Project SunBurn

Project Start Date: August 27th, 2005

   Prelude: Project SunBurn was borne of my growing boredom with "modern" PCs.  If you've been reading the Thugs' page (or my own personal page) for any length of time, you'll know I have a great love of experimenting with outlandish or uncommon computer systems.  Well, this project is simply the logical outgrowth of a previous project.  Since I now have a working knowledge of Unix and can do simple things without killing my machine, I've decided it's time to take Ten-chan to the next level.

    Shortly after purchasing my house in 2002, I bought a Sun Sparcstation 10 (dubbed "Ten-chan") from eBay in order to learn a real operating system, Solaris.  Learning Solaris, I felt, was preferable than fooling around with Linux, because to me, Solaris was being used in banks, academic and financial institutions, etc, and was a very professional, and highly stable Unix variant.  Ten-chan came equipped with a 2.1Gb SCSI HD, 128Mb RAM, keyboard, optical mouse, and Solaris 7 installed.  I had to buy a new keyboard (first one was broken) and a mechanical mouse (Ten-chan's seller neglected to include the special mousepad), a 13W3 adaptor in order to use an SVGA monitor with the system, and a legal copy of Solaris 7.  But, two weeks later, I had a fully functional Sparc 10 and was having the time of my life playing around with Solaris 7, surfing the 'net with my cable modem, editing the Thug's page, and all that.  Project Ten-chan was complete.

    Two months later, I got hacked.  Turns out, no security patches had been installed (the seller assured me they had been, so I was a bit complacent), and the intruder did a fair bit of damage via several well-known and well documented exploits I won't mention.  This was a good thing in a sense, because it introduced me to Sun's excellent support page, Sun related newsgroups, and best of all, the sunfreeware site.

    After getting the thing up, running, and secure, I figured it was time to upgrade.  I picked up two 180MHz processors and 8 64Mb DIMMS (for a total of 512Mb RAM!) and threw 'em into Ten-chan.  The system was so unstable after the upgrade, it was practically unusable.  So, back to eBay where I bought a sealed copy of Solaris 8...  figured I may as well upgrade the OS if I'm gonna reinstall...

    Not long after installing Solaris 8, I became rather bored with computers altogether and let Ten-chan languish until a couple of months ago.  I wanted to see how well RedHat Linux 6.2 performed on the Sparc 10, so I installed it and overwrote Solaris 8.  Well, I DO like Redhat on Sparc.  I had fun playing MP3s, trying several different XWindow managers (Afterstep and Amiwm rock!), drawing pictures in GIMP, pissing around with UCON64 and my SNES roms, and so on, but after a while it all seemed so frivolous.  I mean, I wasn't doing anything constructive with the machine, and I sure as Hell wasn't learning anything, time for another project!

Project Details:  I have a strong desire to learn more.  I want to be able to use my Sparc 10 to do all the power-user stuff I can think of, from editing web pages, graphic design, to ripping and encoding MP3s, to desktop publishing and burning CDs.  I also want to learn more advanced topics, too, such as programming, Xwindow and GUI design, GTK, Tcl/tk, shell scripts, and eventually writing my own Xwindow manager.  I also want to upgrade Ten-chan to its max, which means buying and installing quad 200MHz processors!  I figure this will cause my system to run extremely hot, almost burning hot, hence the project's code name, "SunBurn". ELIMINATED: not economically feasible - too much money spent for too little processing increase.  Better off buying a loaded UltraSparc or early Sun Blade for that kind of money!

Hardware Details:  I thought about what I'd need to complete the project, then took a look around the Lab to see what Slam and I have lying around.  Here's what the finished project will entail:

           Sun Sparcstation 10 w/512Mb RAM, Type 5c Keyboard, Mechanical mouse (surplus)
           Bootable external CDRom drive (surplus)
           18Gb SCSI HD (surplus)
           External 6x SCSI DVDRom drive (surplus)
           External CDRW drive (surplus)
           SCSI scanner (surplus)
           Sun flatscreen LCD monitor
           Quad 200MHz processors - preferably the thin ones that DON'T take up any SBUS slots (*ELIMINATED 12/04/05 *- will stick with the twin 180MHz CPUs)
           Sparc parallel-to-centronics printer cable
           Canon BJC-240 printer (surplus)
           Sun Sparcstation 10 audio box (surplus)
           SCSI tower for the external CD + DVD drives (surplus - modded PC case)
           Case mods - such as stronger cooling fans, a temperature sensor/display, and so on (subject to feasibility study)
           SunVideo SBUS video capture/conferencing card (surplus)
           SBUS-to-PCMCIA adaptor (surplus)
           PCMCIA Compact Flash card adaptor
           Compact Flash card
           Optional SunPC SBUS card - hardware 5x86 emulator!

    And that's it!  Luckily, we had a lot of the things I need for the project lying around (anything marked "surplus") or have just purchased (anything marked "en route"), and aside from the processors and monitor, everything else can be acquired rather inexpensively.  Unfortunately, the monitor and processors will be fairly expensive, so it's going to take me a bit to save up for it them.  Will likely pick up the monitor last, because I can use my SVGA monitor in the meantime.

Estimated Date of Completion: *UPDATED 12/04/2005*  Owing to financial difficulties, the NEW target date will be February 1st, 2006.