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Sun Microsystems Operating Systems Software Hardware

Sun Sparc 5 Nostalgia 363

Posted by timothy
from the perfectly-good-electricity dept.
barl0w writes with what he calls "an awesome on-going story over at OS News about a Sun Sparc 5 coming alive again." Like the article's author points out, if you really want 64-bit computing, it's available cheaply on eBay.
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Sun Sparc 5 Nostalgia

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  • Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArmageddonLord (607418) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:22PM (#8043669)
    What do you mean coming alive again? The ECE computer lab here at rutgers it still filled with them!
    • Re:Again? (Score:3, Interesting)

      Agreed. My most recent place of employment used one for primary DNS and DHCP. It ran Solaris 2.6, and in two years there I never had any problems with it.

      Pizzaboxes may be ancient, but they get the job done. I wouldn't task one as a high-availability database server or anything like that, but if I have them, I'll use them. DNS, DHCP, firewall, log server, etc. etc.
      • in two years there I never had any problems with it.

        then you obviously never had to try to get a replacement mousepad for that optical beast.

      • Agreed. My most recent place of employment used one for primary DNS and DHCP. It ran Solaris 2.6, and
        in two years there I never had any problems with it.

        Pizzaboxes may be ancient, but they get the job done. I wouldn't task one as a high-availability database server or anything like that

        If you didn't have any problems with it in 2 years, what's wrong with using one as high availability database server considering that that box has awesome throughput ?
    • Re:Again? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Achoi77 (669484)
      Is that the computer lab under Hill? I don't remember, as I was in school before they created ARC. You aren't referring to those ancient slow computers with the opto/magnetic mouse things that needed that metal mousepad to get it to work, are you? Cause those were SLOW, nobody wanted to use them, unless you had a programming assignment deadline, then that lab would be full to the brim trying to get their assignment to compile. =)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:49PM (#8043963)
      Any nostalga computing /. posts should only include
      1. stuff from 1990 or earlier
      2. square peg in a round hole
      2.1. ethernet in a c64
      2.2. web server on a TRS80
      2.3. porting modern software to old obscure platforms
      3. Univac 1
      • 1. Let's make it 10 years. 1990 or earlier would have made sense in 2000, but not in '04.
        2. Call it using modern stuff (10BaseT counts, as it is compatible with modern stuff) on stuff that meets the criteria of #1.
        3. Umm... the Univac is a system that qualifies for #1 (being from the '60s) - therefore, it's redundant.
      • Exactly.

        I saw the headline, and thought.. oh yeah, I've got a Sparc 5 in the garage. I've got a Sparc 20 running Solaris 7 with a nice external 18GB drive, and..

        Oh. You mean an *ULTRA* 5. Pfft. Call me when you've got some old hardware. I'd like to have some Sun hardware as recent as an Ultra 5.
        • The Sparcstation 2/4 era pizza boxes make superb X terminals. A minimal install of NetBSD (The Sparc32 version of Linux has some MMU issues, and is noticeably slower) and an X server set up to query a remote machine makes them very usable. We've got a couple of them lying around here running off a P3 box. They only do 256 colours, so they're not ideal for anything graphics intensive, but for web browsing, and basic office stuff they're fine (and a lot cheaper than a `real' computer. We were just given 4
      • quote from the story lead-in:

        if you really want 64-bit computing, it's available cheaply on eBay.

        quotoe from the story

        ... can find them on eBay for between $200.00 and $400.00

        Or you can buy a new 64-bit motherboard and 64-bit cpu (athlon64) and for the same $400 bucks, and not have to worry about the lack of video cards (come on $400+ just for an 8-meg pci video card), special ram (doesn't take standard ram), other special hardware (non-standard keyboard, etc.).

        These machines are being sold "cheap

  • by tcopeland (32225) * <[tom] [at] [thomasleecopeland.com]> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:23PM (#8043680) Homepage
    ...right here [mysuncomputer.com]. They also have Ultra 60s, 80s, etc.
    • I know in Canada you can buy Sun, HP, IBM, SGI, here http://unixhq.com [unixhq.com] but it's more expensive than what you posted
  • Monitors on Sparc5 (Score:5, Informative)

    by multipartmixed (163409) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:24PM (#8043699) Homepage
    Note: The article says "just about any" standard monitor with an HD15 will work -- not so. At least on the earlier Ultra 5s, you had to be somewhat choosy with your monitor.

