Summary: Solaris 2.4x86 on ASUStek Dual Pentium

From: Arno Hahma (
Date: Thu Feb 23 1995 - 08:49:39 CST

This is a summary about the ASUStek PCI/E P54NP4 Dual Pentium PCI/EISA
motherboard and problems installing Solaris 2.4x86 on it.

The above motherboard is indeed functional with Solaris, at least with a
single CPU. Installing Solaris on it wasn't quite trivial, though.

First of all, the motherboard has to fullfill the following three

- BIOS: Award Modular BIOS, version 3.04
- motherboard revision 2.4
- single/dual CPU jumper set to _single_ processor operation; not dual,
  as previous information tells! Won't boot with dual CPU-mode unless
  2 CPUs are present.

Anything less than those versions will not work reliably, if at all. I
have no information about higher versions or revisions, but odds are,
that they will work, too.

The only flaw on the system is the lack of functional software reboot.
If the system is rebooted that way, it won't come up without pressing
the hard reset button, but hangs after it has gone down. This is a
minor problem, however. Maybe later revisions of the board or BIOS will
fix this?

The board revision can be easily checked on the motherboard. BIOS
version can be seen at boot up, when the BIOS reports its date and
version number. The version number is coded #0304, it is the last four
digits of the date code.

If the motherboard fills the above conditions, problems with
installing Solaris 2.4 are elsewhere than on the motherboard. I
experienced _three_ other hardware problems.

The first problem was the main DRAM memory. It was faulted, the memory
chips were good enough to pass the motherboard BIOS memory test, but not
good enough to run any software. Even DOS and Doom 1.666 would hang on
the machine (Doom is an excellent test program, BTW. If it doesn't run,
then the machine is quite unlikely to work properly anyway.)

After I changed the memory chips, the next problem was diagnosed to
Adaptec 1542B. The Adaptec wouldn't boot Solaris at all. Here, the
problem was probably the 32 MB of memory on the board; Adaptec 1542B
can't look for that much due to its DMA limitations.

The next step was to switch the SCSI-card to an Adaptec 2742 EISA-card.
That fixed the boot problem, but brought about another one: the CD-ROM

I was trying to install with a NEC 4Xi SCSI-CD-ROM. That was not
successful in the default configuration. Solaris would boot, but panic
immediately after loading the kernel. Using kadb at the boot (thank you
SunSoft for the hint!) I was able to track the problem down to the drive
itself. The drive wouldn't reply to SCSI-commands fast enough or it was
dropping data. The solution to this was to set the SCSI-bus to its
slowest speed for the CD-ROM target and LUN. Additionally, the CD-ROM
would not work with SCSI-syncronous negotiation enabled.

Finally, after the CD-ROM had a low speed SCSI-bus connection and
syncronous negotiation disabled, the system came up and booted with no
further problems. The board has been up and running ever since, about
10 days without any problems at all for now.

Solaris 2.4x86 is a truly excellent piece of software but even it is not
good enough to run on faulty hardware. I don't blame SunSoft for that

Special thanks go to following people from Sun. I got many valuable
hints and suggestions from them:

K. M. Sherif
Daniel Donovan

Thank you once more for your help!

I hope this summary is of use to other people trying to get Solaris to
install in general. First make sure your hardware is ok, then let's
get back to business..., a happy Solaris user :)


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