Solaris on Intel - x86 FAQ

From: Dan Anderson <>
Newsgroups: alt.solaris.x86,comp.unix.solaris,alt.answers,comp.answers,news.answers
Subject: Solaris x86 FAQ
Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.EDU
Summary: This posting answers frequently-asked questions from the
         alt.solaris.x86 newsgroup that aren't already covered in the
         Solaris 2 FAQ.  It should be read by anyone who wishes to
         post Solaris x86 questions to the alt.solaris.x86 or
         comp.unix.solaris newsgroups.
Followup-To: alt.solaris.x86

Archive-name: Solarisx86/faq Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: 1999/4/10 URL: Version: 2.2 Copyright: Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999 Dan Anderson. All rights reserved. Maintainer: Dan Anderson <>, San Diego, California, USA




(3.1) What FTP and web sites do I need to know about?
(3.2) How do I subscribe to the Solaris/x86 mailing list?
(3.3) Where can I obtain Solaris 2/x86 driver updates?
(3.4) Where can I obtain Solaris 2/x86 patches?
(3.5) How can I obtain freeware, shareware, and GNU software on a CD-ROM?
(3.6) What UNIX-like operating systems are available on x86?
(3.7) What books are available on Solaris x86?
(3.8) What magazine articles are available on Solaris x86?
(3.9) What's new for release 7 of Solaris/x86?
(3.10) * What's new for the next release of Solaris/x86?

(4.1) What information should I have before an install?
(4.2) What hardware is supported by Solaris 2.x for Intel?
(4.3) What size disks and partitions should I have?
(4.4) What are SCSI IDs expected by Solaris x86?
(4.5) What video card/monitor combination works best?
(4.6) Is Plug-and-Play (PNP) supported by Solaris/x86?
(4.7) Is Advanced Power Management (APM) supported by Solaris/x86?
(4.8) What are the pitfalls of different busses: PCI/ISA/EISA?
(4.9) Are "floppy tape" devices supported by Solaris x86?
(4.10) How can I get a "free" copy of Solaris?
(4.11) What's missing from the "free" copy of Solaris that's in the commercial version?
(4.12) How can I get Solaris to see the third IDE controller?
(4.13) Are Ultra DMA (UDMA) drives supported?
(4.14) Are Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices supported?
(4.15) Are Microsoft Intellimouse mice supported?

(5.1) How long does the install take?
(5.2) My IDE/ATAPI CD-ROM isn't recognized during install by Solaris' FCS MCB and it's not in the HCL. What can I do?
(5.3) What kind of problems might I encounter installing my SCSI system?
(5.4) What do I do when the install hangs/panics?
(5.5) I'm trying to install Solaris/x86 on my 8 GB drive. However, the installation program says the root partition must end within the first 1023 cylinders of the disk. What can I do?
(5.6) Does Solaris x86 prefer to have the motherboard BIOS set to NORMAL or LBA for IDE disks?
(5.7) Why does a Solaris install to a disk with valid, pre-existing fdisk partitions sometimes fail?
(5.8) How do I install or use the documentation CD?

(6.1) How do I add additional drives?
(6.2) How do I add or configure users, printers, serial ports, software, etc.?
(6.3) How do I suppress the banner page on my printer?
(6.4) How do I set up an HP-compatible printer to print PostScript files?
(6.5) How can I improve disk and graphic performance?
(6.6) How do I get Solaris to recognize a NE2000 compatible NIC card?
(6.7) How do I change the IP address on Solaris/x86?
(6.8) How do I configure a second serial port, /dev/ttyb (COM2)?
(6.9) How do I disable Solaris/x86 from probing the UPS on COM2?
(6.10) How do I set up Solaris/x86 to use PPP to connect to an ISP?
(6.11) That last answer was torture! Is there any open source PPP that's easier to use?
(6.12) Is there any commercial PPP that's easier to use?
(6.13) Help! My USRobotics Internal modem doesn't work with PPP.
(6.14) PPP runs extremely slow. What's wrong?
(6.15) How do I configure PPP using Dynamic IP Addresses (DHCP)?
(6.16) How do I configure my SoundBlaster card?
(6.17) How do I enable the audio output from my CDROM to my SBPRO card?
(6.18) Is Solaris/x86 Year 2000 (Y2K) compliant?
(6.18) Can I use Solaris/x86 to setup a "headless" server?
(6.20) Can I get a Sun-style keyboard (Ctrl & Caps Lock reversed) for S/x86?
(6.21) Can I run multiple terminals on the console of Solaris x86 like those supported on Linux, FreeBSD, Interactive Unix, and SCO?
(6.22) How do I upgrade my video graphics card?
(6.23) How to I burn a CD-R or CD-RW with Solaris?
(6.24) Is IPv6 available for Solaris/x86?
(6.25) Does Solaris x86 support multiple processors?
(6.26) How do you install XFree86 on Solaris?
(6.27) How do I configure 64K colors for CDE?
(6.28) How do I uncompress a .gz file?
(6.29) Why doesn't /usr/bin/cc work?
(6.30) How do you get PGP 2.6.2 to compile on Solaris/x86?

(7.1) What can I do if Solaris won't boot?
(7.2) How do I restore the Solaris boot block without reinstalling?
(7.3) What can I do during the Solaris/x86 booting sequence?
(7.4) How do I logon as root if the password doesn't work anymore?
(7.5) My licensed software fails because the host ID is 0. What's wrong?
(7.6) How can I fix Netscape Communicator to render fonts correctly on S/x86?
(7.7) I moved my PCI host adapter to another slot and the system won't boot!
(7.8) Why is Solaris always booting into the Device Configuration Assistant?

(8.1) Can I install Solaris x86 on a system that already has Win 9x or NT or both (among other systems)?
(8.2) How can I use MS Windows' NT Loader to boot Solaris/x86?
(8.3) How can I use the Solaris boot manager to boot Windows NT?
(8.4) How can I use System Commander to boot Solaris/x86 and other systems?
(8.5) Can I install Linux and Solaris on the same drive?
(8.6) How can I use Linux LILO boot loader to boot Solaris/x86?
(8.7) How can I use LILO to boot Solaris/x86 on the primary slave IDE?
(8.8) How can I use LILO to boot Solaris/x86 on the secondary master IDE?
(8.9) How can I use OS-BS or System Selector to boot Solaris/x86?
(8.10) How can I boot both Solaris/x86 and Win NT on the same disk?
(8.11) How do I mount a DOS partition from the hard drive?
(8.12) Does PartitionMagic and BootMagic understand Solaris partitions?
(8.13) How do I access a DOS-format diskette from Solaris?
(8.14) Does Solaris mount and recognize Win 9x partitions with long file names (VFAT)?
(8.15) How can I make my Solaris files easily available to Windows 9x/NT on a network?
(8.16) How can I make my Solaris files easily available to an Apple Machintosh on a network?
(8.17) How do I access a Mac diskette from Solaris?
(8.18) What is WABI?
(8.19) Can I use SunPCi on Solaris/x86?
(8.20) Will Linux programs run on Solaris 2/x86?
(8.21) How can I get the DOS and UNIX clock to agree on Solaris/x86?
(8.22) Is Solaris x86 able to execute Solaris SPARC applications?
(8.23) Will my old applications from SVR3 or SCO run on Solaris 2/x86?
(8.24) Will my application from Solaris/SPARC work on Solaris/x86? I have the source.
(8.25) Can I access Solaris/x86 partitions from Linux?
(8.26) What are some books on Windows NT/Solaris integration?
(8.27) How can I view MS Word files in Solaris?
(8.28) I downloaded Internet Explorer but it doesn't install. What's wrong?
(8.29) Can I mount other ufs disks, say from BSDi/FreeBSD, and vice versa?
(8.30) How can I use a disk partition on Solaris 2.x which was previously dedicated to Windows 95 (or other OS) as dual boot?

*New question since last month.
+Significantly revised answer since last month.


The Solaris x86 FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Solaris on Intel - x86.

This posting contains frequently asked questions, with answers, about the Sun Solaris 2 Operating System on the Intel Platform (x86) found in the alt.solaris.x86 and comp.unix.solaris USENET newsgroups. The alt.solaris.x86 newsgroup covers Solaris on the Intel platform, for version 2.5 and higher. The comp.unix.solaris newsgroup is for Solaris on all platforms-- Sparc or Intel. Please also consult Casper Dik's excellent FAQ on Solaris 2, which mostly applies to Solaris x86 too. It's at: and elsewhere. Solaris 7 is also known as SunOS 5.7 and Solaris 2.x is also known as SunOS 5.x.

For earlier versions of Solaris/x86, please see the (somewhat dated) "Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ" by Bob Palowoda archived at various dusty corners on the net. The (mostly historical) Sun i386 (Roadrunner) is covered in Ralph Neill's FAQ,

If you post questions to alt.solaris.x86 or comp.unix.solaris, please be sure to indicate:

I'm doing this on my own time as a public service. PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD BE ASKED OF SUN. Although I am now employed by Sun Microsystems, as of February 1999, I do not work on this particular product. Nothing I say is endorsed or approved by Sun. If you suspect you have software defect problems, please call 1-800-SOFTSPT (1-800-763-8778 or 1-510-460-3267). If you have hardware problems call your hardware vendor. If you are outside the United States, contact your local Sun representative.

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD BE POSTED TO alt.solaris.x86 or comp.unix.solaris. I don't have the time to diagnose individual Solaris problems, and I probably don't know the answer either :-). Many experienced and knowledgeable people read the newsgroup. Post your question there. However, answers, corrections, and comments should be directed to me.

No FAQ is the work of one person, but is a USENET community effort. This material was "snarfed" from other FAQs, USENET newsgroup postings, mailing lists, and personal knowledge. Generally the source is noted at the end of each question. Most answers have been reworded, or expanded, or updated. Thanks to everyone who contributed directly or indirectly. Please send any corrections or additions to me.

This FAQ is Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999 Dan Anderson. All rights reserved. It may be freely redistributed in its entirety provided that this copyright notice isn't removed. Permission is expressly granted for this document to be made available for file transfer from installations offering unrestricted anonymous file transfer on the Internet.

This article is provided "as is" without any express or implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. The answers come from many varied sources, and, "may be fiction rather than fact." Therefore, THE AUTHOR ASSUMES *NO* RESPONSIBILITY FOR ERRORS OR OMISSIONS, OR FOR DAMAGES RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN, even if they result from negligence or errors on the part of the author.

Sun, the Sun logo, Sun Microsystems, SunSoft, the SunSoft logo, Java, Solaris, SunOS, and NFS are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems., Inc. SPARC is a registered trademark of SPARC International, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Products bearing the SPARC trademarks are based on an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc. Adobe and PostScript are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated. HP is a trademark of Hewlett-Packard Company. IBM is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation. Intel and Pentium are registered trademarks of Intel Corporation. Pentium® II Xeon is a trademark of Intel Corporation. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft, MS, MS-DOS, MS Windows, and Windows NT are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corp. Netscape is a trademark of Netscape Communications Corp. Netscape® Communicator is a trademark of Netscape Communications Corp. Open Source is a registered certification mark of Open Source Initiative. UNIX is a registered trademark of The Open Group. All other product names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

-Dan Anderson
alt.solaris.x86 FAQ Maintainer
San Diego, California, USA


(3.1) What FTP and web sites do I need to know about?
The latest version of this FAQ is always at this URL. It's available in text and HTML formats. This FAQ also appears in the alt.solaris.x86 and comp.unix.solaris newsgroups and on various FAQ archives. Check the date at the top of this FAQ to make sure you have a recent version.
Sun's main web site, contains pointers to Solaris product information, press releases, etc.
Sun's Software Support and Education website. Has x86 driver updates (DUs), knowledge base, Hardware Compatibility Lists (HCLs), official FAQs, and other goodies.
Sun documentation on-line. Includes manuals, guides, answerbooks, and man pages in HTML format. Especially useful for configuring new hardware and new systems is the Information Library for Solaris (Intel Platform Edition).
My Solaris online bookstore, in association with, where you can read reviews on selected Solaris books and order Solaris or other books.
Stokely Consulting's list of FAQs has lots of pointers resources, not only for Solaris x86, but UNIX System Administration in general.
EIS's Solaris/x86 Resources page with lots of pointers. EIS also maintains the Solaris on Intel mailing list (below).
S. Christensen's Solaris Freeware Page. Pointers to LOTS of x86 pre-packaged GNU and other open-source software.
Pointers to many Solaris viewers, players, and Netscape plug-ins.
Selected Solaris 2.x/x86 binaries conveniently packaged in pkgadd format at the University of North Carolina MetaLab (formerly Sunsite).
Joe Shamblin's annotated collection of Solaris x86 open source, with pointers to documentation, make it good for open source browsing.
Bob Palowoda's Solaris x86 Corner, with tips and benchmarks.
My Solaris Intel Webpage has includes a search engine that indexes selected websites containing Solaris Intel information, including those listed here. Also contains the latest version of this FAQ and my online bookstore (in association with
Last, but not least, Casper Dik's thorough FAQ on Solaris 2. This entire FAQ is available as one file at:

(3.2) How do I subscribe to the Solaris/x86 mailing list?

Subscribe by sending an e-mail message to <> or visit the eGroups' Solaris on Intel web page at You DON'T have to register to join the list, but you do have to register to read the list archives on the web (sorted by thread and date).

(3.3) Where can I obtain Solaris 2/x86 driver updates?

The Solaris x86 driver updates can be obtained by HTTP from: http://access1.Sun.COM/drivers/driverMain.html

The Solaris x86 driver updates can be obtained by anonymous FTP from:

[From Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

(3.4) Where can I obtain Solaris 2/x86 patches?

The Solaris x86 driver updates can be obtained by HTTP from: ftp://sunsolve.Sun.COM/pub/patches/

A listing sorted by release is available at: http://sunsolve.Sun.COM/pub-cgi/us/

Pointers to patches, including one huge 2.*_x86_Recommended.tar.Z file for each release. This directory is publically accessible--it doesn't require you to be a contract customer. Patches are also available locally at many SunSites.

The "showrev -p" command shows what patches you have installed.