    From personal experience;

    Doesn't work:
    MAG DJ530
    IBM G70

    Does work:
    Panasonic SL70i
    Panasonic E70i
    Panasonic S70
    Sun monitors (duh)
    Sony 15", 17" (can't remember model numbers).

    Symptom: No display with incompatible monitor, regardless of m64 settings.

    Lesson: Try the monitor with the box before you buy it.
    • Err (Score:3, Informative)

      s/Sparc5/Ultra5

      Geez, I'm dopy today. Oh, look, so is the slashdot editor.

      Sparc5 - aka Sparcstation 5 - is a really old, really crappy sun4m that is suitable for use as an X terminal and not much else.

      • Sparc5 - aka Sparcstation 5 - is a really old, really crappy sun4m that is suitable for use as an X terminal and not much else.

        Bzzt! Wrong!

        These systems make great dedicated use servers. I personally use mine as a webserver - and with only 32meg as well. (Not that it'd handle a slashdotting or anything - I'm too lazy to load balance what is basically my home site. ;-)
    • by OSSMKitty (125119) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:35PM (#8043816)
      I seem to remember that Sun systems required monitors that could handle sync-on-green (much like NeXT workstations, and probably others). My multi-scan Dell monitor will work on a Sun, but my LCD won't.
    • I think your problem is resolution. I hooked my first Ultra 5 up to a cheapo ViewSonic monitor and (predictably) it didn't work. After learning about Stop+A, I booted into single user and changed the default resolution from 1600x1200 to a more reasonable 1024x768. I then rebooted and no longer had any problems.

      *sniff* I miss that Ultra 5. My current Ultra 10 has more power but much poorer video support.
      • by Octorian (14086)
        That makes little sense, unless you didn't install a good framebuffer (graphics card) in the U10. The U5 only works with on-board or PCI framebuffers, while the U10 can take a UPA framebuffer (faster slot, think of it as "like" AGP for UltraSPARC). Of course the U5 and U10 technically use the same exact motherboard (with different PCI riser cards), but the U5's case isn't designed to let you install a UPA card.
  • Correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:24PM (#8043704)
    It's not a SPARC 5, it's an Ultra 5. The former implies 32-bit, the latter 64. Not that anyone here knows or cares.
    • Re:Correction (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ShaggyZet (74769)
      Sing it brother! As the proud owner of a sparc 2 (no, not an ultra 2) and a user of many sparc 5's and 20's I can say they are fine machines, even if they do run like molasses (ok, a faster 20 isn't *that* slow). The Ultra 5's and 10's are pieces of crap in comparison.
    • Re:Correction (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sirket (60694) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:29PM (#8043750)
      I'm glad someone pointed this out. And as for nostalgic? WTF did an ultra 5 become nostalgic?

      -sirket
    • by sysadmn (29788)
      If you keep spreading facts on Slashdot we'll have to throw you out.
      Let's get back to the mindless bashing and opinions presented as Gospel.
    • Re:Correction (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't see what the big deal about this article is.

      I =work= for Sun as a developer and my machine is an Ultra 5. There are a few other software developers here running Ultra 10s and one or two with an Ultra 60, but the majority of us are using Ultra 5s and 10s.
    • Re:Correction (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, I laughed my ass off when I read the article. Sparc5 != Ultra 5.
    • Re:Correction (Score:4, Interesting)

      by funaho (42567) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @03:22PM (#8046242) Homepage
      I was wondering when someone would notice that.

