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Sparcstation IPX - 24bit graphics? Memory board?

Discussion in 'Sun Hardware' started by Positronic Cat, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. Back in college, I cut my unix-teeth on an IPX. In a bit of
    nostalgia, I now have one of my own. 2gb HD/64mb ram. Running Debian
    Sparc Linux.

    What would be a good 24 bit graphics card to use in this machine. The
    CG6 is pretty nice, but I'd prefer a few more colors. Which will work
    well with Linux under Xwindows 4.x?

    Also, I'd love to boost the machine up to 128 mb ram, are the
    expansion boards still available for a reasonable cost? What are the
    part numbers?

    I'm pretty new to Sun machines, but familliar with PC's and MACs.

    Thanks in advance,
    Positronic Cat, Jan 19, 2004
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  2. Positronic Cat

    Rich Teer Guest

    Not sure about your choice of OS... Sun hardware is happiest
    running Solaris.
    In an IPX? I'm not even sure of one was available, at least
    not from Sun. I think you might be SOL...
    Those expansion boards are pretty rare, and hence, quite
    expensive. Nostalgia aside (I have a few older machines
    here myself), your best bet for a reasonable Sun experience
    is something like an Ultra 1 or Ultra 30. Either of those
    machines supports fast (for their time) 24 bit frame buffers,
    and at least 1GB of RAM.

    Good luck,

    Rich Teer, SCNA, SCSA

    Rite Online Inc.

    Voice: +1 (250) 979-1638
    URL: http://www.rite-online.net
    Rich Teer, Jan 19, 2004
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  3. However no currently available version of Solaris supports the IPX nor
    indeed anything earlier than the SS10.
    I *think* the GT array was supported on the IPX. It'll be piss slow if it
    does work and I don't think Linux/XFree support it at all.

    Paul S. Brown, Jan 20, 2004
  4. Positronic Cat

    neoholistic Guest

    Debian is my Linux distro of choice :)

    However I must warn you, the C libraries (and especially the math lib)
    in both Linux and OpenBSD are much, MUCH slower than those in Solaris.

    I have run benchmarks in my SS20 - for floating point intensive tasks, Solaris can be *twice* as fast - also up to 50% faster for integers.
    The difference is totally obvious when running The GIMP or other CPU
    intensive software - they'll be slower on Linux or BSD.

    Of course BSD and Linux are much 'lighter' so a machine as slow as an
    IPX will probably feel a lot more 'responsive' running one of these.
    Good for what use?

    I think the IPX has two sbus slots. So you have:
    Sun CG8 & Leo, Fujitsu AG10-E, Integrix F10E, Southland Media MGX &
    MGX+, Parallax XVideo & PowerVideo, RasterFlex 32 & HR...

    .... and probably a host of others.

    The Parallax cards were intended for video editing (they have video
    inputs), and the Leo, AG10-E and F10E are 3D accelerators. The Leo is
    /very/ slow for 2D, and not that fast for 3D either - the other two
    cards are quite fast (for their time), and support OpenGL natively.
    The CG8 is a non-accelerated card, and thus rather slow - the MGX and
    the RasterFlex 32 are accelerated 2D cards, and were fast in their

    There's another 24-bit sbus framebuffer by Sun, the GS, but it needs
    three slots (and it's fairly old).

    XFree86 supports the Leo card (too slowly to be usable). The others,
    I've no idea, but they do work in Solaris.

    Make your choice :)
    The Sun Shack is your friend: http://www.sunshack.org/
    Good luck.
    neoholistic, Jan 20, 2004
  5. Positronic Cat

    Thomas Guest


    Just out of interest: Was that with the libraries compiled for sparcv7 or
    for sparcv8? Many of the Linux or OpenBSD stuff comes as v7 as per default,
    to be able to run on both architectures. Recompiling as v8 can make a lot
    of a difference (though I think the OpenBSD folks came up with a solution of
    their own in the more recent releases - haven't tested them on sun4m in a


    Thomas, Jan 22, 2004
  6. Positronic Cat

    neoholistic Guest

    x-no-archive: yes
    Interesting! I used the default libs, so I assume they were v7. I did
    compile the executables as v8, though, but in the end it's libm and libc what made the difference.

    Thanks for pointing it out; I'll give it a try next time I install BSD/Linux on my Sun.
    neoholistic, Jan 22, 2004
  7. I think Linux still has these problems with sun4c machines.
    However, in general Linux is not that bad on SPARCs. On more
    modern UltraSPARCs you would probably prefer Solaris,
    but Linux' hardware support for older machines is pretty good.
    You should really try that occassionally and see yourself
    what Linux can do on, say, a SPARCstation 5, 10 or 20.
    Believe me. I'm not saying that I would easily get this:

    bash-2.05$ uptime
    6:24pm up 154 day(s), 20:30, 1 user, load average: 0.02, 0.01, 0.02

    with SPARC Linux (it's just my small Solaris/SPARC server
    at home), but Linux can be very nice on Suns.

    Talking to the original poster, I would propose some
    version of SunOS 4 (the IPX was first supported in 4.1.1)
    just to be more nostalgic :)

    Dennis Grevenstein, Jan 22, 2004
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