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Solaris frequently asked questions

On this page:

What window manager is available?

Solaris uses Xsun, a Xserver comprised of the X Consortium's X11R6, additional X extensions and other value added enhancements from Sun. The Common Desktop Environment (CDE) is not available on SCS installations of Solaris.

Openwindows is available as /usr/openwin/bin/openwin, and TWM is available as /usr/openwin/bin/twm. Both of these window managers can be added to your .xinitrc file. If you will be using Openwindows be sure to set an environment variable in your .login file: setenv OPENWINHOME /usr/openwin.

Blackbox, a "lightweight" window manager, is also available for later versions of Solaris and can be used by adding it to the beginning of the $wmlist line in your .xinitrc file.

How do I configure my display resolutions?

The method use to change screen resolutions on Sun workstations varies.

On a Sun SPARCstation 4 or 5: use /usr/platform/sun4m/sbin/cx14config. Most of these machines use the "cg fourteen" video card. More information on using the cx14config utility is available by typing: man cx14config.

On Sun Ultra workstations there are two common types of video devices: the M64 or FFB Graphics Accelerators. Solaris installations will provide the proper configuration utility in /usr/sbin/m64config or /usr/sbin/ffbconfig. Details for using each command can be found in the man pages man m64config or man ffbconfig.

Displaying the current resolution or changing these settings requires root access on the machine.

Note: Not all monitors may provide the resolutions desired. Consult your monitor documentation for supported resolution values.

How do I set the color depth of the Xsun server?

One method for changing the default color depth of the Xsun server on Solaris 7 is to include specific details for the framebuffer device in your .xserverrc file in your home directory.

First, determine the name and location of your framebuffer device using the command ls -l /dev/fb. If your framebuffer device were /dev/fbs/afb0 you would then replace the line:

   exec X $@
in your .xinitrc with:
   exec /usr/openwin/bin/Xsun :0 \
-dev /dev/fbs/afb0 defdepth 24 defclass TrueColor
The appropriate video config program mentioned in How do I configure my desktop resolution? will also provide you with details of the possible resolutions and color depths available to you using the -propt and -prtconf arguments.

What is /dev/dsk/cNtNdNsN mean?

SCSI disk filesystems are identified in Solaris using the syntax cNtNdNsN (where N is a single integer). Essentially, this refers the (c)ontroller, (t)arget, (d)evice and (s)lice describing the specific filesystem in question.

For example, the boot drive of an Sun Ultra workstation is typically identified as c0t0d0s0: the first disk slice (partition) of the first drive on the first SCSI target on the first disk controller of the workstation.

Do I have to have a special sun monitor?

Typically Sun workstations require a monitor with a 13W3 video connector. An adapter to convert from 13W3 to a standard 15HDF VGA connector exists but needs to be specially ordered.

Newer Sun workstations like the Sunblade 150 ship with standard VGA video connecters.

My machine always runs out of disk space. What can I do?

Shuffling data around on the undersized disk to different filesystems and creating symbolic links is not recommended. In situations where your system disk is no longer of sufficient capacity to accomodate your work, please contact to discuss purchasing a new disk. Please do not buy a disk for your workstation without consulting us, first.

Some workstations can support additional internal disks. Any machines not currently running Solaris 7 or better will be upgraded if the system disk is replaced. SCS Facilities no longer installs versions of SunOS/Solaris older than Solaris 7.

What's the difference between SunOS and Solaris?

SunOS refers to the actual operating system that underlies the Solaris OE (operating environment). SunOS is often used to refer to the old SunOS 4.x, a BSD-like operating system with some SVR4 features and OpenWindows.

Solaris is typically used to refer to SunOS 5.x releases of the operating system and environment from Sun Microsystems. The version of Solaris can be derived from the SunOS 5.x designation by dropping the leading 5. e.g., Solaris 7 is SunOS 5.7. However, some earlier verions of Solaris were numbered as 2.5.1 with a SunOS release of 5.5.1.

My machine won't finish booting and is asking me to run fsck, what should I do?

If you have root on the workstation, type the command exactly as it appears on the console.

If you do not have root on the workstation, contact the SCS Facilities Helpdesk at 268-4231 between 9am and 5pm, or send an email from another machine to

Is Gnome or KDE available on Solaris?

SCS Facilities does not offer installations of KDE or Gnome on Solaris.

Is there a more modern web browser for Solaris than Netscape 4.xx?

Yes. Mozilla 1.2.1 is available for both Solaris 7 and Solaris 9. You currently must add the following two lines to your /usr/local/depot/depot.pref.local file to subscribe to the collection:
   collection.release 1.2.1 mozilla
   collection.installmethod copy mozilla