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Sun Microsystems Enterprise 3500 server

Discussion in 'Sun Hardware' started by Damon Getsman, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. A Sun Enterprise 3500 server has been sitting in our server room for
    some time where I work, and I'm starting to think that it may well
    have the best solution for a problem that we're currently having
    employing a few Sun packages. I won't get into that here, I already
    posted on comp.sys.sun.misc about that. I'm thinking that installing
    them on native Solaris instead of different Linux variants might be a
    bit easier, though, especially with a machine custom configured just
    to run the apps that I need.

    What I need to find out is how this headless beast can be communicated
    with. It has 4 ethernet ports and a serial port. I have no idea what
    sort of system or configuration was previously on this machine, so I'm
    thinking that it might be best to start with using the serial port as
    a terminal interface, provided the machine has a working OS installed
    on it right now.

    I'm not sure of what kinds of settings I'll need to put on the comm
    port to attempt this from a ubuntu linux workstation. Also not sure
    if I should try doing this with a null modem cable or if straight
    serial will give what I need.

    Also, any information about what I can do if this machine does not
    have a valid OS installed would be much appreciated; I'm at a loss due
    to the headlessness of this machine. It does have a CD drive for
    media, so it has that much at least. :p

    Much thanks for helping me communicate with this beautiful piece of

    -Damon Getsman
    Damon Getsman, Apr 2, 2008
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  2. Does that mean you're trying to install Solaris on it?
    Serial port A is (by default) active with the console when no keyboard
    is detected at boot time. The serial port is DTE, so you'll need a
    null-modem to attach to a PC or other computer. Default settings are
    9600, no parity.
    If you get an OK prompt, insert boot media and type 'boot cdrom'.

    It can hold a lot of processors and memory (especially for the time),
    but the processors themselves will seem very slow by modern standards.

    Good luck.
    Darren Dunham, Apr 2, 2008
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  3. Damon Getsman

    Dave Guest


    has info on serial cable. Basically 8N1 9600, with a null modem cable.

    I would download Solaris 10 onto the CDs, put the first CD and switch
    on. On a Sun at least, I would use 'tip' to connect to the serial port -
    you will have to find the exact way to do that on linux.

    Send a break from the terminal to get to the "ok" prompt. Then "boot
    cdrom" should get you booting off the CD.

    Trying to use any operating system the system may or may not have would
    be a waste of time. Just install a fresh Solaris. You can use a serial
    line whether or not the system has an operating system.
    Dave, Apr 2, 2008
  4. Damon Getsman

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    Probably so.
    No experience with the machine you mentioned, but that sounds
    Well ... the default for most Sun unix serial ports is
    ttya-mode=9600,8,n,1,- (cut and pasted off the output from eeprom),
    but there is typically a second serial port on most sun systems -- ttyb,
    with both having the same settings by default, but ttya being the one
    which is the console in the absence of a keyboard and monitor.

    However, from readings here, apparently some enterprise servers
    have the console on serial ports using RJ-45 connectors, which can
    easily be mistaken for ethernet ports. You should not need four
    ethernet ports unless the machine was working as a firewall or router
    between subnets. If the connectors are marked with "< . . . >", they
    are ethernet. Without that, they may be serial ports. A DB-25 which is
    being used as a parallel port will typically be marked "//".

    And is the connector (I presume a DB-25 or perhaps a DA-9) male
    or female? Male is common on serial ports on Intel boxes, but Sun
    tends to use female ones for serial ports -- and for parallel as well,
    so your DB-25 may be a parallel and some of the RJ-45 connectors may be
    serial ports. The necessary adaptor cable is supposed to be the same as
    that used for the console port on a CISCO router.
    I would expect a null modem (or at least a subset of a full null
    modem) would be the one to use. However, the easiest way to be sure
    would be if you have a serial port breakout box which can have LEDs
    indicating which pin each is trying to send on.
    CD or DVD? Assuming that it is an Ultra-based machine, the
    latest OS tends to come on either one DVD or four CDs, plus another DVD
    containing the "Software Companion" set of net sourced software, which
    might be up to two CD-ROMs by now or more.
    Hopefully you will get other answers from those who are more
    familiar with this machine to correct anything which I may have gotten

