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Learn me on Sun Gear: Ultra 10 and Solaris Goodness Within!

Temetka

Well-known member
So I might be having a cheap Ultra 10 come my way. Since it's a maybe, that is why the thread is here and not in the conquests section.

Here is a link to the e-bay auction for the specific machine. Temetka's Ultra 10 Sparc Station. The auction ends in a few hours. Do me a favor and DO NOT BID ON IT PLZ, THX.

According to the seller it powers on, beeps then turns off. It is my assumption that it is doing so for a few reasons:

1. It's truly dead Jim, you bought a useless tower

2. The CPU module is loose

3. Missing RAM means computers usually don't work

4. Motherboard is shot

5. System is old and needs some TLC (i.e. reseat everything)

From the pictures the case looks to be in near pristine condition with no signs of obvious damage, scratches or scuff marks, all front bezels are intact. The rear of the machine shows all I/O shields are in place, there is nothing weird inserted into the ports and all looks good. Due to the price $5!!! (for now) and my hardware skills I feel confident that I can make it live again! (insert mad Scientist pic here)

So I've done my homework and here are the specs of the system I am thinking about:

Sun Ultra 10 Tower

440MHz RISC UltraSPARC IIi CPU

NO Ram

No HD

48x Sun CD-ROM

Sun Floppy

Really clean case

So I will need to get some RAM. I know the box can take up to 1GB and apparently RAM for these machines is relatively cheap as seen here. This makes me curious if I can try some 512MB modules and if they will work. Sure 2GB of RAM may be overkill for the 440MHz CPU, but why swap if you don't have to?

The Ultra 10 features standard HD-15 on the mobo. However I might want to juice it up a bit and go multi-monitor. Okay, I want a multi-headed UNIX box from one of the Big Boys okay? [8D] So I have looked over the Sun part numbers and found that there are roughly 3 cards I should be looking at:

Creator

Creator 3D

Elite3D

There are Rev 1 and Rev 2 of each card.

These cards support the 13W3 Connector which will run those 18.1" Sun LCD's which are going for about $75 right now.

Am I limited to Sun's cards? Meaning are the slots in the motherboard standard PCI and if so, could I get a PCI card and stick it in there? If not there do exist adapters that go from 13W3 to standard VGA. I am concerned about signal timings going through one adapter then being translated from digital to analog for the VGA connection. If I can use a standard PCI Radeon or something, then I could go with DVI and adapt that to go to 13W3 to keep a pure digital signal going to those 18.1" LCD's. Ideally I would like a triple head setup with a 20" Widescreen (Sun) flanked by 2 of those 18.1" LCD's.

I know the Sun cards are great for renders and animation and so on, however most of the time I will be working with 2D content. How is the 2D performance of these cards in standard apps such as internet, office, coding, video playback and so on?

I looked around and was able to locate a card called the RAPTOR GFX750 SUN XINERAMA HIGH RES LCD VGA DVI CARD. Expensive but interesting. I wonder if it will work in an Ultra 10 or 60?

I noticed that those clever little devils over at Sun have created their version of the DOS Compatibility card. There exist several flavors from standard Pentiums up to 733MHz Celeron's. They are complete PC's on a stick.

Looking at the board for the almighty Sun PCi II Chimera Card, it would appear that that 733MHz Celeron lies within a Socket. If so, then it can be replaced with a 1.4GHz Tualatin CPU for a few bucks. At that point it would run the heck out of Windows 2000 which is all I will ever need from Windows as far as I am concerned. I believe the card can take up to 1GB of RAM as it features dual RAM slots and Sun has part numbers for 512MB sticks for that card. I do not know what kind of video chip is on it. I expect suckage. Hopefully it's not an S3 or Intel (well i740 would be acceptable it's better than ViRGE). I would love to be surprised and find an 8MB ATI chip on the card. The age of the hardware means it could be an AGP GPU (implemented laptop style) or it could be a PCI GPU. We will know soon.

I've been doing my research on the software front as well. I've always wanted to learn Solaris and IMO what it is like to use a "True UNIX Workstation". Solaris 10 features a good looking GUI and doesn't seem overly complicated. All of the hardware I have chosen for the build is certified to run under Solaris 10.

