It’s time for an update on the OSNews Patreon, and the projects I’m working on as part of it.
Almost three weeks ago I wrote about the Sunfire V245 delivered to my door, ready to be turned into an entirely impractical and loud UltraSPARC workstation. Last we left off, I had just received the unit, and was waiting on a few additional parts to get going – most importantly, a USB serial cable – which were delivered shortly. Why, then, hasn’t there been another article or update, showing the big server running?
It turned out the machine wouldn’t boot properly. Together with John, the person who donated the machine to me, I’ve been trying to diagnose the problem, and after two weeks of troubleshooting, we seem to have isolated the probable cause of the problems. We think two replacement parts will address the problem, and John will be sending those over as soon as possible.
I’ve kept all the logs and information I noted down during the ongoing troubleshooting process, and rest assured, I will write a summary about our steps and processes, to give you a glimpse into diagnosing a hardy and annoying problem that seems to be a moving target, yet is probably caused by a very much fixed part of the machine.
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Moving on, I have two other Patreon projects planned. First, I accidentally ordered the wrong graphics cards for the SunFire V245 – they turned out to be incompatible, instead being designed for Sun’s AMD Opteron-based Ultra workstations. Since I’m now stuck with two identical Sun-branded NVIDIA Quadro workstation GPUs, I figured I might as well try and find a Sun Ultra 40 and see just how useful that beast of a workstation is in 2021.
Sadly, as with many pieces of more exotic hardware, they are hard to find in Europe, and affordable machines from the United States come with very hefty shipping costs. I’m hoping for some luck on the old world continent here.
Second, I intend to build a machine using nothing but parts from AliExpress. As most of you are probably aware, there’s a lively market of new Chinese-branded single and dual-socket Intel X79 and X99 motherboards on AliExpress. Countless other people on the web and YouTube have built machines around these motherboards, sporting used Xeon processors and RAM.
This has become a pretty popular and mostly reliable and trustworthy market on AliExpress, and I want to explore if it’s worth it to build such a machine for people like us here on OSNews. It’s fun, exotic, cheap, and possibly stupid, so why wouldn’t you want to see me try?
Please note that these plans are all subject to change, of course, and because they involve purchasing equipment from places like eBay and AliExpress, I cannot give any timelines or make any promises.
Thanks to all of our Patreons – 56 of them already! – for making these projects possible, and if you want to help, support OSNews and become an OSNews Patreon!
I know that companies in Europe that still rely on SPARC are hoarding the hardware to keep stock. That might be why little seems available in Europe. I would expect it to be easier with non-SPARC hardware though.
The original article, IIRC, mentioned a massive number of fans. I wonder just how overbuilt these systems were, given that they were intended for server configurations with high reliability. Are all of those fans, strictly speaking, necessary to prevent a meltdown. Or could some be safely removed or at least replaced with quieter fans?
Not sure there’s any way to find out without wrecking your new toy, though.