    Good Luck,
    DoN. Nichols, Apr 2, 2008
  5. I'm wondering about the config (where are the ports?). It could be just
    a single QE/QFE card with four ethernet ports in it. That wouldn't be
    uncommon. But there should also be an HME port on the I/O board(s) as
    well. Most of the 3500s I ran into only had one or two I/O boards, but
    more are possible (and one is required).
    E3500 is pretty old. I don't think Sun had RJ-45 console interfaces on
    anything when they were out. These should have a nice 'A' and 'B'
    marking next to the ports.

    Here's the resource I use for Sun serial ports:
    Darren Dunham, Apr 3, 2008
  6. That definitely appears to be the case. I've got the machine
    connected and on right now. I'm using a nullmodem cable connected to
    a USB serial adapter and I'm talking to the Enterprise 3500 through
    minicom on my ubuntu machine right now. Well, I shouldn't say talking
    to it, more like listening to it. I have gotten a 'Hardware Power ON'
    from it, about 10 minutes ago, and nothing else as of yet. The
    Solaris 10 Sparc CDRom #1 is in the drive and awaiting some semblance
    of a booting procedure or the 'OK' prompt for me to type 'boot cdrom'
    at right now.

    I've heard these machines take awhile to boot up. I didn't know it'd
    be this long. Wonder if something is fried in the hardware.

    -Damon Getsman
    Damon Getsman, Apr 4, 2008
  7. 10 minutes isn't long. :)

    Try turning the key to diagnostic mode and see if you get more output.
    Greg Mortensen, Apr 4, 2008
  8. Could be. If the box is filled (8CPU and 8GB of RAM), then startup
    takes a long time (and there's a setting or two to modify how much
    checking is done during powerup). But for a smaller machine, it
    shouldn't take 10 minutes to see something on the console.

    If you never got anything, you can try powering off and then putting the
    keyswitch in the diag position (wavy line) and see if you get additional

    Most failures will spit something to the serial line though....
    Darren Dunham, Apr 4, 2008
  9. *laugh*

    I actually got through everything; the longest part was waiting for it
    to attempt configuration of the network interfaces. It ran through
    qfe0-3 and hme0, each one taking about 10-15 min apiece to determine
    that it wasn't connected.

    Now I'm in the Solaris installation CD working on network
    configuration. I've hooked it up to the hub that I'm on, but there
    are 5 ethernet ports to choose from. Four are in a straight line (on
    the same board that has the serial ports A & B. And there is another
    one labelled TP with the < . . . >. Once I figure out what interface
    each of them are I should be able to get a little bit further with
    configuration here.

    Which key are you speaking of when you say turn it to diagnostic
    mode? The only key that I've seen on this machine is the front panel

    Thnx! :)
    Damon Getsman, Apr 4, 2008
  10. I don't think it has the 8 CPUs, but it does have 8gb of ram. As I
    mentioned above in the thread, things seem to be running fine, it's
    just taking me forever to figure out the network settings right now.
    I've got 5 ethernet ports, one separate from the others in a block of
    4; the single one is labelled 'TP' with the standard ethernet symbol
    < . . . >. As soon as I figure out which one I should use for my
    primary interface hooking up to my hub, I should be able to get this
    to see DHCP and get a little bit further with installation. Right now
    I'm trying to figure out if the 'tp' port is qfe0-3 or if it's the
    hme0 port. Every time I make a selection it takes 5-7 minutes to
    determine whether or not it's correct, so it's taking some time here.

    This box is really heating up my office, too. Heh.

