SUMMARY Machine configuration

From: Luciana Pinheiro Solano (
Date: Wed May 13 1998 - 13:10:11 CDT

Hi everybody,

Here comes some useful informations for those who are upgrading Sparcs. Thank you very much!

Thanks to:
Gianluca Rotoni <> (Birger Wathne) (Russ Poffenberger)
Amol Karnik <>
Dan Hubbard <>
Andreas Holzhammer <>
Benjamin Cline <>
"Robert L. Bailey" <>
O'Neal,Chris" <>

Original message:
We are planning an upgrade here of our Sparc4 and 5. Sun offered us the following machine:

        Sun Ultra 5 Systems
        270MHz UltraSAPARC-IIi
        64Mb Memory
        4.3GB Internal Disk
        1.44Mb Floppy Disk
        Onboard PGX Graphics
        Universal UNIX Country Kit
        X7103AIP US$ 522,00
        17" Color Monitor

        X6170A US$ 156,60
        Internal CDROM
Here comes the summary:

Just to make sure you know, this is a PCI bus machine with an IDE
drive (16.6 MB/s transfers). If you want to use SCSI drives (for
example, from your old machines), you will have to get a special PCI
SCSI adapter (standard PC adapters don't work - you will need the
"open firmware" version which is more expensive...) Also, any old
cards you have from your other Sparcs won't work in this machine -
it's PCI only.
I have one here in this configuration, expanded to 196MB and with a 40GB
Eurologic Raid attached.

we have quite some problems with the ethernet interface, when connected
to a 100MB port (tested with two switches and one hub) it frequently looses
the link under heavy load (copying some 100MB), and it takes about 1 minute
to come up again. This happens up to 20 times a (work-)day.
When connected to a 10MBit port, it is more stable, but still looses the
link occasionally (about once a day).
We have the latest patches on the machine and even exchanged the

Maybe just bad luck, maybe it has to do with out network, but if i can't
get this solved soon, i have to buy a nt-server :-(

just my $0.02

Andreas Holzhammer
if you're upgrading from Sparc4/5 to a similar model from Sun, you don't
have much of a choice, I'm afraid. Sparc machines are now out of production and the new entry level machine is the U5. Anyway, they're good, fast and relative cheap machines.

Basically they've a PC like architecture with PCI instead of SBUS.

They come with no SCSI controller and a 100Mbit auto-sense ethernet port.

Since PCI is a PC standard you would expect to be able to buy
any PCI hw and fit it into the U5 box.
Suns says you can't just do it since they've slightly changed the PCI bus
to satisfy their necessities. I don't know.

Make sure you have the latest SunOS (5.5.1 hw 11/97 or 2.6 hw 3/98) or
you want be able to install them.

BUT I heard that Sun is starting to provide full system installed machines
as the normal configuration. Check with them.

A last note about the screens: if you have old Sun screens, they don't
go with the new U5 but for ~70$ you can buy an adapter (cheaper than buying
a new monitor).

Gianluca Rotoni <>
It's nice as a desktop.
It doesn't have the same memory architecture as it's bigger brothers,
so cpu->memory bandwith isn't as high as the other Ultra's. But it's much
better than what you have today....

Just remember that it doesn't come with SCSI as default. It uses IDE
disks and CD-player. So if you want to reinstall the OS from CD you have
3 alternatives:
1) Make shure you have an internal CD player
2) Install SCSI card and use external CD player
3) Network install from a boot server.

The last alternative is the best choise, but needs some config work.
Of course, the best solution could be to use Solstice on the server and set
them up as AutoClient systems. This way, they boot from a boot server
like diskless clients, but they cache / and /usr on the local disk.
They also swap on the local drive.
The advantages are simple OS installation, no backups on the clients,
if a client disk crashes, you replace it and reboot.

I would prefer something a little bit bigger as a server for my network.
But if it's a small network, a Ultra 5 with a good SCSI controller
could be enough.


We have some, they are fast. They don't have internal SCSI controllers, so if
you need to add external SCSI, you should get X1032A, which is the PCI SunSwift
Fast Ethernet/WIDE SCSI controller.

Here in the US, the CDROM is now standard at no extra charge, and the price was
reduced on the U-5 to $2495 for a base configuration (no monitor).

Oh, yeah, you need Solaris 2.5.1 HW:11/97 or 2.6 HW:3/98. These are the only two
that will run. If you don't have these versions, order them with the
workstation. (Russ Poffenberger)
we have one Ultra 5 here... bought it because its cheap and we wanted a
dedicated machine which would serve as our printserver, nis server,
internal webserver, license server and a load of other stuff. No real
heavy applications on it, and not too much load. Its serves the purpose
quite well. One major drawback is, its comes with IDE drives and a PCI
bus. If you want to attach SCSI devices, you need a PCI to SCSI
interface, which costs more than 700 bucks. almost $1000. Amol Karnik <>

Amol Karnik <>
We've got a couple of Ultra 5s here, so far they seem to working pretty
well, with exception of one machine which came with a bad front panel
power switch (because of the way power management on these machines is set
up, the bad switch was preventing the whole machine from booting. We
finally settled for just disconnecting the switch (there is another switch
on the back) until Sun could get us a replacement part.).

I'd suggest you avoid the 17" monitors, and go with a 19" or 21" monitor.
The 17" are just too small to use comfortably!

If you are going to Solaris 2.6, you might consider 96mb of RAM as I
believe that is the stated min virtual memory requirement. Going with
64Mb of RAM will work with 2.6 (We run it here on some old machines that
way) but you will always have 32mb swapped to hard drive. If you can
get 96mb or 128mb it might be to your benefit.

Chris O'Neal
I've just finished setting up some Ultra-5/10's about a month ago.
The only problems I can see break down into two catagories: 1st
is what do you need them for, 2nd is an administration problem.

1) Since the Ultra-5/10's are PCI/EIDE based I wouldn't use them
for _any_ kind of server. They make a good desktop but that's about
it. The Hard Drives can't handle the high I/O that SCSI can handle.

2)Ram, HD, CDROM, Supported Cards - are all different from a SBUS/SCSI
based environment. This requires extra spare parts in all areas.

Note: You'll need either a CDROM installed, or a PCI SCSI card so that you
can install the OS.. personaly I'd go with both.

Also, Sun doesn't tell you this but the =< 19" monitors are HD15 based,
along with the Video Card (in most cases). However the 20" + are 13W
connections, so if you need a bigger monitor, or want you use one of your
existing sun monitors, you'll need a conversion cable.

Let's not forget the "Panic" button that comes on Ultra-5/10's. This
looks like a power off button, but it exec's a shutdown command....
which could be a good feature, depending on the user.

And one last thing, Ultra-5's need Solaris 2.5.1 HW 11/97 or 2.6 HW 3/98
The Ultra-10's need 2.6 HW 3/98, so make sure you have the media.

Oh, and the Ultra-5 is a tight box, don't expect to fit a second HD in
there if you get the CDROM option.

Good luck!
Robert Bailey

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