      A regular Sparc 5 definitely *is* nostalgic. I have several old Sun machines at the house including a Sparc 5, Sparc 20 and an IPX (talk about nostalgia...those IPCs and IPXs are so cute :) )

      I have a few old Ultras here at work (Ultra 1s mostly) and I do have Debian on them. Worst install I've ever done...the Sparc installer for Debian is *horrible*. And yes, I know it's beta at best, but still.
  • 64 bits? (Score:2, Funny)

    by bennomatic (691188)
    Back in my day, we had eight bits [lemon64.com], and we liked it!
  • by Stonent1 (594886) <stonentNO@SPAMstonent.pointclark.net> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:26PM (#8043726) Journal
    When you say "Sparc 5" most people assume you mean "SparcStation 5"
    • by sql*kitten (1359) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:46PM (#8043930)
      When you say "Sparc 5" most people assume you mean "SparcStation 5"

      To the average OSNews reader (and indeed to Eugenia herself) a late-90s Ultra 5 is an ancient computer. Such people would have absolutely no use for a SPARCStation, since (if you read any of her OS reviews) the only thing they're interested in is eye candy.

      Me, I have a old NeXT Color Turbo, that's a 33 Mhz 68040, 32M RAM box running a BSD derivative, that is still as useful a machine as it ever was - the real business of programming, editing text files, hasn't changed much in 30-odd years. Only the kids who judge a box by what window manager or web browser it's running think any different.

      The thing these kids don't understand is that back in the day, kit was built to last. Old SPARCStation 5's are dead reliable, and if you want a DNS, mail, a web server, a CVS server, whatever, they're perfect for the task. And you can get a lot done with a box like a 10 or a 20, they'll happily support 20 users running terminals, editors, compilers, etc etc. Only thing that's slow is their frame buffers. Buy a modern PC and it's useless in 3 years, it was never made to last.
      • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:10PM (#8044201) Homepage
        The thing these kids don't understand is that back in the day, kit was built to last. Old SPARCStation 5's are dead reliable, and if you want a DNS, mail, a web server, a CVS server, whatever, they're perfect for the task. And you can get a lot done with a box like a 10 or a 20, they'll happily support 20 users running terminals, editors, compilers, etc etc. Only thing that's slow is their frame buffers. Buy a modern PC and it's useless in 3 years, it was never made to last.

        Those old Sparc5's (or any other cool, old boxes)were cool and all, and I don't mean to be argumentative, but let's be realistic. If you want to run a small to midsized DNS, mail, web, or CVS server, a Sparc5 can handle it very well. Furthermore, the hardware in those boxes is built to a higher standard than most commodity PC hardware....and there will always be significant numbers of geeks out there running small-time Linux servers on old hardware, from commodity PC hardware to old servers. Sure a modern PC is useless for PC-ish stuff within three years (ie running the latest bleeding-edge desktop OS, etc), however, for those same tasks, outdated hardware can be just as well suited to the task.

        My point is that anyone who "gets it" (in this sense), will just get it -- those who don't never will. They use their computers for completely different reasons than you and have completely different requirements than you and I. Much of the obselescence of the desktop PC within three years comes from software abstraction keeping pace with faster hardware. Servers don't necessarily have the same fate. It's hard to make a comparison in that sense...especially for people like you who probably know their shit well enough to consider the aforementioned abstraction more of a hinderance than a help. In the mean time, enjoy the pace at which hardware gets faster and cheaper :)

    • When you say "Sparc 5" most people assume you mean "SparcStation 5"

      Considering that you're dealing with the same people who took "PS/2" and dropped the slash from it to use as a shorthand label for some gaming toy, is it at all surprising that the editors/author would get Sun's nomenclature mixed up?

    • Nope. The Sparc 5 doesn't have a framebuffer card, the SparcStation 5 does. Although, you could of course *put* a framebuffer in a Sparc 5.
  • by the packrat (721656) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:28PM (#8043745) Homepage

    For those people who aren't old enough to know there is a difference, the Sparc 5 was the baby brother of Sun's Sparc 20, and was a sun4m machine. The Ultra 5 discussed in the article was a much later beast, with a sun4u architecture, and crippled horribly with various PC-isms including IDE and sharp case edges.

    As far as their being useless, I bought one just recently for one of my students to use as a workstation to work on visualising the results of the modelling work that will be done in the coming year. For next to no money you can pick up a decent workstation that runs Solaris, often with a fantastic monitor. Outdated, Ha!

  • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelinas@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:29PM (#8043753) Journal
    The article is about an Ultra 5 being resurrected, not a traditional sparc 5. Just so we're clear, the sparc 5 was among the Sun 4m CPU class while the Ultra 5 was a Sun 4u class CPU. The Sparc 5 is a 32 bit arch while the Ultra 5 is 64 bit. The Sparc 5 uses SBUS expansion cards, MBUS CPU expansion bay, has onboard 10mbit ethernet, standard SCSI II support, and usually shipped with a CG6 8 bit color card (not always). The Ultra 5 has a built in Sun IIi CPU, 100Mbit ethernet, PCI bus support, and IDE instead of SCSI disks. It also has an onboard 8bit ATI graphics adapter.

    If given the choice I would take the Sparc 5 simply for it's greater I/O bandwidth alone. Actually, give me an Ultra 1 or 2, or a Sparc 20. Frankly, the Ultra 5 was a hunk of junk even on release. I wouldn't pay a dime for one of those. JMO. --M
    • Since when did the SS5 have an mbus slot? The SS10 and SS20 both used mbus modules. The SS5 had a built in processor.

      -sirket
      • Righto, my mistake. (Score:2, Informative)

        by maynard (3337)
        The SS5 had a built in processor.

        Absolutely right; I knew that. I've got an SS5, SS10, and SS20 and simply made a mistake in my post. Whoops. --M
    • Frankly, the Ultra 5 was a hunk of junk even on release.

      Aha, you must be one of these Sun sysadmin elite described in the article...:) Choice quotes below:

      As a result, the Ultra 5 was the target of much derision by more refined Sun system admins. "IDE? Well I never!"

      Despite increasingly clever derogatory puns (such as "hung like an IDE bus untarring a file") by the Sun sysadmin elite, the Ultra 5 was a huge success.

  • by vrai (521708) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:30PM (#8043761)
    I still use my Ultra 5 (the 360Mhz model) as my second desktop machine. Runs Solaris 9, blackbox and an assortment of KDE apps (mostly KMail and Konqueror). It's a bit slow but does the job, plus there are few keyboards that beat the Type 5c. Sadly it will be retired from desktop duty this year but will live on as my home webserver.

    My SparcStation 5 (with a mighty 110Mhz microSparc) holds my CVS repository and my MP3s (via NFS and Samba). In order to save money the larger of its two drives (a 36Gb IBM) is a 50pin one that I've duck taped in to the CD bay. Some what dodgy, but I haven't had any problems with it in three years of use. This one runs and old version of Debian (2.2.20) but is safely hidden behind my firewall.

    Whilst I could obviously get more powerful machines they do the job, are rock solid (both in hardware and software terms), and cost a total of 140GBP for the two of them. Plus they look a damn site nicer than boring old wintel box.

    • > I still use my Ultra 5 (the 360Mhz model) as my second desktop machine. Runs Solaris 9, blackbox and an assortment of KDE apps (mostly KMail and Konqueror). It's a bit slow but does the job, plus there are few keyboards that beat the Type 5c.

      I got an Ultra 5 without a Type 5c. I went to a surplus store and bought a Type 5c for $5.00.

      $ uptime 9:36am up 225 day(s), 23:24, 1 user, load average: 0.07, 0.06, 0.05

      And that's only because I had to power it down to add a stick of semi-generic RAM i

      • 1) Are the 333MHz/2M CPU modules cheaper now? I'd love to swap out the 360MHz/256k CPU for a big-cache model?

        To be honest I don't know as I looked once, saw the cost, and decided against it. The problem is that the 333Mhz/2M was as good as it got for the Ultra 5, so no-one ever disposed of it whilst upgrading their machine.

        2) What's the quickest/easiest way to get Mozilla running on Solaris 7? I've been stuck at Nutscrape 4.x, because of some horrid maze of library dependences that I've never been able

  • by Stonent1 (594886) <stonentNO@SPAMstonent.pointclark.net> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:31PM (#8043765) Journal
    Basically an Ultra 5 built into an ATX motherboard. It makes it easy to toss together a system cheaply. I picked up the board for around $50 on ebay and the memory (256mb) for around $30 on ebay. Everything else was what I had laying around. Drop in a generic PCI USB/Firewire combo card and you've got most of the capabilities of a Sun Blade 100.
  • Memories (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wayward_son (146338) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:32PM (#8043773)
    I recieved much of my college education on Ultra 5's.

