Getting a headless Sun Ultra 60 to use the screen and keyboard.

12th November 2012

The problem I had.

To most of my readers this post, even the title, will probably mean nothing. I’m writing it for two reasons though. Firstly so I don’t forget myself, and secondly to help others who may need it.

Sun logo I have a Sun Ultra 60 which was used headless. That is, it was set up to communicate via serial port rather than screen/keyboard – and no matter what I did it ignored my keyboard and monitor.

The way it works is that it uses one method or the other. If it is set for screen/keyboard you can use it that way or, by unplugging the keyboard, use the serial port. If however it is already set for serial (headless) usage then just plugging in a keyboard does nothing.

How I solved it.

I searched the net far and wide. All kinds of instructions and help, mostly involving boot commands that I couldn’t input as I could not get the keyboard/screen to activate. Finally in the Sun Ultra 60 Service Manual I spotted the solution – which is probably obvious to Sun experts.

  • Hold the Stop and the N keys down at the same time while switched off.
  • Keep holding as you power on the workstation and don’t let go until the screen kicks in.

The Stop-N command is described in the manual as clearing the NVRAM. I guessed it would work in my situation based on the assumption that this particular setting would be stored there and that the factory default would be highly likely to be the one most helpful for the majority of setups; screen/keyboard with optional serial.

Simple. But only when you know how.

Incidentally, if you need this information then you are probably installing a new OS (Solaris or Linux at a guess), so to help you on your way - at the OK prompt (you may need Stop-A to get to it) enter boot cdrom to start your installation CD going.

If, like for me, the Solaris installer commands are off the bottom of the screen you can also use F2 to continue through the steps.