Building a Sun Fire SC RJ-45 to RS-232C DB-9F Adapter

As we mentioned on receiving the Sun Fire T2000, one surprise was the need to use a terminal emulator to initialilly set-up the server through the system console port. Even more suprising was that it was still using a RJ-45 connector for the serial line, just like an old Dec VT100 terminal. Of course, we're not the only one to be so surprised.

Then the time came to plug it in. That’s where the trouble started: the machine doesn’t do any video-output at all. I know it’s not really necessary for a server box to have the latest and greatest in video acceleration hardware, but a most servers come with a MACH64 of some kind onboard so you can at least get up a text console without hassle. Not the Sun– it requires that you have a computer available with a serial connection. That’s all fine with me, I have such stuff anyway. But the serial connection for this uses an RJ-45 connector instead of the standard DB-9 one. And the only adapter I had for that didn’t seem to be the right one. Luckily I was able to fabricate my own...end quotation
-- CyBeRHQ.nl » Sun Fire T2000

You can also find more links about this in Frostyland "Sun Fire T2000 Try and Buyers".

As we said previously, this isn't new for Sun, but it is a bit of a pain if you aren't set up as a Sun-centric data center. We used the hyperterminal terminal emulator that comes with WindowsXP on a laptop, and the RS-232C serial port [DB-9 male] on the back of the laptop. We did see available Cisco Console standard RJ-45 to USB cables. That should work as well.

If you don't have soldering irons or appropriate crimp tools, building your own is also painful, as Pins 4 & 5 from the Sun need to be spliced together to go into Pin 5 [all signal ground pins] of the DB-9 connector. If you don't have the right tools, one way to do this is to simply cut the wires for both pins 4 & 5 from the RJ-45 part of the adapter, strip some insulation off of the wire for pins 4 & 5 from the RJ-45 and off one of the pins that you cut off, and twist all three together, and push the pin into the hole for pin 5 of the DB-9F.

Interpreting the pin-out was a bit dicey as well, both for the Sun system console from the manual, and for the adapter that we bought. Doug, one of the owners of Strawflower Electronics in Half Moon Bay, helped us to figure out the color coding and pins of the RJ-45 half of the adapter that we bought. Of course, the pin-out for the Sun SC port and the stanadard RS-232C determined what pin to push into what hole of the DB-9F half of the adapter.

Here's what we came up with, and it worked wonderfully well - for the entire three minutes that you actually need it before you can switch to the system console network port and use telnet over ethernet.

Sun Fire SC RJ-45 to DB-9 Adapter
Click to view original size

In addition to the pin-outs on the picture, here they are in a table.

Signal | RJ-45 Sun SC | DB-9F RS-232C | Color
RD Pin 3 Pin 2 Black
TD Pin 6 Pin 3 Yellow
DTR Pin 7 Pin 4 Brown
GND Pin 4 Pin 5 Red
GND Pin 5 Pin 5 Green
DSR Pin 2 Pin 6 Orange
RTS Pin 8 Pin 7 White
CTS Pin 1 Pin 8 Blue
Not Used
-
Pin 1
-
Not Used
-
Pin 9
-

We don't show it, but when you twist Red and Green together to connect Pins 4 & 5 with Pin 5 for the signal ground, you might want to put a bit of electrical tape around the bare wire. And you may want to close up the adapter housing, or not, as you only need the thing for less than five minutes.

Don't forget to read "Powering On the System" in the Installation Guide, 819-2546-10. Get all the docs.

sc> poweron
SC Alert: Host System has Reset
sc>
sc> console –f
Enter #. to return to ALOM.

Which lead to a bunch of system messages and the ok prompt

ok show-disks
a) /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@2/pci@0,2/LSILogic,sas@4/disk
q) NO SELECTION
Enter Selection, q to quit: q
ok
ok boot [use the value from above]

Which leads to more system messages...

and then the console login:

Now install some software and go have some fun. :>> We're starting with mock source systems to use in our Open Source solutions for BI testing, and then the open source databases and software for the ODS, data warehouse and tools.

Ham to Iraq

An old college chum of mine is about to celebrate both his birthday and the end of his second year in Iraq, as a project manager. While we don't share polictical views, nor much ideology, we have shared a lot of history over the 34 years since we first met.

For Christmas, he sent me a plaque.

To celebrate his birthday, Easter, and two years of living in a man-made hell, I'm sending him a Burger Smokehouse aged-one-year, Ozark country ham. It's one of their products that can be sent to an APO address. I hope it makes it there without rotting.

Ozark Country Ham Aged One Year

Happy Birthday, Bunkey :))

Update: Well, a government attorney friend of mine, ex-JAG, tells me that it might be illegal to send pork or pork-products to Iraq. While we were having an email exchange about this, Burger's Smokehouse phoned and said that they were out-of-stock on the ham I selected, anyway. They didn't have any lamb products that they could send. Ah well, no ham for Bunkey. :( Sorry.

More on Extinct Software Engineers

To continue with the idea that software engineers will become extinct, as I discussed earlier, and as is being discussed on FlatWorldSoftwareDevelopment, I would like to extend the thread beyond the idea that "high tech" jobs will disappear from the USA by 2016 into an old idea. The focus of software engineering will become almost exclusively on tools for software development, with the focus of software development being tools for end-users to create their own software.