All files replaced by a patch are saved under /var/sadm/patch/ or /var/sadm/pkg/

(3.5) How can I obtain freeware, shareware, and GNU software on a CD-ROM?

Micromata of Kassel, Germany offers its "Summertime" CD with precompiled software for Solaris SPARC and Intel,

EIS offers the "Solaris Companion CD." It reportedly offers the same binaries as Summertime, and some additions. The SPARC and Intel binaries are sold on separate CDs. See

See question 3.1 above for FTP and web software sites.

(3.6) What UNIX-like operating systems are available on x86?

Note that the open source versions can also be purchased on CD-ROM, which is a convenient way to get it. For Linux, there are multiple vendors selling CD-ROMs (e.g., RedHat, Other systems are over the horizon, in beta, or for teaching/research. E.g., GNU's HURD, Apple's Rhapsody, Tanenbaum's Minix, or ATT's Plan 9.

Of course, Intel's 64-bit Merced or McKinley CPU families (or both) are coming. Sun, HP, SCO, and DEC are all porting their versions of UNIX, Solaris, HP-UX, UNIXWare, and Digital UNIX, to this chip.

(3.7) What books are available on Solaris x86?

For Unix system administration in general, I like Unix System Administration Handbook, 2d ed. ("The Red Book"), by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Scott Seebass, and Trent R. Hein (Prentice Hall, 1995), ISBN 0-13-151051-7

Ron Ledesma has written PC Hardware Configuration Guide for DOS and Solaris (SunSoft Press, 1994), ISBN 0-13-124678-X, It's a well-written, but dated, book on setting up Solaris x86 on Intel Architecture.

There's also Solaris 2.X for Managers and Administrators by Curt Freeland, Dwight McKay, Kent Parkinson, 2d ed. (1997), ISBN: 1-56690-150-2,

The following two books by Janice Winsor cover Solaris 2.6 for SPARC and x86. They are from Sun Microsystems/Macmillan Technical Publishing. I find they cover the subject matter too lightly, but they may be good for beginners: Solaris System Administrator's Guide, 2d ed. (1998), ISBN 1-57870-040-X,, and Solaris Advanced System Administrator's Guide, 2d ed., ISBN 1-57870-039-6,,

Other books are available on Solaris in general from SunSoft Books and on UNIX (with sections on Solaris) from O'Reilly and Associates. Hardcopies of Sun manuals are available as SunDocs from SunExpress.

Please visit my on-line bookstore,, in association with, where you can order books on Solaris or any other topic. I get paid a few percent of most books ordered there.

(3.8) What magazine articles are available on Solaris x86?

"Sun injects Solaris X86 with new life as it makes its way to 64 bits" Sun World. Feb. 1997 by Rick Cook. http://www.Sun.COM/sunworldonline/swol-02-1997/swol-02-solarisX86.html

Note: please e-mail other submissions to

(3.9) What's new for release 7 of Solaris/x86?

The new release of Solaris/x86 (7.0) has more driver support, of course. MCA (PS/2) hardware support and X-window's PEX & F3 font support is dropped. A stripped-down Veritas Volume Manager is bundled, more Java-based apps., updated sendmail 8.9 and bind 8.1, and man pages are in SGML format instead of nroff.

A big change in Solaris 7 is its support for 64-bit virtual addresses on UltraSPARCs, in contrast to 2.6 which has only 64-bit file offsets. However, Solaris 7.0 does NOT support 64-bit virtual addresses on x86 (or on older SPARCs). Solaris/x86 7 should support Intel's Extended Server Memory Architecture, with its 36-bit physical memory addresses (64 GBmemory), on Pentium Pro, Pentium II Xeon, and beyond. Full Intel 64-bit functionality will have to wait for Sun's port of Solaris to Intel's IA-64 (Merced/McKinley) chip.

[Thanks to Paul Eggert for clarifications]

(3.10) What's new for the next release of Solaris/x86?

I Don't know. My guess is newer drivers for the latest hardware, as usual. Hopefully USB will be supported (see the question below on USB support).


(4.1) What information should I have before an install?

The size of your disk determines what cluster you are going to install on your system. I.e., an End User cluster, a Developers Cluster or the Complete Cluster. See references to how to size your OS when installing.

The Ethernet hardware address from your Ethernet card would be helpful if you're on a NIS net and your going to do net installs. You would like to have the Ethernet address in the /etc/ethers map file before you do an install. Usually the manufacturer of an Ethernet card will have some software that you can run under DOS to display this number or sometimes you can find the Ethernet number on a sticker right on the Ethernet card. If this is on a standalone network you probably don't need to know the Ethernet hardware address. Don't confuse this with the software IP address.

Bandwidth of your monitor and video card are important. During the install the install process is going to ask you for the size of your monitor and what vertical resolution you want to drive the monitor at. Note that in the update disk documentation they give a handy dandy monitor resolution bandwidth for monitors in the appendix. You may want to check this out. See other references on video cards and monitors throughout the FAQ.

The install process will ask you about your mouse type.

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(4.2) What hardware is supported by Solaris 2.x for Intel?

Solaris x86 is the version that runs on Intel-based PCs and servers. Requirements vary to release, but generally a 80486 processor or better is required with an ISA, EISA, or PCI bus, 16 MB of memory, and 200-500 MB Disk. Many multi-processor boards are supported. You must have a CD-ROM drive or access to NFS over the network to install and a 1.44 MB floppy disk drive.

The Solaris x86 Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) lists the tested hardware. However, not all hardware combinations will work. Also, hardware not listed may work, but are not guaranteed or supported.

To receive the complete and often updated list Solaris x86 Hardware Compatibility List (HCL), send an e-mail message (no subject/body needed) to: x86hcl@Sun.COM (ASCII), (PostScript), or x86-hwconfig@Cypress.West.Sun.COM

There's also an online version of all the lists at: http://access1.Sun.COM/drivers/hcl/hcl.html

For troublesome devices and cards, I find Solaris 7 (Intel Platform Edition) Device Configuration Guide at http://docs.Sun.COM/ab2/coll.214.1/HWCONFIG/@Ab2TocView? very useful.

[Adapted from Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

(4.3) What size disks and partitions should I have?

If you don't plan to install any optional software and man pages you should typically have a 500 MB drive. Development systems should have 1 GB plus whatever space you need.

Note that Solaris uses a tmpfs. Both the swap area and /tmp share a common disk space. Configure about 100 MB of swap space on a single user system. Many programs use the tmpfs for speeding up applications. My swap file is usually 1.5 times my physical memory.

Look at some rough estimates we have:

/            =  64 MB (best kept small to avoid corruption problems)
/var         = 200 MB (needed for logs, spooling, e-mail, and patches)
/opt         = 700 MB (I softlink this to /usr/local (ln -s))
/usr         = 700 MB (not really user stuff, but read-only system files)
swap         = 100 MB (same as /tmp)
/export/home = the remaining disk for your own use

This all seems to fit well in a 4 GB drive and leaves room for user files and growth.

A word of performance advice. If you're going to be using a fast wide SCSI controller such as the Adaptec 2940, use a wide SCSI drive for the system drive. These drives usually have double the throughput of the normal 8-bit drives, according to the iozone benchmark results, and they make the tmpfs fly. Don't forget to set the maxpgio in the /etc/system file for 5400 and 7200 RPM drives accordingly. See the question on performance in this FAQ.

[Modified from Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(4.4) What are SCSI IDs expected by Solaris x86?

These are the typical values for SCSI devices. For tape and CD-ROM, these are the defaults used in the /etc/vold.conf file for controlling the vold mounter. You can set them to other ID's but remember to adjust the vold.conf file to the new values.

Boot drive      ID 0
Second drive    ID 1
Tape            ID 4
CDROM           ID 6
SCSI controller ID 7

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(4.5) What video card/monitor combination works best?

Some questions will arise when trying to configure your video card and monitor size. The most critical area is when you do the install and answer the questions about the vertical HZ, screen size 14, 15, 17, 21-inch, etc. If you get it wrong you get the squiggles.

First, find your video card manual. Ha! I can here the laughs from across the world. What manual? If this is the case just select the slowest vertical HZ. You can always change it later after the system is up.

Resolution: be safe and just use 1024x768 or smaller the first time through the install. Latter, boost it up to 16 million colors and specify a bigger monitor size.

Screen size should be easy: [\] about that big.

If you don't know the video card type just select the standard vga8 to do the install. Hopefully when your system boots it displays what video card you have in it.

A good video card combination such as the ATI and Sony 17sei can allow you to drive it at 76Hz vertical 1280x1024 on a 17-inch screen.

Hint: Look in the update readme files and at the end in one of the appendices you'll find a chart of monitors and there scan rates. Usually good to refer to before you buy the monitor and video card combination. You could have a very nice high bandwidth monitor and a lousy video card that can't drive it hard enough. Or visa versa, a good video card that can drive a high bandwidth but the monitor just can't handle it.

Another Hint: Even though there's no 14-inch monitor on the configuration menu you can select the 15-inch setting. If the 14-inch monitor has a good bandwidth it will sync up.

[Modified from Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(4.6) Is Plug-and-Play (PNP) supported by Solaris/x86?

Yes, with release 2.6 and latter. Solaris 2.5.1 and earlier (even with the DUs), do NOT support PNP. PNP should be disabled and the card manually configured for the latter case. Sun FAQ 2234-02 at http://access1.Sun.COM/cgi-bin/rinfo2html?223402.faq has instructions for configuring Solaris to recognize specific PNP devices. See the Solaris 7 (Intel Platform Edition) Device Configuration Guide (mentioned above) for details on each device (and see the Driver Update Guide when using updates).

Personally, I find it a lot easier to disable PNP on cards that have that option. Boot into DOS or Windows (with a diskette if you have to) and run your card manufaturer's utility or configuration or diagnostic program. PNP can be tricky with Solaris sometimes.

(4.7) Is Advanced Power Management (APM) supported by Solaris/x86?

APM isn't really supported on x86. Solaris is "APM tolerant" which means that if APM can do everything transparently to Solaris, it will work. If it isn't transparent, Solaris gets confused.

So, SPARC has power management in the OS but x86 does not.

[Thanks to Doug McCallum]

(4.8) What are the pitfalls of different busses: PCI/ISA/EISA?

Read the merits of running Solaris x86. But the worst sin is running UNIX on an ISA bus with disk controllers such as the Adaptec 1542 series. They're cheap but if you have more that 16 MB of memory in your system you shouldn't be running an ISA disk controller.

Typically you're going to see better performance from the PCI or EISA bus. PCI is the biggest winner. VLB and MCA are supported, but largely obsolete.

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(4.9) Are "floppy tape" devices supported by Solaris x86?

No. You have to use a SCSI tape backup device. Other options include purchasing a zip drive, which is supported (except on the parallel port), or backing-up your files to a MS-DOS/MS Windows partition and back it up from MS DOS/MS Windows or some other operating system.

(4.10) How can I get a "free" copy of Solaris?

A "free" copy of Solaris for personal use (where "free" means you pay only media, shipping, and handling cost), is available from here: For *.edu (Educational users): http://www.Sun.COM/edu/solaris/ For all others: http://www.Sun.COM/developers/ I also have this link: http://www.Sun.COM/solaris/freesolaris.html

The cost is US$8 for US Shipping/handling (plus sales tax), US$12 for Canada, and US$25 for the rest of world.

"Personal use" means not for use for commercial gain or in connection with business operations (such as MIS or other internal business systems).

[Thanks to Graham Lovell]

(4.11) What's missing from the "free" copy of Solaris that's in the commercial version?

The following two CDs are supplied with the commercial version but not with the free version: Netscape Communicator V4.05 and Software Supplement for Solaris 7. The latter contains SunVTS, ODBC Driver Manager, Open GL, Solaris on Sun Hardware AnswerBook, PC file viewer, ShowMe, and SunFDDI.

[Thanks to Mike Mann]

(4.12) How can I get Solaris to see the third IDE controller?

You can't. The third and fourth IDE controllers cannot be used--only the first two IDE controllers are supported.

[Thanks to Mike Riley]

(4.13) Are Ultra DMA (UDMA) drives supported?

I understand Solaris 7 recognizes UDMA drives in native mode. They are not supported in Solaris 2.6 or older, although they are recognized in its compatibility mode as regular ATAPI drives.

[Thanks to Christopher Arnold and Steve]

(4.14) Are Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices supported?

Solaris 7 does not support USB. It's low-level Device Assistant recognizes the presence of USB, but the Solaris Operating System has no USB support, and as a corollary, no support for USB-attached devices.

Sun is involved with the USB umbrella organization and has advertised for programmers working on USB, so presumably USB will be supported by Solaris x86 in a future release. Keep an eye out on http://www.Sun.COM/io/ and http://www.Sun.COM/io/usb/

(4.15) Is Microsoft Intellimouse or other scrolling mice supported?

Partly. Configure it as a 3-button PS/2 mouse. The wheel won't scroll anything, but pressing the wheel down is the same as pressing the middle button. The same holds true for Logitech's MouseMan Wheel mice.

Update: I understand the new version 1.2 of Intellimouse does not work with Solaris.


(5.1) How long does the install take?

It depends on the CD-ROM and hard disk speed. On a 300 MHz Pentium with a multispeed SCSI CDROM, from the time "Initial Install" starts, it only takes about a half hour. Add another half hour for initial probes and configuration menus. Add a lot more if you have problems, of course. Upgrades take about 3 hours or more. This is because the system must determine what critical configuration data must be saved and replace it on a "per-package basis".

I'm the impatient type and given up totally on system upgrades. Now I have a separate disk drive which I just do initial installs because it goes so much faster. With the typical SCSI drives costing in the $200 range it just isn't worth it anymore to do upgrades. But this is my opinion so take it for what it is worth. I just save the /etc, /opt, /local, and /export/home directories and selectively restore rather than upgrade.

Below is typically what I save before doing an initial upgrade. Don't take this for the ultimate system definition of what you should save but it works for my system. Your system may be designed very differently. The first thing I do is mount the filesystem that has a home directory with the below critical files and copy them to the appropriate directories. I'm sure it could be automated but. . . What the advantage of this process is that I can do an initial install in about an hour. My home directories are always on another disk partition.

