Solaris recovery tip on ROM leads to OpenBoot magic

Legacy era hardware can have hard problems. Batteries die in older systems, and sometimes those components just can’t be replaced. Power supplies become trouble waiting to surface, once the hardware gets old enough.

The classic Dremel tool sometimes becomes a part of old hardware repair solutions. New batteries can revive components like ROM and RAM storage devices. Sometimes, though, the software values of IDPROM and NVRAM must be validated. That operation was a manual one for a user on the comp.unix.solaris newsgroup.

TheCzar1020 owns a SunBlade 100 that he “boots up just to see what is going on.”

“I got a prompt about NVRAM U13. As most people find, you have to get a new NVRAM chip, or cannibalize your NVRAM chip and add a battery. I chose the second option, as I have a soldering kit and a Dremel. I then booted up my SB100 to find that my operation had worked, but my IDPROM contents are still invalid.”

The problem: That SunBlade is reporting

The IDPROM contents are invalid
Aborting auto-boot sequence

One solution, according to a helpful ally on the newsgroup: Do a set-defaults, then reset-all at the OBP prompt. “Host ID is not that important,” Chris reports, “but you can enter the MAC address from OpenBoot PROM. The first three are hex bytes from Sun, then just think up something for the remainder of the address that doesn’t conflict with anything else on the subnet.”

Oracle has not cast aside its Solaris users yet, so there’s a useful page on the OpenBoot PROM. Several, in fact, based on the Solaris System Administration Guide.

If an administrator of a SPARC-based workstation, or an emulated system, needs to wallow in the richness of OBP, there’s a full list of magic commands. Gentoo.org hosts a page for commands that can help when booting, configuring, and performing diagnostics on SPARC hardware.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

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