SUMMARY: SunLink ISDN compatiblity questions.

From: Stephen E. Kirkpatrick (
Date: Sat May 14 1994 - 07:24:37 CDT


Well, it has been a day with no more responses so I figured I would go ahead and

I received 9 replies.

Thanks to:
sten@ergon.CH (Gene Loriot) (Randy J. Ott) (Tom Slezak) Thanks Tom! (Jeff Goldfarb)

The original message follows the summary of replies:

We start with those who have had some real life experience with SunLink ISDN...
>From sten@ergon.CH Tue May 10 10:14:10 1994
Subject: Re: SunLink ISDN compatiblity questions.

I'm afraid, this is not goint to help you much, but I'll tell you anyway.

We have been using SunLink ISDN 1.0 with success here in Switzerland on
the Swiss ISDN net, the so called SwissNet (supposed to be compatible to
the Brotish Telecom ISDN offering -- in fact, I have it configured for
this type).

We use "bare bones" Basic Rate Interfaces without any PBX or similar devices
to link a SS-10 and an LX, so far no problems, but lots of deficiences: No
start/stop control of *logical* connections, no ability to filter/screen or
log packets etc. (you know the story).

Haven't tried connections with other software and/or telecom companies.
>From uusr166!! Tue May 10 18:10:07 1994
Subject: Re: SunLink ISDN compatiblity questions.

Not sure what information I can provide to help you, but:

We are using the Sun ISDN product to link systems in NJ (Bell
Atlantic) and NYC (NYNEX).

The connections are both using ISDN 2B+D service from the local
carrier. The connections are through NT-1s to the telco interface.

Both ends are configured as '5e5', terminal type D with SPIDs

The only problems we had getting going were:

1- Annoying problem with Sun ISDN software requiring re-boot
to accept some config changes,

2- Need to get 'right' long distance vendor specified for interexchange
traffic (AT&T in our case, although now Sprint and MCI provide
interexchange data service)

3- Need to specify 56Kb rather than 64Kb for the interexchange

Apart from that (and some brief confusion over the format of our
SPID), the software has worked well.

Here is someone with an ISDN contact at Sun...
>From Tue May 10 12:01:22 1994
Encoding: 781 Text
To: (Stephen E. Kirkpatrick)
Subject: Re: SunLink ISDN compatiblity questions.

I got a business card from a Sun guy at the Solaris Devlopers
conference. His name is Thomas Booth (
and his title reads "ISDN Loose Ends Guy". I talked to him
and he seemed very knowledgeable.

I forwarded my original message to Tom Booth at Sun. Here is his reply:

>From Tom.Booth@Eng.Sun.COM Tue May 10 18:22:48 1994
Subject: Re: Hello "ISDN Loose Ends Guy"

Yes you have the right guy but I don't have the answers you want. ISDN
works on AT&T 5E5 only in North America, as you have discovered.
You should be able to contact anyone on a Sun system now in France,
Germany, Denmark, Japan and in Great Britan within about a month.

   We knew the need for a Northern Telecom and NI-1 solution for
quite a while and have management commitment to get it, but we have had
some internal problems that have kept us from getting to work on it
effectively. I expect to have a schedule by the end of May or early
June. Ping me again then and I should be able to give you a solid
answer about when we can provide DMS100 and NI-1 support. We have an
idea of when it will be but we need to firm up some resources, especially
testing before I feel comfortable giving out specific dates.

Hmmm... not very promising.

Now, we get to the good part. Here are some users who give some alternatives...
>From Tue May 10 16:52:49 1994
To: (Stephen E. Kirkpatrick)
Subject: Re: SunLink ISDN compatiblity questions.

ISDN suffers more than most things from the usual problem with standards -
there are so many to choose from! Particularly in a very fragmented market
like the US, getting ISDN gear working is a major uphill battle.

You might do better by ignoring SUN's internal ISDN stuff and using an
external TA (the ISDN moral equivalent of a modem). At least the TA vendors
_care_ about getting their ISDN products working, which is not something I
would say about SUN (witness the dropping of the ISDN port on the new
>From Tue May 10 12:05:37 1994
Subject: Re: SunLink ISDN compatiblity questions.

At LLNL we use Combinets to give us dial-back security over ISDN. We
don't use the Sun ISDN stuff at all, the Combinet comes in over the
ethernet port. This works like a charm, I can't imagine messing with
Sun's stuff (although the combinets do cost some $$).

I'm working at home now over this link, and suggest you give this approach
a try if the Sun software indeed fails to be able to do the job.

Based on Tom's suggestion, I called different ISDN Bridge/Router vendors for
their literature. So far I have received some info from Combinet and Digiboard.
Both look promising. We will probably evaluate a few of these products and
return all of our ISDN cards and software to Sun.

For those who are interested, here is some contact info:

Combinet: 408-522-9020 (Phone)
          408-732-5479 (FAX)

Digiboard: 612-943-9020 (Phone)
           612-943-5398 (FAX)

I would be interested in any comments you may have on the above vendor's
products or any other ISDN Bridge/Router products.

Finally, here is the original message...
This message is directed to those of you that are using the ISDN capabilities
that are offered by Sun. I have gotten very few answers from Sun so I am
trying to find out if "real" users are having any success.

If you are using the SunLink ISDN product to link remote systems to your
server, I would be interested to know about your particular configuration.
For example, do you have a simple ISDN circuit to your local Baby Bell on
both ends? Are you using any sort of PABX at either end? Have you
successfully linked a machine from a U.S. site to/from a non-U.S. site?

The only link I have been successful with is a local ISDN circuit connected
to a SPARCserver 1000 and a local ISDN circuit connected to a remote
SPARCstation LX.

I am finding out that SunLink ISDN has many limitiations that are making it
unusable in any sort of real world scenario. I have found that they do not
have support for Northern Telecom switches located in many Baby Bell offices.
I even heard that the San Francisco Bay area Baby Bell (PacBell) upgraded their
AT&T 5ESS switches to software rev. 5E8 or 5E9 which "breaks" the SunLink ISDN
software. That would mean that even Sun Corporate cannot use the product.

Sorry, to go on like this. I have been trying diligently for several months
to get this stuff to work with very little success. Any and all help/pointers
would be EXTREMELY appreciated.

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