Install_Notes   My own release notes
crontab         This is my crontab, just do a "crontab -e" and save the file
defaultroute    If you have one for routing to a DNS server.
df              Save the output to keep an idea of my disk usage
dfstab          /etc/dfs/dfstab for shared file systems
inetinit        I modify my inetinit; not a standard industry practice.
kshrc_bob       A typical .kshrc for a user
kshrc_root      A root .kshrc
mail            Make a copy of the current mail directory
passwd          /etc/passwd file
profile_bob     A typical ksh .profile.  Note that home directories are
                mounted on a separate drive so this type of file
                doesn't get destroyed during an initial install.
profile_root    A profile for root.     The system that works for your system.
                That is if you didn't modify it.
shadow          /etc/shadow file
vfstab          /etc/vfstab filesystems
volmgt          /etc/init.d/volmgt  Stupid volmgt; I always disable
                because I can't stand it getting in the way.  Normally
                you don't modify this one.

[Modified from Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(5.2) My IDE/ATAPI CD-ROM isn't recognized during install by Solaris' FCS MCB and it's not in the HCL. What can I do?

With at least older versions of Solaris (2.5.1 or before), you may have problems with IDE/ATAPI CD-ROMS either faster than 8x speed, connected to the secondary IDE/ATAPI, or connected to a sound card. I hear reports from multiple people, however, that this problem has gone away with Solaris 2.6. I understand the problem is related to the CMD640 IDE chipset. I find SCSI CD-ROMS are always a safe bet, as are CD-ROMS listed on the HCL.

[Thanks to L. E. "MadHat" Heath and others]

(5.3) What kind of problems might I encounter installing my SCSI system?

Typical problems with SCSI drives are termination and SCSI IDs. You'll have flaky behavior if there's no there's no termination resistor on the drive at the end of a SCSI "chain". Worse is double termination resistors. Some people mistakenly leave a resistor jumper on a drive when it's not at the end of a SCSI "chain" The system will also be flakey if this happens. Carefully read your SCSI adapter manual on termination if you're unsure about it. A SCSI drive can run for hours with no problems than boom, you get a panic. Always check cabling, pins, and connections and use the *shortest* cable possible. The first thing I do when I have a problem with a SCSI device is to reseat the SCSI cables (with the machine powered off).

With SCSI ID's, a common problem is the IDs on the drive, usually set with dip switches or a button, doesn't match the settings with your software (Solaris) or it's a duplicate ID. Check the IDs carefully when adding or upgrading SCSI devices. The boot drive must be ID 0.

Other more obscure problems are setting the BIOS address space for the disk controller the same as the network card address space, and the PCI video card address conflicting with PCI SCSI disk controller BIOS address space.

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(5.4) What do I do when the install hangs/panics?

One of the most common problems with some mother boards is handling DMA during the install. Usually, that's the case if you get a hang right around configuring /dev/devices. Try turning off the caching--external and internal. Slow the system speed down if it allows you to do this in the BIOS or through the front panel switch. Leave these settings ONLY for the install: kick it back up after the install.

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

Another common problem is support for new devices. Use the latest driver update boot and distribution diskettes, especially with newly-supported hardware. Carefully check the HCL to verify your cards are listed. Try removing/replacing suspected troublesome cards to isolate the problem.

Sun gives these tips for handling hardware incompatibilities during installation (see http://access1.Sun.COM/cgi-bin/rinfo2html?115502.faq ):

". . . Disable external cache, . disable synchronous negotiation on the CD ROM, and disable ROM BIOS shadowing. These may be re-enabled after installation. Also, if using an un-supported or clone motherboard, slowing the system clock or changing from a double- clocked processor to a single-clocked one may help. Say, for example, a 486DX-50 as opposed to a 486-250 or 486-66."
I would also add disabling video cache to this list.

Here's a checklist of typical causes of hangs during installation:

(5.5) I'm trying to install Solaris/x86 on my 8 GB drive. However, the installation program says the root partition must end within the first 1023 cylinders of the disk. What can I do?

The root filesystem must be below 1024 cylinders of your disk (on older BIOSes that's under the first 512 MB on IDE or 1 GB for SCSI). The number of cylinders has nothing to do with the size of the disk. So it is possible to have 1.5Gb partitions below 1024 cylinders on some disks (with more MB per cylinder) and not on others. Simply make the root filesystem smaller and create an additional /usr filesystem (and e. g. /var . . .). For reliability, the root filesystem should be small (say 64 MB) with large filesystems mounted on it.

Newer BIOSes support LBA, Logical Block Addressing. The BIOS may have to be edited on bootup to enable the LBA option. This bumps the HD limit to 8GB. With LBA, Solaris/x86 and other operating systems can be placed anywhere you want. I have the Solaris/x86 partition completely above the 528MB limit.

Be sure that the root and the boot slice of the Solaris partition are within the 1024 cylinder boundary using the BIOS geometry reported for your disk and you should be fine. That is the cause of the "slice extends beyond end of disk" message -- exceeding 1024 cylinders.

I have seen problems with fdisk as well. In those cases I used a disk editor to adjust the partition so it started and ended on cylinder boundaries. This seems to happen when Solaris uses the actual geometry of a disk, as seen by Solaris at runtime, vs. the geometry reported by a controller to allow DOS to think it has no more than 1024 cylinders. Partition Magic reported problems with that partition when I tried it on systems that had Solaris partitions that weren't aligned with the others correctly.

[Thanks to Ronald Kuehn and Mike Riley]

(5.6) Does Solaris x86 prefer to have the motherboard BIOS set to NORMAL or LBA for IDE disks?

In theory, both work. Leave it up to the BIOS' auto-detect, just as the Configuration Guide advises.

[Thanks to Randy J. Parker]

(5.7) Why does a Solaris install to a disk with valid, pre-existing fdisk partitions sometimes fail?

There is a well known bug that sometimes prevents Solaris from installing into an existing partition. Its cause has never been identified, or its existence officially acknowledged by filling out a bug report. It is secretly well known only to Sun's Installation Support team in Chelmsford, MA., who claim that the workaround is apparent from the message "slice extends beyond end of disk".

I agree that the workaround is simple, but I think some kind of document explaining the workaround should be returned by searches of sunsolve and access1. Better yet, the error message could actually describe the error! Or, how about identifying and fixing the bug so it never happens to begin with?

For those of you too "stupid" :-) to read the error message, I'll decode it:

slice   = "disk"
extends = "is full of fdisk partitions"
beyond  = "before"
end     = "installation."
of      = "Please"
disk    = "delete at least one of 'em, and try again"

For example: If a disk has three partitions with the following: 1) FAT, 2) no filesystem yet, 3) NTFS, the installation might fail in some poorly understood cases, with the misleading error message.

The workaround is to delete the unused partition, leaving a "hole" between the flanking partitions. The install fdisk, Partition Magic, or any other fdisk will now see only 2 partitions: 1) FAT and 2) NTFS. There will obviously be lots of cylinders between the end of the first, and the beginning of the second. The Solaris install will spot the hole, and create a partition according to its own mysterious specifications. Somehow, this new partition is acceptable, even though a seemingly identical one created by a different fdisk isn't. Perhaps the bug is in *when* it was created: if previous, sometimes balk. Perhaps NORMAL / LBA is relevant at this point - - it did make a difference in at least one case I tested. Oddly, I have also had cases where the offending procedure of creating the partitions before beginning to install Solaris worked fine.

However, I once had a case where the Solaris install created a partition that left gaps of a few cylinders before and after. I am wary that it could err on the other side of the boundary, and damage a flanking filesystem by encroaching across the pre-existing boundary. The safest approach when dealing with a squirrelly fdisk is to use the dangerous one *first*. Install Solaris before the other partitions get used, if possible. Hopefully the other fdisk-type programs will recognize such corruption and allow the encroached-upon partitions to be deleted and re-created, without hurting the Solaris partition.

At any rate, the most-likely-to-succeed procedure is to install into a hole, or onto an empty disk with no partitions.

Thanks to Super-User (, who pointed out cases involving modern BIOS' auto-detecting IDE disks as NORMAL. Alan Thomas prefers always to set disks to NORMAL, and once had trouble with a disk that was set to LBA.

[Thanks to Randy J. Parker]

(5.8)How do I install or use the documentation CD?

The AnswerBook documentation CD that comes with Solaris is is very useful. To use it with Solaris 7, you have to install the Answer Book 2 Server. To do this, run the ab2cd script on the CD as root. For example: cd /cdrom/sol_7_doc/; ./ab2cd Then open your browser and enter the URL http://localhost:8888/
[Thanks to Daniel Chirillo]


(6.1) How do I add additional drives?

IDE/ATAPI and SCSI the drives are already low-level formatted. If you wish to format a SCSI you can use the "format" utility that comes with Solaris. A second drive install would be to use "format".

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(6.2) How do I add or configure users, printers, serial ports, software, etc.?

Use admintool from X Windows. For the "Keyboard Display or Mouse" use kdmconfig.

(6.3) How do I suppress the banner page on my printer?

To disable the banner pages permanently perform the following steps:

  1. cd /usr/lib/lp/model
  2. cp standard standard-nobanner
  3. Use your favorite editor to edit file standard-nobanner. Around line 332, change this from: nobanner="no" to: nobanner="yes"
  4. lpadmin -p PRINTERNAME -m standard-nobanner

Note: unchecking the "Always print banner" box in admintool or running "lpadmin -p st -o nobanner" only allows users to submit print requests with no banners (lp -onobanner filenamehere), but doesn't suppress printing of banner pages by default.

[Thanks to Youri N. Podchosov and Rob Montjoy's Sun Computer Admin. FAQ]

(6.4) How do I set up an HP-compatible printer to print PostScript files?

Basically, install GhostScript, then use GhostScript (gs) to filter PostScript files for output to HP LaserJet-compatible (PCL) printers. Add a filter description file in the /etc/lp/fd directory to call GhostScript. This technique works for any GhostScript-supported printer. Note that higher-end HP printers (LJ IV) also support PostScript directly. For details, see Alexander Panasyuk's GhostScript Solaris Printer HOWTO at Alan Orndorff also provides instructions in his "Solaris x86 Resources,"

(6.5) How can I improve disk and graphic performance?

Disk Performance (iozone)

A typical iozone test with 10 to 20 MB sequential file will give about 2 MB/sec. read/write on a 50 MHz ESIA system on a Maxtor 540SL (8.5 ms) drive with an Adaptec 2740 controller. You'll get a little better performance from a 90 MHz Pentium system. A fully thrashed system will see writes down to about 1 MB/sec. I noticed that the NCR 810/825, etc., seem a little more peaky in the performance specially on the PCI bus.

Note: If you are going to be using high speed spindle drivers for your boot driver like 5400 and 7200 RPM drives you may want to "set maxpgio=60" for the 5400 RPM drive in your /etc/system file, "set maxpgio=80" for the 7200 RPM drives. This causes the schedpaging to be more efficient.

ISA SCSI controllers are a very poor choice (use PCI), but you may want to increase "lotsfree" in your /etc/system file if you have lots of memory (32 MB or more).

[Andrew Gabriel adds for ATAPI/IDE: Read about drive0_block_factor and drive1_block_factor in /platform/i86pc/kernel/drv/ata.conf (man ata). Even my oldest IDE drives support drive0_block_factor=0x10 without any trouble.]

Graphic Performance (xstone) Xstones is a little more of a subjective measurement of graphics performance. The comp.unix.x.i386 newsgroup keeps up on the latest xstone performance on graphics cards for PC's.

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(6.6) How do I get Solaris to recognize a NE2000 compatible NIC card?

NEI is the driver name for the Novell/Eagle 2000-compatible family of NIC cards. The driver is disabled by default because probing for it causes problems with other cards (it sometimes locks the system up). So, you have to modify file /kernel/drv/nei.conf to include I/O ranges, interrupts. For example:

name="nei" parent="isa" reg=0x1,0xf600,0x1f interrupts=11 ;

Where name, "nei," is what will show up in /dev. The parent, "isa, " is what bus type to use. The term ISA is misleading as it includes PCI bus. To Solaris, it's either sysbus, the SPARC system bus, or isa, meaning anything that's not SPARC sysbus. The "0x1" is a flag meaning that I'm going to specify I/O port ranges, rather than memory offsets, 0xf600 indicates the beginning I/O address, in hex and 0x1f is the offset of I/O range, from the beginning, in hex. The "interrupts=11" indicate IRQ 11, in decimal. Thus, I have a Realtek 8029 PCI NE2000-compatible card, set to base I/O addresses 0xf600-0xf61f, IRQ 11.

You also have to add a /etc/hostname.nei0 file with the IP address and hostname. Also add the line to /etc/hosts. For example:

Next, as root, type "touch /reconfigure; reboot" After rebooting, type "ifconfig nei0 plumb" to make sure the device was recognized. It should show up in the output from typing "prtconf". If this card is "Plug and Play," you should disable it and configure the card manually, if possible. For further details see Sun FAQ 1105-02 at http://access1.Sun.COM/cgi-bin/rinfo2html?110502.faq

[Answer adapted from Iram Peerbhai]

(6.7) How do I change the IP address on Solaris/x86?

See the instructions in "man sys-unconfig" Basically, sys-unconfig unconfigures the machine to make it ready to be configured again on reboot. It's a lot easier and less error prone than the usual dozen or so steps required to purge the old IP address.

For the thrill-seekers among us, you can also do it "by-hand" with by editing these files (possibly more?) with your fav. editor:

/etc/nodename            Set the machine name (if it changed)
/etc/hostname            Update this if the hostname changed.
/etc/hostname.le0        (or .hme0 or ?) Update this if the hostname changed.
/etc/hosts               Soft-linked to /etc/inet/hosts
/etc/nsswitch.conf       Update if your name resolution method/order changed.
/etc/resolv.conf         Update if your name servers/domain changed (DNS only).
/etc/defaultdomain       Set the default domain name, if it changed.
/etc/defaultrouter       Set the default router's IP address, if it changed.
/etc/inet/hosts          Make sure your IP address is updated or added here.
/etc/inet/netmasks       Set your network number & netmask, if it changed.
/etc/inet/networks       Set your network name, if it changed.
/etc/net/ticlts/hosts    For the streams-level loopback interface.
/etc/net/ticots/hosts    For the streams-level loopback interface.
/etc/net/ticotsord/hosts For the streams-level loopback interface.