    Thanks for the help! :)

    -Damon Getsman
    Damon Getsman, Apr 4, 2008
  11. Well, you could just try them all, but the ethernet port on an I/O board
    will be an hme port, and the card you have is a qfe (q for quad).

    (You might guess that the 0-3 ports are the four together on the same
    card.) :)
    Yes, yes it will.

    Completely filled with disks, you can use it as a paperweight as well.
    Otherwise, it's probably too light. ;-)

    I know some folks that would pull all but one CPU/mem board out to do
    builds and configurations because it was much faster to boot. Now that
    they're as old as they are (and not under support), I don't recommend
    unplugging the boards without a good reason.
    Darren Dunham, Apr 4, 2008
  12. Well I got it to start handling all of that a lot better now. There
    was a networking conflict that was fouling up things for me a bit, and
    I didn't have the fiber run to the disks in back, either. It still
    takes quite awhile, but not the eons that it was taking before.

    Installation is going great. I'd probably be done by now but my boss
    walked by where I've got this sucker strung up in a hazardous
    temporary fashion and tripped on the power cord thus unplugging the
    machine about 50% of the way through.

    Multiple times through the process is a great way to get to know a

    Thanks for helping me get this sucker running!

    -Damon Getsman
    Damon Getsman, Apr 4, 2008
  13. It's on the front panel keyswitch. diag is the heartbeat squiggle, and
    is the third position (between "Run" and "Secure").
    Greg Mortensen, Apr 4, 2008
  14. Damon Getsman

    DoN. Nichols Guest

    O.K. Without a network cable connected, you may have to fight it
    to get the installation complete. With it connected, it will be easier.
    (Based on other Sun machines, not with any experience with this one.)
    O.K. The one labeled TP with "< . . . >" is probably the hme0
    which is apparently the built in one. That is the one which I would
    choose to use.

    Looking at the FEH, I see the CPU/Memory module has only what
    appears to be three LEDs, and nothing else on the panel.

    The clock board has three DB-25 connectors -- one called "JTAG"
    (no idea what this one is) and TTYA and TTYP with the keyboard connector
    between them.

    The FC-AL interface board has four sockets for Fibre Channel.
    (501-4820 or 595-4739).

    Aha! This might be it. 501-2977 -- I/O board. Along the
    bottom of the front panel are an MII connector (ethernet which I have
    never used), then the 10BaseT/100BaseT twisted pair (which is presumably
    the hme0), a 68-pin SCSI connector, and "A" and "B" (which look like the
    possibly Fibre Channel intterfaces called OLC j0 and OLC 1). Above
    those are three SBus slots (0, 1, and 2) which could indeed contain a
    QFE board (probably your four qfe? ports) -- but there are no serial
    ports on this one. Let's check the next.

    501-4287 looks pretty much the same.

    501-4266 looks similar, except that the sockets which were OLC ?
    in the previous two are GBIC ? instead.

    501-4883 the same as just above.

    501-2749 -- back to QLC -- but with graphics features added.
    Not sure where the monitor connects, or whether it is just
    support for graphics features in other boards.

    501-4288 -- as above -- with graphics

    501-4884 -- GBIC again -- with graphics

    501-3023, 401-4325 two PCI slots plus 68-pin SCSI and
    10/100BaseT ethernet.

    501-4881, 502-4926 same as above.

    O.K. -- perhaps the OLC or the GBIC are acting as the serial
    ports which you are using? I only see DB-25 serial ports on 501-4946 or
    501-5365 clock boards, and they have no apparent ethernet sockets. I
    guess that I would need to see this to be sure what we are talking
    about. Or, I would need to download the manuals from Sun, which is
    probably what you need to do instead.
    Does this have more than on/off positions? I can't get enough
    detail from the FEH. I know that my Sun Fire 280R has four positions.

    On |
    Locked lock image
    Power off (|) (circle with vertical bar through gap at the top)

    Well ... hopefully some of the other replies will have given you
    what you need..

    Good Luck,
    DoN. Nichols, Apr 5, 2008
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