Sun At Home Notes and Support Links

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Note: 10/28/2010 I had not realized how out of date these pages had become. I will try to clean them up.

Sun Logo This set of web pages was originally intended for the lucky AGCS employees who purchased Sun Sparc 20 workstations in the Sun lotto. Once you get the machine home, you will discover that it is loaded with a really minimal version of Solaris 2.5.1. Now what? It turns out there is a fair amount of work to be done to integrate the machine into a home network and many of the things you have to do fall into the catagory of arcane knowledge. I will try to talk to some of these issues in this set of pages.

Since these pages were started in the mid 90's AGCS was absorbed into Lucent which has since become part of Alcatel-Lucent. besides my normal software development duties, I have inherited all the lab servers and workstations which were "turned over to the business unit" by the IT department. I keep them running with parts from decommissioned routines and have a area that looks like something out of "Sanford and Sons" for all my stuff. As a result I have spent a fair amount of time with out of date Sun equipment. I am removing the information specific to setting up the Sparc 20's that were sold off by the AGCS and making the notes more general.

Adding Accounts

Doing all your work logged in a root is like wandering around an oil refinerery with a lit propane torch. Sooner or later you are going to inadvertently do something bad to yourself. You should probably set up a separate non-root account to do most things and then su as root to do system administration. There are several ways to add accounts to your machine.

Connecting to a Home Network

You can use your Sun at home as a stand alone machine. The machine is much more useful if you connect it to the rest of your home network and to the Internet. The Connecting to your Network page describes some of the options you have. It also talks about some of the system files you will need to change in order to make your machine play nicely with the rest of your network.

Adding Hardware to Your Sun

You will very likely want to add extra disks to your Sun. A CD ROM would also be nice and maybe more memory or a second processor. The Hardware page talks about some of the issues involved in adding hardware to your Sun.

Downloading and Installing Solaris 8

Oracle/Sun Microsystems offers a free binary download of Solaris 10 for Sparc and x86 processors. If you have a Sparc Ultra 2 or newer, you can run Solaris 10. Ultra 1's can only run up to Solaris 9. Sparc 20's are tested up to Solaris 8, but you can run Solaris 9 on them. The Solaris The 3 CD images total about 800 Megabytes, so you had better have a cable or DSL internet connecton available. The page also contains the option to purchase the CD's for $75.00 + Shipping and Handling. You will need to have a CD attached to your Sun to perform this install.

Installing Linux on your Sun Sparc

The Aurora project in Linux generates a Sparc version of Linux. Support of the older S-Bus technology is limited. You may have more luck with newer Sun equiptment.

Adding Software


The best way by far that I have found for adding free software to use pkgutil. The pkgutil program is a replacement for the pkg-get program which is a Solaris update program loosely based on apt-get. It loads software as .pkg files which means that the normal Solaris commands pkgadd, pkgrm, and pkginfo work with them the same as packages from Sun. All files are loaded into /opt/csw (bin for the binaries). The site has instructions for getting pkgutil set up.
Here is a critical excerpt from the page:

Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris

# pkgadd -d

Solaris 8 and 9

Similar to Solaris 10, except you need to download the pkgutil package by hand. Remember to use 'save as' or shift-click, if you need to. Use wget if you can.

# wget
# pkgadd -d pkgutil.pkg

/opt/csw/bin/pkgutil -U  # Download latest package list
/opt/csw/bin/pkgutil -i wget  # get the standard copy of wget


The site has a lot of packages for Solaris that can be downloaded separately. This works well if the pkgutil does not have what you are looking for. These packages generally get loaded into /usr/local as opposed to /opt/csw. Note that sunfreeware is no longer updated. Instead they try to get you to go to which is a pay site. If you can get by with older versions the packages, you can still download them from sunfreeware.

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Last Maintained: Monday, 21-May-2012 18:24:53 EDT by R. E. Styma