Fujitsu Lifebook B112 running Solaris 10

As one of two resident Solaris Engineers in Holland, you sometimes get strange requests such as one from an IT operations person who was given this really old laptop. A fujitsu Lifebook B112; 96MB, 3GB harddisk. It was running Solaris 7 and he had no root password.

Hacking it was not too difficult; installing Solaris 10, of course, would be more fun.

There are a few challenges getting a vintage laptop up and running; it has no onboard networking, no bootable CD. And Solaris 10 does not support booting from the Xircom PE3 parallel port ethernet card anymore. And where would you even find such a device?

Well, turns out that we were indeed able to locate a Xicrom PE3 adaptor and armed with "perl" we could make the S9 "pe" driver run under S10; the "pe" driver is no longer supported because we obsolete GLDv0 but by making PE load "misc/GLD" rather than "misc/gld" and installing the old GLD driver we added the device to the miniroot on the S10 install server. Armed with an S9 boot floppy we then booted S10 from the server and started the install. It couldn't fit all of Solaris 10 so we removed a few components to cut it down so it would fit in the 2.8GB partition (the installer is a bit generous in allocating space so at the end we only had 2.0 GB installed).

After churning for around 3 hours, Solaris had been installed (Pe ethernet is very slow and a 233MHz Pentium is not very fast). I had to go home (friday) and resolved to see how far we'd get on monday. But I couldn't wait.

The next hack was attacking a system sitting idle with install finished (we didn't dare reboot because it'd come up w/o ethernet if we did) from the install server. After looking with snoop I found that there are actually two ways of doing that: the first one is the new "eventhook" mechanism we have for dhcp; whenever a dhcp event occurs, the eventhook script is run. The second method was even simpler; it turns out that Solaris 10 init stat's inittab every 5 minutes. So I added a line to inittab which popped an xterm up over my VPN tunnel to my house. Added the "PE" ethernet driver; finished some other config stuff by hand and rebooted. And it came up, still with PE but I soon killed it remotely fiddling with cardbus and the PCMCIA Ethernet card.

With my own modified PCIC driver I was able to get the lifebook to use "pcelx0", with all supported devices. Xorg came up without a hitch too, just a little bit of fiddling to get it to use the External monitor; no luck with the touchscreen yet. Here's what it looked like Lifebook B112 Running Solaris desktop login

Even sound was simple; ``update_drv -a -i '"ESS1879"' sbpro'' and the sound driver attached.

Great job. I have a newer version of a similar Fujitsu laptop. It means there are alternatives out there.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on November 29, 2004 at 07:19 AM MET #

Had similar issues with loading other B series Fujitsu's with JDS Linux. We ended up pulling the hard drive, plugging it into a laptop with an internal CD loading the OS and then moving it back to the B series. So there options for these older laptops depending on the equipment you have available.

Posted by doug curtis on November 29, 2004 at 09:43 AM MET #

You make it sound so easy. I've found that with x86 gear, a lot of the work is finding out which drivers is the right one (you make the point in your own post) and what switches are required to get it to work.

Posted by Francis Liu on December 09, 2004 at 08:50 PM MET #

It's a lot better now that we have the Xorg server; it generally autodetects but not always the highest resolution. In this particular case the only trick was getting it to net boot; after that Solaris recognized everything except the soundcard which only required the addition of the id to driver_aliases.

Posted by Casper Dik on December 10, 2004 at 01:20 AM MET #

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