SUMMARY:HELP! death to Sun parallel ports!

From: Systems Administrator (
Date: Wed Apr 17 1996 - 12:32:37 CDT


Thanks to all those who responded. I kind of took the easy way out and
kept trying different computers until one worked. I somehow got it
working on a sparc10 (althought still a bit querky).

I do appologize for not including the OS version. For those of you who
played the game, SunOS4.1.3 was the right answer. As for the cable, I
did have the original cable from Sun and continuity tested ok.

Thanks to all those who replied:

My original post:
I have now been working on this problem for several months and am not
very happy with Sun parallel ports!

I have an HP1200C/ps color ink jet printer with ONLY a parallel
interface. The network option is more than we want to spend. I have
tried a seriial to parallel converter and this didn't work.

I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY set the printer up on a SparcStation LX which has a
standard 25pin parallel interface. My working setup on the LX is as


hpc|hp|HP Deskjet 1200C:\

an ls of the spool directory:

drwxr-sr-x 2 daemon daemon 512 Apr 15 10:29 hp

and of that directory:

drwxr-sr-x 2 daemon daemon 512 Apr 15 10:29 .
drwxr-sr-x 19 bin bin 512 Apr 15 13:58 ..
-rw-r----x 1 daemon daemon 4 Apr 12 16:29 .seq
-rw-rw-r-- 1 daemon daemon 26 Apr 12 16:29 .status
-rw-r--r-- 1 daemon daemon 4 Apr 15 13:58 lock
-rw-r--r-- 1 root daemon 26 Apr 12 16:29 status

and for good measure the usr/adm files:

-rw-r--r-- 1 root staff 0 Apr 12 15:50 /var/adm/hp-log
-rw-r--r-- 1 root staff 0 Apr 12 15:50 /var/adm/hp.acct


Now, When I use this EXACT same setup on a sparc 5, 10 or 20 which has a
propriatary SUN parallel interface this does not work!!! Unfortunately
the LX is 2 floors below where the printer needs to be!

on a Sparc 5, 10, 20 there are 2 'mini' connectors (flat small). One is
for aui/audio connector (special cable) and the other is supposidly for
a parallel cable (also special which I bought!) The label of these
prots is // <...> which is parallel/audio(aui). According to the sun
hardware owners guide, the bottom port is the aui/audio port and the top
port is the parallel port. I try accessing the port using /dev/bpp0.


I received a bug report mentioning a bug on some of the sun parallel
interfaces but is it on every sparc 5, 10 and 20? I've tried 3 5's 2
10's and a 20 so far.
Thanks to:
------------------------------------------------------------------------ (John Denune)
I have an HP4M and a Tektronics Phaser IIsd connected to parallel ports
on Sparc 5's and haven't had any problems. My printcap entry is:

chani|Tektronix Phaser IIsd:\

The HP4M is the same except output is filtered through:

        /usr/bin/unix2dos -ascii

to get the LF/CR stuff right.

My only thought is how long is your parallel cable? I think 15' is the
recommended limit for parallel and you may run into problems if your
cable is longer?
Of all the sun ports i've had problems with, the parrallel port
on the sparc 5 is the only one that went smooth.
i'd recommend you purchase anonther cable, and try that.
good luck
From: (Robert Pasken)

   If you have purchased the Sun cable fit this small connector, then
everything should work. I have Sparc 5's 10's and 20's all running HP
of all kinds including the HP1200C/ps and they all work fine. If you are
SunOS anove 4.1.1 you may have to add an entry in the kernel config
file, but
if you are running a generic kernel it should have the entry.
From: John Bradley <>
plotter4|Calcomp 52436|WFL:\

From: (Martin Achilli)
From: (Martin Achilli)

You don't state which version of Sun OS you are using, I presume it is

In this case you must have enabled support for the parallel port in the
kernel configuration file. There is a line that contains the word "bpp",
remove the comment from that line and rebuild the kernel.
Once you have a new kernel, reboot and watch messages while the machine
boots, you should see a line come up stating that a parallel port has
been found (again the line will contain the word "bpp").

Did you receive the complete description of the bug related to the SS20
parallel port ? I can send it to you if you want, I think one of the HP
printers, perhaps yours, is mentioned.
The SS10 parallel port is ok, we are using one here.
From: gibian@typhoon (Marc Gibian)
I have fought this same battle on my customer's SPARCstation 20s. It
turns out that Sun seems to interpret the signal level on one
particular signal of the parallel port/cable connection to a printer
differently than many printer vendors. I am trying to get a brother
HL-660 to print off the internal parallel port on my 20, and after
swapping the system board four times, I have given up (and these
boards were provided by our HW maintanence provider specifically to
fix the parallel port). It would seem that Sun does not take parallel
ports seriously, and the lack of traffic on this topic would seem to
(unfortunately) justify this lack of interest. By the way, I was
initially told my printer was bad, even though I can run it on a PC
and using an add-on SBUS card from a different vendor (though that
card has its own problems... performance is horrible during print data

I'd love to hear that you have found a solution other than just
swapping system boards until you get one that works...
From: John Rosenberg <>
Well-known (I thought) motherboard bug for bpp: Two parallel port pins
reversed (I forget which ones). Sun will tell you where to stick your
board if you complain, but look in the Sun Mangler's Archives and you
will find
the proper pin exchange. Then get a passthrough jumper connector of the
variety & jumper the pins right. If you are buying through a dealer
other than
Sun you may have some luck getting them to help.
From: (Derek Terveer)
i didn't know that the baud rate setting would have any affect on a
parallel port.
i have had no problems hooking up an hp 650c to the parallel port. you
don't mention
what the errors are...?
From: Wis Macomson <>
Are you sure that you have the correct cable? I hooked up an HP LJ4M
to my Sparc 20 (clone) parallel port and it worked first time. Even
(with SunOS 4.1.3_U1B).

You didn't say, but I'm guessing you have SunOS 4.1.x, also.
Did you 'makedev' /dev/bpp0 ?
From: Herbert Wengatz <>
Have you tried , as a first step, a "cat TEXT_OF_CHOICE >/dev/bpp0" ?

This should do at least *some* reaction on the printer.
If this doesn't work you are in real trouble.

If it works, it's a basis, because you know from now on, that it's a
configurational problem.

                      Systems Administrator
                   Space Sciences Building CRSR
   Mail all system related problems to one of the following: 
                              or see 
Vic Germani in room 402

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