Reinstalling SunOS 4.1.4 without CD drive

Mark G. Thomas Mark at
Fri Oct 2 10:23:53 CDT 2015


On Fri, Oct 02, 2015 at 03:17:18PM +0100, David Brownlee wrote:
> On 2 October 2015 at 15:01, Eric Christopherson
> <echristopherson at> wrote:
> > A very generous list member just gave me a SPARCStation 20 with SunOS
> > 4.1.4 on it. I thought the first thing I would do would be to image
> > its hard drive in my Linux PC, in case I ever wanted to start fresh.
> >
> > I assume that if I make a bitwise copy of it, I can later write those
> > same bits out. But now I'm wondering what would happen if the disk
> > developed marked bad sectors; would that make an exact image
> > impossible to write onto it?

Years ago I contributed part of a SunOS-4 FAQ on installing SunOS "by hand" 
extacting the tar files from the distribution CD. It is easy, provided 
you have the files, and have a way of partitioning and extracting them onto 
the destination drive, and can write the provided bootblock onto the drive.
I'll re-post that here once I find it, unless someone finds it via Google.

> > I have a disc image of that release, but unfortunately no SCSI CD-ROM.
> > It occurs to me that I could perhaps make a SunOS filesystem on Linux
> > and untar things from either the install CD or the image of the
> > original HD into it, but I don't know if that would produce something
> > actually bootable. I'm hoping there would be some way within Linux to
> > capture the actual format of the filesystem to use as a skeleton.
> > Does anyone know if this is possible (viz. creating a valid, bootable
> > filesystem and untarring files into it)? Or should I just invest in a
> > CD-ROM drive?

I'd think it would be pretty easy to find a SCSI cdrom drive for next
to nothing these days. I recently discarded a large quantitiy of them.

Some drives needed to by jumpered for 512 byte sectors to boot older Suns, 
but some just worked right automatically.


Mark G. Thomas (Mark at, KC3DRE

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