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Re: x86'er needs help with an rs/6000

To anyone who might be reading this thread: I really need some help
getting this RS/6000 F40 (7025) to boot linux, see my last couple

On 19 Nov 1999, Adrian Phillips wrote:

> >>>>> "Gerald" == Gerald Turner <gturner@mojavedesign.net> writes:
>     Gerald> On Thu, 18 Nov 1999, Alberto Varesio wrote:
>     >> Gerald Turner wrote: > > Forget my first question - a friend of
>     >> mine tugged hard enough on the > plastic ediface to get the
>     >> case open!  Yes, sometimes you have to be rude!  > > What I
>     >> found was: > > A single PPC module @ 166Mhz (damn!)  Maybe you
>     >> can add another one ... sure it is not a 233 ?
>     Gerald> Positively 166 (or 167?!).  It's a big icky module that
>     Gerald> looks IBM specific, perhaps specific to only this model of
>     Gerald> RS/6000 (F40) - even if IBM still sells it, I'm sure it'll
>     Gerald> cost lots :-(
> Without doubt they do, but it will cost an arm and a leg !
>     Gerald> Speaking of expensive IBM parts, is it possible that the
>     Gerald> board can use regular PC dimms? (FYI, the box has 1996
>     Gerald> written all over it)
> ECC ram probably, ie. not cheap :-( Check out Kingston
> (www.knigston.com ?) who I believe sell IBM memory (or perhaps I
> should write, memory for RS6000s).
> <snip>
>     Gerald> I finally got into "SMS" (i.e. BIOS) by searching
>     Gerald> comp.unix.aix and finding the F1/F5 keys...  The
>     Gerald> not-really-PS2 port is a tablet, the strange ISA card is a
>     Gerald> 128 port asynchronous adapter, and 3 of the 4 drives are
>     Gerald> in hardware raid!
>     Gerald> I'd like to know whether the 128 port controller is
>     Gerald> supported in Linux, anyone?
> Okay, I am not sure about the following but I believe the 128 port
> card and 16 port concentrator box are an OEM sold by IBM, as I have
> seened adverts in an American magazine from another company with boxes
> that almost identical to the IBM boxes we have (slightly different
> colours).
> Whatever, they are (or were) expensive; I believe we payed over 10000
> Nkr. (about £1000 [pounds]) for each 16 port box. It maybe cheaper
> buying another solution (unless you happended to get a 16 port box
> with the machine without noticing it yet :-) Of course, this was from
> IBM so the prices were probably double what the other company was
> charging.

Thanks for the info, I'll keep Kingston in mind but for a while 256MB
should be fine (if I can get this machine running, it'll be a web server -
eventually with a database running on it...).  I probably can get those 16
port boxes (the suit who sent me the machine has no idea which dusty parts
sitting in his closet for 2 years goes with the RS/6000) - but until I
know the controller can work with linux, I don't want to bother - already
spent $166 US on what I've got so far...
> <snip>
>     Gerald> It is running AIX 4.something (exact version scrolls by
>     Gerald> too fast in the little xconsole window during boot)... Too
>     Gerald> bad I don't have any of the AIX installation media - I'd
>     Gerald> really like to check out AIX before trashing it for
>     Gerald> Debian.
> Try uname -a, that should tell you somewhere in there what patch level
> its at (I can't remeber exactly now but I think its backwards, so
> <hostname> 1 4 <other stuff> would be AIX 4.1).

I forgot to mention that I don't have any access to the installed AIX - no
root password, no user accounts - luckily SMS didn't have a password set.
I'd really like to play with AIX (maybe even keep it), but I don't have
the money to buy the OS.  I could configure a PC to have the same network
route as AIX (changing the IP addresses in SMS probably doesn't affect
AIX, right?), but I don't have the time nor experience to hack the box
over ethernet (if it's even possible).

Linux is the goal - Debian of course.  Thats where I'm stuck right now. 
I've looked at the so called "redbook" from IBM, and it says this machine
is PReP and not CHRP (unlike the model F50) - but I can't verify that with
'bootlist -T' (no login).  I havn't been able to find/use any firmware
boot commands, but I can change the boot sequence to floppy first (and
only).  So far I've tried PReP floppies from www.debian.org/~porter/prepdl
and sid/main/disks-powerpc/current, as well as CHRP floppies (though I
guess the floppy doesn't work for that arch anyway) - they all just hang
with no indication of whats happened (the logo screen sometimes scrolls up
a few lines as though some text has been printed, but it must be white on
white!).  I've even been able to verify the floppies from the AIXish
"Service Mode" -> "Service Aids".  I'm going to give TFTP/NFS a try in the
next couple days - but disks-powerpc/current doesn't seem to have any TFTP
boot images :-(

I realize getting this hardware to run linux may be well over my head, and
if it turns out that only a kernel hacker or debian guru can make it work
perhaps I can persuade the owner (I havn't been given ownership until I
can make it useful) to donate (tax write-off?) the machine to Debian
(perhaps a kernel hacker would be more appropriate though).  What do you

Any help here would be much appreciated.

> Regards,
> Adrian

Thanks again, 

Gerald Turner

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