[rescue] reading old unix disks from Linux

Mike Spooner mikes at aalin.co.uk
Fri Apr 26 15:04:41 CDT 2019

Warning about reading Solaris/SPARC UFS filesystems using Solaris/x86: some of
the metadata is stored on-disk in host byte-order (I know, stupid of Sun to do
that, but there you go).

Real SPARC h/w or an emulator thereof may be needed to read Solaris/SPARC

-- Mike

On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 7:57 PM +0100, "John Francini" <francini at mac.com>

VAX Ultrix should be able to run on the SIMH emulator, and it should be able
to mount the disks from the DECstation (which also ran Ultrix).


John Francini
bI have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace;
that two are called a law firm; and that three or more become a Congress.
And by God I have had *this Congress!b b John Adams

> On 26 Apr 2019, at 13:24 , Clem cole  wrote:
> Simh and the like are your friends.    I would only use Linux, MacOS or any
> other Unix to grab the entire disk image as a raw byte stream.    Then run
> emulated system such as a simh instance of the native machine that created
> In the case of solaris you ran run Solaris x86 to mount the sparc images.
> Similar AIX PS/2 (386) can read the 370 and romp based disk images.    HPUX
> might be more difficult but you might ask the HP folks in the simh world -
> they have a MPE running but I donbt know about the other OS.
> Tru64 can be read on FreeAXP if you donbt gave access to real hw.  I will
> say I have moved scsi disks between my FreeBSD/OpenBSD system and my Alpha
> Sent from my PDP-7 Running UNIX V0 expect things to be almost but not
>> On Apr 26, 2019, at 9:11 AM, Doug McIntyre  wrote:
>>> On Fri, Apr 26, 2019 at 05:46:57AM -0400, Andrew K. Bressen wrote:
>>> I have old SCSI drives I'm trying to read, and I'm running into a number
>>> of different issues I'd welcome feedback on.
>>> I've got drives from PCs, Macs, Suns, and DEC machines, and I'm using a
>>> 32 bit linux box (3.x kernel) to read them all. One thing I'm
>>> wondering is if I'd have fewer problems booting off a FreeBSD or NetBSD
>>> liveCD.
>> Honestly, I'd try to get images of those drives read into some virtual
>> format, and run emulators of each of the systems you are trying to
>> read from. Even a PC version of Solaris would probably do much better
>> reading a SPARC solaris disk than any other OS.
>> UFS is not implemented the same. Disk partitioning never was the same.
>> Sun did way different than DEC, which was different than AIX, which
>> was different than HPUX, even if they all used UFS. None of them
>> partitioned the basic disks the same.
>>> In a few cases, I've mounted partitions and seen only a lost+found
>>> directory that's empty. And dated sometime in the 1990s. But if I
>>> run strings(1) on the dd files of the raw partitions, I see tons
>>> of stuff there. So, am I seeing the remains of deleted files, or
>>> is the UFS driver buggy or having a poor interaction with the kernel's
>>> determination of partitions? Is there an undelete tool for antique UFS?
>> I'd think that if you did get it to mount to a point where you could
>> see /lost+found that you found a combination of the proper settings to
>> really read the disk, and most likely the files were "erased", which just
>> means that the directory node entry was removed, and the datablocks
>> put in the available pool (just like any OS does), while leaving
>> the contents of the file still in all its old disk blocks for you to read.
>> BSD systems come with 'fsdb' to repair UFS file systems, but it requires
>> a knowledge of the way UFS works, and lots of manual fiddling.
>> I don't know of any general purpose undelete tools, although I'm sure
>> people have proprietary inhouse solutions somewhere (ie. FBI/NSA/Ontrack)
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