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Sun SPARCstation IPC Resurection Project!

Discussion in 'Sun Hardware' started by Andrew McCall, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. Hi Folks,

    I have recently bought a very old Sun SPARCstation IPC with 48Mb
    memory, a 207Mb Hard Disk, a built in floppy and an additional SBUS
    Display Card. It didn't come wiht a keyboard or mouse, but it did
    come with a boxed boxed copy of Solaris 7 - it was cheap, and I wanted
    an old system to get working!

    I started by cleaning the machine up, and then testing the power.
    Right now I don't have a serial cable so I can't get into the system,
    I am waiting for it to be delivered, but until then I have a few
    questions I wasn't able to find answers for on the web.

    1) When I power it on, everything seems to spin up, but I then get one
    long beep, the keyboard LED inside the machine flashes once, then
    seven times - I presume this is a hardware diagnostic signal, but I
    can't find any documentation on what this combination of signals mean.
    Does anyone know what it means, or can someone point me to a
    reference manual for the IPC?

    2) What would the best version of Solaris be to put on this? I have
    an original copy of Solaris 7 - I believe this is the last version
    that can run on the IPC, so I was wondering if I would get better
    perfomance if I ran an older version such as 2.6.

    3) I have a spare 9.1Gb 50-Pin SCSI Hard Disk, and I was wondering if
    I could swap the 207Mb one for the 9.1Gb one. Is there size limit to
    the size of hard disk that the IPC can use -like there used to be on
    old IBM clones?

    4) I was thinking originally of restoring it, and then preserving it
    for the future! However I have been thinking of actually using it for
    something now! I was wondering if it would be powerfull enough to run
    Apache, PHP and MySQL so I could run my blog on it! Can anyone
    comment on if the machine would be able to cope with this? (Lets hope
    it doesn't get slashdot'ed!).

    Thanks for the help.
    Andrew McCall, Sep 9, 2003
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  2. I've got a production trouble ticketing system running on an IPX,
    php/apache/mysql based. I've got a 540mb? internal, and a 611 with a 9G
    in it, running solaris 7.

    Now, it's not serving thousands of people (more like ~250), but it's not
    had a problem in the 2.5 years it's been running.
    John Thomas - Lucent ASCC Cary, Sep 9, 2003
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  3. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    An IPC is slower than an IPX (IPX=40 Mhz, IPC=25 Mhz), but remplacing
    solaris by linux or BSD could balance the difference.

    More details on http://obsolyte.oldmachines.org:81/sun_ipc/
    and http://obsolyte.oldmachines.org:81/sun_ipx/

    This official mirror is running on a SS1+ (the pizzabox version of the
    IPC) with 64MB of ram under Debian woody using chrooted apache :)
    Yann Marigo, Sep 9, 2003
  4. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    For tests, i've bring this kind of machine to more than 80 of
    load-average ... You will sature the 10Bt before :)
    Tip: use an external HD and a sbus scsi card. U will unincredibly boost
    the performances of the machine :) (the internal scsi controler is VERY

    I've run a visit simulator with more than 300 instances. 1,1 MB/s and
    still responding :) This was under linux and i think BSD would be more
    efficient on these vintage computers !
    Yann Marigo, Sep 9, 2003
  5. Andrew McCall

    Thomas Guest

    Definitely not Linux - Linux still has problems with sun4c (and I don't
    expect that to change...). BSD offers better performance on those machines,
    i.e. IPC/IPX, Sparc 1/1+/2.


    Thomas, Sep 10, 2003
  6. Andrew McCall

    C. Newport Guest

    Oh dear, this old fallacy is back again.
    The performance difference is rather small, and only becomes significant
    when there are a large number of concurrently active processes. This
    is unlikely to happen in reality for a home user on such an old machine
    which will probably be used as a mail or DNS server or just for learning.

    The Sun4 and Sun4C processors can only save up to 16 contexts internally
    so any OS has to provide a mechanism for context switches outside of
    the current internal context table. The BSD code saves a few
    milliseconds when this happens, at the expense of kernel efficiency
    in other areas. If there are 16 or less current contexts the Linux
    code is faster but if there are very frequent switches out of the
    current window of 16 contexts on a heavily loaded system then BSD
    can be faster.

    IOW, it depends on what the machine is being used for.
    C. Newport, Sep 10, 2003
  7. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    Old legend ! totally false :) Linux run PERFECTLY well on sun4c (i've 1
    SS1+, 2 SS2, 1 SS2+Weitek PowerUp and 1 IPC, considering only sun4c
    arch)... more than 3 year without crash (no crash at all in fact :) )
    and uptimes between 3 to 8 months...

    As i said on an other post, BSD could be more efficient on some uses but
    the experience i have with NetBSD on Alpha 21064 @ 175 Mhz is really
    really disappointing. Comparing to SS20 with 200 Mhz ROSS under Debian

    Alpha @ 175 Mhz with 96 MB of ram:
    2:54:41 yannmarigo: C compiler : gcc version egcs-2.91.66
    19990314 (egcs-1.1.2 release)
    libc : unknown version
    MEMORY INDEX : 0.451
    INTEGER INDEX : 0.412
    Baseline (LINUX) : AMD K6/233*, 512 KB L2-cache, gcc,

    200Mhz Hypersparc ROSS with 320 MB of ram:
    MEMORY INDEX : 0.767
    INTEGER INDEX : 0.776
    Baseline (LINUX) : AMD K6/233*, 512 KB L2-cache, gcc,

    if i found the time i'll make the test on IPC...
    Yann Marigo, Sep 10, 2003
  8. Peter Radcliffe, Sep 10, 2003
  9. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    :D "I'm the best! See here ! My homepage say why !"...