    They were exciting and new back in 1999 when I started. The computer lab had a row of Ultra 5's, a few Ultra 1's, some SparcStation 4,5,10, & 20's and even a few SparcClassics (!). There were also some Solaris/Intel machines. The U-5's were definitely the machines you wanted.

    Eventually the U-5's replaced all the older machines before being phased out themselves by the SunBlades. All in all, they were not bad machines, but the video seriously left something to be desired. And the 128MB of RAM in the older machines just didn't cut it by the end. Considering what a comparable Wintel Box would have cost at the time and how long they would have lasted, the U-5's were not a bad deal. There are probably many still around the department and in the labs today.

  • Sun NeXT (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phrack (9361)
    Ah, the Sparc 5.. it ran NeXTSTEP real well. Better than Solaris, for that matter.

    And no, I don't mean OpenSTEP.. google around, you'll find it.

  • Sparc 5 = Sun Sparcstation 5

    They're talking about the Ultra 5. A bit pedantic, maybe, but the two are definately different machines.

    The Ultra 5 units could use IDE drives but i/o bandwidth was restricted. A SCSI drive performed a lot better.

    Did they really even *check* eBay first? I wonder, because they said Ultra 5s go between $200 - $300. I'm looking at one right now for $65 (Buy It Now price, too!) They can easily be found for under $100.
  • I have a real sparc 5 (not an ultra 5), and a sparcstation 20, an ultra1 and an ultra10 as well. All running a bleeding edge Linux distro [gentoo.org]. What's the point of this article? These boxes are common as mud and very well supported...
  • The article is talking about Ultra5's, not Sparc 5's... BIG DIFFERENCE!

    Though personally, the sparc 5 was a better designed machine than the ultra 5. Somehow the notion of a Sun workstation without that amazing whirr noise that their scsi disks were prone to make just isn't right!
  • Put some old things on Ebay, and create a completely unmerited ferver on /. to buy them.
  • This story was posted... because running 5 year old hardware is such a difficult and bizarre thing?!?
  • My Ultra 5 story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bongoras (632709) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:38PM (#8043853) Homepage
    I bought an ultra 5 a few years ago used, and it sat running Solaris at my email server for my home domain. Then I got sick of Solaris, since it reminds me too much of my days working at Genuity. Talk about nightmares... everytime I sat down at the computer I felt my old PHB asking me for a status update and a team schedule and to update my bug reports.

    So I wiped Solaris off it and starting fooling around with Debian Sparc. But it seemed... cheesy... just wrong. This is my personal box. Debian just seemed too easy. So I bit the bullet and put Gentoo for Sparc on it. Gentoo is PERFECT for reclaiming older hardware. A little reading of man gcc, some thought about my use flags... ( mine are: USE="apache2 imap maildir samba xml -arts -avi -encode -esd -gtk -gnome -imlib -kde -mad -mikmod -mpeg -oggvorbis -oss -opengl -qt -sdl -truetype -xv -xmms -motif")

    And a FREAKING LONG TIME compiling everything... and I have the Unix box I've always wanted. Mine. No one else's. I mess with it, beat on it, do things do it I'd never do on a production system. It's totally fun, and Gentoo Linux on the Ultra 5 has given me a reborn enthusiasm for Linux and computers in general.
  • Sparc 5, feh! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alamut (122156) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:39PM (#8043859)
    i recently bought a sparc station 20 on ebay for $35 - including shipping!

    it'll do just fine as a fileserver and entropy generator. and you cant beat the price.

    nor can you beat the amusement of seeing what was left on the drives... mind boggling!

  • by sirket (60694) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:39PM (#8043864)
    This line pissed me off:

    Back then, 64-bits was more of a marketing tool, and in many respects, still is.

    64 bit gave higher precision for use on CAD workstations. Anyone who every used a Sun workstation for it's intended purpose would know this.

    -sirket
    • 64 bit gave higher precision for use on CAD workstations. Anyone who every used a Sun workstation for it's intended purpose would know this.

