Sun Blade 2000 - a saga of dumb

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commodorejohn
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Sun Blade 2000 - a saga of dumb

Post by commodorejohn » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:23 pm

So an age and a half ago when I got the urge to get back into SPARC workstations, I bought a Blade 2000 on the cheap with a reasonably nice configuration of 2 x 1 GHz CPUs, 8 GB RAM, an XVR-1200 video card, and no hard disk at all. After much hair-pulling trying to get the XVR-1200 to display on a normal monitor with either the DVI connector or a 13w3-to-VGA adapter, I eventually gave up and replaced that with an XVR-600, which at least worked normally.

Unfortunately, once I'd accomplished that and moved on to trying to get a Solaris install running, I discovered another roadblock - the two 136 GB FC-AL drives I'd bought for it came formatted in some 520-bytes-per-sector format that apparently some datacenter RAID setups use or something. Which wouldn't have been a problem if either A. the Solaris 10 install environment had been able to low-level format the drives, or B. I'd had absolutely anything else with an FC-AL controller on which I could do it. Instead, I wound up buying a smaller FC-AL disk to do an initial install on, in hopes that I could reformat the large drives afterward.

Unfortunately, as far as I could tell, that was not an option - Solaris refused to even provide entries for the drives in /dev/rdsk, so as far as I could tell there was no way to re-format them. After some more hair-pulling, I moved on to more rewarding activities and the Blade sat forgotten under my desk for some time. Fast-forward a couple years, and I decided to boot it up again and have another go at it, figuring that at the very least I couldn't screw it up too badly.

Unfortunately, I discovered that, while the Solaris format utility will responsibly warn you about the dangers of doing some operations on the root disk, it won't warn you about the dangers of doing a format on the root disk. Scratch one Solaris install, and it was time to pull out the install DVD and start fresh in hopes of getting it right this time.

Unfortunately, I'd entirely forgotten that for some reason the Solaris 10 DVD takes eight million years to boot or requires some Deep Magic to get OBP to load properly or something, and I couldn't for the life of me remember how I'd gotten the installer to boot the last time, because all I could get it to do was sit there occasionally displaying a text spinner while trying to load the boot kernel. So, short on other options, I decided to try rolling back to an older version and see if that worked.

Fortunately, the Solaris 9 DVD I was able to get ahold of booted right up without issue and, to my considerable amazement, I discovered that the Solaris 9 install environment was happy to create /dev entries for disks it couldn't actually partition, and the format utility had no trouble at all re-formatting the disks to a normal 512-bytes-per-sector arrangement, after which point the installer ticked merrily along.

So now I'm typing this in Netscape on Solaris 9 and wondering why in God's name Solaris 10 couldn't do that when the previous version could.

Larry Ellison, why do you make everything worse all the time? Is it just your inborn nature, or do you simply hate all that is good and right in the world?
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Kilpatrick Phenol, Behringer Model D

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johnnym
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Re: Sun Blade 2000 - a saga of dumb

Post by johnnym » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:21 am

commodorejohn wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:23 pm
Unfortunately, once I'd accomplished that and moved on to trying to get a Solaris install running, I discovered another roadblock - the two 136 GB FC-AL drives I'd bought for it came formatted in some 520-bytes-per-sector format that apparently some datacenter RAID setups use or something. Which wouldn't have been a problem if either A. the Solaris 10 install environment had been able to low-level format the drives, or B. I'd had absolutely anything else with an FC-AL controller on which I could do it. Instead, I wound up buying a smaller FC-AL disk to do an initial install on, in hopes that I could reformat the large drives afterward.
I once had a similar issue with FC HDDs I bought for my Enterprise 3500, of course they were formatted to 520 byte sectors. I ended up putting the disks into the E3500 and attaching a Windows driven x86 machine with FC HBA via optical fibre cable to the respective ports on the FC-AL interface board of the E3500. So the E3500 only provided power and backplane. I needed Windows because the tool of the disk manufacturer ran on Windows only IIRC. Of course it didn't work out well and so the disks went back to the seller. And I never tried that again... :-(
commodorejohn wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:23 pm
Fortunately, the Solaris 9 DVD I was able to get ahold of booted right up without issue and, to my considerable amazement, I discovered that the Solaris 9 install environment was happy to create /dev entries for disks it couldn't actually partition, and the format utility had no trouble at all re-formatting the disks to a normal 512-bytes-per-sector arrangement, after which point the installer ticked merrily along.
Wow, that's some useful information! Because cheap FC HDDs are usually using 520 byte sectors. That also means I could retry the reformatting with a Solaris 9 installer disc and could this time also succeed. Great! I already imagine to finally run eight huge and fast FC HDDs in my E3500. :-D
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commodorejohn
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Re: Sun Blade 2000 - a saga of dumb

Post by commodorejohn » Mon Jul 02, 2018 2:24 pm

Yeah - I was frankly boggled that 10 for some reason couldn't do this, but at least it's all sorted out and I can actually use all that disk space I paid for...
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
Synthesizers: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, E-mu Proteus/2, Kilpatrick Phenol, Behringer Model D

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