SUMMARY: Portable Sparc

From: Rose, Robert (
Date: Tue Apr 20 1999 - 19:21:58 CDT

Well, I am really impressed with the response from this list!

Thanks go to

David L. Markowitz
Brooke King
Rich Kulawiec
Dan Simoes
Bertrand Hutin
Stephen N. Carter
Matt Reynolds
Nick Wilhelm-Olsen
Kevin Ying
Bob Hoffman

And special thanks to
Mark Thomas

Basically there is only one player now, Tadpole-RDI which is the merger of
Tadpole and RDI.

Comments were generally very good for both the Tadpole and RDI products,
they're a bit bulky and heavy, and the battery life is not wonderful (60
minutes appears quite normal). Several people responded indicating that
they will run standard versions of Solaris with Tadpole extras for power
management and framebuffer support.

Price seems to be the only downside, although several people mentioned that
Ross Pennington from Herman Miller was selling
off excess SparcBook GX3 's for around $US800. The only downside for these
I can see is the fact that they require a 2.5inch SCSI hard disk. These
particular ones come with a 1.2Gb IBM drive, but most disk manufacturers no
longer make 2.5inch SCSI disks, and never made them larger than 2Gb. I
found 2 sites and that appear to modify
2.5inch IDE disks to support SCSI for old Macintosh powerbooks, but neither
of the vendors seemed interested in selling them for non-Mac use.

Tadpole-RDI do have reconditioned hardware for sale, but only seemed
interested in selling me an UltraBook, although they may have reconditioned
SparcBooks available later in the year (hopefully a bit cheaper too).

My final decision will be based on eventual use for a portable sparc, the
price, difficulty in obtaining replacement SCSI hard disks, the battery life
and portability.

At the moment I'm leaning towards buying a small desktop Sparc like an IPX
or classic, putting in a large SCSI disk, extra RAM, getting a nice
aluminium case to carry it around in, and connect it to my Toshiba Libretto
as a console with X-Vision or something similar for any graphical work. It
may be a bit more bulky than a SparcBook or UltraBook, but it wins on cost
and availablility of replacement SCSI disk. A battery life of 60 minutes
for a SparcBook is too short for anything useful, so it doesn't really come
into consideration. If I happen to find a _really_ cheap SparcBook or if
Tadpole-RDI sell reconditioned ones with large hard disks for a good price,
I might reconsider.

Thank you all for your responses,

Robert Rose
Unix Systems Administrator

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rose, Robert
> Sent: Thursday, April 15, 1999 9:55 AM
> To:
> Subject: Portable Sparc
> Hi,
> I'm considering buying a Sparc based laptop and thought I'd find out first
> what other Sun managers experience was.
> The only place I've been able to find so far is Tadpole-RDI and they have
> a few things in their range that look suitable, the SparcBook and the
> UltraBook. Does anyone have experience with these systems? Ease of
> installation, reliability, support for Solaris 2.6 and 7 (and beyond) and
> portability are all important for me. I've searched the archives and the
> only information I could find was a few years old.
> Does anyone else know of any other manufacturers that make similar
> systems?
> Please no comments on Linux or Solaris x86 on intel based laptops, I've
> seen both and am not impressed. Any purchase I make will be Sparc or
> nothing.
> Thanks for your help, and yes I will post a summary in a few days time.
> Robert Rose
> Unix Systems Administrator

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