posted by Tony Bourke on Tue 9th Mar 2004 18:48 UTC
IconHere are a few tips I've gathered for working with Sun's Ultra 5, and indeed other Sun hardware in general. While many are familiar with the intimate details of the x86 BIOS system, and how to go about configuring a BIOS, dealing with a Sun system is very different.

So I'm going to go over a few quick (albeit non-comprehensive) tips on working with Sun systems. These are tips to help one get acclimated to the SPARC platform, as well as get started with installing an operating system (or two, or three, or four...).

Introduction To OpenBoot Firmware

The OBP, or OpenBoot PROM/Firmware, is the mechanism that acts much like the BIOS on x86 systems. There are many differences, however, and the OpenBoot is geared more towards servers, and offers many advantages in that realm over (most) BIOS implementations.

The OpenBoot is command-line driven, as opposed to x86 text-based (and some graphical) menu systems in the BIOS. Because of its command-line nature, the OpenBoot is arguably better suited for data canter and remote installations, where control of the system is possible with a simple, low-bandwidth (9600 baud) serial connection. While some x86 BIOS systems allow output to serial console, those systems are rare.

Because of this, it's much more practical (and less expensive in terms of remote management equipment) to administer systems at a remote location, greatly reducing (but not eliminating entirely) the need for hands-on access. On Sun systems, OpenBoot is shown with what's commonly referred to as the "OK" prompt:

ok>
With the OpenBoot, you can halt, interrupt, change boot-parameters, go into diagnostics, perform SCSI and IDE bus probing, and fully control the hardware, all from a 9600 baud serial connection.

Here are a few commands that will help you:

This will check to see what IDE devices are connected to the system.

ok> probe-ide
If you've got a SCSI system (such as the SPARCStation 5), the command is probe-scsi.

This command boots from the CD-ROM drive, such as when you're installing a new operating system.

ok> boot cdrom
To boot from disk:
ok> boot disk
To boot from the default device, use this command.
ok> boot
To reset the system, which also usually boots the system from the default device:
ok> reset
Any time the boot command is issued, it automatically resets the system (regardless of whether an operating system is running or not).

That just scratches the surface of the OpenBoot system, but this should help get your started if you're looking to boot and install the various operating systems covered. One such resource is the OpenBoot 3.x Command Reference Manual from the Sun docs site (The OB version for my Ultra 5 is 3.10). There are numerous FAQs available to help answer any questions you might have. How to Get to the OK Prompt If you're using a serial connection, sending a break signal at any time when the system is powered up will bring you to the ok> prompt, even if an operating system is running (the operating system will be "paused")

If you're using the keyboard and screen, the "stop" key from the left vertical row of keys, just above the "props" key (the key used to give someone props; combine with the shift key to give someone mad props) in combination with the "a" key will pause the operating system and bring you to the ok> prompt.

Here is an image of a typical Sun keyboard layout.

It's best to do this right as the system is in its startup cycle and not when a system is running an operating system, as that will completely stop the system operation dead in its tracks. If you're running a database, this probably isn't a good idea.

If you do pause the system, either deliberately or accidentally, you can type go at the ok> prompt and the operating will resume where it left off. I've done this and resumed without any problems, but it's also possible to really muck things up.

Table of contents
  1. "Ultra5 Primer, Page 1/2"
  2. "Ultra5 Primer, Page 2/2"
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