Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tadpole SPARCbook 6500

I recently acquired a SPARCbook 6500 through a liquidation of a telecommunications company. Its a very interesting and powerful system -- 650MHz UltraSPARCIIe, 4GB of memory, and 2x60GB IDE disks, which makes it plenty powerful for workstation/development purposes, as well as a portable Oracle server. Its been an uphill battle, though, getting a recent Solaris on it. Tadpole seems to have made a deal with Sun to resale Solaris 10 media with their drivers on it to customers. Unfortunately, one must pay for the media or purchase a new laptop to receive a media kit, as Tadpole does not offer the necessary ISOs or packages for download. I've heard through internal hearsay, though, that packages containing drivers for Solaris 10 Update 2 or 3 should be released at some (hopefully, near) point in the future.

For those of you that might be asking why drivers would be necessary, the SPARCbook utilizes a lot of interfaces Tadpole engineered on their own, like the power management unit (PMU), PS/2 keyboard containing the extra Sun keys, and the cardbus interface. Unless you have media containing the drivers, one is forced to attach a USB keyboard and mouse to do an install until you can install the packages Tadpole provides separately that contain the drivers.

Much to my surprise it seems support for the Tadpole PS/2 keyboard has been integrated into ON, and the keyboard works out of the box with newer Solaris Express releases. A fast-track request was presented to PSARC (Sun's internal Solaris core architectural commitee) to add more support for the interfaces that the various Tadpole laptops (including the SPARCbook) sport, so things are definitely looking up for those of us that want to be on the cutting edge with our SPARC-based notebooks.

On another front, it seems Xorg is finally being shipped in Solaris Express SPARC releases, along with the generic, 'wsfb' driver which supports ATI Rage cards, like the PGX32, PGX64, m64, etc. Fortunately, the SPARCbook 6500 (as well as most other Tadpole notebooks) have PGX cards, so I could be looking forward to Xvideo support in the future, which is something that the traditional Xsun X11 server has always lacked. Alan Coopersmith stated that 24-bit colour is currently not working properly with the 'wsfb' driver, but Martin Bochnig (another owner of a Tadpole notebook) seems to be working on it.


Blogger bochnig said...

Hi senior fellow,

just in case you didn't discover this so far:

And the reason for a few Tadpole drivers being in standard Solaris, maybe that has to do with re-labeling a few Tadpole (and Nex...) mobile workstations as so called "Ultra 3"'s, back then, from July 2005 until December 2006??

Martin Bochnig

4:53 PM  
Blogger cptjustice said...

I got a Tadpole Sparcle off of eBay, and it only came with Solaris 8. After a lengthy period of frustration, I, purely by accident, found that there is still one version of Solaris 10 03/05 which can be downloaded from Sun.

This is the HW1 version. It does work with the Tadpole Solaris 10 03/05 install disk.

10:19 PM  
Blogger moongloom said...

Any idea how to upgrade the OBP on a 6500?

6:16 PM  
Blogger Chris & Dorie Famalette said...

Just got a tadpole for an older project I inherited at work. The links posted above no longer work and have been updated to:

The OS ISO image is missing, the only download for Solaris 10 is the update ISO. Do you possibly still have the Solaris 10 03/05 Install CD and Update?


6:49 PM  
Blogger Manuel G. said...


I buy a tadpole sparcbook 6500.
I want install Solaris 10 but the keyboard doesn't work...

I search the file tadpole_install_sol10_0305.iso but the ftp server is close...

have you this file in you archives ? if yes, could you share it ?

Thank you

4:38 AM  

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