      But the x86 FPU has always supported 64-bit operations natively. Actually, they're 80-bit operations internally. This is completley different than having a 64-bit address space, of course.
    • by sql*kitten (1359) * on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:53PM (#8044014)
      64 bit gave higher precision for use on CAD workstations. Anyone who every used a Sun workstation for it's intended purpose would know this.

      Oh yes, 64-bit has been not a luxury by a necessity in many industries for a decade now, anything that involves heavy number crunching - CAD, CAE, CFD, other forms of simulation, Monte Carlo runs in finance, physics models...

      A while ago OSNews reviewed, IIRC, a new Sun workstation. The conclusion? It's crap because it's too hard to change the resolution or the colour scheme. Not one test they did was even remotely related to what a workstation is used for, they didn't even try compiling anything, let alone doing some MATLAB or solid modelling.

      You can pretty much ignore any OSNews review of anything, in fact I've no idea why a discussion site (i.e. /.) even links to another discussion site as a story!
  • from the article :I live on the island of Manhattan, where space is a premium. ... and then further... consuming more and more of my time and curiosity

    this confirms a statement of a friend who lives in NYC : "in manhattan, time is no longer money since everyone has loads of'em these days. Space on the other hand..."
  • Exactly what sort of "ladies" find themselves woo'd by a Sun Ultra 5?
  • Erm, so? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grahamlee (522375) <iamleeg@g m a i l .com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:41PM (#8043880) Homepage Journal

    The Ultra 5 is a 'modern' UltraSPARC-based system. Solaris still supports the platform; indeed even Solaris 10 will still support the U5 (and the Ultra 2, but not the Ultra 1. The UltraSPARCs used in the Ultra 1 had a comedy bug anyway, which meant that they shouldn't be used in 64 bit mode). Now, if they'd been talking about the SPARCstation 5, I would have been interested.

    The SS5 had a HyperSPARC processor, just like the SPARCStation 2 over in the corner of this room (in a 'rack' consisting of a pair of Ultra 1s, the SS2 and some spacers made of plastic). This was a good old-fashioned rock-steady 32bit Sun machine, just like they used to make before they went all cheap (that's the build price, not the retail price!). The principle difference as far as I'm concerned between the SS5 and the SS2, and the reason I'd be interested to hear about the longevity of the SS5, is that the 5 can run NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP for SPARC platform whereas the 2 cannot.

    An Ultra 5, on the other hand, is just Yet Another 64-bit Solaris Box like the two Ultra 1s behind me or the 4-way Enterprise server across the way.

  • -1, Redundant, Sparc 5 != Sun Ultra 5
    As everyone knows, OSNews is a pinnacle of journalistic quality and integrity. Coming up next, an article on how to change the colors in CDE once you get that 'ancient' Ultra 5 running. Followed by a rant about how difficult it is to compile GAIM or XMMS on Solaris 8.
  • by kindbud (90044) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:47PM (#8043940) Homepage
    It runs RedHat 5.2... No, really! I still have the CD. I also have a CD for SunOS 4.1.4, which I might load on it again one day.

    It ran Solaris2 like a pig, btw...

    Two 50 Mb Quantum HDD, 64 Mb of 9-pin DRAM DIMMs in four banks of four... Ah, those were the days. (NOT!)

  • by elmegil (12001) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:48PM (#8043957) Homepage Journal
    FTA: Unfortunately, you're stuck with Sun keyboards and mice, as the connector is Sun-specific, as well as certain specialty keys. There may be adapters, but I don't know how well they'll work with the specialized keys.

    Not true. I've been using a Logitech TrackMan Pro for several years now, with the aid of a nifty box that converts PS/2 devices (has an input for a keyboard and for a mouse) into the Sun connector. It was a Sun part number, somewhat obscure, but definitely available and useful. It's called the "Sun Interface Converter" and the Sun part number is 595-3692 [sun.com]. I'd recommend you go looking for one [ebay.com] if you are having trouble coming up with Sun Keyboards & Mice or if you want to use your Sun system with a standard KVM switch (which is what I do at home).

  • Ultra 5? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BenjyD (316700) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:49PM (#8043962)

    An Ultra 5 is retro? Worth getting nostalgic about? My main desktop at work was a SparcStation 5 until 18 months ago.

