talk makes me wish I had one now. :)

June 28th, 2013, 04:48 PM
thanks Bear, Visionary, I am really new to Sun early hardware though I have experience in ATT 3B1.

I think I have located the 501-1045 SCSI card somewhere in the web which looks really like the one shown in wiki photo and I think I will buy that and solder the DD50 as one of the approach if I cannot succeed in netboot. Can I connect the boot server to the Sun 2/50 direct for netboot or I need to connect both of them to LAN? Is there documentation online for beginner like me? I only know Netbsd.org is one of the resources.

June 29th, 2013, 12:19 PM
If you have an ethernet crossover cable you could hook the server and client directly. If not you could just hook up both computers to your switch or router. If you want to isolate both for easier troubleshooting you could just use an old router you don't use anymore. This assumes you have an AUI to 10baseT transceiver to hook up to the 2/50.
(When I first had Sun-3's years ago I actually acquired with them all the huge cables and huge vampire tap transceivers and connected that to an old router with one AUI port and the rest 10baseT)

There are a few sites that might help you set up a diskless Sun but I don't know of any that give complete steps for a Sun-2. Sites like this one might help.
It's for later than Sun-2 specifically Sun-3 but much of the information might help you out.
This NetBSD page gives more details for a Sun-2 but not complete instructions.

I suggest setting everything up one step at a time. First the 2/50 will try to request its IP address from a rarpd server. Set up the rarpd server. Once the 2/50 has its IP address then go from there to the next daemon you need to setup.
Use tcpdump or similar tool to watch the packets and have the daemons in debug mode open in separate screens or windows.

Are you the person who won the Sun-2/50 that I saw recently on ebay? It had an ECL monitor with cut cable and did not have the DD50 connector so that would match the description of your system so far.

February 26th, 2014, 04:54 AM
Well, maybe a trifle bit late.. But not too late perhaps, since it took me abt 10yrs to get my 2/50 going.

I am netbooting my 2/50 with SunOS 4.0.3 from a 3/80 since my 2/160 has some undefined problems with the backplane (no, not the jumpers).

Please contact me, if I can be of any assistance.