The cool thing about the Ultra 10 is that I can use standard PS/2 equipment for input. That means I can use my favorite mice and keyboards with a PS/2 to USB adapter. The machine is also IDE compliant. I downloaded a ton of Ultra 10 documentation but I have not been able to find out what kind of IDE controller they are using. I would love to find out that it is ATA/66 and not ATA/33 or older. Again the age of the hardware would seem to indicate that the controller is likely to be ATA/66 compliant as that spec was already established when Sun drew this thing up. Either way I have a spare 120GB 7200RPM PATA Hard Drive that is going to go in it. This should be ample room for Solaris, some apps, docs and a virtual HD file for Windows 2000. I might try installing a 2nd 40GB HD and use that for Windows 2000 if the software will let me.

The machine I am looking at is the last run of the Ultra 10's. The nice tower version with 440MHz CPU, double the RAM and HD capacity and it looks great too!

If I can get a machine built for less than $250 that runs UNIX, allows me to run Windows 2000 at native speeds and is multi-head I just might have a new main machine. I love my Aluminum PBG4, but VPC is not all that great.

So what other upgrades should I be looking into for the machine? I know it's a starter box as it is not dual proc ready. However the performance to dollar ratio is there IMO. Most of the hardware can be moved into an Ultra 60 or Ultra 80 which support up to 2 and 4 CPU's respectively. This would let me move into a quad core unix box for peanuts. The Ultra 80 also supports more RAM. The higher we go in model #'s the price goes up. If I move up into to the non EOL equipment the pricing goes up much more rapidly. Witness the Sun Blade 2500 Tower. Now this is a "Man's Box". Swift, sweet looking, upgradeable as heck and it knows how to kick ass.

I'm so thrilled about this whole thing. I am going to learn a new OS (always fun, for me anyways) get to play with alien gear and most of all will be doing it all blind. Sure I have some UNIX experience, heck some people even pay me for it. However I have never used Sun gear or Solaris before. I was already thinking about what virutalization packages might be available for me and when reading over the hardware compatibility list imagine my surprise when I found out about the Sun PCi II card. Screw emulation, I'll take the real thing please.

This is going to be awesome.

You might call it MAJC.

Why?

There is a little bit of MAJC inside each SPARC.

Oh, I love the shade of purple Sun used as an accent color. It will go very nicely with the black spray paint I am going to cover it in. Purple and Beige don't go together to well in my eyes. Also the look, while clean, is somewhat dated. New hardware, a new owner, new tasks to perform. Son, your gonna need some new duds. Black paint and maybe a light up case fan or two for some subtle case bling. No I am not going to anything "PC CRZY MDR MAD" to it. Just a color refresh and some tasteful accent lighting. Expect pics to follow.

God, I spent an hour putting this post together and now I am even more psyched up than when I started.

Yay!

Now moving on the realm of Big Iron, we have the SunFire E15K. This machine will make anyone cry. It oozes power. It knows it too. You know, once you own a machine like this, the only thing left to do is to mod the sucker.

 

ChristTrekker

Well-known member
I got a freebie Ultra 5 awhile back with the SunPCi I card. The U5 is only 333 MHz, and the PCi is only 400, so I'll be jealous of your 440 U10 and PCi II if you should get them. :) You have better chances of getting the PCi II to work under Solaris 10 than a PCi I as well...I still haven't managed to convince mine to run.

 

Temetka

Well-known member
There does exist a PCi III card with an Ahtlon 1600+ (1.4GHz). I am curious if it will work in the Ultra 10.

/runs to Sun

Nope.

The PCi II is the best coprocessor card for my Ultra 10 and it will work in an Ultra 60 if I so desire.

I am really looking forward to getting this up and running.

 

Temetka

Well-known member
The PCi compatibility is supposed to stop at Solaris 8. There have been reports of getting it to work with Solaris 9 and Solaris 10.

I am glad I do not need to worry about this issue.

 

Temetka

Well-known member
Yes!

It is now mine.

Hey mods, can we now move this to the conquests area?

