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NeXTSTEP on SPARCstation 5 with SCSI2SD

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Some random notes on a recent project to install NeXTSTEP 3.3 on a SPARCstation 5 with SCSI2SD storage.


  • 160MB RAM
  • Apple CD 600 (512 byte support)
  • S24 framebuffer

You need to set your CD-ROM drive to be SCSI ID 6 as this is what the SPARCstation expects. If your machine came with the internal CD-ROM this shouldn't be a problem (mine didn't). You cannot use hypersparc/ultrasparc CPUs, and a SPARCstation 20 with multiple CPUs will only use one of them. Best compatibility is probably the SPARCstation 5, 10, 20 models. The SPARCstation 4 also works but there's issues with the onboard VRAM SIMM and compatibility.

SCSI2SD Configuration

NeXTSTEP has a 2GB maximum and you also have to manually change the sectors/heads settings to something within what NeXTSTEP expects or you'll see cylinder related alerts. You'll also want to use SCSI ID 3 which is what the SPARCstation looks for as a default boot device.

  • Enable parity
  • Enable SCSI-2 mode
  • Create a device with SCSI ID 3, size 2GB, 512 bytes per sector, and you might want to also enter vendor SEAGATE and disk model ST32155N though this shouldn't matter anyway
  • Save the configuration to an XML file, then edit the file and change the "sectorsPerTrack" line to 139 and "headsPerCylinder" to 4 and save the file
  • Import the XML config back into the scsi2sd-util and save it to the device

Random Notes

  • The first SD card I tried would seem to just hang when it came time to initialize the disk, but it was otherwise appearing to be read by the system. It worked fine after using an 8gb SDHC card instead, so if your system has weird hangs or failures with the SCSI2SD try another card.


Some other threads on those forums were also used regarding the SCSI2SD.