Sun Ultra 5 – Configuring Solaris 7

The Sun Ultra 5 came with Solaris 7 pre-installed (I thought it would be Solaris 2.6 but it must have just been made after Solaris 7 came out). No Solaris 7 media package is supplied with the machine so what happens is that on the first boot the machine goes through the configuration sequence for the pre-installed media after which you are left with a fully operational operating system.

I made a video of this process as it will be fairly unusual for it to be caught on video – I couldn’t find anything similar on youtube.

The plan going forward is to install a SCSI card and SCSI hard drive onto which I will install the Solaris 9 media that was supplied as an extra with the box. I will put the IDE drive aside.

Note that the second time the machine was turned on the hard drive did not spin up. That would have been an operational life of 30 minutes from new! My luck with vintage computers hasn’t been great lately so I wasn’t going to take the news lying down. My best guess was that the internal lubrication was a little sticky given that the hard drive had sat on the shelf for 14 years. I extracted the drive from the machine and gave it a ‘gentle’ tap on the side (a trick I had learnt previously sometimes works with old SCSI hard drives. Sure enough when re-installed the drive span up. I then left it running for a good few hours and so far it has booted faultlessly since then!


  1. My Ultra 5 is still one of my main computers… mine runs the latest Solaris 10, albeit at a snail’s pace. I’m switching back to Solaris 8 so I can use my spiffy new SunPCI-II card.

    Just an FYI, I’ve heard there are only a couple of bootable SCSI cards for the Ultra 5, not sure which ones the machine will support. None of the ones I’ve tried (Sun-branded and otherwise) have worked.

    • I’ll admit I haven’t got a clue about the Ultra 5, but I do work with someone very knowledgeable regarding older Sun equipment who has secured me a card that he knows the Ultra 5 will boot off. I can find out the model number if that will help in your search, although you might want to hold off a purchase until I’ve confirmed it definitely works ;) What I do know is that it is a narrow SCSI card, so 50 pin only 20MB/s or 10MB/s

Comments are closed.