UNIX Questions and Answers

UNIX Questions and Answers

Most answers refer to Solaris 2.x systems

Hardware Issues

Configuration Issues

NFS Issues

General Issues

Software issues

Networking issues

Security issues

Firewall issues

Performance tuning issues


How do i view and set the open boot prom settings

From the unix prompt use eeprom. From the ok prompt use devaliases, printenv, nvedit and nvalias.

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How do i stop people logging in ?

If the file /etc/nologin exists then only root can login. Whatever the contents of the file are are displayed to whoever is attempting a login.

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How do i boot over the net via a different interface

From the ok prompt type


This will display the possible interfaces. Select an interface then type

nvalias net ^Y

This will set the selected interface to the alias net.

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How do I solve Keyboard Translation

The most likely cause of this is an incorrect XKeysymDB file or an
incorrect pointer to it. Try looking in /usr/openwin/lib or
/usr/openwin/lib/X11. The Installation and Administration
manual for the application should have some information about this.

If logged in as root from another system try
/usr/openwin/bin/kbd-mode -a

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Why do I get the error Stale NFS

This was probably caused by a directory being deleted while another
system was NFS mounted into it. The best action is to cd
out of the directory and perform a umount. Sometimes
halting and restarting the automount daemon is reqired, for example:

/etc/rc2.d/S74autofs [stop/start]. or

/etc/init.d/nfs.server [stop/start].

If none of these work, then it might have to be a reboot.

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How can I configure new devices without

It is advisable to halt and power off the system whenever you attach new
scsi devices. However, if this is not possible try this:

  1. If possible stop the system with < STOP > < A >, connect the device and
    type go
  2. Type:



    tapes / disks (depending on the device attached)

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What does the error RPC Program not registered

Probably the NFS server has got itself a little confused. Check there is
an entry in /etc/dfs/dfstab

Try stopping and restarting the daemon, for example:

/etc/init.d/nfs.server [stop/start]

If this doesn’t work, try a reboot.

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How do I tar to a remote system?

Tar to a remote drive:

tar cvfb - 20 filenames | rsh host dd of=/dev/rmt0 obs=20b

Tar from a remote drive:

rsh -n host dd if=/dev/rmt0 bs=20b | tar xvBfb - 20

Copying directory trees:

cd fromdir; tar cf - . | (cd todir; tar xfBp -)

Copy directory tree to another host:

cd fromdir; tar cf - * | rsh host "cd todir ; tar xf -"

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How do I copy directory structure with cpio?

Use find and cpio

cd fromdir; find . -name -print | cpio -pmd /todir

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How can I increase swap space?

Swapping onto a file system is faster than swapping to a file. If
possible, partition an area of disk as the additional swap area.
Otherwise, create a swap file with the command mkfile (see
man page), for example:

mkfile 100m swappy

Add the swap area with the command swap (see man page) for

swap -a swappy

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Cetting a non sun cdrom to work

The main secret is to get the cdrom to talk in 512 byte sectors. If the cdrom does this then it will work.

Saturn.tlug.org This is a good FAQ to start with or try the Sun CD FAQ. or of course your manafacturs instruction book.

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How do I find out the speed of my machine?

Use the command psrinfo -v

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How do I carry out NFS performance tuning?

Start with the SMCC NFS Server Performance and Tuning Guide

This is a pkgadd of SUNWabhdw and adds the guide to answerbook

SUNWadhdw is on the “Software Supplement for the Solaris 2.6 Operating
Environment” CD.

Use the command /usr/bin/nfsstat to view the NFS statistics

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What hardware diagnostic programs are

Use SunVTS. This is available on the Software Supplement for the Solaris
2.6 Operating Environment CD.

If you have a fibre problem then try STORtools. You will probably need
a fibre loopback cable in order to get the most out of this.

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How do I make a file system bootable after a

If you have reinstalled the / file system from backup (ie
ufsdump) then you will need to recreate the boot block on
the boot disk. This is done using the installboot command (
read the man page ), for example:
/usr/platform/`uname -i`/lib/fs/ufs/bootblk /dev/rdsk/c?t?d?s?

