[rescue] Bizarre auctions & SparcStation IPXs...

Sheldon T. Hall shel at cmhcsys.com
Sun Jan 26 16:55:02 CST 2003

<deanders at pcisys.net> says ...

> Earlier today, I picked up three SparcStation IPXs (yeah, my first foray
> into Sun stuff is fairly modest...) ...

The IPX is not so bad.  In fact, it's quite OK if you don't try to run
graphics stuuff on it.  It's not that the graphics stuff won't work, it will
just be slow by current standards.

FWIW, the IPX listed for something like $10,000 when it was new, in '92 or


> 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) ...

Is that a Sun 411 case?  Look on the bottom for the model number.  If it is,
the catches are inside, near the top-rear corder, on the sides.  Push
something through the second or third hole from the back, in the next-to-top
row on each side.  Press in about 3/32nds of an inch, maybe less, to
disengage the plastic clip, then lift the top rear of the lid.  It has
little hooks at the lower front.  Be careful, it's a clever design, but the
plastic isn't strong enough for it.


> 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) ...

An IPX maxes at 64 MB unless you have one of the extra cards.  In my
experience, University computers are usually pretty low-ball in the memory
department, so it might have all slots filled ... with 4 MB SIMMS, for a
total of 16 MB.  This will suck.


> Anyway, I can't really do much with them right now (the only monitor I
> 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...) ...

Yeppers.  Get a "Mac Plus modem cable" and a null modem, plus a converter if
you have a 9-pin serial port on whatever you're going to use as a terminal.
You'll never miss the Sun keyboard/mouse/monitor.

> ... 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...)...

Heh.  Every piece of used gear I've gotten, if it had a hard drive at all,
had an OS, data files, everything.  This was whether I bought it from some
university or picked it out of a dumpster.  Some folks are pretty casual
about that sort of thing.

I never do anything with the stuff on the disks, of course; I _always_
reformat and re-install before I hook 'em up to any network, because, well,
like your Mom told you, "you never know where they've been."

> ... At some point, I suppose I'll need to find an adapter
> (transceiver?) for the AUI port.

Mr. Bill was supposed to find us some, and is maintaining a trust fund for
their acquisition.  There will be some around, in time.

> Once I get them running, well...I don't know. Up to this point, I've
> 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. :)

There's Solaris, too ....


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