View Full Version : New(ish) SparcStation User, still has some questions

January 14th, 2016, 05:29 PM
Picked up SparcStation 10 last month as is from a goodwill will no accessories and hard drive.
Fortunately I was able to get accessories and cables from a recycle PC shop for cheaps and system work fine after replacing the nvram and adding a HD.

It was an impulse purchase with an intent as using an automation workstation after reminiscing about using a SPARCstation 2 that we used for our BBS back in high school. I have installed Solaris 1.1.2 using a SyJet drive as I couldn't get National Instruments to provide me the updated drivers Solaris 2+ for the GPIB-SCSI-A (which I currently have) or the SBus base GPIB adapter. I also upgrade the OBP chip to 2.25 to allow for faster processors

My remaining question right now are...

1) if you install a second CPU with SunOS 4 installed does the OS ignore it or does bad stuff happen?

2) What's the best card to add extra serial ports to the SPARCstation? cable. There is in theory a serial/parallel controller but I can't seem to find the card that goes with it. I would like it if the ports could just be address just like standard tty ports. Looking at the HSI/S it seem like it need a special kernel try and has extra command to address the ports, plus you need a special cable.

3) According to the install guide you have to have to set you swap partition to slightly larger than you physical ram. Is this really a requirement? I have 128mb ram already, is there any really any impact if I add more memory without expanding the swap partition? I don't want to allocate 600mb of 1.2gb disk for no reason, it seems like a total waste of space.

4) How does Net/Open BSD compare in speed against SunOS4 or for that matter Solaris 2.5? I have a 4.5gb scsi 2 disk that I might like to use a second OS. Net/OpenBSD is the only OS that is still maintained that I can tell for 32bit sparc systems.

January 14th, 2016, 06:42 PM
1- I seem to recall it won't utilize the extra processor until the kernel is rebuilt. It's been a while.

2- Multiport serial SBUS adapters are oddly uncommon however the one I have is the Danford SPPE 6500. It gives me four extra serial ports and a parallel port and supposedly works under Solaris 2.6 but I can't find the driver for it.

3- Frankly I'd set it to 64mb as for the early 90's 128mb was a lotta ram and the Os will try to use it more when possible in place of disk swap which is slower.

4- Never tried it.

January 14th, 2016, 07:41 PM
In general I've found older SUN OSs to be faster than recent versions of NetBSD on a my SparcClassic.

I think I have an S-bus mult serial card but not the essential break-out cable. It's in this photo:

January 15th, 2016, 10:32 AM
The best you can do for multiprocessing on an SS10 with SunOS 4 is install one or two SM100 modules. An SM100 has two RT601s at 40 MHz; this is the same CPU as a SPARCstation 2 so you aren't exactly going to be setting the barn on fire. Even a single SM40 is going to feel a lot faster. SunOS 4 does not support SMP, and the only multiprocessor configuration supported involves the SM100. If you try any other multiprocessor arrangement, the best outcome is that the second processor will be ignored.

There are a few boards which add ordinary serial ports to the Sun. If you just want one or two, Antares at least made a board like this. If you want higher density, the Sun term was "ALM" -- asynchronous line multiplexer.

The swap partition is meant to be sized larger than physical RAM because this is where the dump gets written when the kernel panics. If you don't care about analyzing system dumps, you can skimp on the swap partition.

January 16th, 2016, 04:27 PM
Can some one point me to good place to get these cards for a reasonable price? I several breakout box for the Serial parallel controller but I haven't seem any of the cards on ebay yet. The Magma LC 2 + 1 looks reasonable but again it need a special breakout cable. Both they cards are supported by BSD but I am not sure if drivers are needed for Solaris and what versions. Is there some place I can find drivers for these cards and other cards?

February 2nd, 2016, 04:42 PM
So I upgraded to an SM61 and I did notice small speed bump, so I though I wonder what would happen if I put my old SM41 in the second slot.
Much to my surprise, contrary to everything the internet said, the process was recognized by the system at boot. SunOS (4.1.4) booted MP mode automatically and the speed increase was quite substantial. I was actually quite surprise that it worked, system actually seems a little more stable although shutdown takes a little longer.

I haven't been able to try NetBSD because previously it wouldn't boot, now it boots no problem.