While tux was the workhorse of SkilmNET, I needed
to have a few more UNIX toys around the house. Since the first UNIX I
worked on in my career was Solaris 2.6 on SPARC hardware, I decided to
find a SPARCstation on eBay. I scored BIG TIME. It gets NO BETTER than a
quad-processor, 32-bit SPARC box. Here are the stats:
|"Sparky" SPARCstation 20
||(4) Ross RT-625 hyperSPARCs at 100MHz each (99.94 bogomips each)
||(2) Internal SCSI HDDs (4.3GB and 2.1GB)
||Built-in 10BASE-T (with a second, unused 10BASE-T port)
||Sun Solaris 2.6
||telnet (telnetd) - Remote Access/Control
|ftpd (wu-ftpd) - FTP Fileserver
|dns server (BIND) - Name resolution
|Simple Network Management Protocol (ucd-snmpd)
SPARCstation 20 Service Manual
- SPARCstation 20 Manual - That's right, I
had to tear this apart a few times. This little document came in handy.
- Nov. 15, 2001 - sparky arrived via FedEx and eBay. Brought sparky up
running Solaris 8.
- Nov. 18, 2001 - After becoming familiar with the hardware, and testing
a few different configurations, finally decided on RedHat 6.2 for SPARC.
(Kernel 2.2.14-5.0smp) NOTE - Maybe it is just that I'm
not-so-experienced with Solaris installation, but I couldn't seem to get
what I wanted installed. I ended up with a 2GB install each time, and
some of the programs I requested to be installed were nowhere to be
found. I also couldn't load the "Software Companion CD" - the one with
all the GNU tools - due to a low memory error or something. Solaris took
4 hours to install, and ran slow, where Linux ran much better on the
hardware, only took 1 hour to install, gave me all I requested, and only
took up 700MB of disk. Ok, rant over.
- Nov. 24, 2001 - Installed floppy drive for sparky. Played with getting
SuSe Linux 7.1 (Kernel 2.4.0) to work, but hit a few bumps - I'll just
wait to get the 9.1GB HDD before I try to install anything else.
- Nov. 27, 2001 - Installed additional dual-processor module, bringing
sparky up to a 4-processor, 100MHz each machine.
- Dec. 7, 2001 - Finally installed my 9.1GB SCSI HDD in an external case
(Sun model 911). It seems like I have a little breathing room now, as I
can add 3 more disks pretty easily now. As a side note, I love the fact
that there is yet another system fan making noise in my room now - that
external case really adds some atmosphere :-)
- Dec. 23, 2001 - I got really bored with the old kernel, and since I'm
in a kernel-compiling mood from tux, I went
ahead and compiled Kernel 2.2.20 for sparky. It works so far as I can
tell, so that's what's running.
- Dec. 25, 2001 - I finally have a network connection to sparky thanks
to a Christmas gift. I got two Wireless Access Points which I used to
bridge the network connection up to my room. Now that sparky has a
network connection, I have to figure out what services to run on it.
- Jan. 19, 2002 - I had inspiration yesterday (thanks to Tim)
to use sparky for more than just a novelty shell box. I got a DNS
server, BIND (named), running. It not only serves requests from
SkilmNET, but also from the outside world...at least until traffic gets
too high :-) Installed Apache 1.3.22, Sendmail 8.11.6, and Wu-FTPD
2.6.1. Various security updates.
- Jan. 22, 2002 - Installed new Webmin (0.92).
- Mar. 20, 2002 - Installed UCD-SNMP to allow for remote monitoring of
traffic and other stats on sparky.
- Apr. 5, 2002 - I got the bright idea to try and install Solaris again.
I had hardware difficulties and after wrestling with the 3 hour
installation, I got Solaris to work more than it did the last time I
tried. The install still takes up a lot of space and puts very little
useful programs on the computer. The GNU software additions didn't go on
right again so I tried installing them from source only I couldn't find
make. After hunting around, changing the PATH, and finding a decent text
editor, I finally figured that it wasn't worth it. I pulled the system
off and went back to Linux.