I have all the parts I need to build the sucker once it arrives.

I am sooooo looking forward to a good hardware project to sink my teeth into.

 

ChristTrekker

Well-known member
Did it come with a Sun keyboard? My U5 won't start w/o a keyboard attached, and the U10 is basically the same machine in a tower case.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Hey Congrats on the Sun box!

Also, I moved this thread to conquests as requested.

the U10 sounds like a great machine, more compact than the U60 for sure -- that thing's a pain to move around. [:p] ]'> (But definitely a worthy upgrade if you want more ram capacity, dual processors, etc)

 

Temetka

Well-known member
I am looking at the U60's and 80's to be sure.

However I have also found a source of 2500's for way cheap.

Who knows, in a week or so I might a have a dual proc Sparc 4.

 

Temetka

Well-known member
Also,

No I do not have a Sun KB and Mouse.

I was under the impression that since the U10 uses PS/2 ports that I would be able to use standard PC gear.

Can anyone verify this, or do I need to run to e-bay again?

 

WorkgroupServer

Well-known member
If you need any Sun U10 parts, let me know. I had three of these at one point, now down to two. One is my 440mhz with a Creator 3D running solaris 10.

You may want to look into getting a SUN adaptor. I have one for mine that takes Sun-style video/keyboard/mice and adapts them to run regular VGA and PS2. This only cost me around $10.

I have a spare motherboard, 440mhz processor, hard drive, PSU, and floppy drive I would let go cheap.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
My understanding is that the display on the U10 is standard VGA so you can plug your favorite cheapo 17" CRT or LCD into it and have it work fine, the U60/U80 have graphics for which you'd need a higher end monitor.

If you're monitor shopping, I recommend 17" or 18" Dell UltraSharp monitors, they work great and look beautiful on the Sun, even at their "weird" 1152x900 (If I remember correctly) resolution.

 

WorkgroupServer

Well-known member
My understanding is that the display on the U10 is standard VGA so you can plug your favorite cheapo 17" CRT or LCD into it and have it work fine, the U60/U80 have graphics for which you'd need a higher end monitor.
If you're monitor shopping, I recommend 17" or 18" Dell UltraSharp monitors, they work great and look beautiful on the Sun, even at their "weird" 1152x900 (If I remember correctly) resolution.

I tried a 17" LCD on mine and it did not work. Apparently to use the onboard VGA you need a CRT with a high(ish?) refresh rate.

 

Temetka

Well-known member
Crap and double crap.

I was going to use it with a 15" RealSync LCD. Actually, I will go ahead and try it anyway. It supports 85Hz at 800x600 so that should be good enough for terminal use, then I can configure X and lower the refresh rate if need be. I am planning on getting some video cards for it and going multi-head, but that's further down in the future. I do wonder if those 18.1" Sun LCD's that take 13W3 and VGA will work with built in VGA.

I was also hoping to re-use some old KB and Mice, but they are crap and i'd be better of tossing it and getting the above mentioned setup.

So what to with Sun gear? You could mod the E15K if you ever get bored.

 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Oh, wow... I can't even imagine wanting to do CDE at 800x600, let alone the gargantuanness of JDE.

A sun montitor is pretty much gauranteed to work, a Dell UltraSharp (drool!) LCD is also pretty much gauranteed to work.

I'll have to check with my source (techfury90) on the vga on the U5/U10 (same, or nearly the same, board IIRC) to see what it outputs, and whether or not it'll work with a "normal" vga monitor.

My U60 currently has a 19" dell trinitron display (P980 or some such), and it works great, it's also worked great with various Dell UltraSharp LCDs.

 

Temetka

Well-known member
Not CDE, just the CLI.

Then I can hopefully reconfigure X so that the refresh rate is lower. If it's a hardware forced refresh, then I'll be getting one of those Sun LCD's I've been talking about, or something else (Dell) if I can find it cheaper or locally.

 

techfury90

Well-known member
You will want a 1024x768 display. The 10's onboard video can do 1280x1024, but only at 256 colors, so 1024x768 is better. I don't think it'll even run at 800x700.

 
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