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Sun Ultra 5 UNIX Workstation running Solaris 8

60 142 views | 30 Dec. 2015

This is a tour of my Sun

This is a tour of my Sun Ultra 5 UNIX Workstation from between 1998 and 2002 (Mine appears to have been manufactured in the year 2000). It has a 400MHz UltraSPARC IIi CPU with 512mb of RAM and an 8.6gb IDE hard drive and is running Solaris 8.


A real trip down memory lane! Brought back memories of working at Sun's plant in Linlithgow.

Graham McMaster

The Amiga 1000 had a reverse gender 25 pin serial.


The port you are unsure about is a UPA port (Ultra Port Architecture), bascially a Sun version of an AGP port - dedicated for connecting graphics cards.

Izlude Tingel

Open source CPU on a closed source OS... Curious


This is lovely. Im putting together an ultra 5 actually. Your keyboard uses the other layout with the capslock key being in the usual place. ive got a type 7 keyboard with a control key in caps' place.


Had an all in one Sun ELC I sadly dumpstered like a decade ago while moving. Not the fastest but it was only supposed to be used as an XTerm.

And yes the MAC address 0ed out is due to the failed battery.

Robert Fleming

ip conflict on the network. Mac addr on switch pointing to something else on the network and return is going to the other machine?


The OpenBoot firmware is also a Forth language environment and you can type arbitrary Forth programs into the boot console. To see it work as a calculator, try something like "123 123 + .". Add-on cards would include Forth bytecode on a ROM to initialize the hardware.

Daniel Olsson

it's nice too see that you like older hardware like these old SUN machines :) i'm in to DEC Alpha machines! i had a sun machine earlier on some years ago E420R.

Samuel Schwager

Used a sun ultra workstation around 2003-2005, time flies.


Only served for 4 years, that's insanely short.


Oracle's site causing these machines to crash pretty much sums up their attitude towards Solaris haha

Andrew Noonan

The IDE in that was very, very slow. The machine could be improved a great deal by adding a sun supported Ultra Wide SCSI card. I ran a Ultra Sparc 5 running OpenBSD as my firewall about a decade ago now.


4:33 click click clack pffftt

Alina C

CDE Common Desktop Env.

Jeremy Harden

nice, but can it run Skyrim? :P

Ashton Snapp

I like how some old computer systems had Help buttons on their keyboards or have command line based firmware. Neat!

pimping ain't eazy 868

This will create so much

Jean Roch

I learned Mentor Graphics Design Architect on one of those... a long time ago in a faraway galaxy.


For what I know, yeah, this machine was pricey, starting at 2400 bucks. But hey, similarly specced macintoshes back then were at least just as expensive, if not more. And this is a 64-bit machine, too!

Tom Servo

theres a pci card that allows you to run x86 programs , that's cool

Shannon Smith

I had one identical to this and installed Debian on it. Threw it out a decade ago now....

Michael Turley

Love these machines. We used these in my first job after college. Everyone had Dilbert cartoons in their cubes as well...


First time I've actually seen Solaris in action, even though I've heard about it for a while.

Old Aussie Ads

Do you know what Desktop Environment Solaris ran here?

Sam Pajanna

Ugh I spent most of the late 90s and early 00s staring at that screen


How/where are you able to find examples of old tech that's so we'll preserved? Where I'm from, such a machine would be in execrable condition.

Nether Noah

The Common Desktop Environment can now run on Linux!

Lothar Scholz

I always wanted to do some case modding and put a modern Xeon into it.
The pizzabook always gives me good memories when i was fresh in college.

Mike Anthony

It's a shame that all of the old UNIX workstations of the day died out. From the HP9000 and VAXstation to the RS/6000 and Sun Ultra series, tons of competitors to Wintel existed back in the day. Today, I guess we still have OpenPOWER, but there really isn't much outside of the X86_64 Windows/Mac market at the moment. I guess we'll have to see what Apple and ARM manage to do in the coming years!


Cool videos Cameron, keep it up!

alte Bänder

Ohh Siemens also did a lot of stuff with inverse gender serial connectors.