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How do I dual host a system?

  1. Install the network card and cable it up. Make sure that any
    jumpersettings are set.
  2. Add the second interface name and IP to the hosts file and Name
  3. Edit the file /etc/hostname.interface where
    interface is the type, for example, le1 hme1
  4. Reboot the sysyem or manually set it up with ifconfig
    (see manual page)

    ifconfig hmse1 plumb

    ifconfig hmse1 IP-Address

You may also need to perform an add route (see manual page)

route add net destination gateway metric
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How do I find out what patches are on a

Use the command showrev -p

Use the command patchdiag -l this also lists patches you should install.
will need do download a copy from sun. If you have access try
downloading from http://sunsolve.sun.com.sunsolve/patchdiag this is a
tar compressed file.
There is a tar file of patchdiag on this site but i have not set up ftp at the moment of writing this page.

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How much memory does my system have?

Use the command prtconf and grep for the
memory, for example:

prtconf |grep Memory

If you need to know what memory sims are in what slot use the perl script from Micron. A sample script is.

Sample of Memcom Script Remeber to get an official copy.

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How can I play audio CDs and MP3 on my system?

For CD

Download a copy of Workman from Midwinter.com

If you have problems with sound then it might be that you cannot use
the internal sound card and will have to plug speekers int the cd
plater itself.

However this might work

edit /etc/rmmount.conf and add

action cdrom action_workman.so


try this before any other cdrom actions

For MP3 files look to the following site


If you wish to read an audio cd under solaris and copy the files to
wav, mpeg, etc then you need the program galette available from Galette

Once you have the files stored as wav files you need to convert them to MP3 using Blade

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What useful Solaris commands are there
for finding out what’s going on?

This is a definite RTFM, but start with these:

ps, iostat, nfsstat,
sar, netstat, snoop,
mpstat, rpcinfo, truss,
prtdiag, crash, psrinfo,
prtconf, arp and uptime

try looking at the enclosed perl script to get an idea of wht to look for.

Perl script to look at how the system is performing

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How do I connnect a Zip Drive?

Helpful info from Iomega at

Zip Drives on Sun

basically edit /etc/format.dat and add :-

disk_type = "Zip" \
: ctlr = SCSI\
: ncyl = 2046 : acyl = 2 : pcyl = 2048 : nhead = 2\
: nsect = 40 : rpm : bpt = 20480

partition = "Zip" \
: disk = "Zip" : ctlr = SCSI \
: 2 = 0, 192480 : 2 = 0, 1159168

Jazz Drives on Sun
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Why do I get .nfsxxxx files on NFS mounted

These are temporary files used by the system to guarantee data
reliability over the unreliable nfs mount. These can be left behind by
an application or process that has terminated abnormally.

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How do I stop printing a banner page?

If this is for just one print, use the -o option, for

lp -o nobanner name

Otherwise, edit the file /etc/lp/interfaces/printername and
change the option nobanner to yes.

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How can I find out and set shared memory?

Use the command ipcs to view what is set.

If you wish to change them, edit /etc/systems and reboot
with -r.

Typically, you would edit one or more of msgsys,
semsys, shmsys.

Check out the sun docunemt on shared memory sunworld document on shared memory

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Number of inodes used and free

use the command df -F ufs -o i

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What block size is my file system

use the command mkfs -m /dev/dsk/c?t?d?s?

look at the bsize value (you need to be root to run this)

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How do I find out which clients are NFS mounting
a server?

Use the command dfmounts

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How do I get rid of defunct processes?

These are caused by an application or process crashing, terminating
abnormally, getting confused
etc. Look for the parent process of these and kill or refresh it.

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What version of bind am I running?

try /usr/ccs/bin/what /usr/sbin/in.named |grep named

Solaris 2.6 bind 4.9.4-P1 

Solaris 2.5.1 bind 4.9.3-P1

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How can I change the hostid?

There are several ways to do this, try:


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Why am I having problems mounting a floppy?

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How do I configure dtlogin for other window managers?

