[rescue] Bizarre auctions & SparcStation IPXs...

deanders at pcisys.net deanders at pcisys.net
Sat Jan 25 21:38:34 CST 2003

(I've been lurking on the list for a while, but, lacking both appropriate
hardware and knowledge, I haven't really had a reason to post anything...)

Earlier today, I picked up three SparcStation IPXs (yeah, my first foray
into Sun stuff is fairly modest...) under moderately bizarre circumstances
at the University of Colorado at Boulder's auction. Since the auction was
being held to get rid of things rather than to actually try to make money,
the auctioneers would frequently lump things together when nobody was
bidding on them. Well, nobody was bidding on a pair of external SCSI hard
drive enclosures (one of which was empty, the other of which seems not to
be, though the case has so far foiled all of my attempts to open it), so
the current auctioneer went ahead and lumped the three nearby IPXs in with
them, starting the bidding at a mere $2.50. 

I, of course, immediately bid on them; while I realize that an IPX isn't
exactly a speed demon (...), I could at least find room for one in my
overcrowded apartment. Oddly, no one bid against me; $2.69 later, I had
three (surprisingly heavy) SparcStations in my trunk (as well as the pair
of drive enclosures, one of which seems actually to have greater volume
than an IPX...). 

None of these machines came with power cables, keyboards, or mice, but
neither were they stripped (all drives & SIMMs intact (not yet sure how
much memory, but all slots are filled...we'll see); can't speculate on Sbus
cards, except to note that one of the IPXs seems to have a parallel card).
Besides, I can't really complain with *that* price. 

The bizarre part comes into play with how the machines were listed: as
*power supplies*. Each of them has a large purple "P.S." scrawled on the
case in what appears to be permanent marker (while the drive enclosures
weren't marked the same way, they still show up on the invoice as 'power

Very odd.

Anyway, I can't really do much with them right now (the only monitor I have
right now is an XGA LCD panel, so I don't think I can use the onboard
framebuffer (1152x900, right?); neither do I have an appropriate keyboard
or mouse). I'll probably pick up a null modem (I haven't used one in ages,
so mine is still on the east coast) and an appropriate serial cable (I
*think* I just need a Mac DIN-8-to-DB25 cable...) so I can at least see
which machines actually boot, how much memory they have, and so on. I'll
probably have to wipe the drives & reinstall (assuming the university
didn't wipe the drives before auctioning the systems off, but most of the
Mac & PC hardware they had running still had intact hard drives, so...). At
some point, I suppose I'll need to find an adapter (transceiver?) for the
AUI port.

Once I get them running, well...I don't know. Up to this point, I've mostly
been a Linux user, but it seems that some form of BSD would be better on a
Sparc than Linux; won't kill me to try, anyway--assuming even two of the
systems work, I can always do both. :)

Derek Andersen

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