This isn't a new idea, but has been around for awhile. It's never come to fruition because the technology [or maybe the technologists] weren't up to the task.

Most software, if not all software, is very frustrating for non-technologists to use. Much software is even frustrating for the technologists. When I watch my parents [both in their late 70's] trying to use a computer, even the "easy" UI of the MacOSX, I realize what should be obvious to the most casual observer. The current UI paradigm is anything but intuitive. Pushing a mouse or tracing your finger on a touch pad or point in an horizontal plane and relating it to selections on a separate vertical plane is confusing as hell until you've done it for a few years. It is counterintuitive. Hiding functions behind multiple and cascading menu options is counterintuitive. Making software that satisfies technologists' training but not end-users' needs, processes and ways of working is not just counterintuitive. 'Tis idiotic.

The real power of software, computing and digital communications will come from embedding and hiding the software functions of today in tools that allow end-users to create their own applications to automate their daily personal and business tasks; from UI's that follow the way the user prefers to operate and interact, to software that implements their algorithms, paradigms and processes. And, folk will be able to do this repetively, on-the-fly, as needed or wanted.

There are examples already being implemented in the Web2.0 world, using AJAX and Flash, such as Dabble DB.

So, will software engineering become extinct, in the USA or elsewhere. No, but it will change dramaticaly, and become a much more focused field of study.

Software Engineer becomes Extinct circa 2016

What is an "High Tech" worker? Since the Internet Bubble of the late 90's, many folk use "high tech" to be synonymous with "software" or "computer technology" or "Internet/Web". The first decade of my career was spent in aerospace as a system engineer [that's system, not systems, and refers to someone who architects and analyzes an entire system, not designs the subsystems that make up that system], manager of system engineering, and finally, consultant. As such, I've never actually considered software engineering as particularly "high tech", and certainly not the definition of the term.

An article at Fast Company states that

U.S. high-tech jobs
But software engineers can always get a job down at the garage.end quotation
-- Fast Company

I was pointed to the article from FlatWorldSoftwareDevelopment...

According to Fast Company, the occupation known as Software Engineer will disappear in the US around 2016...

"Do you think so too?end quotation
-- Flat World Software Development

I'm going to ignore both these folks assumption that "high tech job" equates with "software engineering job" and categorically state that "high tech" jobs won't ever disappear from the USA. Innovation can occur anywhere, and will continue to do so. Much of early rocketry came out of Germany and the old USSR; much of early Internet technology came out of Norway, as does much innovation in Wireless today, though Korea is big there too, as is the USA on the software side. The USA continues to innovate in software [read/write web, enterprise-class open source solutions, and security come to mind], bio- or life-sciences, "green" technology, nanotechnology and other material sciences, and even, still in aerospace.

Innovation can't be outsourced. It occurs wherever someone acts on an idea. [Come on, how many great inventions have you thought of, but never developed?] Acting on the idea makes one an innovator. Innovation, in whatever field, leads to jobs.

Sun_T2000_Arrives

The Sun Microsystems Sun Fire T2000 "try and buy" server arrived today.

Sun Fire T2000 arrives
Click to view original size

Opening the box brought joy to this rainy day...

Opening the box
Click to view original size

It comes with Cat5 cables and rails and cable management...

Cable Management Assembly
Click to view original size

And instructions are printed right on the case...

T2000 Instructions
Click to view original size

It's a handsome machine...

Sun Fire Front
Click to view original size

But, no racks here, and shades of the past, at least 10 years past for both of us. That was the last time we had set up a SPARC server with SunOS from scratch. Our hosting service uses machines leased from a rack company, at NOCs in Los Angeles, Texas and Virginia - we've never seen them. Same with our test servers. Being TeleInterActive, we all work from home.

On first start-up you must access the beast through the server console port...

T2000 SC Port
Click to view original size

Though you can use a terminal emulator on a PC [anyone remember hyperterminal?], but...

Er, no RJ-45 serial port here
Click to view original size

So, Clarise and I spent the rest of the day hunting for a RJ-45 to DB-9F gender bender, not at CompUSA, not at Radio Shack, but thankfully, I remembered Strawflower Electronics in Half Moon Bay, and yes...

RJ-45 to DB-9F adapter
Click to view original size

Now, let's see, where's there a pin-out? On the Sun site, in a manual. Look for Table 1-3.

And we can find the RS-232 DB-9 pin-out, but tomorrow.

Somehow, I don't think a ranger without a sys admin background could have dealt with the requirement for terminal hooked up to the SC port. Nor do many such folk as Jonathon targets, have a rack system about.

And to answer a few of the comment questions - the offer applies to anyone interested - not just corporate customers. We don't care if you're an educator or a park ranger or a blogger or a physicist or a CIO - so long as you're in the market for the fastest/most efficient server on earth.end quotation
-- Jonathon Schwartz Niagara FREE TRIAL - Update

But, this is going to be very interesting as we test the open source solutions for BI on the open source Niagara. We can't wait to finish the set-up. We'll keep you posted.

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The TeleInterActive Press is a collection of blogs by Clarise Z. Doval Santos and Joseph A. di Paolantonio, covering the Internet of Things, Data Management and Analytics, and other topics for business and pleasure. 37.540686772871 -122.516149406889

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