[Thanks to Parthiv Shah, Vijay Brian Gupta, and Michael Wang]

(6.8) How do I configure a second serial port, /dev/ttyb (COM2)?

By default Solaris only enables /dev/ttya. But the modem is usually on /dev/ttyb (or COM2) if you have a serial mouse. If you don't have a /dev/ttyb file, then you don't have the second serial port defined.

For Solaris 7, use admintool and select "Serial Ports."

The following are instructions for Solaris 2.6 and 2.5.1.

To add the second serial port, perform the following as root. For other serial ports and internal modems follow the same steps but uncomment the appropriate line in the asy.conf file.

Edit file /platform/i86pc/kernel/drv/asy.conf as follows:

Solaris 2.6: Replace /platform/i86pc/kernel/drv/asy.conf with this: (first backup the existing copy of asy.conf to, say, asy.conf.ori)

name="asy" class="sysbus" interrupts=12,4 reg=0x3f8,0,0 ioaddr=0x3f8;
name="asy" class="sysbus" interrupts=12,3 reg=0x2f8,0,0 ioaddr=0x2f8;

Solaris 2.5.1: Remove the comment from the following line in file /platform/i86pc/kernel/drv/asy.conf:

name="asy" class="sysbus" interrupts=12,3 reg=0x2f8,0,0 ioaddr=0x2f8;

[Modified from Bruce Riddle's Solarisx86 2.5/Dialup PPP Configs FAQ]

(6.9) How do I disable Solaris/x86 from probing the UPS on COM2?

With the following command, ran as root:

# eeprom com2-noprobe=true

This (undocumented) option to the eeprom command disables boot-up time probing of COM2 (apparently done to detect modems). The eeprom command alters the Solaris boot sector. If the UPS is connected to a serial port during boot-up time, the UPS may go into self-test or shutdown or recalibrate. An alternate solution is to disconnect the serial cable during booting. With the obvious change, this also works for COM1. See also BugID 4038351.

[Thanks to Andy I. McMullin and John D. Groenveld]

(6.10) How do I set up Solaris/x86 to use PPP to connect to an ISP?

"Life is too short for bad PPP software." --Celeste Stokley

Setting up PPP with the system-default aspppd could be an exercise in torture. That's because it's based on the old BNU/UUCP communication software, which itself is infamously hard to set up.

Of course, the hardware (modem and serial port) has to be set up correctly too. Make sure hardware flow control is enabled.

The best documentation on it is Bruce Riddle's PPP Configuration for Solaris/x86 at Another good guide is at

For pointers to other references, see Stokley's "Serial Port Resources" at Also see Sun's "Expanding your Network with PPP" in the TCP/IP and Data Communications Administration, at docs.Sun.COM and "SunService Tip Sheet for SunPPP" (InfoDoc ID 11976).

Here's some notes that may also help you out with Sun's aspppd:

1. Make sure you have the "Basic Networking" packages installed, otherwise pkgadd SUNWbnur and SUNWbnuu.

2. Insert IP addresses/host names into the /etc/hosts table. Your ISP needs to give you the names or you can look them up on the net.

3. Create /etc/resolv.conf, and add your domainname and nameserver lines. Your provider can provide the domainname (probably, unless they have a multi-location operation). The DNS nameserver goes on the nameserver line.

4. Edit /etc/mail/ to use relay mailer ether, and relay host should be the smtp server. This hostname needs to be accurate.

5. Most news readers (like xvnews and Netscape) refer to the environment variable NNTPSERVER to find the NNTP server. Set that in your environment before invoking the reader. This can go in your .profile, .cshrc, or whatever, depending on what shell you use.

6. For the actual PPP connection, the only thing that counts is the machine you dial up to (most likely the gateway machine). You'll have to edit the /etc/uucp/{Systems, Dialers, Devices} with things like your preferred modem setup unless you like one of the defaults (one of my character flaws, I guess, I don't like any of them), dialing info for the gateway machine (note that our PPP is broken, and ignores the time-to-call field, disaster for a lot of us), and what serial port you have your modem connected to. Then edit the /etc/ file to configure the ipdptp0 interface.

Notes for the examples:
I have my modem configured to power-on in the mode I like to use for my PPP configuration. DISABLE LOGINS ON THE MODEM PORT. I don't recall the nameserver IP address of my DNS server, so the example has a bogus address for /etc/resolv.conf. I also found that I had to put a delay at the end of the chat script in /etc/uucp/Systems, or I couldn't get connected. Loopback problems and config error problems, caused by the remote system still being in echo mode on the line when my machine started sending the first PPP configure packets. Also, I have yet to find a 2.4 setup where ttymon grabs the line after PPP times out and disconnects (but before the modem has recognized a DTR-down condition (my speculation is that our streams stuff doesn't actually take DTR down)) causing the line to essentially be hung. This is avoided by not enabling ttymon on that port. In other words, in keeping with Sun's long tradition, truly bi-directional lines are a crapshoot on Suns.

Examples for my home machine:

/etc/hosts:  MyPCNameGoesHere     my-isp       localhost




# (Stuff not included here for brevity) . . .
# (Stuff not included here for brevity) . . .
# (Stuff not included here for brevity) . . .


wb144 =W-,    "" \dAT\r\c OK\r \EATDT\T\r\c CONNECT


ACUWB cua/0 - Any wb144

/etc/uucp/Systems (line split for readability, change the phone #):

my-isp Any ACUWB 57600 555-2871 "" P_ZERO ogin: MyLoginNameGoesHere \
assword: MyPasswordGoesHere


ifconfig ipdptp0 plumb MyPCNameGoesHere my-isp netmask 0xffffff00 -trailers up
        inactivity_timeout 900
        interface ipdptp0
        peer_system_name my-isp
        debug_level 8

[Thanks to Dennis (from Bob's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ) and Wyatt Wong)]

(6.11) That last answer was torture! Is there any open source PPP that's easier to use?

Yes, as you can see, aspppd, the Solaris-bundled ppp product, is difficult to setup and use ("infamous"). Part of the problem is it uses the old BNU/UUCP programs and configuration files, which are too general and weren't really intended for PPP.

Fortunately, PPPD has been ported to Solaris and is easier to configure, performs better, and is still free. It's available from Peter Marelas at

I use PPPD with Solaris 7. PPPD 2.3.5 also works with 2.5.1 and 2.6. This product isn't designed for use with SMP machines.

For Solaris 7, you can use the binaries compiled for Solaris 2.6 (not 2.5.1). If you compile on Solaris 7, you need to modify source file common/zlib.c to compile it. Change every definition of variable "u" to "u1". There's 5 occurrences at lines 4215, 4290, 4329, and 4337, and 4347. For example, change "inflate_huft *u[BMAX];" to "inflate_huft *u1[BMAX];".

Besides PPPD, mentioned here, Andrew Gabriel mentions there's also DP (for Dialup PPP). DP documentation and source is available from I don't have any personal experience with this software.

PPPD Configuration

To configure, you set up a chat script to handle the ISP dialog and enter the phone number and other parameters in the pppd options file. Examples I use are below (files are in /etc/ppp unless otherwise mentioned).

I removed files chap-secrets and pap-secrets, as I don't need them for my ISP. File connect-errors has error output from bad connections.

File /etc/ppp/ip-down:

# Turn off IP forwarding
/usr/sbin/ndd -set /dev/ip ip_forwarding 0

File /etc/ppp/ip-up:

# Turn on IP forwarding
/usr/sbin/ndd -set /dev/ip ip_forwarding 1

File /etc/ppp/ppp-on:

# Set up a PPP link
if [ -f /etc/ppp/$ ] ; then
    echo "PPP device $LOCKDEV is locked"
    exit 1
/usr/local/sbin/pppd call $PEER
exit 0

File /etc/ppp/ppp-off:

# /etc/ppp/ppp-off
# Shutdown a PPP link
# If the ppp pid file is present then the program is running. Stop it.
if [ -r /etc/ppp/$ ] ; then
        kill -INT `cat /etc/ppp/$`
        # If unsuccessful, ensure that the pid file is removed.
        if [ ! "$?" = "0" ] ; then
                echo "removing stale /etc/ppp/$ file."
                rm -f /etc/ppp/$
                exit 1
        # Success. Terminate with proper status.
        echo "ppp link $LOCKDEV terminated"
        exit 0
echo "ppp link $LOCKDEV is not active"
exit 1

File etc/ppp/peers/myisp:

cua1           # modem is connected to /dev/cua1 (cua0 is usually the mouse)
115200         # bits per second (if too fast, use 38400 or 57600)
crtscts        # use hardware flow control
noauth         # don't require the ISP to authenticate itself
defaultroute   # use the ISP as our default route  # our ip address:gateway address (both are optional)
connect '/usr/local/bin/chat -v  -f /etc/ppp/peers/chat-myisp'

File etc/ppp/peers/chat-myisp:

ABORT "Username/Password Incorrect"
"" "ATZ"
OK "ATDT555-2871"
"ogin:" "^Updan"
"ssword:" "\qaardvark"

The last two files require the most modification. See "man pppd" and "man chat" and the FAQ and SETUP files provided with pppd.

Messages go to /var/adm/messages. A good PPP session should look something like this:

Oct 24 22:47:49 pppd[1439]: Connect: ppp0 <--> /dev/cua1
Oct 24 22:47:50 pppd[1439]: local  IP address
Oct 24 22:47:50 pppd[1439]: remote IP address
Oct 24 23:08:52 pppd[1439]: Connection terminated.

Your "netstat -rn" output should have lines that look similar to this:

  Destination           Gateway           Flags  Ref   Use   Interface
-------------------- -------------------- ----- ----- ------ ---------          UH       3      1  ppp0
default             UG       0      1  

For debugging pppd, I add this line in /etc/syslog.conf: and restart syslogd (fields are tab-separated):

daemon.*	/var/adm/messages

Then, you get the chat script dialog captured to help isolate the problem. Print out and read the docs mentioned above if you have problems.

Once the PPP link is working, you can enable DNS hostnames as follows: First, Modify this line in /etc/nsswitch.conf to something like:

hosts:      files dns

Second, add lines similar to this in /etc/resolv.conf:


If you use PAP authentication, you also need to create file /etc/ppp/pap-secrets with tab-separated entries, viz:

# /etc/ppp/pap-secrets
# PPP User ID	Server	"Secret"	IP Addresses
MyUserIDGoesHere	*	"LetMeIn"

Change MyUserIDGoesHere to your PPP login ID and LetMeIn (WITH the double quotes, ") to your PPP PAP password. Add this line to /etc/ppp/peers/myisp:

-chap name MyUserIDGoesHere

Where MyUserIDGoesHere is as above and "-chap" disables Chap authentication.

(6.12) Is there any commercial PPP that's easier to use?

Yes. Solaris sells its "Solstice PPP" product with its server system. It requires a license for the server side (usually an ISP), but not for the client-side (if you have only one connection). However, you have to have access to the Solaris server CDROM to obtain the software. See http://www.Sun.COM/solstice/server/PPPbrief.html

Basically, to set up, you use the GUI program pppinit to set up the PPP link. You start and stop PPP with "/etc/init.d/ppp start" (and stop), as with aspppd, or use the GUI program ppptool. Solstice PPP is documented in the Solstice PPP AnswerBook at http://docs.Sun.COM/ and a easier to set up than aspppd and pppd.

Progressive Systems, Inc. sells Morning Star PPP, probably the most successful third-party PPP commercial product. It's available for Solaris/x86 (and several other systems) for a 15-day evaluation from

(6.13) Help! My USRobotics Internal modem doesn't work with PPP.

If it's a WinModem, you're out of luck--That only works with MS Windoze and then only with special drivers. It's missing critical UART hardware that's emulated in proprietary software and hardware interfaces. Winmodems are less expensive to manufacture because they don't include a controller. Instead, they include proprietary drivers for Windows that offload processing to the CPU.

If you're using aspppd, supplied with stock Solaris, you can either switch to another PPP product that works with USRobotics Internal Sportster modems, such as Solaris PPP (not free) or PPPd (free, see above) or try this: (from Alan Orndorff's "Solaris x86 Resources,"

Modify your /etc/uucp/Dialers file in the following manner:

Add P_ZERO to your modem definition string to set it to "no parity." E.g,

hayes   =,-, ""   P_ZERO  ""  
\dA\pTE1V1X4Q0S2=255S12=255\r\c  OK\r    \EATDT\T\r\c  CONNECT 

(6.14) PPP runs extremely slow. What's wrong?

Solaris 2.5 4 patch 101945-34+ has poor TCP performance over slow links, including PPP.

Patches for this, Bug ID 1233827, are available from http://access1.Sun.COM/:

Both these patches are in the Recommended Patches set. The "showrev -p" command shows what patches you have installed. Similar patches exist for SPARC, PowerPC, and Solaris 2.4.

[From Bruce Riddle's Solarisx86 PPP FAQ and Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

(6.15) How do I configure PPP using Dynamic IP Addresses (DHCP)?

If you're using Solaris aspppd, you need a void entry in /etc/hosts and plumb it to do DHCP with PPP. Basically add this line to /etc/hosts: void

(Note: for Solaris 2.4 use in lieu of

Change the ifconfig line in /etc/ to link to void rather than the local machine IP entry in /etc/hosts. Then add "negotiate_address on" to your /etc/ file.

If you're using the open source pppd, simply don't specify an IP address in your pppd options file.

If you're using the commercial Solaris PPP, keep the default of "none" when prompted for your IP address by pppinit. Edit file /platform/i86pc/kernel/drv/asy.conf.

To use DHCP, either: (1) Add a file /etc/dhcp.ppp0 (where ppp0 is the name of your TCP interface shown in ifconfig; usually le0 for Ethernet) with the following suggested line:

   wait 60

Or (2) Edit files /etc/hostname.ppp0 (where ppp0 is the interface name) and /etc/nodename to be both empty (0-length) files, then reboot.

[Thanks to Bruce Riddle, Wyatt Wong, and Ed Ravin]

(6.16) How do I configure my SoundBlaster card?

