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Where Online can you go to buy old SPARC/Alpha Hardware? 28

Muad asks "I was looking into buying a SPARC or alpha box to run Linux on it.... I guess there should be some sites reselling older hardware on the net. Can you guys point me out some? I did not ask about SGIs because I think those are very likely to be overpriced anyways. Feel free to coreect me!"
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Where Online can you go to buy old SPARC/Alpha Hardware?

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  • by ccg ( 34 )
    I too have been looking for a "real" Unix box to run Unix or Linux on. SGI's are nifty, but don't run linux well yet (they're working on it: []). Check out [] for SGI Indy's, O2's, Indigos, etc. Also see []. has a collection of links (under "/sparc") to used/refurbished Sun machine resellers.

    good luck,

  • The network port on the back of that machine is known as a AUI port, originally used for thick net. What you need to connect it to 10baseT is a transciever, which can be picked up most places for $20-$30. It is a rectangular box (about the size of a medium box of matches) with the AUI port on one end and a TP port on the other. Plug it in, and you have network! :)
  • Check what kind parts you need to upgrade the equipment with or you may be buying cheap up front and expensive for the rest of your life.

    I am currently trying to find somebody with the 4x33 SIMMs necessary for a couple of old Digital Alpha boxes to get a memory upgrade. Digital doesn't even know of anyone with this stuff!
  • You can find rather reasonable prices on old Sun hardware (IPX's, LX's, Classics, Sparc 5s, etc.) at [] [] has good SGI prices and [] has good prices on NeXT hardware if you're interested in it.

    As an aside, I would strongly recommend against buying on eBay or online auction places in general for older non-pc hardware, as the prices tend to be absurdly high. is a pretty good newsgroup for buying hardware as well.
    Kevin Doherty
  • I got a AXPpci33 MB with 32MB RAM and 256K cache 3 months old for $170 last year. I also got a AS200 4/233 with 32MB RAM and S3 ViRGE/DX for $220 brand new with full original warranty. All of these items I got from - BTW I have no association with ebay other than being a happy user.


  • ( BTW - I am in no way affiliated with any of the following outfits )
    As far as UDB(multia)'s go,
    1. []
      You can pick up a udb+ram for ~$180. Any old 3.5" IDE drive will do.
      1. Finding (or making) a 2.5"(notebook)ide -> 3.5"ide cable.
      2. Older UDB firmware doesn't understand IDE properly. You may need to flash an upgrade (from, if so, you will need a floppy.
      These come in two models, one w/ a 3.5" hdd mounting bracket and one w/ a pci-riser. You can still cram a 3.5" hdd into the pci-slot model, but...
      1. won't be able to use a floppy. :(
      2. the hdd will stick ~2" out the front. :(
      You can install redhat (or whatever) w/o a floppy or cdrom (not for the timid)
      1. Install the hdd in a working machine.
      2. Partition it like you would any other UDB (small (8mb or so) msdos-fs hd?1 etc).
      3. Install linload.exe, milo, kernel, rootdisk, etc. in said partition.
      4. Put the drive in your Multia.
      5. Fix your boot-settings to point at the stuff you installed.
      6. Cross your fingers and boot.
      7. Make sure the RedHat-CD is NFS-exported somewhere.
      8. When (if) the RedHat installer comes up, specify NFS for the install source.
    2. []
      ELI has a few "new in box" systems left for ~$350. All original stuff, factory 540mg scsi hdd, etc. They even test their systems, offer warranty, fast delivery...
    On the other hand, prices on "new" equiptment is falling fast. A little while ago, LX164 systems were >$5000. Now, LX164-533 systems can be had for under $2500 and SX164-533(reduced cache) systems for under $1500. AxpLinux (despite myths to the contrary) now supports IDE, which can account for hundreds of dollars in savings... Please take note that in many of the 2.1.x and 2.2.0-pre kernels IDE is broken.
    1. []
      For ~$2200 you can pick up an 533mhz-LX164a with an ide-hdd and 2mb L3 cache.
    2. []
      (fyi: I have no experience dealing with microway)
      Microway has a "special" going on 533mhz-SX164pc's for $1395. These boxes only have 1mb L2 cache, but they still spec_fp better than a PII-450.
  • is a good source for old and reasonably new Sparcs. They also sell some DEC/Alpha systems and the occasional x86. I wish I had the money for something decent, though. Sniffle.

  • As other point out, you have an AUI jack behind your Sparc. You need to get a transceiver for your type of network (10bt, coax, fiber, whatever). Just an advice : on my SS10, the AUI is non-standard (not the same as on PC hardware), so make sure the transceiver you get work on your machine (ask the vendor).
  • by jmasseo ( 9543 )
    I like the part that reads:
    Low cost ISA bus.

    heheh. Not bad deal tho. :)
  • HardData [] sells alpha boxes. They're not exactly cheap...but they're priced ~ the same as the PII boxes they sell. So it's Alpha Powered for an Intel(igent) price. ;)
  • Most used systems come with OS included.... which seems good, although I am left with a question: being a non-Sun person I am rather puzzled as of what to consider as a decent machine to run solaris 7 (which I got in the 10 bux distribution for x86/SPARC).
  • There's lots of cheap Sparc and other equipment out there if you're willing to live with the older models. (An IPX is dirt cheap these days; on the other hand, an SS5 is a lot more expensive for what you get because it's still a `current' model, even though modern PCs blow it away in terms of speed.)

    However, if you want to get good deals and know what you're getting, do some research before you buy. For hardware information, the Sun Hardware FAQ [] is the biggest collection in one place. Another place worth looking is under the `Supported Hardware' link at the NetBSD project []; there's information there on many different systems, including Suns, and links to other sources of information. (This is also the only modern OS that runs on a lot of old equipment.)

    Once you've had at least a cursory look through the resources available, spend a week or two reading through [] to get an idea of what a decent price for this stuff is. There are a lot of bad (too high) prices posted there, but these usually get pointed out fairly quickly.

    The last thing I'd recommend is to start cheap, to see if this is to your taste. If you decide that working with non-PC equipment is just too much of a hassle, or you get too little performance for your dollar, you're only out a couple of hundred dollars if you bought an IPX, rather than a couple of thousand if you bought an SS20.

    Personally, I find old hardware quite rewarding. I currently have running at home 3 Sparcstations (two with rather nice 17" colour monitors that were dirt cheap!), a couple of Sun 3/60s (one colour, one mono, both with 19" monitors) and a VAXStation 2000, and my main mail server for is an IPX. I've also had various other things kicking around in the past, though I recently cleaned out my collection. It's fun stuff to play with, and actually does useful work quite well in many circumstances.


  • I have, over the years purchased many interesting pieces of Sun/SGI/Alpha gear from Moser Electronics. MECO.ORG []
  • Another site to go to for used sparc equipment
  • I'm also looking for older Sun h/w (an ELC or IPX would be nice). I'm been looking about a year now, but have been unable to locate anything in Europe (Denmark), and shipping from the US is just not cost-effective (usually costs more than the system itself). So my question is: Does anyone know where to buy old Sun h/w in Europe?
  • This crowd have a bunch of old sparcs
    never dealt with them, but they've been advertising for years.
  • I've got a spare UDB/Multia box and a SPARC ELC. They both run Linux just fine but I'm starting to run out of room so if anyone's interested somewhere near to Nottingham in the UK then drop me a note...


The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal