Bringing up Solaris

There are *a lot* of really cheap Sun boxes on Ebay these days. We picked one up for our lab. Here are a few tips for newbies trying to bring up Solaris on a Sun Sparc box that might be useful. First off, go to and download the CD images of Solaris. If you didn’t know, Solaris is free for 8 or fewer processors. Often, the box will not include a monitor, and you probably don’t want one, anyway. Intel is a better bargain for graphics work, or a workstation. But a server… now, there are some good deals to be had, and there are good arguments for running Solaris rather than Linux in some cases (like those are the only choices 🙂 ). Anyway, the first thing you have to do is communicate with the Solaris box via the serial port. If you are using a PC serial port rather than a terminal, you will most likely need to use a null modem adapter. We wired ours up years ago using a Radio Shack part # 276-1403 RS 232 Shielded Jumper Box, which lets you wire between two db-25 connectors any way you wish. One problem you have to overcome is how to send a break command from your terminal emulation program. With minicom you can type ctrl-a f, and that will send a break. You need to send a break to get into the monitor program of your new Sun box. Just put the Solaris 8.0 install CD into the CD-ROM drive, type a break, and when you get the prompt, type boot cdrom.

After you install Solaris, you might want to see what exactly you have, and make sure your pieces you got at the auction (or whatever) are all good. Type uname -a to find out your platform, and then go into the /usr/platform/yourplatform/sbin/ directory, and type prtdiag. You will get a bunch of info on the system, including memory, CPU, IO Cards, etc. If you want to poke around the hard disks, type format [remember how format enter would toast your c: drive?]. Format will list detected drives. You can then select a disk and then choose analyze to test the disk.

We’ll be writing up some new articles on Solaris in the coming months with our new toy. Go on, scrounge some refuse from the dot com crash and have some fun, follow along with us on NetAdminTools, live a little. 🙂