Setting up Solaris on an Ultra Sparc machine.
    Sparc machines are kind of odd, for those of us used to PC types. A sparc machine actually comes up in to the bios, automatically when it boots up. The Sun bios itself is a bit foreign to PC users, though mainframe and minicomputer users will see nothing surprising here. Like the original versions of Unix, the bios of the Sparc machine is command driven. That is to say, you type in commands, and await responses. This can be a bit intimidating, until you learn your way around with some basic commands.
    Unless you have purchased a machine with Solaris pre installed, you will need to get the installation software. Unlike Microsoft, Sun offers it's operating systems free of charge to students, evaluators, and individuals. Only companies are expected to pay a licensing fee. Sun does require a license, from the individual user, but it is granted free of charge. Solaris can be ordered as a media set, or can be downloaded, but be aware that the complete download is, as of this writing, 2.5gb, and that subsequent versions can only get larger.
    If you decide to download the set, be aware that you will be downloading ISO images, not executables. The ISO images will have to be burned into a set of bootable cd's. This is not difficult, and most of the better cd burning software packages can do this with no problem. In my own case, I used Nero. Double clicking on the saved ISO images brought Nero up, and after verifying a couple of things with Nero, the cd's were burned with no problem. In some cases, the ISO images will not work, or you will encounter errors during install. You may try and reburn the ISO's, or just bite the bullet, and order the CD set from Sun.
    There are a number of people out there, who are making a certain amount of money by selling or reprogramming Ultra Sparc PROMs. This happens because a number of people get used Sun machines, and discover that there is a PROM password, and they have no way of determining what it might be. The solution to this problem is not replacing the chip; but simply to plug in a sun keyboard and hold down the |stop + n keys at the same time. This should get you past the PROM password. If this does not work, I go into a bit more detail below, about how to get past a PROM password.
    Purchasing a used Sun Ultrasparc, it is likely that you will either have an erased hard drive, no hard drive at all, or an unoriginal hard drive. In any of these cases, the system will boot, and you will the  receive message which states "Bad magic number in disk label" The system will then hang. The first thing you will want to do is to unhang the system and get an OK prompt. This can be done by hitting the STOP and  a keys at the same time. this should get you a prompt which says OK. At the OK prompt you are in the bios, and can type in commands. From here on in you will need the install software.
    Once you have brought up the OK prompt, insert Disc 1 of the Solaris install set into your CD drive. Once this is done, type boot cdrom -s. This will restart the machine, and boot off of the CD rom. The  -s tells the computer to boot in single user mode. You will get a bunch of error messages as the machine looks for the network anyway, and then :INIT: SINGLE USER MODE. Once the computer has booted, you can type in format, to start the drive preparation. You will probably want to select the 0 drive, depending upon your hardware configuration. You can check your IDE configuration by typing probe-ide at the OK prompt. For those using SCSI drives, the command would be probe-scsi.
    Once the drive is formatted, it will be given a magic number, the Solaris version of the Windows volume id. Once the drive is formatted, and numbered, you will need to reboot, and select boot cdrom to start the install. At this point, the installation is pretty straight forward, with prompts, and many auto features. Solaris is not nearly as difficult as it once was. One thing that will drive the pc user nuts, is that the enter key by the number pad is not usable during this installation. Because the Solaris install program is menu driven, I have not bothered to include instructions for the install. It is at least as easy as installing Windows, with the hardware detection phase being much easier.
     If you are still hesitant to try installing Solaris, Sun has step by step instructions on its website at

If you need to get past a PROM password.
    For those who are new to Unix, and to Sparc, the idea of a PROM password may be a bit strange. It has caused untold numbers of users to be unable to load or even to use their Sparc machines. Here is the reason it exists. Unix has always been a multi tasking system, designed for remote log in by many concurrent users, usually from dumb terminals. Different users are given different levels of access to the system. The top user is always the ROOT user. This is equivalent to the Windows administrator or super user. Many Unix machines do not even have a control head; that is to say, there may be no keyboard or monitor connected directly to the machine. In the cases where there is such a control head, it is called the console.
    Traditionally, a Unix system was completely secure, as long as no one had access to the console. There was no way for the remote user to spoof or break the system, because there was no way past the log in screen, without a proper password, and user id. As was mentioned above, there often was no console, and even in the cases were such a thing might exist, it was generally very well secured, since the Unix machines of old were very expensive, very large machines. This is not often the case today.
    As computers grew smaller, cheaper, and more accessible, some users began to discover that the log in password could be circumvented, if one had access to the console, and if the computer were set to boot from a source other than the hard drive. This was handy for users who may have forgotten their passwords, and had access to the console, but greatly compromised system security. Here are the instruction for circumventing the log in password:

Circumventing the log in password (if you have access to the console, and there is no prom password)
1. Note the root partition (e.g. /dev/sd0a or /dev/dsk/c0t3d0s0)
2. Hit STOP-A or L1-A
3. Boot single-user from CD-ROM (boot cdrom -s) or network
install/jumpstart server (boot net -s)
4. Mount the root partition (e.g. /dev/dsk/c0t3d0s0) on "/a". "/a" is
an empty mount point that exists at this stage of the installation
procedure. (mount /dev/dsk/c0t3d0s0 /a)
5. Set your terminal type so you can use a full-screen editor, e.g. vi.
(you can skip this step if you know how to use "ex" or "vi" from open
mode). If you're on a sun console, type "TERM=sun; export TERM"; if
you're using an ascii terminal (or terminal emulator on a PC) for your
console, set TERM to the terminal type (e.g. TERM=vt100; export TERM).
6. Edit the passwd file (/a/etc/passwd for SunOS 4.x, /a/etc/passwd.adjunct
for SunOS 4.x with shadow passwords/C2 security), /a/etc/shadow for
Solaris 2.x and remove the encrypted password entry for root
7. cd to /; Type "umount /a"
8. reboot as normal in single-user mode ("boot -s"). The root account will
not have a password. Give it a new one using the passwd command.

Because this procedure was so simple, it became necessary to find a way to prevent users from easily changing the boot device, while at the same time, permitting administrators this option. (Interestingly, a similar method may still be used for circumventing local machine passwords in Windows.) The solution found was to put a password on the bios, which would restrict changing the boot device. This is most commonly done while logged in as root, but can also be done directly in the bios.

How to Require, or change a Password for Hardware Access (if you are able to log in as a superuser or root)
1. Log in as root, or as a superuser
2. In a terminal window, enter the PROM security mode, by typing the following:
        # eeprom security-mode=command
            (Note that security mode will need to be equal to command (eeprom security-mode=command), or to full (eeprom security-mode=full). Setting this to                 none, will remove any PROM security.)
3. You will then be asked for a PROM password:       
    Changing PROM password:
            New password: password
            Retype new password: password

4. If you are not prompted to enter a PROM password, the system already has a PROM password. To change the current PROM password, run the command 
            # eeprom security-password=<Type the Return key>
        Changing PROM password:
               New password: password
               Retype new password: password

 Prom Security Modes:
 All OpenBoot settings can be changed, and any OpenBoot command executed.  Anyone with physical access to the system has full control over it.
 All commands except boot and go require a password.
 All commands except go require a password. Can only boot from the default device.

If All Else Fails:
If you do not know the prom password, you can reset it via the eeprom program, while logged in as root. If you do not know the root password, but there is no password on the PROM, you can always change the boot device, and then modify the password files. If you do not know the prom password and cannot get into your system as root, you are in deep trouble. This is the problem which many users encounter when buying used Sparc machines. There is a method around this. It is a little chancy, because you have to screw around with the motherboard, and unseat a chip while the machine is powered up; but it will work, if you are desperate.

1. Boot the machine and enter the boot PROM. Get a password prompt.
2. Crack open the case and remove the PROM chip whilst the machine is on. 
3. Hit enter on the password prompt: since it can't confirm the password against the PROM, it lets you through.
4. Re-sit the PROM chip in the machine, whilst turned on. 
5. Immediately execute the commands which clear the password. At the OK prompt, this would either be:
            ok> setenv security-mode none (this would remove the password requirement)
            ok>password  (this would prompt you for a new password)

You should:
ok devalias cdrom - this will show you current path to internal CD. Use this to determine what new alias should look like.
ok setenv auto-boot? false
ok reset-all
ok probe-scsi-all - find the path to the new cdrom - write it down & write target # as well
ok show-disks - find the exact path you just wrote down and type that letter
ok nvalias cdrom2 [Ctrl] + [y] which will paste that path. Finish with @sd6,0:f if target 6 and an Ultra class machine [Return]
ok reset-all
ok boot cdrom2

Sun Ultra 10 use IDE port, not SCSI !!!

You can try the following things.

at ok prompt, type in:


To see if the box can see the IDE CDROM, if it cann't see it, check the CDROM power cable, IDE
cable, cdrom drive, IDE port.

# Display all current parameters and current default values

Use the following systax to change the OBP settings:

    setenv parameter value
    set-default parameter -- Set parameter to default value
    set-defaults   -- Set parameter values to factory default

eg, to set an aliase for cdrom:
    nvalias mycdrom /pci@1f,4000/scsi@3,1/disk@6,0:f

                                 |     please replace it with the real device name

ok show-disks - chose the letter for the cdrom drive
ok nvalias cdrom2 [Ctrl] + [y] to paste the cdrom path. Added 1,0:f to the end
ok reset-all
ok boot cdrom2

Factory setting (display using the devalias command:

cdrom    /pci@1f,0/pci@1,1/ide@3/cdrom@2,0:f

If the CD-ROM is a slave on the primary controller:

ok nvalias cdrom /pci@1f,0/pci@1,1/ide@3/cdrom@1,0:f

If the CD-ROM is a slave on the secondary controller:

ok nvalias cdrom /pci@1f,0/pci@1,1/ide@3/cdrom@3,0:f

Now you can boot from CD-ROM using the new alias just created. For example, boot cdrom.