You need to create an Xresourses file to start the window manager.

cd /usr/dt/config/C/Xresources.d
copy Xresources.ow to a new name of your window manager ie Xresourses.kde.

Now edit your Xresources.kde file. Making the changes for your window manager


Dtlogin*altDtsIncrement: True

Dtlogin*altDtName: KDE Desktop

Dtlogin*altDtKey: /usr/local/kde/bin/startkde

Dtlogin*altDtStart: /usr/local/kde/bin/startkde

Dtlogin*altDtLogo: KDElogo

copy the KDE logo KDElogo.pm to /usr/dt/appconfig/icons/C/KDElogo.pm

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Dual headed sun system

Try looking at infodoc 11669.

openwin -dev /dev/cgsix0 left -dev /dev/cgsix1 right


edit Xservers with

:0 Local [email protected] root /usr/openwin/bin/Xsun :0 -dev /dev/cgsix0 -dev /dev/cgsix1 right

How do I configure CDE?

The control panel

In this example I will add the workman cd player to the control panel.

Copy the CDE config file dtwm.fp from /usr/dt to your homedirectory/.dt/types

Create an icon and place it in ~.dt/icons. it should have a .m.pm extension.

ie. Player.m.pm

Edit the dtwm.fp file
and add following. In this case I am adding it between the help and
trash areas. the position hints is 13 so it should appear towards the
right between the help (book) icon and the trash (waste bin) icon.

CONTROL cdplayer
TYPE icon
PUSH_ACTION cdplayer
ICON Player

Create a file for what to do when the button is pushed. In the example
it is called cdplayer. The file has a .dt extension IE cdplayer.dt. The
contents of this file are.

ACTION cdplayer
LABEL cdplayer
EXEC_STRING /usr/local/bin/workman
ICON somename
DESCRIPTION starts cdplayer

The mouse menu

copy the mouse menu from /usr/dt/config/C/sys.dtwmrc to you home directory ~/.dt/types/dtwmrc.

edit the dtwnrc file adding or removing mouse options. In this case we will create an applications submenu and put the cdplayer in that submenu.

Firstly add the applications menu to the main menu by instering a line like this

"Applications" f.menu apps
in the DtRootMenu section. approx line 38
then hgo to the botton of the file and create the application menu. ie.

Menu apps
"CD Player" f.exec "/usr/local/bin/workman"

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How do I stop colour flashing?

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How do i communicate between systems using scokets

There are several ways to do this.  Below is an example of a perl program that sends the string 
"hey now hey now now. Sing this corrosion to me " to port 1250 on a system called mission.
On the mission server there is a program which is called via inetd that picks up this incomming
line and writes it to a file /tmp/outfile. the program is called read-socket.pl

Sample /etc/inetd.conf entry
read-socket stream tcp nowait neville /export/home/neville/read-socket.pl

Sample /etc/services entry
read-socket 1250/tcp

Sample sending program (send-line.pl)
use IO::Socket;
$sock = new IO::Socket::INET (PeerAddr => 'mission',
PeerPort => 1250,
Proto => 'tcp',
die "Socket could not be created. Reason $! \n" unless $sock;
print $sock "hey now hey now now. Sing this corrosion to me\n";
close ($sock);

Sample sending program (send-file.pl)
use IO::Socket;
my $FILETOSEND = "/tmp/crappy";
open (INFILE, $FILETOSEND) || die "cannot open file: $FILETOSEND \n";
$sock = new IO::Socket::INET (PeerAddr => 'mission',
PeerPort => 1250,
Proto => 'tcp',
die "Socket could not be created. Reason $! \n" unless $sock;
#now do the sending
select ($sock);
while (< INFILE > )
print $_;
close ($sock);
close ($INFILE);

Sample reading program (read-socket.pl)
open (OUT, ">/tmp/outfile") || die "cannot open output file \n";
print OUT < STDIN >
close (OUT);

Sample reading program as a deamon (not using /etc/system and /etc/services)
#!/usr/ bin/perl
use IO::Socket;
$sock = new IO::Socket::INET (PeerPort => 1250,
Proto => 'tcp',
Listen => 10,
Reuse => 1,
die "Cannot start deamon on socket Reason $! \n" unless $sock;
while ($this_connection = $server->accept())
print $this_connection;
close ($sock);

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How do i find out what resources a running process is using

Use the proc commands below and others. 
/usr/proc/bin/pmap -x $PID (see what memory is used)
/usr/proc/bin/pldd $PID (see what shared libraries are used)
/usr/proc/bin/pwdx $PID (see what the working directory is)

Download a copy of memtool from Sun. ftp://playground.sun.com/pub/memtool

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How can i program in curses?