- Apr. 7, 2002 - I figured that I needed more space on sparky so I
ordered a few SCSI drives off of e-bay. One is a 4.3GB which I plan to
use to replace the un-reliable 1GB drive currently in the machine. The
other is a 9GB drive for the external case - it'll probably end up as a
- Apr. 18, 2002 - Installed the new 4.3GB HDD. The 9GB I ordered was the
wrong type. Reinstalled Redhat 6.2 to redistrubute everything evenly
across the new drive structure. Obviously, I took care of security
updates, and basically brought all the software that was on there "back
to life." I reconfigured the DNS server so that it not only works
properly as the Primary NS for the domain, but so that it can also
resolve OpenNIC DNS
names and TLDs. Currently there are no users on this system. If you
would like a SPARC shell account to play with, let me know.
- May 31, 2002 - I got my OpenNIC
domain working. If you can resolve OpenNIC
DNS TLDs, you can access SkilmNET at http://www.peteskillman.geek.
This address works for all SkilmNET services, not just the website. You
can learn how to set up OpenNIC
- June 11, 2002 - After a DHCP mix-up, the IP address for my network
connection changed, so I ended up having to re-do all my DNS. The
problem is that the next day, the people
who supplied my skilmnet.dhs.org domain decided that they were
going to start charging for the service. I decided to buy my own domain.
I clunked down my $35 at Register.com
and bought skilmnet.net.
Today, I re-did the DNS so that skilmnet.net,
not skilmnet.dhs.org, covers my servers.
- July 24, 2002 - After struggling with not understanding what I was
doing and several Internet connection problems, I finally got external
DNS to work properly and to be able to update new IPs and hostnames in a
timely fashion (i.e. - less than 2 days).
- July 30, 2002 - Installed and got working (finally) a newer
Distribution of Linux. Suse 7.3 is now installed and configured for the
most part. The offer goes out once again on shell accounts...
- Sept. 19, 2002 - After some strange freezing, and subsequent
re-installs, I found out that sparky is overheating - 4 processors
crammed into a pizzabox will do that. Anyway, I ended up making a few
hardware modifications to increase the airflow. Basically, I tore open
and old power supply I had sitting around and spliced the fan into some
new wiring. Pictures are here and here.
I also ended up installing RedHat 6.2 as part of diagnosing what was
wrong - also compiled a new kernel (2.2.22). I am currently looking for
a new Linux distro for sparky. It'll end up being either Suse
again, or Debian.
- Sept. 22, 2002 - Installed Debian
3.0 on sparky with mixed results. It took longer than I expected. All
the text-based things work, but X Windows refuses to start up. I've
decided that when I get some time, I'm switching sparky back to Suse.
- Oct. 18, 2002 - In preparation for installing Aurora
Linux 0.4 (a Linux distro for SPARC based on RedHat 7.3) I took
out one of sparky's dual-processor modules. sparky has been over-heating
frequently lately and I'm not sure why, so for now sparky is down to 2
processors as a heat-reduction precaution.
- Jan. 8, 2003 - Thanks to pomona coming
home, sparky no longer had any real usefulness on the network.
Sadly, he was disconnected and at least temporarily retired.
- May 27, 2003 - Well, I've been looking for a project and I missed the
whine of sparky's fans. I've setup sparky as a compute node for Seti@Home
and as a machine to play with networking on. It'll also be cool to have
machine again :-) See a picture of sparky's new placement here.
Yes, that is a VCR on top of him.
- June 1, 2004 - Brought sparky back up after on-again/off-again
tinkering over the last few months. I was finally able to find a version
of Solaris that would install on him without too many complaints. sparky
now runs Solaris 2.6 and is functioning as a playground right now. Due
to the fact that its about 12 years old, it isn't a terrific number
cruncher by today's standards. I doubt there will be a practical use for
sparky on the network. Its been a LONG time since I ran a real, live
UNIX though and it feels good.