I've got recently a Sun Ultra 10 (which unfortunally had a faulty motherboard), which is an Ultra 5 on steroids. They both share the same motherboard, so i used a motherboard from an Ultra 5 (with a dead CPU) and i installed in my Ultra 10 (to support powerful CPUs you need at least the Einstein 21 motherboard).

Mine features a 440MHz UltraSPARC IIi, 768MB of RAM (for some reason the Hyundai pair gets detected as 256MB, when instead should be 512MB, bringing the machine to 1GB of RAM), a 20GB IDE HDD, a Creator 3D card (that i removed from the system, since that i don't have a 13W3 to VGA/BNC cable) and a Sun 1GB ethernet card. I added a Tekram DC-390F, since that being based on the NCR 53C875 it gets detected by OpenFirmware, and i could install Solaris, BSD or Linux

Anthimos Aggelidis

Hello therefrom Greece i just try to replace the SCSI hdd to a server with solaris and i have some problems could u help me ? I have a screenshot to sed you

Bits inside by René Rebe

you may also like my Ultra 5 overview running Linux: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S5P38EjVas

Племянник Судьи

Anyway this is awesome machine considering its age.


My Ultra 10 ( https://a.pomf.cat/zrivlv.jpg ) was saved from the dumpster at NJIT from a friend that moved to France and gave it to me along with a Blade 1000 and a couple of SGI workstations. the Blade 1000 is long gone, traded it for a Sun X2200 M2 (which now has a couple 2373 EE's and 64GB of RAM, waiting to be colo'd in California) and the Ultra 10 still happily runs on my side desk on a KVM switch if I really need to get local access to it.

The U5 and 10 share a motherboard, your annotation is correct. if you remove the floppy drive in the U5, you can install the full 1GB of RAM the board supports, which needs double-height RAM sticks otherwise. the 5 and 10, at the end of their life, were cheaped out on their capacitors, and the filter caps for the CPU board to the immediate right of the card sockets went all puffy in mine some time before I acquired it, probably why mine went into the dumpster initially. the brand of capacitors was IQ, so watch that if you have similar. if you're lucky to have been bestowed with a reputable brand, you should be good. if not, it's a fine time to replace them out with low-ESR electrolytics or solid-polys if possible, and re-paste the CPU at the same time-- the original compound and thermal pads are now so old that they're seeping oils from seperation onto the CPU and cache chips, increasing thermal resistance.

my PSU also went short a couple boots after I got it, and I had to install a different one. the main thing to be worried about is that I don't think it follows the ATX spec to a T from that time period, so the 6-pin header going to power the UPA slot for the optional Creator3D card might not be the same electrically as what it wants. if you're not ever going to use that slot and opt for an XVR-100 card like I have in one of the PCI slots, you don't even need it if you've replaced the PSU, and in practice any standard ATX PSU from this decade will do just fine, especially if you plan on adding SATA drives of any kind in any forseeable future.

These run very well with said XVR-100 (or equivalent flashed Radeon 7000 64MB), an NEC-chipset USB card, an Intel Pro/1000 Eth card and a SATA card (SiI3112 or 3114, take your pick, needs a Mac Open Firmware BIOS) so long as everything is good for those on the host OS. No idea about Solaris 8+, apparently it's all supported with the proper patches on 9... but as you're probably well aware with your work with the Tardis project, they do run Debian (and OpenBSD) formidably. the thing to watch is the on-board IDE controller is limited to a max speed of about 15MB/s in either direction, and this can make the system appear slower than it is. if there's a SATA card installed one can easily get around 65-70MB/s over the PCI bus, and I believe it does bus mastering pretty well in that regard. Sadly there's not a single recorded case of anyone ever booting off SATA in these systems, something at some point in time I plan on becoming the first to document.

the National Semiconductor PHY for the on-board Sun GEM 10/100 NIC (immediately above the onboard ATI Rage GPU) should be heatsinked at this age in its life, especially since it can reach 60-70C temperatures in some cases. without even being plugged in or being used. Although it runs this hot by design since it's first-gen Fast Ethernet, it can cause a lot of unnecessary heat buildup in the system by the card slots, and fizzle out, leaving your only option to be an add-in Ethernet card which should be used anyway-- the GEM chipsets have a bit more overhead in comparison to a more modern Gigabit PCI card.