For Solaris 2.6 and 7 (2.5.1 instructions follow):

First try, as root: "touch /reconfigure; /usr/sbin/reboot". You should see two links under /dev/sound and play .au files with audiotool if this works. If not, try the following procedure:

1. Run "prtconf -pv" to print the current system configuration:

        Node 0xf5a33500
            compatible: 'pnpCTL,00E4,0' + 'sbpro'
            dma-channels:  00000001.00000005
            interrupts:  00000005
            model:  'Audio'
            name:  'pnpCTL,0045'
            pnp-csn:  00000001
            reg:  8e8c00e4.19f815e8.00000000.00000001.00000220.00000010
            unit-address:  'pnpCTL,00E4,19f815e8'

The device ID I want is CTL0045. This comes from the name line "pnpCTL,0045". There were a couple of other 'pnpXXX,DDDD' devices. This was the only one with the model "Audio".

2. According to InfoDoc 15830, I used "CTL,0045" from above and updated /platform/i86pc/boot/solaris/devicedb/master as follows (no comma):

< CSC0000|PNPB002|PNPB003|CTL0031|ESS1681 sbpro oth all sbpro.bef
 "Sound Blaster"
- ---
> CTL0045|CSC0000|PNPB002|PNPB003|CTL0031|ESS1681 sbpro oth all sbpro.bef
 "Sound Blaster"

3. Rebooted and rebuilt my devices.

# /usr/sbin/reboot -- -r

4. I also ran the Device Configuration Assistant (DCA) -- press Escape as soon as the machine boots, it will prompt you -- just to verify that the Sound Blaster showed up in the device list. It did as "Sound Blaster." Since I ran the DCA boot will get the -r arg anyways.

5. When I boot /dev/audio was present. Yeah! I am currently listening to the Sunday Blues on real audio -

If the above procedure fails for Solaris 2.6 or 7 (as it did for me), continue with the procedure below for Solaris 2.5.1.

[Thanks to Park Byoung-Gi, Steve Krapp, Chris, Dave, and Norma]

For Solaris 2.5.1:

Edit file /platform/i86pc/kernel/drv/sbpro.conf as instructed in the file (note that the instructions were removed for Solaris 2.6 and above!). Usually, it's just adding "dma-channels-1,5" to the appropriate name="sbpro" line. Then "touch /reconfigure" and "/usr/sbin/reboot"

For example, given a SoundBlaster 16 or AWE32, the following specifies IRQ 2, Audio I/O Address 0x220, and 8 & 16 bit DMA channels 1 & 5:

name="sbpro" class="sysbus"
    interrupts=5,2 reg=-1,9,0,1,0x220,0x14 type="SB16" dma-channels=1,5;

For a SoundBlaster PRO, the entry looks like this (one DMA channel: 1):

name="sbpro" class="sysbus"
    interrupts=5,2 dma-channels=1 reg=-1,1,0,1,0x220,0x14 type="SBPRO";

Leave the other numbers alone. Make sure these resources are configured for the card and are not used by other devices. For example, NICs and Parallel Ports often use IRQ 5, and token ring cards often use IOA 0x220. For more information, type "man sbpro."

A commercial alternative to the above is to use 4Front Technologies' Open Sound System (OSS). It's available for a free trial for about 10 days. After that, it's $30, but well-worth the savings in time. For cards newer than SoundBlaster 16/32/Pro, it's the only choice. To use, download the tar.Z file from, extract, and run the install menu ./oss-install and let it auto-detect the sound card. Reboot (or at least sync), then run "soundon" to enable the driver manually (see file oss/Readme for how to enable automatically).

(6.17) How do I enable the audio output from my CDROM to my SBPRO card?

Start audiocontrol then select "Record." Ha ha, "Record" really means "Sound Source ;-)." In the audiocontrol record window, select "Internal CD" (other choices are Microphone or Line in).

You must have audiocontrol running before starting your favorite CD player application. I use workman, but you can try other open source players, such as xmcd. I haven't found a CD player built-in with Solaris. Anyone?

[Thanks to Eugene Bobin]

(6.18) Is Solaris/x86 Year 2000 (Y2K) compliant?

According to Sun Microsystems, Solaris/x86 7 and up are Y2K compliant out of the box. Of course, they use to say that about 2.6. Older versions 2.4, 2.5, 2.5.1, and 2.6 can be made Y2K safe by applying a set of Y2K patches. These patches are available at http://sunsolve.Sun.COM/

Solaris/x86 Y2K information is available at http://www.Sun.COM/y2000/ Of the Y2K patches, only the make and sccs patch are in the Recommended Patches set.

For Solaris/x86 Y2K patches, see the following FAQ, depending your version of solaris:

The "showrev -p" command shows what patches you have installed.

(6.19) Can I use Solaris/x86 to setup a "headless" server?

The answer is yes, it can be done, but it's BIOS dependent, since many BIOS chips won't boot up the system without the keyboard and video card. The console can be configured to go to serial ports as described below. Removal of video card is also BIOS dependent.

Setup steps: 1. For 2.6, use the eeprom command to specify the console (ttya, ttyb): eeprom input-device=ttya output-device=ttya (just like SPARC? ;-) For 2.5.1, add "set console = 1" to /etc/system

2. Set the serial line's Carrier Detect (CD) to HIGH and (for 2.6 only) set the serial line's Data Set Ready (DSR) to HIGH. If you don't--it won't boot. This can be done with a NULL modem or with the following 25-pin or 9-pin pinouts:

     DTE A         DTE B
     25 (9)        25 (9)
     ------        ------
FG    1 (-) ------  1 (-) FG
TD*   2 (3) ------  3 (2) RD
RD    3 (2) ------  2 (3) TD*
CTS   5 (8) -+---- 20 (4) DTR*
DSR   6 (6) -|  +-  5 (8) CTS
CD    8 (1) -+  |-  6 (6) DSR
DTR* 20 (4) ----+-  8 (1) CD
SG    7 (5) ------  7 (5) SG
RTS*  4 (7)  (nc)   4 (7) RTS*
RI   22 (9)  (nc)  22 (9) RI
* DTE (terminal/computer) driven
(nc) = no connection
If the NULL modem is "incomplete", the boot process hangs shortly after starting the asy driver (after the message "asy0 is /isa/asy@1,3f8" or similar asy1/2f8 message). For details, see

[Thanks to John Weekley, Scott Wedel, Kenneth Wagner, Andy Spitzer, Kai O'Yang, Michael Wang, and David Page]

(6.20) Can I get a Sun-style keyboard (Ctrl & Caps Lock reversed) for S/x86?

The following is from Don Christensen (6/1998):

I have found two options, the Sun PC-style type 5 keyboard from Workstation Express, and a Sun Unix-style type 5 keyboard from NCD. Both keyboards feel much more solid that a typical PC keyboard, with the NCD being a little better in my opinion (aside from the fact that it is Unix-style.)

There is a slight problem with the NCD keyboard in that three of the keys are not seen by the PC. However, there are five extra keys on the keyboard that could be used instead (the space between the cursor keys and the Insert, Del, etc keys are filled in with blank keys.) A moderate amount of work with xmodmap should have either keyboard functioning quite well. I did not check to see if all of the keys were seen on the Workstation Express keyboard, but I suspect that it will be as good as or better than the NCD keyboard.

I had more problems with my Toshiba Tecra 740CDT. When directly plugged in, neither keyboard worked. Much to my surprise, both keyboards worked when plugged in through a Y adaptor (so I could also plug in a mouse). However, many keys on the NCD keyboard were not seen. Fewer keys on the Workstation Express keyboard were not seen, but there were enough that I personally don't think it's usable.

Support at NCD said that the NCD keyboard supports "Scan Set 3" while most PCs support "Scan Set 2". I am not really familiar with PC hardware, but it doesn't surprise me that the keyboard controller would be brain dead enough to not support any keyboard. This seems like a very plausible explanation, at least for the laptop. If I ever find the right contact at Toshiba, I hope they might have a BIOS upgrade to support these keyboards (but I am not holding my breath.)

I had our IT department order the keyboard for me, so I don't have exact numbers, but I was told by Kathy Fulton at NCD (650-919-2888) that the keyboard is around $116 list. The model number is N-123UX (I was also given SU192 as a number, but the back of the keyboard says N-123UX). [See - D.A.]

I don't have a Workstation Express catalog handy. [No web page! Call 1-800-844-5757. The part number is #DCA1905, with #DCA1645 (AT adapter) or #DCA1646 (PS/2). - D.A.]

Personally, I just use software to switch Control_L and Caps_Lock keys. Create file $HOME/.xmodmaprc with:

remove Lock = Caps_Lock
remove Control = Control_L
keysym Control_L = Caps_Lock
keysym Caps_Lock = Control_L
add Lock = Caps_Lock
add Control = Control_L
and add "xmodmap $HOME/.xmodmaprc" to your $HOME/.dtprofile file.

(6.21) Can I run multiple terminals on the console of Solaris x86 like those supported on Linux, FreeBSD, Interactive Unix, and SCO?

Yes. Starting with Solaris/x86 2.4, they are no longer configured during the installation, but they still work if configured afterwards by hand. Sun disabled them because they are no longer officially supported, and they recommend using CDE Workspace areas for multiple console screens. Fortunately, they did not remove the functionality from the kernel, so you can configure multiple virtual terminals back in yourself as follows:

First, as root, verify the device's major number with grep:

    # grep -i chanmux /etc/name_to_major
    chanmux <number>

Second, verify the /dev/vt* entries are present (with ls -l /dev/vt*). If not present, add the /dev entries, substituting whatever you found with grep for <number>:

    mknod /dev/vt01 c <number> 1
    mknod /dev/vt02 c <number> 2

Copy and paste the following to /etc/inittab (after the "co:" entry), and verify no line breaks are added:

v1:234:respawn:/usr/lib/saf/ttymon -g -h -p "VT01 Login: " -T AT386 -d /dev/vt01 -l console
v2:234:respawn:/usr/lib/saf/ttymon -g -h -p "VT02 Login: " -T AT386 -d /dev/vt02 -l console
v3:234:respawn:/usr/lib/saf/ttymon -g -h -p "VT03 Login: " -T AT386 -d /dev/vt03 -l console
v4:234:respawn:/usr/lib/saf/ttymon -g -h -p "VT04 Login: " -T AT386 -d /dev/vt04 -l console
v5:234:respawn:/usr/lib/saf/ttymon -g -h -p "VT05 Login: " -T AT386 -d /dev/vt05 -l console
v6:234:respawn:/usr/lib/saf/ttymon -g -h -p "VT06 Login: " -T AT386 -d /dev/vt06 -l console
v7:234:respawn:/usr/lib/saf/ttymon -g -h -p "VT07 Login: " -T AT386 -d /dev/vt07 -l console

To get init to reread inittab, either reboot, or issue the command: /usr/sbin/init q

Now, Alt-SysReq F1 switches to VT01, Alt-SysReq F2 switches to VT02, etc. (if activated as above) Alt-SysReq P switches to the previous screen. Alt-SysReq N switches to the next screen. Alt-SysReq H switches to the X console screen (not Alt-SysReq F8).

This is also documented in Sun's FAQ 2245-02, http://access1.Sun.COM/cgi-bin/rinfo2html?244502.faq Sun's FAQ has three typos. In Step 2's example, replace the second "mknod /dev/vt01 c <num> 1" with "mknod /dev/vt02 c <num> 1" In Step 3, replace "co:" in the FAQ with "v1:" to "v7:" and remove the line breaks between "-T" and "AT386".

[Adapted from Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

(6.22) How do I upgrade my video graphics card?

First see if you have the driver installed. They are listed when you run kdmconfig. If the driver is present, configure with kdmconfig. If it's a new card, see if it's listed in the latest "x86 Video Driver Update" (VDU) for your Solaris release on http://access1.Sun.COM/drivers/ If listed, install the VDU. kdmconfig is ran automatically at the end of the VDU installation. Before changing cards, choose, from kdmconfig, the 16-color 640x480 VGA setting, which is the lowest-common denominator for VGA video cards. After switching cards and rebooting (verifying the VGA setting works for the new card) choose a higher setting with kdmconfig.

See the Update Guide that comes with the VDU on specific installation instructions for the VDU. Generally, it's done as follows: (assuming the image downloaded from access1.Sun.COM is named vdu11image.Z and is in /tmp), type as root:

    # cd /tmp
    # uncompress du11vid2.Z ; cat du11vid1.bin du11vid2 | cpio -icvdum
    # zcat vdu11image.Z | cpio -icvdumB
    # ./

(6.23) How to I burn a CD-R or CD-RW with Solaris?

Use cdrecord (free) or commercial software. SCSI CD-R (Record once) and CD-RW (Read-Write many times) drives tend to be better supported than ATAPI drives. For details, see the Sun CD-ROM FAQ at and Jörg Schilling's cdrecord page at:

(6.24) Is IPv6 available for Solaris/x86?

Yes--in experimental form. It's available as an update to 2.5 and 2.5.1 See http://playground.Sun.COM/pub/solaris2-ipv6/html/solaris2-ipv6.html They say you need a Solaris with no patches installed, but other's have reported being able to apply the update to systems with patches (no guarantees!). Reportedly, IPv6 is also available (experimentally) for Solaris 7. I don't know if the same or different patch is required. If you wish to connect to the 6bone, an experimental, mostly tunneled IPv6 network, see

(6.25) Does Solaris x86 support multiple processors?

Solaris x86 automatically detects multiple processors. psrinfo(1M) will print the status of your processors and psradm(1M) can be used to take processors offline.

[Thanks to John Groenveld]

(6.26) How do you install XFree86 on Solaris?

Why would you want to? You would if you prefer the window managers that come with XFree86, are tired of CDE's restrictiveness or style, or XSun's lack of color depths or non-support for your graphics board. (If board support is the only problem, consider 3rd party drivers from XiGraphics, Of course, it's much easier to install CDE, if it works for you.

Here's one person's experiences with installing XFree86. Another, more detailed, set of instructions by Gregory Lazzaro appear at:   As a final hint, get and read the HOWTOs and books that were written for XFree86 on Linux.