    A friend uses a bunch of old sparcs to run his network - easier to use a load of small boxes than one big one. Pretty reliable too:
    4:46pm up 454 day(s), 20:02, 1 user, load average: 0.11, 0.05, 0.03
    4:48pm up 253 day(s), 47 min(s), 1 user, load average: 0.05, 0.03, 0.02
    4:48pm up 454 days, 19:56, 1 user, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

  • by bazik (672335) <.gro.ootneg. .ta. .kizab.> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @12:52PM (#8044008) Homepage Journal
    My main desktop is a Sun Ultra5 w/ 440MHz, 512MB RAM and 2x 18gb U320 SCSI disks (attached to a Sym22801). Who said the Ultra5 ever died?

    The only disadvantage of the Ultra5/10 is the slow IDE bus, but you can put a scsi controller in it.

    The board (depending on the version) can take up to 1GB ram and a 440MHz Ultrasparc IIi w/ 2 MB CPU cache. So this is a really nice box and fast enough for most work.
  • The reason I still use them is for remote management through a console server. Its WAY worth it. I've been using OpenBSD on sparcs for servers and routers and firewalls for some time, with GREAT results. I use obsd mainly b/c I'm lazy; I don't want to be patching or worrying about patchs and fixes all the time. I also LOVE the minimalist install, but it's easy and quick to make usable. I do use solaris at work for different reasons. But obsd gives new life to old systems. I STILL use my ye old sparc
  • by jdreed1024 (443938) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @01:16PM (#8044296)
    First of all, it's an Ultra 5, not a Sparc 5. And they're not _that_ old. It's an UltraSparc processor running anywhere from 266 to 400 MHz. I really don't think it's that impressive to find something to do with it. Now if it was a SparcStation 5 (ca 1995), which was a 32-bit, 85MHz machine, I'd be a little more impressed. But not that much, since I know several people running NetBSD on their Sparc 5s and using them as routers for their home networks.

    Next week: Slashdot impressed when someone figures out how to use an ancient PIII/700. Yeesh.

  • I am going back to school for an engineering degree and some work in computational fluid dynamics. I had assumed I could just go to eBay and find an old SGI Indigo or something super cheap. Turns out all the cheap machines have catches (little to no memory, no drive trays, etc.) and the expensive ones don't really seem to explain why they're so expensive.

    Looking at the specs, my leftover PCs running Linux seem to have a lot more power... but there is a ton of CFD software out there for SGIs.

    So what do
  • by Cyno (85911)
    Ultra 5 need to be resurrected because their cheap PC harddrives fail after a few years of use. I personally had to fix 10 to 15 failed drives in a lab of about 30 Ultra 5s, most of them just got stuck.

    Why people still trust Sun equipment is beyond me. I've come to the conclusion that all equipment will fail, plan for failure. And use cheap PC equipment because its easy to work with. Unless you absolutely NEED something like a SunFire 15k. But if money was no object I'd rather have an Altix or a mainf
  • Ah the day of the Toaster and Pizza Box
    Purple Desksides and giant blue towers
    The BeBox, Next Cube,
    Many colors only some beige

    Each would be quite different
    Inside and out
    From companies that made hardware and software

    Now we have only a different case
    The guts are the same
  • This is not a "sparc 5" but an "ultra 5". To my knowledge there was no product called the "sparc 5" but I assumed the article was about an old sparcstation 5 coming live again, which is kind of kewl since that was some hardcore hardware when it was introduced in the early 1990s.

    The ultra 5, a machine sun sold until last year, is neither very nostalgic nor very interesting - it was always a lowball machine by sun standards, bearing IDE disk with its larger Ultra 10 brother (they share the same motherboard,
  • Sparc5 vs. Ultra5 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BookRead (610258)
    SparcStation5 -- built like tank. 32 bits. SBUS cards.

    SparcUltra5 -- built like cheap PC. 64 bits. PCI cards.

    Used both, Used both as servers. Getting cards into the Sparc5 could be a real pain. But once in there they'd never give you any trouble. The Ultra5 struck me as a bit cheap, construction-wise. Which was a total 180 from their traditional "drop it on a concrete floor and the connectors stay stuck togeher. While Dells and such had snap-in parts the Ultra5 has little screws and sharp edges.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly

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