May your Ultra 5 live a long, happy life in retirement, and hopefully you can get that NVRAM battery taken a look at some day. Having done the mod myself, it's not pretty, and you can easily destroy the NVRAM chip underneath if you're not careful-- this almost happened to me. (sorry for the wall o' text, also.)

Old Mate's Backyard Tech

i cut my skills on these units along time ago.
The machine was also used as an SSP to E10k's etc. Really handy also as terminal machines to connect to servers etc

Brandon Abbott

Wow it was capable of IPv6 :O

ابو عمر

5:33 reminded me of Netscape. Best browser ever.


CANONICAL should release SOLARIS 8 to the general public as SOLARIS 8 professional with the ability to use it as a workstation or as a server and SOLARIS 8 Home for the computer enthusiasts instead of UBUNTU 18.4.


I subscribed


what about apt-get update<RET>, apt-get upgrade<RET> to try and get the system working properly.

lenooh puls

Too bad these machines were so expensive. With a more competitive price aimed at the general consumer, today we might would have lived in a world of unix, instead of windows...


Man, this brings back memories. When the video started, I could swear I was looking at my office machine from 1999. I loved the heck out of that thing. It's really too bad I couldn't take it with me when I left.

In terms of the web browser, there was an IE5 installation for Solaris. I do NOT recommend it. It was a piece of crap and broke my desktop profile. Instead, go find a Solaris compile of Mozilla. I had a cron job setup to compile Mozilla every night. (It would make a backup of the previous day just in case.) Mozilla worked really well on the machine at the time. It won't work great on a modern web, but it would have a better chance of rendering pages than Netscape. Netscape is as incompatible as you can get with a modern web.


Ah yes, this machine was where I started learning C++ on at my local college. Loved how unique they were.

Animated Freak

dude I just found you channel, it's like a treasure, gonna have to watch everything you got now.


This comment is a little late but for a while PCMCIA was a standard for US Military computers. We used Sun Workstations for a while so they had to be fitted with one. You will also find them on Dell workstations.

Племянник Судьи

Of course it's up to you BUT your explanations are quite fast for non-native english. TY.


Think SGI computers was first to use 64bit CPU's

Jonathan Kovacs

Why did Sun put the Mac address on a nvram chip that had a battery that would of course fail in time? It is so dumb I had 4 Sun Ultra 5s 4 Utra 10s 3 Ultra 60's all rendered useless for my needs by a dead NVRAM! so sad :-(


That has got to be the fastest I've ever seen CDE run.

Aldwin Panny

Can run Windows on this computer?

Channel Dad Bryon Lape

Back in 1996, we ran Ultras as web servers and they pushed over 1GB of data a month. That was nearly all text and very few graphics.

Ash N. Television

Can it run Solaris 10 or 11 if you upgrade it today? Since Oracle is still developing the Solaris OS along side Oracle Linux!


Sun donated an entire lab of these things to Trent Univeristy in Peterborough. They weren't super fast compared to PCs when I got there. For a lot of students, it was their first taste of a unix-like OS.


I am not being completely facicetious (spelt wong) as what is this machine good for? Please forgive my ignorance but I need to understand why you eat dry Ryvita (linux) as opposed to lovely rich seeded bread.(Apple/Windows) Enlighten me.


I used to throw these into the air, hoping it would land on a corner to come apart fast for the gold inside. Usually, I would throw them down, directly on a corner.


Just remembered another task this old beast was doing for us. At one time we provided an Internet Radio stream for a local community radio station. They were not tech savvy at all so to simplify things I hooked an old TRIO FM tuner up to the Sun tuned into their station. We then had a tool like 'sox' I think encoding the stream to OGG Vorbis and icecast to stream it. It ran that stream quite a while without problems. We wrote a little web applet that had an OGG player in it for people tuning in.


