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Ultra 10 PROM through USB keyboard? [SOLVED]
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iMike
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 2:48 pm    Post subject: Ultra 10 PROM through USB keyboard? [SOLVED] Reply with quote

Can one get to OBP (OpenBoot PROM) on a Sparc using a USB keyboard attached to a USB PCI card? This is for an Ultra 10.

Background:

I would like to put Gentoo (2.6 kernel, preferably) on an Ultra 10 which I just rescued from the dustbin. I am considering buying a Sweex PCI USB 2.0 card (PCI 2.2 32bit bus, 33 MHz, 5V, <http://www.sweex.com/product.asp?pid=188>) to put in it to get around a problem I have getting the current keyboard recognized and also because I only found one Sun keyboard in the junk heap, but have many USB key boards hanging around. The Sweex price is cheap, but of course it could be the entire computer is toast, in which case any price is high :( From a reference from the FAQ, I get the sense that the Sweex (NEC chip) should work. This thread also seems hopeful. However, nobody says they use a USB keyboard connected to this PCI card to get to OBP.

My setup is: Ultra 10 with Sun Type 5 keyboard (both from junk heap). I attached to the keyboard a Sun 3-button mouse (also in the trash, but still sealed in its original bag. :D ) There is just 64MB memory in it, but I think I can rescue more. I currently have an old Mac hard drive in it just till I see I can boot. I have a Gentoo Sparc CD in the CD-ROM. I found no keyboard cable in the trash, so I used an old Mac printer cable (mini-DIN 8, with all 8 pins present, I assume they go straight through).

When I power the system on, there is a beep co-incident with the caps lock light lighting on the keyboard. The attached monitor powers up and I get the message:
Code:
Can't open input device.
Keyboard not present.  Using ttya for input and output.

I tried attaching a null model cable (sort of a three-part affair, not sure of any of the cables) from the Ultra 10's serial A port to a IBM thinkpad running Ubtunu/minicom. I don't get any response, even following the setting of the FAQ. I'm quite unsure of myself in the serial console realm, This is why I'm thinking of the chicken's way out of buying a PCI card. I've done Gentoo on X86, PPC, and MIPS. Never on SPARC before.

Any advice welcome!
/iMike


Last edited by iMike on Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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gust4voz
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, you can't use anything other than a type5/6 sun-interface keyboard for input or serial console.
It's possible you're not matching the baud rate for the serial console, the default is 9600 but it may be set to some other thing...
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Gustavo Zacarias
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iMike
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, sorry to hear that, but thanks for steering me away from the USB PCI card.

Well, I still have two possibilities to get this thing working then: the serial console, or a reliable Sun keyboard/cable combo. I've done some surfing around, but not found a solid answer to this one:

Can a 8-pin straight through cable (such as an old Mac printer cable be used in place of a Sun keyboard cable?

I don't see any local suppliers of the special Sun keyboard cables, so I really hope it is possible to use a Mac printer cable. I am also hopeful because the caps-lock key lights up on boot in my current configuration, which uses a Mac printer cable. On the other hand, I don't know if it's normal to get a beep then.

/iMike

PS I used 9600 baud for the serial connection. It could be something with the Windows side of my dual-boot IBM Thinkpad shutting off the serial port. It will take some time to investigate that one.
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gust4voz
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Sun keyboard is a serial thingie, you can't possibly use a standard PC (PS/2) keyboard unless you have a full-blown adapter that includes hardware to do so (as in chips).
Even being serial it's TTL-level so if you plug it in directly into a RS232 you'll bust it unless you use level converters (chips).
And you'd also have to simulate the (likely) commands it uses to detect if it's plugged in.
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iMike
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK. Thanks for that. You have undoubtedly already saved me hours of headache. I much appreciate that!

Now for some other good news: a friend dropped by and gave me a real Sun keyboard cable. That worked and I now have PROM!

Off to go save some more memory from the trash!

Thanks!
The dumpster diver
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