Desktop environment: CLI
Architecture: 386i, Sun, SPARC
Based on: BSD
The last version | Released: 4.1.4 | November 1994
SunOS – a UNIX based OS derived from BSD, created by Sun Microsystems. Initially released in 1982, it was the standard OS on Sun Machines at that time. Platforms supported by this OS were the Motorola 68000, the Sun 386i, and the SPARC.
Sun-1’s were the very first models ever produced by Sun. The earliest ran Unisoft V7 UNIX; SunOS 1.x was introduced later. According to some sources, fewer than 200 Sun-1’s were ever produced; they are certainly rare. The switch from Motorola 68000’s to 68010’s occurred during the Sun-1’s reign. Some models are reported to have 3Mbit Ethernet taps as well as 10Mbit.
68000-based Sun-1’s are not supported by SunOS. The last version of SunOS to support Sun-1’s may be the same as the last version to support Sun-2’s, since the 100U CPU boards are the same part.
Sun-2’s were introduced in the early 1980’s and were Sun’s first major commercial success. While not as popular or as common as the later Sun-3’s, they did well and there are still quite a few in circulation in the home/collector-used market.
All Sun-2’s are based on the Motorola 68010 and run SunOS. The last version of SunOS to support Sun-2’s was 4.0.3. Early Sun-2’s were Multibus; later models were VME, which Sun continued to use through the Sun-3 era and well into the Sun-4 line.
Sun switched to using the Motorola 68020 with the introduction of the Sun-3’s. A few later models had 68030’s, but by that time Sun was already moving toward SPARC processors. All models either have a 68881 or 68882 FPU installed stock or at least have a socket for one. All models which are not in pizza box chassis are VMEbus. Two out of three pizza box models have a “P4” connector which can take a framebuffer; the exception is the 3/50.
Support for Sun-3’s was introduced in SunOS 3.0. The last version of SunOS to support Sun-3’s was 4.1.1U1.
During the Sun-3 era, Sun introduced the handy practice of putting the model number on the Sun badge on the front of the chassis.
There are two different kernel architectures in the Sun-3 model line. All 68020-based models are “sun3” architecture; 68030-based models (the 3/80 and 3/4xx) are “sun3x” architecture.
The Sun 386i models, based on the Intel 80386 processor, were introduced when 80386-based IBM PC/AT clones were starting to become widespread. Intel had finally produced a chip sufficiently capable (32-bit, among other things) to allow porting SunOS, and using an Intel processor and an ISA bus offered the ability to run MS-DOS applications without speed-draining emulation. Unfortunately, they were a dismal failure.
Support for Sun-386i’s was introduced in SunOS 4.0. The 386i SunOS releases came from Sun’s East Coast division, so 386i SunOS was not identical to the standard version with the same number. The last released version of SunOS to support Sun-386i’s was 4.0.2; there are a few copies of 4.0.3Beta (with OpenLook 2.0) floating around.
Support for Sun-4’s was introduced in SunOS 4.0, although there was a special variant of SunOS 3.2 for Sun-4’s which was shipped with some very early units. Since this product line is still current, it is still in general supported by SunOS, which has mutated to become part of Solaris. Support for some earlier models has been dropped, and some later models require at least 4.0.3c, 4.1.1, or Solaris 2.x.
SunOS took a shift starting with version 5.0, which changed its base from BSD to Unix System V Release 4, and became Solaris. The last release under the SunOS name was Version 4.1.4, released in November 1994.
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