    I maintain that :

    How do you think to convince me when i'm using linux on many sun4c
    dayly, without ANY problem and with professionnal use ?

    I've never said that BSD wasn't faster, i've just said that linux run
    perfectly well...And i have proofs of what i say:

    http://obsolyte.oldmachines.org:81/ is the official mirror of
    www.obsolyte.com hosted on a SS1+ under Debian woody connected to
    internet by DSL. Up 24/7 since 3 years ! (2.2r3 upgraded in 2.2r7
    upgraded in 3.0)
    Yann Marigo, Sep 10, 2003
  10. Why would I bother to convince you of something you're not denying ?
    None of this denies the original quote of;
    The problem is that it's slow. This affects people's choice of OS and
    is generally considered useful information.

    Peter Radcliffe, Sep 10, 2003
  11. Andrew McCall

    C. Newport Guest

    No, the problem is that you are repeating outdated BSD propaganda
    which was only partially true even when it was written.

    BSD can be faster under some conditions on a heavily loaded system.
    Most IPCs used in the original poster's context of a restoration
    project will be lightly loaded and will actually be faster with
    a modern Linux kernel.

    I have already explained why this happens further up the thread,
    but you probably did not understand the issues.
    C. Newport, Sep 10, 2003
  12. Not a bad explanation, but not entirely complete.
    and as soon as you start with personal insults you go
    I don't have time for trading insults with annoying people.

    Peter Radcliffe, Sep 10, 2003
  13. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    Thanks :) I'm using 2.2.x kernels patched for ext3 support while 2.4.x
    could be lighter (in size mining). I've tested both kernels and i've
    found that the 2.2.x seams to be faster.

    I'll test the both on an IPC and i'll post the results of the bench..
    (how to test the perf without ?)
    Yann Marigo, Sep 11, 2003
  14. I hate to say it, but are you not really going to be wasting a lot of
    time (probably money too if you buy a bigger disk), or an external disk
    as someone suggested?

    SPARCstation 20's are very cheap now and would offer *considerably*
    better performance.

    There are no specs on this one, but it sold on eBay for $9

    This one with 2 x 1 Gb disk, 2 x 75 MHz CPUs, Turbo GX and 396 Mb of RAM
    sold for $50.

    Personally, given the low resale value of SS20's, I find it hard to see
    the worth in buying an IPC and trying to restore it.

    I would certainly think long and hard before spending any money on ram,
    disk, cables etc.

    Clearly there are many here who will disagree with my thoughts - I
    expect there are one or two who would agree too.

    Dr. David Kirkby,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    Department of Medical Physics,
    University College London,
    11-20 Capper St, London, WC1E 6JA.
    Website: http://www.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/~davek
    Author of 'atlc' http://atlc.sourceforge.net/
    Dr. David Kirkby, Sep 11, 2003
  15. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    You could imagine the emotional aspect or the happyness of resurecting
    an old unused machine instead of simply buy a new one...
    Yann Marigo, Sep 11, 2003
  16. Andrew McCall

    Thomas Guest

    Well, just based on experience. Linux 2.4.x vs. OpenBSD on SS2 and IPX. In
    both cases, the machines were much more usable (interactive use/X) under
    OpenBSD than under Linux, sorry. I don't care about the why and how, only
    about what I experience with the box.


    Thomas (who *does* run Linux on Sparc, just not on sun4c)
    Thomas, Sep 11, 2003
  17. Personally I could do without that emotional aspect. But since he has
    just paid money for the IPC (how much he did not say), one can't really
    site that as a reason.

    The day Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck is probably the day
    they start making vacuum cleaners." -Ernst Jan Plugge.

    Dr. David Kirkby,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    Department of Medical Physics,
    University College London,
    11-20 Capper St, London, WC1E 6JA.
    Website: http://www.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/~davek
    Author of 'atlc' http://atlc.sourceforge.net/
    Dr. David Kirkby, Sep 11, 2003
  18. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    I don't know about his case but i know mine very well :)
    I become like mad when someone sell some Sun/SGI/Dec tht i don't have :)

    I've more than 80 computers.. PDP11, 68k, Sparc, PPC, Alpha, Mips ...
    Yann Marigo, Sep 11, 2003
  19. Andrew McCall

    Chris Morgan Guest

    The only trouble is old computers tend to be quite slow and use a lot
    of electricity in the process. In principle I love my NeXT Cube,
    SPARC20 and perhaps even my Acorn Electron. In practice I don't often
    find a reason to turn them on!
    Chris Morgan
    "Post posting of policy changes by the boss will result in
    real rule revisions that are irreversible"

    - anonymous correspondent
    Chris Morgan, Sep 11, 2003
  20. Andrew McCall

    Yann Marigo Guest

    Iv'e read on this forum that a lunchbox is only about 30W

    You can make running 10 LX station with the same electricity consummtion
    than an ATX power supply...

    My ups is a 720 VA and it's only at 78% of charge with 2 SS2, 1 SS1+, 3
    LX, 1 SS20, 2 411 boxes, 2 hub and my DSL modem. It's about 480 W.
    My Athlon box use a 400 W power supply.. not so high! And with 1 service
    by machine (internal and external DNS, mail server ...) i've less
    "chance" that all go out at the same time.
    Yann Marigo, Sep 11, 2003
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