Sun Blade, work-in-progress. Still.

Damn it.

I’ve spent over $100 on an ancient peace of metal that is loud, can double-duty as a furnace, and weighs like it was made out of plutonium. I am, of course, referring to my finders-keepers Sun Blade 2500 UNIX workstation/server. And so far all I’ve managed to do is to install Solaris 11 on it, naturally without any kind of GUI access. This in fact doesn’t bother me as my previous hits’n’misses on an Arch Linux box showed me how much control one has over a system through command-line-interface. For a Linux noob like me, this is in fact quite a revelation, and one may say the essence of *NIX/Linux systems. What bothers me is that I have no effing clue about Oracle’s OS’s. Nor can I find really good how-to’s/wikis (now I have even more appreciation for Arch’s and Ubuntu’s wikis)  — for obvious reasons: majority of people dealing with anything Sun/Oracle systems are highly-trained IT pros, not some home-brew-wannabes like me.

After some googling around I figured I needed to get a Sun specific keyboard to have full access to the Sun Blade’s OS (later I realized this might not be entirely true, but hey, another lesson learned). So I finally received my Sun Type 7 USB-keyboard, so I could stop the old OS boot process (GUI wouldn’t start, I didn’t know username/password… all in all, a mess), and get to an “OK” prompt so I could reboot from CD-ROM. Yup, that’s about what I was able to do with old/refurbished $70 keyboard — it came blatantly obvious to me very quickly that there are premium brands for consumers, like Apple, and then there is a whole different level when it comes to corporate IT/systems pricing.

Too bad I also have to use a generic PC keyboard to “fool” the boot process, as otherwise I get an error message that there’s no USB-keyboard attached — with the Sun USB-keyboard attached (yes, what?) — boot fails and all hope is lost; so in boot-mid-sequence I have to swap the PC-keyboard to the Sun-specific. Real handy. Not.

Yet against all odds, I finally have Solaris 11 installed. But, like I mentioned, no GUI/desktop environment. The system complains there’s no driver for the XVR-600 graphics accelerator, so all I get is the CLI. Now how come on an Oracle box, with an Oracle OS, there is an issue with drivers??? WTF? I must be a total noob/retard — ok, actually true, but I digress — or something is not right on my freebie Sun Blade.

I do have to say, I am now convinced I shall spend all of my free time to get this machine running. Oh yes, the game, indeed, is on.

Sun Blade 2500

Someone had decided that Sun Microsystem’s Sun Blade 2500 was either redundant, incompatible, or just too damn bulky (40lbs+) in this modern Macbook Air/Ultrabook/slim-is-in -era, and left the behemoth lying with a note “take what you want”. I couldn’t resist, so now I have a UNIX workstation at home. Why? Because so far it has been for free. One man’s junk is another’s treasure.

The problem is, I have no monitor cable for it (this SB2500 came with an XVR-600 graphics accelerator) so I haven’t been able to see what works and what doesn’t — I should be able to pick one for ~$35 though, so not a deal-breaker by any means.

The question is, will I be enough of a nerd to bring Solaris 10 / Debian /FreeBSD to life, or will this be another wasted weekend playing with gadgets and tech, while accomplishing nothing?

More to come.


10/15 Update:

Just because I have Windows 7 & 8 running doesn’t mean I’ve given up on *NIX. In fact, as I type this on a Solaris 11 guest on VirtualBox, I’m beginning to kinda like this UNIX thing — yet, considering I’m still lusting after a 27″ iMac, one might say I’m an OS-whore 🙂

Things are a bit different in the Oracle world. Not that I really got any kind of hang of Linux CLI commands to begin with, but it is kinda cool to re-learn some of the basics in UNIX, e.g. instead of ‘sudo dpkg -i ….’ it’s ‘pkgadd -d …’ etc.

Solaris 11 comes with Gnome desktop (version 2.xx, no Unity bullsheet), so DE is easy enough to navigate. Package manager is there, obviously with a twist, as the the number of packages is nowhere near let’s say Debian/Ubuntu levels. Java/Flash plugins are not as simple to install as my previous experiences with Arch/Ubuntu, as Solaris is the “forgotten one”. Took me about an hour to get Firefox 7 running on this — Firefox 3.6 comes as courtesy of Oracle, whoop-di-doo… No sign of Chrome/ium, not even a hint. I guess it has to do with Oracle’s Mozilla ties.

Solaris boots as fast as an ocean liner stops, so I might be leaving this OS running continuously on the “finders-keepers” Sun Blade 2500 I have (see above); though with the multiple fans it has (2 main, 2 for CPU’s, 1 for graphics accelerator), it will be one loud mofo.

I just ordered a monitor cable for it, so once it arrives, it’s damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead Solaris resurrection. Or maybe I can slap Debian on it; that would make life sooo much easier. What do you guys think?