About NetBSD/sun3

NetBSD/sun3 is the port of NetBSD to the Sun Microsystems sun3, and sun3x series of computers, which are based on the Motorola 68020 and 68030 CPUs respectively, with a Sun-designed custom MMU. Sun sold these computers as both servers and desktop workstations from the mid to late 1980's. They were superseded by the sun4 SPARC RISC systems, which are supported by NetBSD as NetBSD/sparc.

Nathan Williams and Jeremy Cooper are the maintainers of NetBSD/sun3.

NetBSD/sun3 News

Archive of NetBSD/sun3 news items

Supported System Models

NetBSD/sun3 runs on these sun3 and sun3x architecture machines:

Model MHz RAM RAM Expansion Bus Slots Type
Sun 3/50 15.7 4 3rd party n/a n/a sun3
Sun 3/60 20 24 24 30-pin SIMM: 1x9 100ns P4 (video) 1 sun3
Sun 3/75 16.67 16 VME bus memory cards VME bus 2 sun3
Sun 3/80 20 40/64 16 30-pin SIMM: 1x9 or 4x9 100ns P4 (video) 1 sun3x
Sun 3/100 series 16.67 16 VME bus memory cards VME bus 3 sun3
Sun 3/200 series 25 64 VME bus memory cards VME bus 12 sun3
Sun 3/400 series 33 128 VME bus memory cards VME bus 12 sun3x
Sun 3/E 20 4(?) VME bus memory cards VME bus n/a(?) sun3

The RAM column is maximum supported RAM in megabytes.

Sun made a variety of VME bus cabinets with different numbers of bus slots; ultimate RAM and I/O expansion is more a matter of how many bus slots there, rather than the particular CPU you have.

The Sun3/80 RAM capacity varies with the boot ROM revision - 3.0.2 allows 40MB, 3.0.3 allows 64MB.

The Sun 3/50 has 4MB soldered on the motherboard; all RAM expansions for that workstation were provided by third-party solutions (read "hacks") of one kind or another.

The Sun 3/E is a 6U VME single-board computer intended as an embedded system component.

The Sun 3/80 workstation and Sun 3/400 series servers are sun3x architecture machines based on the Motorola 68030 CPU. They were Sun's last design using Motorola microprocessors, and were somewhat complicated by the fact that the mc68030 has an integrated MMU in the CPU chip.

Sun Microsystems stopped designing systems with Motorola microprocessors when their own SPARC CPU design became a commercial success.

Features of NetBSD/sun3

  • Native boot programs for disk, network, and tape
  • Automated installation tools (using a "miniroot")
  • SCSI drivers supporting DMA, interrupts, and (optional) disconnect/reselect
  • Frame buffer drivers compatible with SunOS and X11R6
  • Support for the Virtually Addressed Cache (VAC) on Sun3/2XX models
  • Storage Module Device (SMD) disk drivers
  • Supports most SCSI devices (CD-ROM, disk, etc)
  • Diskless (network) boot capability
  • Built-in kernel debugger
  • SunOS 4.1 Compatibility

Disk and RAM Requirements


4MB RAM, ~80MB disk


8MB RAM, 200MB disk

Normal + X11

16MB RAM, 300MB disk

The complete NetBSD sources without objects require 200MB of disk.

To run the X Window System or compile the NetBSD system sources (i.e. development), more RAM and disk are recommended. Good performance requires 8MB of RAM, or 16MB of RAM when running the X Window System.

Supported Hardware

The following Sun3 devices are currently supported:

  • RS-232c Serial ports:
    • built-in z8530 SCC as ttya, ttyb (zs)
  • Sun Video adapters:
    • 1 bpp framebuffer, (bwtwo)
    • 8 bpp framebuffer (cgtwo)
    • 8 bpp (+overlay) framebuffer (cgfour)
  • Network interfaces:
    • On-board AMD LANCE Ethernet (le)
    • On-board Intel Ethernet (ie)
    • VME Intel Ethernet board (ie)
  • SCSI bus host adapters:
    • On-board NCR 5380 SCSI Bus Controller (si)
    • On-board Emulex SCSI controller on sun3x (esp)
    • Sun-3 VME SCSI (also NCR 5380 SBC, Sun part # 501-1236) (si)
  • SMD Disks: (the big, heavy ones)
    • Xylogics 450/451 (xy)
    • Xylogics 753/7053 (xd)
  • Floppy drive:
    • Sun 3/80 built-in floppy drive (fdc)
  • Input devices:
    • Sun keyboard (kbd) and mouse (ms)
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Battery-backed real-time clock.

If you have a device that's not listed, it might be compatible with something else, or we might have simply forgotten it. If all else fails, maybe you could write a driver!

Note: The Sun VME sc SCSI card is not yet supported.

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