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Thread: How to boot a Sun 2/50

  1. Default How to boot a Sun 2/50

    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..
    Mac IIFX with MicroExplorer

  2. #2


    I know nothing about this model but Wiki tells me that it's a diskless workstation.

    "The server could support diskless 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 " disk drive and 5 " tape drive. It used DD-50 (sometimes erroneously referred to as DB-50) connectors for its SCSI cables, a Sun specific design. It was often referred to as a "Sun Shoebox"."

    I assume you have the "shoebox" connected?
    Last edited by paul; June 25th, 2013 at 11:29 AM.

  3. #3


    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 who might be more help than I am.

  4. #4
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    There's a guy at who is REALLY experienced with the early generation Sun gear. I'm sure he can help you with any booting issues.
    [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
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  5. Default

    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.
    Mac IIFX with MicroExplorer

  6. #6


    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.
    Last edited by Visionary; June 28th, 2013 at 12:37 AM.

  7. #7


    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 could be a lot of help to you though.

  8. #8


    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.

  9. Default

    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..

    Mac IIFX with MicroExplorer

  10. #10


    SkyFFP is not SCSI. It's a floating point accelerator.

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