[rescue] ESIX report

Geoffrey S. Mendelson gsm at mendelson.com
Fri Jun 20 07:06:50 CDT 2003

I know it's not sexy like rescuing a cray, but I've wanted to get my ESIX
system back in operation for nostalga purposes. I've mentioned it before
on the list.

The original machine was a 386/sx 16 with 2 meg of ram and two 60 meg RLL 
drives. It had a QIC-02 60 meg tape drive and a 2 port serial card.

It ran ESIX sysV R3.2 for about four years. 

It was then upgraded to a 386/33 with 4 meg of RAM and a 1 gig SCSI
drive. It had a SCSI 150 meg tape drive, a network card and a 16 port
high speed serial card. At the time of the upgrade, I also upgraded to
ESIX sysV r4.

I had a succession of modems from 2400 baud to 34k. Mostly what I ran was
UUCP for mail and news and later a web proxy. I read my email using
ELM (which I still do today).

The machine was shut down in 1996 when I moved to Israel. I took several
copies of backup tapes and install floppies and the sys V r4 install
floppies and tapes. The 3.2 install floppies have long since disappeared.

I removed and carefuly packed the SCSI controler, network card, and serial
card. When I unpacked my stuff 3 months later, the empty shell of the
computer arrived and the cards were no where to be found.

About 2 months ago my wife had to go to the U.S. for her sister's funeral
and a friend of mine gave her a replacement for the SCSI controler and
network card. He also gave her a SPARCbook, and you can guess what I've
been spending my time on. :-)

Last week a neighbor gave me a 486/66 that he had been using until a
few weeks ago. I installed Linux on it (that's a whole 'nother thread)
to get it working, and found that I had to replace the hard drive
and memory.

Armed with a "new" machine that I knew worked, and the missing parts,
I decided to see what I could with it. So last night, I reconfigured
the machine, located my backups of the install floppies and "went for it".

Since the SCSI controler (WD7000) was an ISA bus mastering controler,
I had to reduce the memory to 16 meg. 

Phase one was to install a running system from the install floppies.
Phase two was to restore the backup tapes now almost 7 years old.
I had 5 or 6 copies of them so I should be ok.

Phase one went sour and kept me up all night. Serial cards, disk drives,
etc, went bad just by sitting on a shelf. I could not find terminators.
The only device I could find terminators that fit was a CD-ROM drive.
So my SCSI chain was a CD-ROM, QIC-150 tape, and a 1gig hard drive.

In the end the WD SCSI controler was bad. :-(

I had 2 copies each of install 1 and 2 and 1 copy of install 3. Needless
to say install 3 is bad. 

Well I was lucky. There still is an ftp.esix.com and I was able to
download and write new install floppies. The install floppies
not only support SCSI but they support IDE drives too. 

So I now have an IDE drive with a minimum ESIX system on ready for the
restore. Unfortunatley, the IDE driver only supports 1024 cylinders
of 520 meg. The rest of the drive (1.7g) is unusable.

The next step was to restore the copy of gnutar (tar is not on the
install disks) from floppy that I had created for this purpose.
Of course, that floppy is not readable either. :-(

The new kernel on the install disks (which included an update for
running systems) will support SCSI disks up to 32g. It will only
support 2 gig partitions, but you can have 16 of them. 

Somewhere in my junk I have an adaptec ISA bus mastering SCSI controler,
hopefully I can find it and it will still work. It did not work last
time I tried it, but that was because I was I trying to use it on
a system with 64 meg of ram and it only supports 16.


Geoffrey S. Mendelson gsm at mendelson.com 972-54-608-069
Do sysadmins count networked sheep?

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