How can I control my Sun server without a keyboard, mouse or video card?

A: Unlike a regular Windows PC, where you typically only use your PC via a direct-attached keyboard, mouse and monitor, you have various options when deciding how you want to “connect to” or “control” your Sun machine.

The most common methods for connecting to, or administering a Solaris box are the following:

  1. Serial Port – This is the most “barebones” method of connecting to a Sun machine. All Sun machines support, at a very minimum, this method of administration. It only requires a null modem cable connected from the serial port of the Sun machine to the serial port of a terminal or a computer running a terminal emulator. This method only gives you command line interface (CLI) access to the server (no GUI.) In separate tutorials, I show you how you can serial from a PC to a Sun box as well as how you can serial from a Sun box to another Sun box.
  2. RSC / LOM / ALOM – These acronyms stand for Remote System Control, Lights Out Management and Advanced Lights Out Management, respectively. ALOM is a more advanced version of LOM, and, likewise, LOM is a more advanced version of RSC. These methods provide similar functionality to connecting via a serial port, but also expands on that concept by also providing a GUI, and additional features. More information about RSC here and about ALOM here.
  3. Keyboard/Mouse/Monitor – this approach is most common for Sun desktops — systems like the Ultra 60 or Sun Blade 2000. This requires that a video card be installed in the machine. Note: Some Sun machines, like the Sun Fire V1280, do not accept a video card.
  4. Telnet / SSH – I listed this method last, because while it is a very common method of administering a server, it provides a lot less control than the other methods. This is because Telnet and SSH only run if the operating system is running, so there is, no way to use OpenBoot PROM commands while using this method.

And there you have it — at least 4 different methods for controlling your Sun machine.

Maybe one of these days I’ll write some more tutorials on how to do 2, 3 and 4 — what cables to use, the commands to use with each method, etc.

PS: Don’t forget to stop by for all your Sun hardware and consulting needs.

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