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July 20, 2005

TechTip: What the heck is a token ring?

Is that like an engagement ring but you don't really mean it?

See, I even get to answer the strange questions. This question is not all that strange if you know a bit about your computer history. Way back last century (early 1980s), it was not real clear which one of a number of competing network protocols would eventually become dominant. There was a "standard" (ISO) which everyone outside of Europe ignored, there was Token-Ring and there was Ethernet. Of course, we all *know* that Ethernet won out but in the early days that was not obvious for two reasons: TokenRing was plug and play (no dodgy thicknet taps or transceivers) and (according to IBM) it performed better. As time passed, ethernet got faster (10Mb -> 100Mb -> 1000Mb) and adapted the far more familiar phone-like connectors.

You can still run TokenRing on your Unix systems. For Sun servers, the two relevant cards are TRI/P (TokenRing Interface/PCI) and TRI/S (Sbus). The part numbers are X1039A and X1144A. I have seen the TRI/P card running under Solaris 7 and 8 and it should still be supported in 9. Note that there are some critical patches if you have a large token ring network. In fact one of the patches was the result of a bug (to do with MAC address translation) that I logged and researched :-)

My favourite comment on Token Ring is a Dilbert cartoon (see extended entry).


Posted by Ozguru at July 20, 2005 06:00 AM


Rofl has emailed me to point out that there are better part numbers like X1154A (TRI/P 4.0) which includes Solaris 7 drivers and X2154A (TRI/P 5.0) which includes Solaris 8 drivers.

Posted by: Ozguru at July 20, 2005 04:14 PM

All three parts have the same Token Ring card (which is a Madge card) but different drivers.

Posted by: Rofl at July 20, 2005 04:17 PM