I finally solved my problem by using XFree86 X server. Since I needed to tweek things a bit to get it working, here is a short how-to for people who want to use XFree86 X server and CDE on Solaris 2.6 [I have a report this also works with Solaris 7].

On Solaris 2.6, Sun changed the way X client communicates with X server when both the client and X server are on the local machine (DISPLAY variable is set to ":0"). In short, instead of using /tmp/.X11-unix, the client connects to the X server using /tmp/.X11-pipe. Since XFree86 doesn't support /tmp/.X11-pipe, CDE will not work out-of-the-box on the local display under the XFree86 server.

After installing and configuring XFree86 (binaries for Solaris are available from, /usr/dt/config/Xservers needs to be copied to /etc/dt/config/Xservers. This line:

   :0   Local local_uid@console root /usr/openwin/bin/Xsun :0 -nobanner
in file /etc/dt/config/Xservers should be changed to look something like:
unix:0  Local local_uid@console root /usr/X11R6/bin/X :0 -bpp 16
For 8-bit displays, "-bpp 16" should be omitted, or changed to "-bpp 24" for 24-bit displays. After that, dtlogin will set the DISPLAY variable for local session to "unix:0.0" instead of ":0.0" and CDE will be able to connect to the local X server.

To add fonts from the /usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts directory to the default font path for XFree86 server, edit /etc/XF86Config file and add these lines:

    FontPath "/usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts/F3bitmaps/"
    FontPath "/usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/"
    FontPath "/usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts/Speedo/"
    FontPath "/usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts/misc/"
    FontPath "/usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/"
    FontPath "/usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/"

to section "Files". Aliases for CDE fonts are in the F3bitmaps directory, so you'll need at least this line.

And that should be it.

For those that use S3 Virge cards, it seems that SVGA server (the default server for Virge cards) has problems with some chipsets. Try using an old S3V server instead. Also, the problem with returning from graphics to text mode seems to be present on all three servers I tried (Xsun, SVGA and S3V).

[Thanks to Aleksandar Milivojevic, by way of John Groenveld]

(6.27) How do I configure 64K colors for CDE?

Solaris' kdmconfig offers only a choice of 256 or 16M colors for your graphics board. To configure Xsun to use 16-bit color, configure using kdmconfig for the desired resolution in 256 color mode. Note the board line from /etc/openwin/server/etc/OWconfig file. Look in the referenced file in directory /usr/openwin/share/etc/devdata/SUNWaccel/boards to see if there is support for 16bit color mode for your card.

If your board is listed, edit file /etc/openwin/server/etc/OWconfig and change defdepth="8" to defdepth="16" in it. Also, values for MaxPClk for some cards are way too low in 16-bit and 24-bit modes in the /usr/openwin/share/etc/devdata/SUNWaccel/boards file. But if you want to change this, you are doing it on your own risk.

The CDE logo that is displayed after one logs in is a bit-mapped grayscale image(?!), but everything else should work just fine.

[Thanks to Aleksandar Milivojevic, by way of John Groenveld]

(6.28) How do I uncompress a .gz file?

With "gzip -d" (or gunzip, which is gzip linked to gzip). Suprisingly, Solaris does not come with gzip (it does have zip/unzip). Gzip is available as a pre-compiled package from (use pkgadd to install) and also as a tar file (to extract, type "uncompress gzip*Z; tar xvf gzip*.tar") at

(6.29)Why doesn't /usr/bin/cc work?

Because it's just a front-end "stub" for the unbundled C compiler sold by Sun (SunPro C). You can get the free GNU C compiler, gcc, from various locations, including in pkgadd format. After installing gcc, I recommend that you rename or compress /usr/bin/cc and softlink /usr/bin/cc to /usr/local/bin/gcc (or whereever it is). By default, Solaris comes with support tools (such as make and libraries) in /usr/ccs/bin, /usr/ccs/lib and usr/include. If not, add the appropriate packages. For more information, see the "Software Development" section in Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ.

(6.29)Why doesn't /usr/bin/cc work? (6.30)How do you get PGP 2.6.2 to compile on Solaris/x86?

PGP, or Pretty-good Privacy, is strong-encryption software for encrypting, decrypting, and digitally-signing files and data. To compile, change file makefile, at around line 116, as follows: $(CPP) $(ASMDEF) 80386.S > _80386.s to $(CPP) $(ASMDEF) 80386.S | grep -v '^# ' > _80386.s
(Don't forget the leading tab character, cntl-i)

As a reminder, the US Government considers PGP and other strong-encryption software a "munition" and prohibits the export of PGP software to countries other than the US and Canada without an export license. Certain other governments also have restrictions on export or possession of encryption software.

[Patch from Joe Shamblin]


(7.1) What can I do if Solaris won't boot?

To boot Solaris, UNIX, miniroot, or however you'd like to term it, boot from the CDROM. At the "Interactive or Jumpstart" prompt, type "b -s"

Or, after the video configuration, network, time and date you'll notice one of the menu's has a button: [Exit] Select Exit and, when it asks you again "do you want to exit?," just say yes.

Once you're at the UNIX root prompt #, you can mount the boot drive with "mount /dev/dsk/c0t0d0s0 /mnt" and view anything wrong with the boot drive (omit the "t0" for ATAPI/IDE).

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

(7.2) How do I restore the Solaris boot block without reinstalling?

This may happen when installing a boot manager that comes with another operating system (such as LILO from Linux) or an after-market multi-OS boot manager. These sometimes trample's active partition, which in our case is Solaris. Also, moving the Solaris partition with a partition manager program such as Partition Magic requires reinstalling the Solaris boot block. Before taking these steps, first verify the Solaris partition is active. If it isn't, just make the Solaris partition active and reboot. Otherwise follow the steps below.

1. Boot from CD-ROM and get the root prompt, #, as described in the previous question, 7.2.

2. Determine the controller and disk number. The boot device is /dev/rdsk/c?t?d?s2 where ? is the controller #, target ID, disk #, and slice 2 (whole disk). Omit "t?" for ATAPI/IDE E.g., /dev/rdsk/c0d0s2

3. Verify it's the correct device correct with prtvtoc: This is VERY important; if it's wrong, you you may hose another partition: prtvtoc /dev/rdsk/c0t0d0s2 (omit "t0" for ATAPI/IDE)

4. Restore the boot block as follows:

   installboot (partition boot block) (boot block) (raw disk dev)

E.g., for SCSI:

   installboot /usr/platform/i86pc/lib/fs/ufs/pboot \
               /usr/platform/i86pc/lib/fs/ufs/bootblk /dev/rdsk/c0t0d0s0
(omit "t0" for ATAPI/IDE)

5. Finally, reboot to verify the Solaris Multiple Device Boot Menu appears. If not, you can always to an upgrade (re-)install.

(7.3) What can I do during the Solaris/x86 booting sequence?

Step #1: Boot loader

If you have multiple partitions, the boot loader in the Solaris partition will come up and ask you which partition you want to boot. This partition must be the active partition, or at least be marked active by a third-party boot manager before this boot loader receives control (not all boot managers have this feature). If you don't answer in so many seconds, it boots Solaris.

This boot manager is pretty basic. It has no customization. You can't change the default boot partition to one other than Solaris, you can't change the timeout value, and you can't change the partition descriptions. But it gets the job done.

Step #2: Device Assistant

This will ask you to press ESC if you want to change stuff. This is to make up for the fact that x86 machines don't have a nice OpenBOOT chip to sort out REAL "Plug and Play".

Basically, in Solaris x86, the Device Assistant seems to set up certain things in /platform/i86pc/boot. This is so the "real" OS has some common format to examine for devices, instead of having lots of nasty x86 hardware specific stuff. That way, Sun can keep the main OS somewhat hardware independant, and keep it very close to the Sparc version.

The "Assistant" can actually been of assistance. If you select "partial scan", then "Device tasks", and then "View/Edit Devices", it will tell you what Solaris THINKS your devices are, and where they are at. Quite useful, when Solaris gets completely lost, and you're wondering if it's your fault, or what.

Otherwise, it can give you a warm fuzzy feeling, if you select "Full Scan", and you see all your devices properly recognized.

Step #3: OS Boot

Well, actually, the "Boot interpreter". The interface is similar, but not identical, to SPARC Solaris' OpenBoot 'boot' command. The main differences I notice are:

* It's "b -r", not "boot -r", if you want to force reconfiguration. Why would you want to do that? Well sometimes, if your devices have changed a LITTLE, you might want to do this. You can also invoke it with a "touch /reconfigure" as root before rebooting.

* You don't have nice device aliases like you do with sparc hardware that being said, if you do nothing, it should autoboot into the actual OS in a few seconds. Or you can type something quickly within 5 seconds, and force a "reconfiguration boot", as mentioned earlier.

* The "Driver Assistant" or whatever, really looks for major changes, like adding or removing a card. However, if, say, you add another disk drive, you'll probably want to just do "b -r". Note that the Device Assistant will itself trigger a "b -r", after it has autodetected hardware changes.

Step #4: The Main OS: Solaris

You made it (I hope)!. Hopefully, you should now see a line with "SunOS5.7" or similar in it, and a little twirly text character spinner starting. You are now really in the classic Solariss environment. From here on in, your experience is almost identical to your brethen who work with SPARC Sun equipment.

[Thanks to Phil at]

(7.4) How do I logon as root if the password doesn't work anymore?

Regaining control of a Solaris x86 system where the root password has been lost can be accomplished by the following steps. Note that any savvy user can do this with the proper CD-ROM and diskette. Therefore, of course, physical security of a system is important for machines containing sensitive data.

1. Insert installation boot diskette and installation CD-ROM for Solaris x86.

2. Boot system from the installation floppy and select the CD-ROM as the boot device.

3. Type "b -s" (instead of typing 1 or 2 from the menu) and it'll drop you straight to a root shell, #, (and you'll be in single-user mode).

4. At the root prompt, #, key in the following commands, which will create a directory called hdrive under the /tmp directory and then mount the root hard drive partition under this temporary directory.

      mkdir  /tmp/hdrive
      mount  /dev/dsk/c0t0d0s0  /tmp/hdrive #SCSI; for ATAPI/IDE, omit "t0"

5. To use the vi editor, the TERM variable must be defined. Key in the following commands.

      export TERM

6. Start vi (or some other editor) and load /tmp/hdrive/etc/shadow file:

      vi /tmp/hdrive/etc/shadow

7. Change the first line of the shadow file that has the root entry to:


8. Write and quit the vi editor with the "!" override command:


9. Halt the system, remove the floppy installation diskette, and reboot the system:


10. When system has rebooted from the hard drive, you can now log in from the Console Login: as root with no password. Just hit enter for the password.

11. After logging in as root, use the passwd command to change the root password and secure the system.

[Thanks to Lynn R. Francis, Texas State Technical College]

(7.5) My licensed software fails because the host ID is 0. What's wrong?

Intel processor machines don't have an IDPROM, so Sun generates a serial number, hostid command or sysinfo()'s SI_HW_SERIAL, pseudo-randomly during installation. The number is stored in /kernel/misc/sysinit, whose only function, it appears, is to provide the serial number. If serialization information is tampered or sysinit fails to load, the host ID will be 0. If you reinstall Solaris, sysinit will be regenerated and your host ID will change. So be careful about reinstalling Solaris if you have licensed software that depends on your host ID. Backup your sysinit file.

To preserve the same ID (and therefore licenses), copy file /kernel/misc/sysinit to the replacement system. I understand the Sun Workshop Manual says this is allowed twice per calendar year (please verify this yourself).

For more information, see the Sun NVRAM/hostid FAQ, available at and elsewhere. This also has tools to fake hostids.

(7.6) How can I fix Netscape Communicator to render fonts correctly on S/x86?

This problem occurs with Solaris 2.6 and Netscape Communicator 4.0x, and has since been fixed. Apply patch 106248, which I'm told fixes this problem. A workaround is to add the following two lines to your ~/.xinitrc file:

       xset +fp /usr/openwin/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/
       xset fp rehash

Another workaround, if you don't have these fonts, is to go into Netscape Preferences and change the font faces.

[Thank's to Alan Orndorff, Jeffrey Cook, and John Riddoch]

(7.7) I moved my PCI host adapter to another slot and the system won't boot!

Don't move the adapter. It isn't a supported feature in Solaris and isn't easy to recover from. If you have any choice in the matter, move the controller back to it original slot.

The PCI device number is part of the device's basic ID, including its child disks. If you change slots, you've effectively removed that controller and its disks, and added an unrelated controller and disks. You need to fix up all of the references to the old disks to point to the new disks.

I've never come up with any strategy better than "boot, observe failure, fix failure, reboot" for recovering from this kind of change. For simple cases (single controller, in particular) it can be helpful to clear /dev/dsk/* and /dev/rdsk/* and run "disks", but that is perilous too.

Incidentally, changing motherboards is likely to trip exactly this problem, because motherboards generally number their slots differently.

To conclude, it's difficult and dangerous, and the general guidelines involves fixing:

  1. /etc/vfstab or /dev or both
  2. /devices to match one another
  3. possibly removing lines from /etc/path_to_inst in order to make the right /devices nodes show up

The ultimate goal is to get back the same controller numbers as before.

[Sun FAQ 2576-02 at http://access1.Sun.COM/cgi-bin/rinfo2html?257602.faq]

(7.8) Why is Solaris always booting into the Device Configuration Assistant?

This happens if you installed Solaris onto a disk other than the primary boot disk. It also happens if you didn't remove your DCA boot diskette or if you didn't remove your installation CD-ROM if it's in a bootable CD-ROM drive. See Sun FAQ 2576-02 at http://access1.Sun.COM/cgi-bin/rinfo2html?257602.faq on instructions on how to change your default boot device.


(8.1) Can I install Solaris x86 on a system that already has Win 9x or NT or both (among other systems)?

When you run the 2.6 install program, it will ask you which partition you wish to use. On disk1, all you need to do is to create another partition on your existing disk. You can use Solaris boot manager to boot Solaris x86, NT, and Win 9x (among other systems).

To shrink an existing MS-DOS/MS Windows partition, if you need to make room, use something like Partition Magic.

