SUMMARY: converting bootable cdrom to bootable tape format.

From: Ad S. Talwar (
Date: Fri Jan 03 1992 - 15:13:33 CST

Hi Sun Managers,

10 days back I had posted the query of converting cdrom sunos format
to bootable tape format. I received a dozen replies suggesting that
conversion from cdrom boot format to tape format is not going to be
a trival task. The replies were interesting, someone will have to hack
the install procedure maybe even to recognize tapes. I also received word
that at the recent SUG conference, sun was readily distributing a
script for converting UFS to cdrom format called cdfs. I am checking
if a reverse enggineering script will be availiable from the same source.
My goal, to ask the question was to make use of our reliable, cartable 150M
tape drive to install dataless clients quickly as a backup. We have bought
a cartable cdrom drive too.
The email address for getting the script to convert UFS to cdrom format

Thanks to the following persons and those i may have missed out
for their time and advice:

Russ Poffenberger:
Greg Earle: Sun Microsystems
Morris Jones:
Anthony A. Datri <uunet!!datri>
Dan Strick, aka or bellcore!dan

This will not be possible without SunOS source and a lot of hacking. The 4.1.2
"suninstall" that comes in the mini-root only knows about CD-ROMs. And
to try and create a tape otherwise would require reverse-engineering the
XDR table of contents (TOC) file (2nd file on the tape). Hint: there's
more information in the XDRTOC than just the file numbers (which are not
the same for CD-ROMs as for tapes; that's problem #1) and the package names
and package sizes.
I've also been told by my Sun salesman that CD-ROM will be the only possible
distribution media for new releases of the OS and other products. As a
result, of course, we bought a CD-ROM player.
I'm a new s.a., my systems arrive Monday. :)
Sun's claimed that patches (which they've never publicized or even told
their own people about in years past) will still come out on tape.
If you have (or get) one of Sun's portable CD drives, then it's not all
that much of a deal. I just cart ours around as needed.
It is still possible to boot most suns off QIC-150 tape (old suns may only
be able to boot off QIC-24), but you have to figure out how to make the
bootstrap tape yourself. I suspect that even though sun is no longer
distributing SunOS on tape, some people in sun are surely making
bootstrapable things on some media other than CD-ROM (e.g. when testing)
and the necessary software may still be present in the source distribution
of SunOS. Making a bootable and installable tape from just the standard
CD-ROM distribution is probably impractical. I wouldn't expect to be
able to do it by copying distribution files in just the right way.

Sun Micro may eventually remove tape support from the bootstrap proms.
We can only wait and see. I wonder what the 600 series will be like.
It is possible, but not trivial - the hard part if you use Sun tools
is to create the table of contents on tape.

My solution (for the network version I use as well) is to build a canned
version of the OS, and then build a version of MUNIXFS (memory loaded
file system used by MUNIX) that has restore or tar, and use that to
extract the canned version.
I have heard that it may be possible to do this with 4.1.2, but currently,
it will be impossible on 5.0. Several of us OEM's have expressed our concern
about this, and Sun has supposedly committed to finding a solution.

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