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6 Replies Latest reply: Dec 17, 2012 9:41 PM by bigdelboy RSS

E250 Keyboard

980113 Newbie
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Hi all. I'm new to the world of SUN servers. I just picked up an old E250 server from my school's surplus department. My plan is to put linux on it, and use it as a box just to mess around with a little. The problem I've run into is that I don't have a keyboard for the machine. I've worked with sun before, but not much. I was thinking that they just used a different keyboard connector so the mouse and keyboard could be routed through a single connection. I now know that this is not the case, and that sun keyboards and mice are different altogether. My question is, then, is there some way I can hook a standard PS/2 keyboard up to it (does anyone make a converter), or is there some way I can install linux without a keyboard through some sort of serial console? Again, I'm still very new to SUN hardware. Thanks in advance.
  • 1. Re: E250 Keyboard
    rukbat Guru Moderator
    Currently Being Moderated
    Each of these questions has been discussed many times in these forum over the years, but (admittedly) they're scattered across many many posts and scattered across about ten years of various posts.
    977110 wrote:
    Hi all. I'm new to the world of SUN servers. I just picked up an old E250 server from my school's surplus department. My plan is to put linux on it,
    Don't.
    There isn't a usable Linux distro available that will run on that UltraSPARC cpu design. You might be able to find an old Debian fork but you'll be sorely disappointed. Go back to your school and ask them if they still have the CD's for whatever Solaris they used to run on it (Solaris 7 or Solaris 8 or Solaris 9). Your E250 is a hardware design from 1997 that first shipped to customers in 1998. Expect to use an OS from that same era.
    and use it as a box just to mess around with a little. The problem I've run into is that I don't have a keyboard for the machine. I've worked with sun before, but not much. I was thinking that they just used a different keyboard connector so the mouse and keyboard could be routed through a single connection. I now know that this is not the case, and that sun keyboards and mice are different altogether.
    Then you must also realize NOW that you need the correct peripheral to work with your new computer system. This isn't a PeeCee. It's big. It's heavy. It's loud. It uses a lot of electricity.
    My question is, then, is there some way I can hook a standard PS/2 keyboard up to it (does anyone make a converter),
    Yes, keyboard converters existed. They haven't been manufactured in more than ten years and if you find one it will be more expensive than just buying the correct type5 or type6 keyboard/mouse kit. If your school's surplus departmetn doesn't have any, then eBay would be a likely source for such keyboard/mice kits.
    or is there some way I can install linux without a keyboard through some sort of serial console? Again, I'm still very new to SUN hardware. Thanks in advance.
    Go get the system documentation and use it.
    http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E19088-01/250.srvr/index.html
    All the system administration procedures you might need are in there.

    [opinion]
    As much as I have a fond spot for all E250's, I suggest you take that beast to a metal recycler. Then go back to your school and see if they have any SPARC workstations in surplus. ... perhaps a Sunblade 150 that will nicely use Solaris 9 and hold PATA disk drives in it instead of tiny expensive SCSI disks.
    [end opinion]
  • 2. Re: E250 Keyboard
    bigdelboy Pro
    Currently Being Moderated
    I don't think I'd disagree with much anything Rukbat said.

    What follows is from memory.

    In addition to the keyboard (5c) you would need a compatible monitor an interface card.

    The 250 (as opposed to the 450) had an early form of lights out Monitor (LOM) to which a serial cable could be attached. It would also work on a serial cable to the 'A' port. .........


    .... Oh ... I just see your you want to put linux on it ......

    ..... Stop immediately and go and get cheap secondhand dell 755 SFF for example) with 2/4/8GB of ram. Or pretty well anything SFF with intel/amd 64BIT and at least a couple of threads/cores with DDR3 ram and a DVD reader. (OK I known you risk the odd hardware incompatibility).
  • 3. Re: E250 Keyboard
    980113 Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    I did look around for a solution to the keyboard problem first. I wasn't having much luck coming up with anything but references to nameless hardware and a lot of people wanting to use their sun keyboards in place of a PS/2. I didn't get this box to be a really useful server. I just wanted to play around with it and prove that I could get a linux box up and running on it. I don't mind using an older, headless version. I've been running linux (debian mostly) on my computers for years, and I'm versed enough in it to know that its not going to just work right away. I plan on having to play with the distro to get it to run correctly. I do have a VGA card in this box. There were 2 there. I grabbed the one I knew I could attach a monitor to. The keyboard should be all I'm missing at this point to get the dinosaur up and running again (even if it isn't the most useful thing in the world.
  • 4. Re: E250 Keyboard
    bigdelboy Pro
    Currently Being Moderated
    Ok ... you are (of becoming) a geek and you having maybe 2/3/4 approaches.

    (0) Locate the sun handbook for this machine.
    (0b) Get your other 250 for spares (especially extra disks and cdrom and RAM).


    (1) Note the nature of the A serial port on this machine .... i think it is 25 pin female ..... That gives a console route in via eg PuTTy or from another linux box.

    ( The pinouts are a bit weird ... a sun A .. B splitter may help ).


    (2) check the keyboard connector .... is it round and a little bigger than a PS/2 ... then look on an auction site for a cheap sun 5c keyboard and mouse ... if you were uk and desperate i'd sort something for you, though I'd be inclined to direct you to Pompey Lil first ;-) Beware the freq. used by sun workstations is a little rare and not all monitors will cope ... or cope well.

    (3) On newer kit i'd suggest using a cisco serial console cable to the LOM. But this was an early beast in the LOM area and may be different to the newer kit where I would recommend that first.


    ....

    I'd give more info but i am busy.
  • 5. Re: E250 Keyboard
    980113 Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    I missed the part in the manual where it talked about the serial terminal when I was looking through it. Sometimes I'm not very good at reading what's right in front of me. Now I just need to figure out where I put my DB-25 to DB-9 serial adapter, and get my box with a serial port up again. It has no real case (it lives in a box), so the power comes loose sometimes. Thanks for the help. It should be an interesting experience trying this.
  • 6. Re: E250 Keyboard
    bigdelboy Pro
    Currently Being Moderated
    Ah yes ... found this ...

    http://www.sunhelp.org/unix-serial-port-resources/serial-pinouts/
    http://www.sunhelp.org/unix-serial-port-resources/serial-pinouts/#u12.link

    ( Moved from http://www.stokely.com/ .... they did a really helpful job in the old days )

    your "average" serial cable might not work .... see the above resources: ... get your soldering iron out if necessary but don't blame me if you burn your fingers or your house down.

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