If you plan to use curses to do an interface try looking at this site. It might make life easier for you

SCRMGR curses interface

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Get system hardware configuration

Run the command /usr/platform/arch-type/sbin/prtdiag -V

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Run jobs in background during times of light system loading

Try this site
Idalize program

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System stats in html format

Get a copy of DHTMLR (Do HTML Report) forom the belew site.

this is a shell script that gets system info and builds web pages.
DHTMLR program from the Sunsolve site Belgium

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Graphical FTP front ends for X

There are quite a few graphical front ends for ftp available. Below are
a couple of them. Also try looking at the KDE and GNOME sites.

GNU licenses Graphical ftp

llnl xdir

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Security issues and Solaris

Um yes well probably quite a few bits to add here. lets try

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Info on old sun hardware

This is a 7 part document

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Microsoft Internet Explorer and Outlook express for Solaris

Download it from

Internet Explorer

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How to prevent stack overflow

add noexec_user_stack to the file /etc/system

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How to tell if you are in 32 or 64 bit mode

use the command isainfo -v

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Disable CDROM popup under CDE

comment out the stdvolcheck stuff from


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Stop FTP users from logging in

Set their shell in /etc/passwd to /bin/false. Then edit /etc/shells and add a line /bin/false.

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Check for disk errors

Use the commands

iostat -e or iostst -E or netstat -k

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Firewall information

Probably a lot to say here lets start with

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Performance tuning information

Probably a lot to say here lets start with

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Xerox NeWSprinter20 Toner

As far as i can tell this is the toner Xerox XP 15/20

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Connecting a Sun Monitor to a PC

You will need to get a fixed frequency card. Look at this site.

Monitor world

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Connecting a PC Monitor to a Sun

You will need to get a 13W3 to VGA connector.

Some monitors (Notably Sony based ones) will just work. Plug it it and reboot.

If not you will need to set up your monitor configurations at the NVRAM.

To set the NVRAM you need the following info.

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Pinouts for Scsi, Video, Audio, Parallel, serial, etc

A good site to start looking at is:


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What is my screen resolution, etc

Under the X11 environment run the command xdpyinfo. If not running X
then you will need to look at one of the frame buffer config commands.

Unfortunatly these are framebuffer specific but try

System/Framebuffer	Command

Sparc4, Sparcx5 tcx tcxconfig
x86 kdmconfig
Ultra creator ffbconfig
Ultra PGX/M64 m64config
sparc ZX/TZX leoconfig
sparc SX cg14config

If you do not have the OS running but are at the OK pronpt try using nvedit.

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Upper to lower case traanslation using tr

#translate filenames in uppercase to lowercase

for FILE in `ls`
NEWNAME=`echo $FILE |tr [A-Z] [a-z]`

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How to create solaris pkg’d

read this good article.

creating solaris packages

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Mb/Mhz rpm rule of thumb

A vague rule of thumb when looking at disk arrays is MB transfered is 10% of Mhz

for every 1000 rpm of disk you will get about 9 I/O’s second therefore a 10,000rpm disk will have 90 I/O second

If these are in a stripe configuration of 5 working disks the the throughput

could be 400 I/O second

At the time of writing a fully populated D1000 could yeald up to 3000 I/O second

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Online & Offline processors and what running on a processor

useful commnads are mpstat, psrinfo, psrset, pbind

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Rename an e10000 domain

Take a look at this page to show how to remane a domain. The main thing
to remember is to rename the domain on the ssp as well as the domain
Renaming an E1000 Domain

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