At Sean's request, I experimented a bit more with bios settings
on the western scientific 3u machine.
I had previous tried out:
Quick Boot enabled -> disabled
bootup numlock on -> off
bootup cpu speed high -> low
parity check disabled -> enabled
bootup numlock doesn't matter if there's no keyboard
bootup cpu speed high -> low makes no difference I can measure.
Elapsed time in boot is identical.
I don't know if enabling parity check is a good thing or not,
given that these machines should have ECC memory and might
report memory errors differently. This would be something
to ask the western scientific folks. Linux probably sets
this how it pleases once it boots, so this probably only affects
memory while booting.
Quick boot seems to be the interesting option. With quick boot =
disabled, it takes about 9 minutes total to boot unattended (from
to login:) which includes a 6 minute window in which to send a <DEL>
and get into the bios setup menus. With quick boot = enabled, well,
the whole boot process only takes about 3 minutes, including about
20-22 seconds from initial system reset to the initial bios screen
redraw. I was able to get into setup by sending a repeating <DEL>
the 10 seconds before the initial bios screen appears. Once the
happens, it's definitely too late. One more gotcha which is true
without quick boot is that even if the machine is going to go into
setup mode, there's no obvious feedback. Instead it's necessary to
first wait for the adaptec bios initialization, which takes about 20
seconds, before the bios setup screen appears. Without quick boot,
is also a "8 seconds until boot" screen display where it looks like
it's going to boot lilo, before the setup screen appears.
With quick boot = disabled, for attended operation, you can
short-circuit the 6 minute memory testing process (and the 8 second
boot delay) by sending a <ESC>.
So, um, if you're using a digi serial mux on solaris, I believe
quick boot = disabled
and possibly you might want (ask western scientific):
parity check = enabled
If you're using a laptop or another serial connection that puts you
right next to the reset switch and doesn't disconnect when carrier
drops, don't mind unobvious behavior, and unattended boot speed is
important, then you might want "quick boot = enabled".