Date: Tue Feb 28 1995 - 06:08:42 CST

Good day Sunners

My original posting ....

I have a SUN330, which is the first monster to raise it's ugly head.

The problem is that the eeprom battery has lost its power, due to the life of
the battery being +- five years.
I assume that this problem will affect every single SUN box out there.

I would like to know if there are any proceedures one can follow to rectify
this problem. I think it would be senseless to make a copy at installation
time as the batteries are active at that time, and both should loose
power at +- the same time. I would agree to say 4 years of service, that we
could make a copy.

I would also like to know if there is any specific equipment I need. I was
thinking along the lines of a laptop with a prom burner, in order to
do this operation on our customers site.

I believe it is possible to send SUN Service Centre's information that is on
you Hostid, and they then can blow one for you. You need to send them the
hostid ethernet address and machine serialno.

I will summerise my findings


I think this problem will grow large in time.

My replies indicate that there are many people out there, that are concerned
about this problem, as it WILL affect them.

I see that this topic has already had alot of air time ( a regular faq )

Attached is the first resolution.


On ethernet addresses: These should be unique, it's the main idea behind
them. If you have also lost any reference to yours, try to find the number
for one that isn't used, like on those Novell PC Bugworks that will never
make it on the net. Some Sys Architect informs me that there are ethernet
addresses databases you can get on alt.2600 or other places in order to see
what you should use if you ever had to "create a bogus one from scratch".
Manufacturers are assigned the first part of the numbers by the "Ethernet
Big Authority Bureau", Sun seems to be 8:0:20:x:x:x .
Whatever you do, don't forget that Ethernet addresses are like fingerprints
on your packets. UDP talks... too much.
This is why Sun doesn't like you to touch it to avoid Net traffic accidents or
impersonalisation of machines on a local net. So you've been warned.

On hostid: You've all read the posts on licenses. Changing the serial
number of one machine in order to also run software licensed for an other
one... This IS PIRACY. It is the main reason why people used to buy
Apple II's and now buy PC. If it will boost SUN sales as well... :>
This is why you'll stick with your hostid number. This faq was made to help
you when your NVRAM failed, not to help SUN selling more hardware.

  (Just call 1-800-555-pir8 and report yourself to the self-incrimination
   service once you've changed your Hostid for the reason stated above.)

                                ORIGINAL FAQ

Now that more and more elder Sparcstations pass the magic age of 5 years,
the problem of dying nvrams seems to get a FAQ.
I compiled what I could ask or get from previous postings,
so this heavily relies on information provided by two other persons:

    Adrie Koolen ( (2 postings quoted)
    J"org Schilling ( (almost everything else)

Thanks to them for sharing their knowledge.
I did mail a copy to (Carl Mueller) for inclusion in the
pseudo-FAQ if he whishes to.
  1 Reading our your old nvram (js)
    which nvram for which machine? (js)
    idprom structure (js, header)
    1.1 devinfo
    1.2 idprom (adrie)
    1.3 into a file (js)

  2 Refurbishing the old nvram (js)
    adding a new battery

  3 Writing the nvram
    3.1 using an eprom burner
    3.2 using a Sun3 (js)
    3.3 using a Sparc (js)
    3.4 using the prom monitor (adrie)
    3.5 Getting a new nvram from Sun

  4 Possible Problems

2 Refurbishing the old nvram:
  The contents of the (nv)ram are backed up by a 3V lithium battery.
  It's located together with a quartz on top of the ram in a kind of backpack.
  The battery is on the side that's opposed to the dot marking pin 1,
  next to pin 12:

                       / _battery
                      / /
                   | O O | <-- cut here
             Pin 1

   At the point marked above, some kind of nose is reaching down from the
   backpack over the resin.
   Carefully cut through the polyester resin filling the dimple.
   This works best with some kind of mini drill with a small milling head.
   buried in the resin you'll find two small diagonal metal connectors :).
   Be careful not to short-circuit them, or you'll loose the contents of your
   nvram (if it was still able to keep them). -That's why you should save them
   *before* :)
   The connector closest to pin 12 is ground, the other (opposing) one +3V.
   You can now solder some wire to them and connect them to a new 3V lithium
   If you find that the ram has been erased during this procedure, try to
   rewrite it using one of the following approaches.


3.5 Getting a new nvram from Sun:
      If everything fails, i.e. the nvram is already dead and you don't
      know ethernet address and serial number or hostid, you can only send
      the nvram in to Sun. The barcode on top serves to identify the idprom
      and they'll send you a new one back in about 2 Months.
      Sun Germany charges DM 200 for this.
      From this I'd guess that in the US this might be < $100

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