When A SPARCstation IPX hasn’t been booted since 1999 …

The results look like this:

WARNING: Unable to determine keyboard type
WARNING: TOD Oscillator NOT Running, Kickstart in Progress … Incorrect co
Setting NVRAM parameters to default values.
Setting diag-switch? NVRAM parameter to true
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 0,0 dma esp sd st le
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 1,0 Nothing there
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 2,0 Nothing there
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 3,0 cgsix
Incorrect configuration checksum;
Setting NVRAM parameters to default values.
Setting diag-switch? NVRAM parameter to true
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 0,0 dma esp sd st le
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 1,0 Nothing there
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 2,0 Nothing there
Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 3,0 cgsix


SPARCstation IPX, No Keyboard
ROM Rev. 2.6, 52 MB memory installed, Serial #16777215.
Ethernet address ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff, Host ID: ffffffff.

Oops, it looks like the IDPROM is toast; well it’s annoying, but being an eeprom I suppose it’s to be expected. That it holds the “hostid” doesn’t worry me, but that it also holds the MAC address, does…

The IDPROM contents are invalid
SBus slot 0 le esp dma
SBus slot 1
SBus slot 2
SBus slot 3 cgsix


Boot device: /sbus/le@0,c00000 File and args:
Internal loopback test — Did not receive expected loopback packet.
Can’t open boot device


Type b (boot), c (continue), or n (new command mode)
> n
ok boot /sbus/esp@0,800000/sd@0,0

…and it made a “chugging” noise, as the disk spun-up; good gods, it might work! And there’s a Solaris on it, too! What was the root password again? Ah, yes!

Boot device: /sbus/esp@0,800000/sd@0,0 File and args:
Using default machine type Sun4c/60
SunOS Release 5.6 Version Generic_105181-03 [UNIX(R) System V Release 4.0]
Copyright (c) 1983-1997, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Invalid format code in IDprom.
WARNING: Time-of-day chip had incorrect date; check and reset.
configuring network interfaces: le0.
Hostname: thud
The system is coming up. Please wait.
[…]


root[sh]@thud# root[sh]@thud# date
Tue Feb 2 19:54:17 GMT 1999

Well the clock’s a little bit off, but that can be remedied, although I sometimes wish I cold turn back the clock to 1999 myself. The EEPROM is truly shagged, however:

root[sh]@thud# eeprom
keymap: data not available.
diag-file: data not available.
boot-file: data not available.
nvramrc: data not available.
security-password: data not available.
oem-logo: data not available.
oem-banner: data not available.
hardware-revision: data not available.
last-hardware-update: data not available.
[…]


root[sh]@thud# ifconfig le0
le0: flags=863<UP,BROADCAST,NOTRAILERS,RUNNING,MULTICAST> mtu 1500
   inet 192.168.1.7 netmask ffffff00 broadcast 192.168.1.255
   ether 0:0:0:0:0:0

So all I need do is poke /etc/rc2.d/S69inet to include a fake MAC:

ifconfig le0 ether 08:00:20:01:02:03

…set the date, switch-off the software diags, fix the boot device, and reboot, right?

Astonshingly, yes. It works. it has a 1Gb drive, 840Mb of which are for the root partition, and the remainder, swap. Apparently the machine really did last go-down on the 2nd of February, 1999, and it’s been sitting on top of the wardrobe ever since.

Now, what to do? I was considering putting NetBSD on it for something a little more modern, but the lack of an IDPROM will prevent me doing diskless booting… unless the SPARC NetBSD version of ifconfig also will let me poke the MAC address, prior to doing a DHCP? Hmmm…

Or I could leave it running Solaris 2.6?

10 Replies to “When A SPARCstation IPX hasn’t been booted since 1999 …”

  1. re: When A SPARCstation IPX hasn’t been booted since 1999 …

    Ethernet address 8:0:20:c0:ff:ee, Host ID: 57c0ffee.

    Yippee! Excellent document. I’ll leave it on-power for a while and see if it survives cold-boot.

  2. re: When A SPARCstation IPX hasn’t been booted since 1999 …

    How long does it take an unprotected Solaris 2.6 machine on the internet to get 0wned?

    I bet it survives longer than a Linux machine, because worms that prey on Solaris 2.6 go hungry a lot.

  3. re: When A SPARCstation IPX hasn’t been booted since 1999 …

    interesting question. now I have upgraded my DSL, i may try a honeypot…

  4. re: no dice

    You could always add an external battery as described later on in the page.

  5. re: When A SPARCstation IPX hasn’t been booted since 1999 …

    Very good post, I tried to boot an old cisco sparc-based switch with the same error message, but I couldn’t even change my MAC, because we’ve lost the root password. The only solution would be to find an old scsi cdrom to boot as single user and crack the root password. Perhaps a NVRAM replacement could solve the problem aswell. Thanks for the info.

  6. re: When A SPARCstation IPX hasn’t been booted since 1999 …

    why not boot single-user and edit/remove the password on disk?

  7. I just fired up my 1991 IPX (Ireland’s first webserver), which failed to reboot after a power brown-out in 2009. We had the system disk resuscitated by SDS, but while it’s readable, I have no idea if it boots. The nice graphics monitor doesn’t work, so I have a VT320 on the serial port. When I start up, I get yards of checking messages which run off the top, but then I get FP checks, and finally the NVPARAM message and Probing /sbus@1,f8000000 at 3,0 cgsix. There it stops. I’m leaving it run for a few hours in case it really is probing…

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