Problems have been reported inter-working with OS/2, however. Reportedly, the order in which you install things is very important. Solaris doesn't "share" computers and partitions really well. You need to install Solaris first, on a partition towards the end, reinstall the boot manager and add the partition.

Other options for booting is to use System Commander (see question below), IBM's Boot Manager (bundled with Partition Magic or OS/2), FreeBSD's OS-BS (see question below) or OS-BootSelect (open source), instead of the Solaris' Boot Manager.

FreeBSD has a good page on booting multiple operating systems that apply quite well to any Intel-based operating system at

[Thanks to Barry Katz, Brandon Hume, Joseph A. Faracchio, Joelle Nebbe, Eugeny Kuzakov, and Sean M. Kelley]

(8.2) How can I use MS Windows' NT Loader to boot Solaris/x86?

The general idea is that you copy the first sector of your native root Solaris/x86 partition into a file in the DOS/NT partition. Assuming you name that file something like c:\bootsect.sun (inspired by c:\bootsect.dos) you can then edit the c:\boot.ini file (copy boot.ini to boot.old first): to come up with something like this

[boot loader]
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(0)\WINNT="Windows NT"

This procedure assumes that DOS and NT have been installed onto the first disk and Solaris/x86 or whatever have been onto the second disk. Note that in order to use the Windows NT boot loader, the NT partition must be the active boot partition. Solaris/x86 must also be the active boot partition, so must reside on another disk (This may be another reason to use a commercial product, System Commander--see question below).

Mount a DOS-formatted floppy (if you've converted to NTFS, which isn't readable from Solaris/x86) or the FAT partition (see question below), under, say, /mnt. Type:

dd if=/dev/rdsk/c0t0d0p0 of=/mnt/bootsect.sun bs=512 count=1
# (Note: The above is for SCSI; use /dev/rdsk/c0d0p0 for ATAPI/IDE.)

Reboot into DOS or NT. NTFS users copy the bootsect.sun file from the floppy to C:. Modify the DOS/NT attributes (permissions) on boot.ini with:

attrib -s -r c:\boot.ini

Edit to add the appropriate entries from the example boot.ini above, and restore the system and read-only file attributes:

attrib +s +r c:\boot.ini

[ Thanks to Krejcarek Brian Grant and the FreeBSD FAQ]

A second, easier, method is to use the "postcard-ware" program BootPart 2.2 from E.g.,

C:> bootpart.exe (displays the partitions) c:> bootpart.exe 1 bootsect.sun Solaris (Creates a boot sector file bootsect.sun and adds "Solaris" to the NT loader menu)

[Thanks to Louis Lam]

(8.3) How can I use the Solaris boot manager to boot Windows NT?

  1. Create 3 PRIMARY partitions on the disk in the following order
    1. DOS FAT
    2. DOS FAT (to become NTFS)
    3. empty (to become Solaris)

  2. install DOS (or Win 9x) on Partition 1
  3. Then install NT on partition 2, converting to NTFS while installing
  4. Finally, install Solaris 2.6 on partition 3 using Solaris interactive.

Solaris boot manager will be the master boot controler, but then choose partition 1 to boot NT (yes that is right, not 2). Then the NT boot manager will come to life, allowing you to select either DOS (partition 1) or NT (partition 2). Note that Solaris is the active partition.

[Thanks to Claude Dumas]

(8.4) How can I use System Commander to boot Solaris/x86 and other systems?

To use System Commander to dual boot both Win NT and Solaris, make these two configuration changes to System Commander:

1) Use System Commander's local setup (Alt-s, Local config) to hide all other partitions from NT and Solaris (so they can't see each other's partitions).

2) Perform a step mentioned in the V-COM FAQ (

  1. From main System Commander menu pick ALT-S.
  2. select "Global Settings" but *DO NOT* press enter.
  3. press "ALT-F9" which brings up an internal configuration menu.
  4. Change the "Clear Items" menu choice from "MEMORY" to "NO" or "NONE".
  5. press ESC to return to main menu.

(8.5) Can I install Linux and Solaris on the same drive?

Yes, with certain precautions. Unfortunately, both Solaris/x86 and Linux swap partitions use the same ID, 0x83. So if you install Solaris on a drive with a Linux swap partition already on it, it will install on the Linux swap partition. You have two choices:

1) You can put the Linux swap partition on another drive (or not use a swap partition if you have enough memory).

2) You can install Linux after (not before Solaris). If you try the latter, the install program will probably ask if you want to format what it thinks is your Linux swap partition (and is actually your Solaris partition) as a swap file. Be sure to not do this!

(8.6) How can I use Linux LILO boot loader to boot Solaris/x86?

Add something like this to your /etc/lilo.conf file under linux and rerun /sbin/lilo. Note that Solaris *MUST* be the active partition, on either the primary or another another hard drive. To use LILO with Solaris on the primary partition, install LILO in the MBR and mark the solaris partition as active.

In this example Solaris is on your second hard drive (hence the "loader" line):

other = /dev/hdb1
        loader = /boot/chain.b
        label = solaris

For more information, see the Linux HOWTOs and LILO User Guide. For information on installing Solaris/x86 on your second hard drive, see below.

(8.7) How can I use LILO to boot Solaris/x86 on the primary slave IDE?

Basically, the Linux LILO boot loader is used to fool solaris into thinking the slave is the master and vice versa (with the chain.b line) Add this in your Linux /etc/lilo.conf:


(use /dev/hdc instead of /dev/hdb if your second drive is the secondary IDE master instead of the primary IDE slave drive)

Solaris had a bit of trouble because for some reason it had the default boot device as the primary HD and couldn't mount the root filesystem off of it (because it wasn't there). BUT, this was fixable since the device configuration assistant (blue screens) allowed me to change the default boot device to the second HD. Once I did that, I was off to the races.

[Thanks to Zoran Marjanski]

(8.8) How can I use LILO to boot Solaris/x86 on the secondary master IDE?

Follow the instructions for the previous question substituting /dev/hdc as directed. An alternate, much-more-difficult method follows that doesn't involve the "switch drives with /boot/chain.b" trick.

Lim Chee Siang writes:

These are basically the steps I 'discovered' through countless failed attempts to get Solaris to boot from the secondary master.

I got LILO to boot Solaris/x86 2.5.1 from the master disk of the secondary IDE. Solaris was initially installed in the primary-master disk, i.e. the only disk in the system; whereas Win9x and Linux was in the other disk, which I temporarily removed during Solaris installation.

Solaris boots according to the boot-path variable in /etc/bootrc. During boot, fsck will check the disk entries in /etc/vfstab. Similarly, mount will scan /etc/vfstab when mounting mounting filesystems.

In order to boot Solaris from secondary-master disk, these two files MUST be modified, and the /dev/rdsk/ and /dev/dsk/ directories MUST have the correct links to /devices/isa/ata@1f0,0/ and /devices/isa/ata@170,0/.

The procedures go like these, assuming you can afford to lose the Solaris partition--because recovery from incorrect entries in the files to be modified in the following steps is tricky:

1. Type 'touch /reconfigure' before shutdown Solaris. Simply place a disk as secondary-master. Solaris will create the correct links from /dev/rdsk/ and /dev/dsk/ to /devices/isa/ata@1f0,0/ and /devices/isa/ata@170,0/. For example, if you only have one primary-master (Solaris) and one secondary-master (any disk), you should see entries like

   /dev/rdsk/c0d0sXX -> ../../devices/isa/ata@1f0,0/cmdk@XXXX
   /dev/rdsk/c1d0sXX -> ../../devices/isa/ata@170,0/cmdk@XXXX

   /dev/dsk/c0d0sXX -> ../../devices/isa/ata@1f0,0/cmdk@XXXX
   /dev/dsk/c1d0sXX -> ../../devices/isa/ata@170,0/cmdk@XXXX

2. If you don't see the entries in step 1, stop moving on. Otherwise, we're going to make changes to /etc/bootrc and /etc/vfstab.
a. change boot-path /isa/ata@1f0,0/cmdk@0,0:a in /etc/bootrc to /isa/ata@170,0/cmdk@0,0:a.
b. change all instances of c0d0sXX in /etc/vfstab to c1d0sXX.

Step a informs the secondary Solaris boot loader that we're booting from the secondary-master disk while step b is for fsck to check the correct Solaris partitions and mount to find the filesystems for mounting. 3. Do a 'touch /reconfigure' again, just in case. Shutdown Solaris. Transfer the disk with Solaris from primary-master to Secondary master.

4. Put in the disk with Linux/LILO back to primary-master. Boot Linux and add the following entries to /etc/lilo.conf.

   # Solaris at secondary master
   other = /dev/hdc1
   loader = /boot/chain.b
   label = solaris

Proceed with lilo installation as you would normally do.

(8.9) How can I use OS-BS or System Selector to boot Solaris/x86?

Grab OS-BS [a free boot manager distributed with FreeBSD] from: Or (newer) from:

Assuming you've already got Linux installed and enough free space for Solaris, go ahead and install the latter. Solaris then becomes the Active partition. Follow that installation with OS-BS and configure to "set startup id", which changes the Active partition on-the-fly.

OS-BS comes in a newer, commercial version, that I use, called System Selector in the US, De'marreur in France, and Boot Manager elsewhere. See

System Selector needs a small FAT or FAT32 partition to install on. You also need to either boot a version of DOS or Windows to read the install files on the CD-ROM drive. Note that this partition doesn't need to be bootable or active--it is only used to hold files used by System Selector. System Selector replaces the previous boot block in the MFT and boots directly from the drive's MFT.

When System Selector's installation menu comes up, you won't see Solaris listed among the selections under the "System" tab, as you most other systems that may be on your system, such as Windows or Linux. Instead, go to the "Partitions" tab and select the partition marked "Linux Swap." This is actually the Solaris Partition (both Solaris and Linux Swap partitions share the same code, 83 hex). Select it and under the "Properties" tab make sure you check "Assign active ID to this system [partition] before booting."

(8.10) How can I boot both Solaris/x86 and Win NT on the same disk?

Here's one way of doing it. Solaris/x86 requires it's partition to be active and uses it's own boot manager with it hard-coded to boot to Solaris on timeouts. If you want to use NT's boot manager or default to another operating system, it usually requires installing both operating systems on separate disks or using a third-party product, such as System Commander, that makes the partition "Active" on the fly This solution, described here by Andrew Mickish, is to make a boot floppy:

Although the Solaris x86 installation manual makes it sound like all you have to do is partition your disks to get multiple operating systems to work, I found that this was not the case. To get a dual boot of Solaris and NT on the same hard drive, without using the Solaris default boot manager, you have to use a floppy boot disk to help start one of the OSes. Here is how I got NT and Solaris working on the same disk.

The following fdisk partitioning causes Solaris to boot from the hard drive, yet allows you to boot to NT if you insert a floppy disk with the NT boot loader:

 | Solaris          [Active, for Solaris]           | 
 | C: PRI-DOS (FAT) [Active, for NT]                | 
 | D: EXT-DOS (FAT)                                 | 

Partitioning: The Solaris partition should be created during the Solaris installation, using Solaris's FDISK. The remaining partitions should be created during installation of NT.

Active partition: You must set the Solaris partition to be ACTIVE in order to make it boot to Solaris. NT does not have to be active to boot. Use a DOS boot disk with FDISK to quickly change which partition is active.

Boot disk: After setting the NT partition to be active, you still need the NT boot loader on a floppy disk in order to direct the PC to the second partition. (Usually the boot loader is on the primary partition of the hard drive, but that partition is Solaris and unreadable to NT.) Your floppy directs the boot process to the right partition by using a BOOT.INI file that says where the NT kernel can be found:

[boot loader] 
[operating systems] 
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00" 
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(2)\WINNT="Windows NT Workstation Version 4.00 [VGA mode]" /basevideo /sos 

Note: The numbering of partitions is one-based, so the C: partition in the diagram above is in partition #2.

Please send comments and suggestions to

[Thanks to Andrew Mickish]

(8.11) How do I mount a DOS partition from the hard drive?

mount -F pcfs /dev/dsk/c0t0d0p0:1 /mnt # SCSI
mount -F pcfs /dev/dsk/c0d0p0:1   /mnt # ATAPI/IDE

Where c0 is the controller number.
      t0 is the target (SCSI ID number) (omit for ATAPI/IDE)
      d0 is always 0 for SCSI, the drive # for ATAPI/IDE
      p0 is the partition; DOS is the first partition here
      /mnt is the mount point

You can use the normal UNIX commands to copy files, 'cp', etc., after that to move the data. DOS filenames are in the old 8.3 format (lower case) for Solaris 2.5.1, in long filename format (lower case) for Solaris 2.6, and in long filename format (mixed case, with optional lower case only) for Solaris 7.

Note: The mount -F pcfs . . ." command won't mount a FAT16 partition if it was fdisk-ed and format-ted with Windows 9x, or NT 4.0 (at least for Solaris 2.6 and earlier. Any reports with Solaris 7?). Use DOS 6.x. HPFS (OS/2), FAT64 (Win NT), or NTFS (Win NT) partitions are not mountable under Solaris at all. FAT32 (Win 9x) are mountable with Solaris 7. There's some reports of not being able to mount FAT32 partitions if it's not the first partition.

To mount the partitions automatically, put something like this in /etc/vfstab:

#device           device         mount    FS    fsck  mount
#to mount         to fsck        point    type  pass  at boot
/dev/dsk/c0d0p0:1 -              /c       pcfs  -     yes       -
/dev/dsk/c0d1p0:1 -              /d       pcfs  -     yes       -

This mounts the DOS partitions (assuming it's the first partition) on /c and /d, respectively, on startup. For more info, see "man pcfs"

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ]

Note: p0 refers to the first primary partition and p1, p2, . . . refers to the logical DOS partitions found in the extended DOS partition. Solaris/x86 does NOT support DOS directly in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th primary partition of a disk. See BugID 1170107. Furthermore, Solaris/x86 does NOT support more than one Solaris fdisk partition on a physical disk nor more than 8 Solaris "slices" on a Solaris fdisk partition.

[Thanks to Randy J. Parker, Norma Adamson, Rob Duarte, and Danny Huynh]

(8.12) Does PartitionMagic and BootMagic understand Solaris partitions?

