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Sun workstations Support Centre



My NVRAM is dead. What can I do?
If you're getting messages about a bad IDPROM, or your ethernet address is coming up as ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff, and the machine is refusing to boot, then your NVRAM is probably dead. The item is a DIP style, socketed chip with battery backed RAM holding parameters about your machine (and a clock). When the battery dies, it's time to order a replacement, and then reprogram the NVRAM with a new hardware ethernet address and some other parameters. Please read the NVRAM FAQ to learn how to resurrect your machine from the dead.


I don't have a Monitor. Can I connect through the serial port?
Yes. All you need is a null modem cable (not a laplink cable!) and something that will act as a terminal at 9600, 8N1. Make sure you connect the null modem in port A of your Sun workstation and DON'T CONNECT ANY KEYBOARD TO IT BEFORE YOU TURN IT ON !! Sun workstations look for a keyboard upon boot up and if they don't find any then they redirect all boot up process through the serial port A. So if you connect a dumb terminal through a null modem in port A and start it up you will see the following message. (this is from SPARCstation 1+ using null cable, normal serial cable and Tera Term pro in the pc for terminal emulation)

SPARCstation 1+, No keyboard.
ROM Rev. 1.3, 20 MB memory installed, Serial #25943.
Ethernet address 8:0:20:9:64:f5, Host ID: 53006557.

Booting from: sd(0,0,0)vmunix
SunOS Release 5.4 Version Generic_101945-49 [UNIX(R) System V Release 4.0]
Copyright (c) 1983-1994, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

So now you can control and use your workstation like you would do with the telnet command to connect to a remote system.

If you don't understand this serial port matters and what is null cable read my how-to


Can I use a VGA Monitor, and a PC keyboard?
Yes, sorta, and somewhat, sorta... Sparcs use a proprietary 13w3 connector (except until recently, when Sun switched to using PCI cards, and now use a standard VGA connector), which can be adapted to a VGA Style connector, but the sparc framebuffers usually put out 1152x900 at 66Mhz, which many of the cheaper VGA monitors do not sync to. You'll need the adapter and a decent monitor. Sun machines also require a proprietary Sun keyboard and mouse, but of course, someone out there does make a box that converts the signals so you can use a PC keyboard on a Sun (or use a Sun keyboard on a PC). However, I've never seen one of these things in real-life, and I find it's easier to obtain a real Sun keyboard than all the wacky converter do-hickies required to make it work.


How do I boot from a CDROM?
You'll need a bootable ISO image CDROM. You'll need a SCSI CDROM drive with a 512k block size (most Toshiba and NEC mechanisms support this) set to SCSI ID #6. At the prom prompt, type "b cdrom" or "boot cdrom", depending upon which prom revision you're using - in many cases, either will work, but if one doesn't the other will. If you're looking for a copy of Linux, has downloadable ISO images you can burn onto a CD yourself. If you don't have a burner, cheapbytes sells very inexpensive copies.



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