[rescue] best OS for SPARCserver 10

Jonathan C. Patschke jp at celestrion.net
Fri Sep 12 01:31:00 CDT 2003

On Thu, 11 Sep 2003, simeon johnston wrote:

> I've got a SPARCserver 10.
> 128MB ram.
> 2x 1.8GB HD.  I'll probably upgrade one of them to a 10GB.  Possibly
> upgrade both.

Be careful that you don't overheat the system.  Unless you have a later
run of the SS10, there is -no- cooling can there.  Sun finally hacked
one in there because machines were getting too hot.  Two hot drives will
spell meltdown.  Don't even think about 10KRPM drives.

> Video card (Don't know what kind it is) w/ 13w3->DB15 adapter.

It's probably some variant of the CG6.  That'd be GX, GX+, or GX4.

> I also have a few old Apple SCSI CDROM drives that should work great
> for booting it.  That or the built-in floppy.

If the SS10 has an older version of the PROM, it may not boot from those
Apple CD readers.  The Apples talk 2048-byte blocks, and the Suns expect
512-byte blocks.  The older firmware revisions don't send the SCSI
command to the drive to renegotiate the block size.

> I want to use it for a minimal Appletalk/Samba fileserver (5 users max
> at any given time.  1 user most of the time if that) as well as OpenAFP
> (just to test it out.  Play around a little).
> FrontBase (SQL database).
> PostgreSQL
> Possibly CVS.
> Some remote X stuff.
> Burning CD's (If possible).

NetBSD will work well.  OpenBSD will be faster.  Linux will probably
work well, but I haven't touched S/Linux since RedHat burned me so badly
years ago.  Solaris 9 will work surprisingly well, considering the age
of the machine, but you won't want to run X on it locally.

> Playing some musice if I can find the adapter for the audio.  What is
> that connector?

You want an SS10 speakerbox.  They go for cheap on eBay:

> I wanted to load Solaris on it since it should handle all of the above
> nicely.  I thought that you could download the OS free from Sun (at
> least a version of it) but couldn't really find anything on there sight
> (I was very confused with the download section).


Don't download the "Installation CD".  You only need the "Solaris
Software 1 of 2" and "Solaris Software 2 of 2" CDs.  I can only imagine
how much pain the Java-based installed would cause on an SS10.  The
installation would probably take a day or two.

> I want to try something different.  Maybe a *BSD.

I heartily recommend OpenBSD.  NetBSD is fine, too, but NetBSD runs
-much- slower on sun4m systems than OpenBSD does due to a difference in
the way the kernel talks to the periphreal buses.  NetBSD uses an
elegant generic method, and OpenBSD uses a bit of a hack for an
impressive performance boost.  You can even feel the difference over an
SSH connection on a box as weak as a SPARCclassic.

Linux is okay, but, like you said, there are enough Linux boxes in the
world, if you want to play with Linux.

If I were you, I'd try Solaris 9, just to be amazed at how fast Sun's
latest OS is on an eleven-year-old machine.  Windows XP won't run that
fast on a 486.  If that doesn't pan out, try OpenBSD.  OpenBSD 3.4 will
be out on November 1.

Jonathan Patschke   )  "Gamer weenies...are the sludge at the bottom
Elgin, TX          (    of the user swamp."           --Gary Nichols

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