CDE was terrible. I worked on one of these commonly during college

Enrique Borja

I love my ultra 10 station. it is running solaris 5.6. Works great and smootly :-)


But was it better than the Next?

Michael Lasdun

Used one of these during an MSc at Edinburgh Uni. In fact, the label on your machine looks very familiar... These were all replaced by Linux machines by the department just after we left. My first experience of Unix.

Nick Chernetsky

Nice video, keep shooting them! I've also recently get Sun Blade 100 savages from dumpsterand now just waiting for some spare time to install Solaris on it. It Also has SunPCI card which is pretty much another computer on PCI card which can run Windows on it.

Patrick Harper

Didn't IE5 make it to Solaris?


The ethernet card is called "hme" because they name the chipset "Happy Meal Ethernet" - I think this is because it had a more capable brother chip called "Big Mac".

Paul Potter

I too have one of these. It can run Solaris 11, but mine is a bit slow as it currently only has 256MB. I'm going to do a video on mine eventually.


I had one of these when I was an Intern at Sun. I loved it. And I loved being an intern there too.


In comparison to the older Sparcstation 2, 10 and 20 this machine appears to be a cheap low cost design without the brilliant design of its predecessors.


I had one of these as a freebie given to me a friend that was chucking it out. It was used as a sort of general purpose machine at work we just tried crap out on. It was one of the most reliable machines on the network. Aside from being a general purpose thing, it ran NTP for several hundred clients. I had it running Asterisk IP PBX at one point too. It was also a general purpose web server, we hosted things like the "Down for maintenance" page, because it was one host that was always up we could redirect traffic to in an emergency.

Discrimination is not a right.

This is what we had in the computer lab when I was in college. The lab was even called--wait for it--the solarium.


Ahhh, fond memories

Tin Soldier

Cameron could you message me. The British army are still using these machines to run a simulation programme. It’s a lost art and we are struggling for expertise. The systems are in great condition but nobody know how to use them.


Great video. Anyone else feel like this dude is running at 4x speed?

Torstein Hestvik Mork

Once you start talking, you talk really fast...


That "more modern firmware" is, in fact, a complete Forth environment. Therefore if you'll learn Forth, you can work on this machine without booting Solaris, nor anything. Yes, the problem may be "lack of software", I agree - well, after you learn Forh you'll create all you need by yourself. ;)

Denis Mamaev

Very interesting, but a tiny wee bit unintelligible.


Wish I had one of these...


Hi. 10 years ago, I revived 3 of those machines, recovered from the storage, because we had a 0-day in bind which was running un SunOs 5.6, with no update anymore. I installed debian/sparc64 on them, and they returned in a server room. The hardware was on the top of quality, like you mentionned. I later had a Blade100, which was already not in the same league anymore.


This is a blast from the past. There is a good chance that system passed through my hands. I worked for Sun in Linlithgow :))

Eric Sprague

You could upgrade it to Solaris 10 if you wanted to, though with less than 2GB of RAM I wouldn't want to.

A fair few PCI cards from PCs will work - if you want USB, a PCI USB card will do the job.


I could hear someone farting on log in screen

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Discussion with Dan Earle | Solaris Resources

603 views | 9 Oct. 2020

Dan Earle of copper

Dan Earle of copper explorer and development company Solaris Resources introduces us to the company and his efforts to focus on a significant copper discovery at the Warintza project, Ecuador. We discuss the suite of company assets from Mexico to Chile, valuation and the current market capitalization, company plans, and more. Solaris is an Opportunities letter position from the Equinox Gold copper assets spin-off. #Copper #Gold #Investing #Solaris #Equinox


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Joakim Johansen

Taking a quick look at the share distribution should be enough to invest in Solaris. Amazing team + good assets, need no more. Got in right after the listing and only regret not buying more!
Thanks for a great interview


Great talk, everyone interested in the copper space should listen.

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THIS $1.35 PENNY STOCK WILL EXPLODE - Analyst Says It Will Increase 270% MORE

1 144 views | 21 Jan. 2021

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Healing Gym

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Brown Asset Management

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