[rescue] Resurrecting an IBM RS/6000 model 590

Jonathan C. Patschke jp at celestrion.net
Sat Feb 7 14:48:38 CST 2004

On Sat, 7 Feb 2004, Mauricio wrote:

> Heck I do not even know how to log into it so I can figure out what it
> has.

If AIX is installed, log in and type:

  lslpp -L | more   # to find out what software is installed
  lscfg | more      # to find out what hardware is installed
  lscfg -v | more   # if you want part numbers and serial numbers

The wierd xx-xx-xx numbers are "location codes".  They tell you where the
device is plugged in.  Every port and slot in an RS/6000 has a specific
code.  Initially, these are pretty useless, but once you get to know
your system a bit better, they make a lot more sense.

> I did find out it uses MCA cards and I have a pile of them here,
> but would a garden-variety PS/2 video card work with it?

It depends.  IBM -may- have made some cards that work in both, but, in
general, RS/6000 parts are RS/6000-only.  The only things that I know for
a fact the 590 shares with the later-model PS/2s are memory, SCSI disks,
floppies, keyboards, and mice.  Every IBM card will have a FRU number on
it.  Google for that number and see if there are any reports of it
working in an RS/6000 and what driver it uses.

> If not, how do I use its serial port to go console on it?

I believe a 590 has a standard DE9 serial cable.  You need a true
null-modem cable to talk to it.  Those older RS/6000 systems are rather
picky about what they will and will not talk to over serial.  There's a
pinout in the web somewhere that says what you need to do if you want to
build your own.

> Could anyone help me out?

I have one very important question for you:  Do you have the system key?
There's a keyhole in the front of the system.  It is very important that
you have the key to go with it.  If you don't, and it's NOT set to
"service", you're screwed unless you want to mangle the case to get it
open.   If you don't, and it -is- set to "service", you're going to want
to buy a replacement keyswitch/key combination from a reseller or eBay.

About the keyswitch:  "Normal" means the chassis is locked and the
system will autoboot into multiuser.  "Secure" means the chassis is
locked and the system will not boot.  "Service" means the chassis is
unlocked and the system will boot into diagnostic or single-user mode.

You have to have the system in "service" mode to install an OS, and you
have to have the system in "normal" to autoboot into multiuser.

By the way, IBM was very serious about those keyswitches.  They use
3-tumbler Medeco locks which is pretty-much pick-proof, and the locking
bars are steel instead of plastic like in the PS/2.

Jonathan Patschke  ) "Some people grow out of the petty theft of
Elgin, TX         (   childhood.  Others grow up to be CEOs and
USA                )  politicians."                    --Phorist

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