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Restoring a Sun SPARCstation IPX Part 3: SCSI2SD, Solaris install and Expansion

Andrew Back
Open source (hardware and software!) advocate, Treasurer and Director of the Free and Open Source Silicon Foundation, organiser of Wuthering Bytes technology festival and founder of the Open Source Hardware User Group.

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May 27, 2021 12:45

Hi Andrew, congrats for a very good job to make this series for the little IPS ;-) ....I have changed all caps on my IPX psu with good nichicon pw series but I have the same issue you have on first psu. You have resolved? You find where is the problem? My tracks on pcb are ok, the HV section work but the psu try to start for one second, then stop. I also tried to move the 5v trimmer, without luke.

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May 30, 2021 08:31

@marmotta77 Thanks! Well, I'm afraid the first PSU I attempted to repair turned out exactly how yours appears to have. It would "kick" the fan briefly upon powering up and that was about it. At this point I switched to recapping another PSU and this one then worked. At some point I plan to probe both PSUs, to compare and see if I can find out what the issue is. However, I did not change C111 and C112, and it was suggested in the comments on the first post in this series that these should be changed also. I haven't got round to trying that yet and I'm not sure when I will. Sorry I can't be of more assistance and hope you manage to bring your IPX back to life!

June 14, 2021 13:20

@Andrew Back seems to be too easy, but… on my psu the issue is on relay close to power cable! Opened and cleaned, and now work good ;-)

June 16, 2021 07:11

@marmotta77 excellent, that is good news! :o)

May 5, 2021 07:07

Great series Andrew. By chance i was restoring an IPC and an IPX about the time you started your series so i have been following along and your posts have been very helpful. I too am using the SCSI2SD cards in both. The IPC has a 2020 version and IPX has 2021 version that is currently not working but im told firmware is on its way. I used the scheme of creating a virtual CDROM drive as the first image on a 32GB card and they laying out 4 more disks on the same card. So far i have SunOS 4.1.3 and NetBSD running on the IPX. Im also going to install Solaris 2.6. SunOS 4.1.3 is pretty snappy although to use DNS without Yellow Pages, you have to hack the file. Once done, it seems to work great. NetBSD 9.1 is very interesting as its a much more modern OS on an old box. Its pretty usable however. Solaris 2.6 was on the IPX (on a classic harddisk) when i bought the IPX and I found it to be a nice balance of usability between the SunOS and NetBSD. My goal is to have four complete OS's on the SD card so i can boot into any of them. Like you I could not get the 402 or 412 timekeeper replacements to work on the IPX but the 412 works fine on the IPC, which seems a bit odd. Anyway, great series, really enjoyed it!

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May 5, 2021 19:46

@ToddVernon Thanks, Todd! And interesting to hear about your progress. Are there details online anywhere for hacking SunOS 4.1.3 Would be great to have a usable system based on this, rather than having to run a more recent Solaris version. I've previously run NetBSD on an IPX before, I think maybe 10 or so years ago. Would also like to give NeXTSTEP a go and somewhere I have a SpringOS (Sun research O/S) CD, but I think that may need a SS5 or better. I seem to recall you have to install Solaris first and then Spring over the top. As I say, it was a research platform and so far from polished. Mach microkernel based IIRC and came with the HotJava browser!

May 5, 2021 19:47

@Andrew Back here is the link to how to do the library patch. The files required are actually on the SunOS install cd iso. I was at NASA during these years and I believe that some places like NASA just plain refused to run YP so sun acquiesced and made the files available. They said they wouldn't support the patch but I'm sure they did. I was considering NeXTStep as well for the IPX but I thought i read something to suggest it would not work but I could have been researching the IPC which has PROM level issues (even with NetBSD). When I get both SCSI2SD card working i was curious if the NetBSD install would work on the IPC. The installer would not work with the IPC rom level. I have an updated ROM image but no burner at the moment. Had not heard of SprintOS interested to hear your experiences if you pursue it. I have searched high and low for the original 16" color CRT that came with the IPC when i bought my original one new a long time ago but with zero luck. I can't even figure out the model number. LCD's are nice but i get kind of obsessed with restoring as close to original as i can once I start a project.

May 6, 2021 12:56

@ToddVernon many thanks, appreciated. To be honest I'd completely forgotten about Yellow Pages. Very cool that you were working at NASA with Sun gear! Coming up for 21 years ago I was at and I seem to recall we had NIS+, but this broke periodically and we were in the process of switching over to LDAP for a lot of things. You may be right with NeXTSTEP on IPX, I couldn't say. I do also have a SS5, which may be a better candidate. I'd also love to have a fully loaded SS20 one day, but they don't seem to come up so often. CRTs are indeed nice and while I have the Sun one shown in earlier posts, I'd love to have an IPX vintage one. Would also be nice to have the original manual set — "Sun Desktop" maybe?

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May 4, 2021 07:07

A great little series. I had an IPC and then an Ultra-5 BITD. I'd like to suggest that the reference to Part 2 of the series should read
The link under the text 'second post then went on to cover' refers to a content preview -
- and access to this is forbidden.

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May 4, 2021 07:09

@IanJohnson1 - Thanks Ian, the link has been corrected.

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