Reinstalling SunOS 4.1.4 without CD drive

Justin Dj Scott ccmp at
Fri Oct 2 10:59:34 CDT 2015

So, lets say you have your disk already partitioned the way you want it, and you have a swap (partition c) partition of equal or greater size of your install iso (actually not very likely, but lets just say that's so).

You can create a filesystem on partition c from another machine, put your CD image onto that partition, then from the OK prompt, tell it to boot from partition c of that drive.

The CD will boot, and then you can install from there - assuming that the installer gets everything off the partition before it decides to setup swap.

*Disclaimer: I've never tried this with SunOS, because A) I had the cd and CDROM[1], and B) I never had a swap partition that was 10x my max installed ram, however, I have done an OpenBSD install on a sun4u arch by this same methodology, copying the minimalist installer image to the c partition, booting from it, and then when it needed packages, it pulled the packages from the network.

[1] FYI, in case you're not aware, SPARC machines require a CDROM that will do the less common 512-byte sector size.  This means, if your CDROM works on anything other than a Sun machine, it won't work on a Sun machine.  If it does work on a Sun machine, it won't work on any(most) other machines.  There are many SCSI CDROM drives that can easily be changed over, either by jumper blocks or by cutting or soldering solder-pad jumpers.  For instance, back in my SunOS4 days, I had a Toshiba CDROM external that was intended to be used by a PC.  Open it up, cut a "half moon" solder jumper, and voila, it worked perfectly with a Sun.


Eric Christopherson(echristopherson) 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?
> 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?
> -- 
>         Eric Christopherson

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