Yes and no. PowerQuest's PartitionMagic can copy and move Solaris Partitions, with a low-level sector-by-sector copy. It cannot enlarge or shrink the Solaris Partition, actually contain multiple "slices" of various Solaris ufs file systems. Furthermore, after a partition copy, the boot block needs to be restored. See the question elsewhere in this FAQ "How do I restore the Solaris boot block without reinstalling?

BootMagic can be setup to boot Solaris partitions, since it dynamically marks the partition as active. The setup, however, doesn't automatically recognize these partitions as Solaris (but as Linux Swap partitions).

(8.13) How do I access a DOS-format diskette from Solaris?

Using volume management, type "volcheck". This forces Solaris to poll the diskette drive (and other drives). The diskette drive isn't polled automatically (unlike the CD-ROM), as it would quickly wear out. You should see something like this typing "mount":

/floppy/unnamed_floppy on /vol/dev/diskette0/unnamed_floppy read/write
on Wed Jan 20 09:05:44 1999

To unmount using volume management, type "eject". After a message, you can manually eject the floppy safely.

You can also mount the diskette in a similar way to hard drive partitions without using volume management (the old way):

mount -F pcfs /dev/diskette /mnt

Don't forget to turn of the volume management before you try to do this from the command line or you'll get a "device busy" message. "/etc/init.d/volmgt stop" will stop the volume manager. To restart the volume manager, "/etc/init.d/volmgt start".

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ and Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

The GNU mtools package allows access of DOS diskettes without being root. The diskette isn't mounted, but instead special commands with the prefix m, such as mcopy, mdir, mdel, etc. are available.

(8.14) Does Solaris mount and recognize Win 9x partitions with long file names (VFAT)?

Solaris 2.6 and above uses the "long" (VFAT) file names, but earlier versions of Solaris use the "short" (DOS/FAT/8.3) file name (for example, "progra~1"). Solaris 2.6 recognizes the case (e.g. "Program Files/"), which may be optionally folded to lower case ("program files") with the foldcase mount option. Earlier Solari folds DOS file names to lower case only. VFAT refers to the file naming convention and is completely separate from FAT16/FAT32 (see a earlier question for that).

[Thanks to Nelson Chan]

(8.15) How can I make my Solaris files easily available to Windows 9x/NT on a network?

Sun has seem paranoid about or blind to making Solaris easier to interoperate with Windows NT, although a recent public announcement seem to indicate they seen the light: be compatible and adapt your competition or die. Sun announced (4/1999) announced availability of "PC NetLink" (aka "Cascade") which provides SAMBA-type NT naming services. It is based on Microsoft NT 4 code licensed via AT&T. For info, see http://www.Sun.COM/servers/enterprise/sw/cascade/

Personally, I prefer SAMBA, a robust, open source package that provides SMB services (aka MS Windows networking) from UNIX. This allows LAN-Manager-type browsing and "Connect Network Drive," and provides access to UNIX print servers. For the Samba FAQ, sources, binaries, and other information, see the SAMBA web page at:

John Blair's SAMBA: Integrating UNIX and Windows covers configuring and using SAMBA (ISBN 1-57831-006-7,

Sun has a commercial product, Solstice LM Manager, that works (poorly) with MS LAN Manager/SMB and links in with NIS/DNS.

(8.16) How can I make my Solaris files easily available to an Apple Machintosh on a network?

Use CAP, an excellent open source AppleTalk server software for UNIX. The Columbia AppleTalk Package (CAP) implements the AppleTalk protocol stack on UNIX The main applications provide an AppleShare 2.1 compatible server (aufs), a LaserWriter Spooler (lwsrv) and a program to print to LaserWriters (papif). For more information, see:

(8.17) How do I access a Mac diskette from Solaris?

Use a emulator package like Mae from Apple. For "sneakernet," you can also use a DOS diskette, as both Solaris and Apple support these.

(8.18) What is WABI?

WABI is "Windows Application Binary Interface." WABI 2.2 runs old 16-bit native MS Windows 3.x programs (no support is planned for 32-bit Win 9x/NT programs). I would guess the the Sun WABI Technical Knowledge Base would be the best place to find the latest answers about WABI.

If you are going to be running WABI on the Intel boxes, at least have 8 MB more than you would use in a normal system. So if you have 16 MB this means you really want 24 MB of memory if you are going to be running 1 WABI session. In my opinion it is worth it just to bite the bullet and get the 32 MB of memory.

The WABI FAQs can be obtained by sending an empty message to: wabi-questions@East.Sun.COM

The list of current WABI apps can be obtained by mailing: wabi-apps@East.Sun.COM

Reports indicate that WABI support will be dropped by Sun and replaced by some other PC-on-Sun product.

[From Bob Palowoda's Solaris 2.4 x86 FAQ and Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

(8.19) Can I use SunPCi on Solaris/x86?

No. SunPCi is an add-on card and software for Solaris on SPARC only. SunPC emulates a PC with the card and Caldera's "DR-DOS" allowing Windows 3.1/9x to be installed on top of it. The card has a 300 MHz K6-2 AMD processor and RAM. It emulates hard and floppy drives, serial ports, SuperVGA, mouse, keyboard, etc. Generally, SunPCi or it's older cousin, SunPC, emulates the PC environment OK, although it performs more slowly than a straight PC (your mileage may vary). Software that requires a parallel port hardware key (dongle) won't work.

(8.20) Will Linux programs run on Solaris 2/x86?

Reportedly, the Lxrun emulator allows one to execute Linux binaries, both in ELF and a.out Linux formats. The Lxrun program was written for SCO, but has been ported to Solaris/x86. For information, see and

(8.21) How can I get the DOS and UNIX clock to agree on Solaris/x86?

After installation, run the command /usr/sbin/rtc -z $TZ, where $TZ is your timezone. The default root crontab runs /usr/sbin/rtc -c daily. That way your clock will give the proper time whether you boot Solaris or MS-DOS/MS Windows.

If you're running Windows NT and find the clock "overadjusted" twice a year (that is, it gains or loses an extra hour), you should comment out (with a "#") the "rtc" line in file /var/spool/cron/crontabs/root.

[Adapted from Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

(8.22) Is Solaris x86 able to execute Solaris SPARC applications?

There's no way to run a SPARC binary on an x86 machine unless you wrote an emulator for the SPARC CPU and ran it.

[Thanks to Doug McIntyre]

(8.23) Will my old applications from SVR3 or SCO run on Solaris 2/x86?

Solaris x86 has an emulation mode that should run the majority of well-behaved SVR3 (including SCO UNIX), and SCO Xenix binaries. Most SVR3 stuff appears to work under Solaris 2.4.

Applications from any other vendor's standards-conforming 386/486 SVR4 should also run. The main standard being iBCS (Intel Binary Compatibility Standard).

However, some vendors have made incompatible changes to their SVR4 release and programs linked on those versions may not work. Future versions of Solaris 2.x for Intel will address some/most of those incompatibilities. UNIXWare is one of the offenders.

[From Casper Dik's Solaris 2 FAQ]

Linux binaries do not run under Solaris x86.

Work has recently began (12/97) by the 86open group to further standardize the Intel Unix binary and application interface. For more information, see

(8.24) Will my application from Solaris/SPARC work on Solaris/x86? I have the source.

Yes and no. Generally applications that don't make assumptions about computer architecture will work. That is, code shouldn't depend on structure or union alignments, or in what order a number appears in a word ("big or little endian"). Don't use functions labeled SPARC or x86 only in the man pages. In other words, "well-behaved" C (or other language) programs should recompile fine. Sun has a good white paper on these issues at http://www.Sun.COM/workshop/wp-archdiff/

(8.25) Can I access Solaris/x86 partitions from Linux?

Yes. Read-only access is available. You need to have Linux 2.1.x or greater. To see if your Linux kernel recognizes Solaris partitions, type the following on Linux: dmesg | grep solaris

You should get something like this:

 hda: hda1 hda2 <solaris: [s0] hda5 [s1] hda6 [s2] hda7 [s3] hda8
 [s5] hda9 [s6] hda10 [s7] hda11 >

This says that Solaris lives in the 2nd partition (hda2), slices 0 to 7. These Solaris slices are mapped to virtual partitions hda5 to hda11.

To mount a partition, type something like this:

   mount -r -tufs /dev/hda5 /mnt

This will mount the root slice (s0) on /mnt read-only. Softlinks that are relative to route (e.g., /usr/local pointing to /local) will point to the wrong place. To avoid this problem, change these links in Solaris to relative soft-links (e.g., /usr/local to ../local).

This can be automated with /etc/fstab. If you don't want the partitions mounted at boot, add ",noauto" after "defaults,ro" (no space). If you want non-root users to be able to mount partitions, add ",user" (careful!):

# /etc/fstab
# . . .
#Device     Mount                FS                        Fsck Mount at   
#to mount   point                type Options              pass boot # Slice
/dev/hda5   /solaris             ufs  defaults,ro,ufstype=sun 0 0    # s0
/dev/hda8   /solaris/var         ufs  defaults,ro,ufstype=sun 0 0    # s6
/dev/hda9   /solaris/opt         ufs  defaults,ro,ufstype=sun 0 0    # s3
/dev/hda10  /solaris/usr         ufs  defaults,ro,ufstype=sun 0 0    # s5
/dev/hda11  /solaris/export/home ufs  defaults,ro,ufstype=sun 0 0    # s7
# Note: slice s2, by convention, indicates the whole disk

If, when you type "dmesg" above, you don't see Solaris partitions recognized, you might have to rebuild your Linux kernel. Be sure to specify "y" in /usr/src/linux/.config when you type "make config":


Linux 2.2 has experimental write support to Solaris partitions, but I'm not brave enough to try it, at least yet. Those who have say if you get this message: "... ufs_read_super: fs needs fsck" then UFS function ufs_read_super somehow decided the fs isn't clean, and therefore set the RDONLY bit. Try this to mount in read-write mode:

  /bin/mount -o remount,rw /where/your/solaris/fs/is/mounted

There's another linux kernel configuration question, CONFIG_SMD_DISKLABEL, that applies only to Sparc Solaris disks, which are in yet another format. The answer to that question doesn't matter for Solaris/x86 filesystems.

(8.26) What are some books on Windows NT/Solaris integration?

The best book is, IMHO: David Gunter, Steven Burnett, and Lola Gunter, Windows NT and UNIX Integration Guide (Osborne McGraw-Hill, 1997), ISBN 0-07882395-1,

Also see the question above on SAMBA.

(8.27) How can I view MS Word files in Solaris?

Software Development Corporation's (SDC's) port of Corel WordPerfect. It support WordPerfect, Word (old and new), HTML, RTF, FrameMaker, Applix, and several other document formats. It's available as a 30-day trial fully-enabled download. Price varies and is cheaper for upgrades and educational use. See

The Applix Office suite can read Word files, among other formats, as above, and comes with a spreadsheet and other applications. I still prefer WordPerfect for word processing, but Applix Office offers a broader array of applications. See

You can also try MS WordView (free), which converts Word 8 (Office 97), but not older, Word files to HTML. WordView is available in source form (mostly Perl and some C) from

StarDivision ( or, a German software company has it's StarOffice suite for S/86. StarOffice supports basic PowerPoint and Excel files, in addition to MS Word files. The "Personal Edition" of Star Office is available for free download, for non-commercial use, at For this reason, and it's familiar MS Office-type interface, this is my preference of these packages.

For the above software, more complicated Word format files cannot be converted, especially those saved with "Quick Save" enabled. Be aware that these office suites seem to require systems with 128MB of memory or more to perform reasonably (in my experience).

Finally, you CAN'T use PC File Viewer. It's available (and free) only for the SPARC-resident Solaris 2.6 PC File Viewer is Sun's relabeled version of Inso Corp.'s ( QuickView Plus. See http://www.Sun.COM/desktop/products/software/pcviewer.html

(8.28) I downloaded Internet Explorer but it doesn't install. What's wrong?

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 for Solaris is available only for the SPARC architectures. You'll get this message if you try to install it with ie4setup: "unexpected ( on line one"

However, Netscape is available from This address changes slightly for each language and version. Or try

Netscape comes with Solaris 7 on a separate CD, unless it's the "free" version of Solaris. For the "free" version you need to Netscape from the FTP site.

(8.29) Can I mount other ufs disks, say from BSDi/FreeBSD, and vice versa?

Maybe. First, although Solaris, BSDi, FreeBSD, and NetBSD share a common-heritage file system, the Berkeley-style ufs, Solaris has made extensions. The 32-bit UID field has been modified in Solaris to be a pointer to a parallel "Shadow inode" with Solaris ACL information. Also, the superblock has an additional inode field in Solaris and 2 fields have different byte swappings.

Reportedly, you can mount, say, zip disks from FreeBSD, on Solaris by doing a fsck on them before mounting. Fsck makes these fields Solaris- compatible. Your mileage may vary and you should test this (in both directions) before trying this on live data.

(8.30) How can I use a disk partition on Solaris 2.x which was previously dedicated to Windows 95 (or other OS) as dual boot?

On Solaris 2.x, use fdisk to find your disk partition table. For example, on an IDE drive,
# fdisk /dev/rdsk/c0d0p0
would show something like the following:

Total disk size is 524 cylinders
Cylinder size is 16065 (512 byte) blocks
Partition   Status    Type          Start   End   Length    %
=========   ======    ============  =====   ===   ======   ===
1                     Solaris           0   260     261     50
2           Active    Solaris         261   522     262     50
Where "Partition 1" was used for Windows 95. It was deleted and recreated with "Solaris" type.

Make a ufs filesystem on the partition. (You can not subdivide this fdisk partition into Solaris slices). For example,
# mkfs -F ufs /dev/rdsk/c0d0p1 4192965
where number 4192965 = 261 * 16065 is the total number of blocks on this partition, calculated as the cylinder length on this partition (261 from the above partition table) times the cylinder size (16065 blocks as shown in the header of the partition table.)

Mount the filesystem as usual. For example:
# mount /dev/dsk/c0d0p1 /export/home

[Thanks to Michael Wang. Reference: Sun Microsystems INFODOC ID: 13142]

[End, Solaris x86 FAQ]

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