Discussion:
Info-vax Digest, Vol 48, Issue 14
(too old to reply)
John Blake
2017-05-04 21:20:04 UTC
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Yes, and what interesting, spiffy, fun apps exist for VMS?
Adventure?
Empire?
747?
Sort of, last century, wouldn't you say?
Wish I had a few good ideas. I'd try to develop some apps.
You have wildly underestimated the influence of retro-computing
enthusiasts out there. People even love playing with dead systems like
MTS on the Hercules emulator, indie devs are still porting games to
dreamcast, the latest version of nethack (the huge 3.6 update) still
includes a VMS build file, but they have nobody with the knowledge to
test and fix it. I believe it's intended to be processor neutral so it
could even be compiled on a vax.

I had intended to set up my vaxstation 3100/38 to run a circleMUD so
people I knew could toy with it and so i could see what it could handle,
but one of the chips seems to have given up the ghost sadly. I've still
got a DEC 3000/400 (does anyone have some ram they could spare?) which
is running openbsd for the time being but i've got a full VMS 7.2
install on a modern 146gb drive using a scsi converter which works but i
run into too many roadblocks with it (it's 7.2 because the alpha is
super finicky about burned CD-Rs, despite the entirely compatible
pioneer CD drive, and the vaxstation 3100 never had a problem)

VMS is entirely capable of pulling in modern audiences. I'm a perfect
example, I had no idea it even existed a few years ago, I'm too young to
have run into it in college, but I remember dealing with it in an old
job and years later I've found it interesting enough to have two
vaxstations in parts and an old alpha workstation chugging along,
sucking power and running whatever i can get the old thing to compile.
David Froble
2017-05-05 03:09:02 UTC
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Post by John Blake
Yes, and what interesting, spiffy, fun apps exist for VMS?
Adventure?
Empire?
747?
Sort of, last century, wouldn't you say?
Wish I had a few good ideas. I'd try to develop some apps.
You have wildly underestimated the influence of retro-computing
enthusiasts out there. People even love playing with dead systems like
MTS on the Hercules emulator, indie devs are still porting games to
dreamcast, the latest version of nethack (the huge 3.6 update) still
includes a VMS build file, but they have nobody with the knowledge to
test and fix it. I believe it's intended to be processor neutral so it
could even be compiled on a vax.
I had intended to set up my vaxstation 3100/38 to run a circleMUD so
people I knew could toy with it and so i could see what it could handle,
but one of the chips seems to have given up the ghost sadly. I've still
got a DEC 3000/400 (does anyone have some ram they could spare?) which
is running openbsd for the time being but i've got a full VMS 7.2
install on a modern 146gb drive using a scsi converter which works but i
run into too many roadblocks with it (it's 7.2 because the alpha is
super finicky about burned CD-Rs, despite the entirely compatible
pioneer CD drive, and the vaxstation 3100 never had a problem)
VMS is entirely capable of pulling in modern audiences. I'm a perfect
example, I had no idea it even existed a few years ago, I'm too young to
have run into it in college, but I remember dealing with it in an old
job and years later I've found it interesting enough to have two
vaxstations in parts and an old alpha workstation chugging along,
sucking power and running whatever i can get the old thing to compile.
Where are you located? Maybe I can get rid of some old HW ..
Steven Schweda
2017-05-05 04:13:40 UTC
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[...] but i run into too many roadblocks with it (it's 7.2
because the alpha is super finicky about burned CD-Rs,
despite the entirely compatible pioneer CD drive, and the
vaxstation 3100 never had a problem)
Have you posted details of this problem? I've used many
different optical drives on my Alpha systems over the years,
and haven't had any problems which kept me at VMS V7.2.
[...] a modern 146gb drive using a scsi converter [...]
Every part of those descriptions is too vague to be
useful. Helpful would be actual model numbers, actual
commands, actual results, and so on.
Jason Howe
2017-05-05 15:42:24 UTC
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[...] but i run into too many roadblocks with it (it's 7.2 because the alpha
is super finicky about burned CD-Rs, despite the entirely compatible pioneer
CD drive, and the vaxstation 3100 never had a problem)
Have you posted details of this problem? I've used many different optical
drives on my Alpha systems over the years, and haven't had any problems
which kept me at VMS V7.2.
[...] a modern 146gb drive using a scsi converter [...]
Every part of those descriptions is too vague to be useful. Helpful would
be actual model numbers, actual commands, actual results, and so on.
Yeah, I burned a set of 8.4 install media and installed on my DEC 3000 a couple
years ago using the stock 1xCD-ROM drive (cd caddy and all). No issues, my
guess is that you have something else going on there.

I'm really interested in knowing which scsi converter you're using. Sizable 50
drives are getting pretty thin on the ground these days, and I've heard a lot of
mixed results with different SCSI converters, something about them VMS doesn't
like. I realize that's pretty vague, but I just don't remember the
details...it's been a while.


-- Jason
Stephen Hoffman
2017-05-05 16:00:12 UTC
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...scsi converter...
Potential cheap option...
http://hackaday.com/2017/05/01/the-raspberry-pi-becomes-a-scsi-device/
--
Pure Personal Opinion | HoffmanLabs LLC
Steven Schweda
2017-05-05 18:24:23 UTC
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Post by Jason Howe
I'm really interested in knowing which scsi converter
you're using. [...]
Or even what, exactly, "scsi converter" means to you. I'd
guess that "a modern 146gb drive" is already SCSI (as all my
146GB drives are), so this might be an SCA adapter rather
than some SATA-SCSI converter, but what's my guess worth?
Post by Jason Howe
[...] Sizable 50 drives are getting pretty thin on the
ground these days, [...]
I've been using SCA (80-pin) drives in my VAXes and Alphas
(and Macs, and every other place where I can stick them) for
years with very few problems. Some newer systems (Ultra/LVD)
have had trouble with old 80-to-68/50 adapters, but worked
well with (smaller) 80-to-68(-only) adapters. On my main
Alpha XP1000 system at the moment, "sho devi /full" says
things like the following about the internal disks:

Disk ALP$DKC0:, device type SEAGATE ST373207LC, [...]
Disk ALP$DKC100:, device type SEAGATE ST373307LC, [...]

Also:

Disk ALP$DKA600:, device type TOSHIBA DVD-ROM SD-M1711, [...]

And still more (mostly SCA) stuff in external Sun 611 boxes:

Disk ALP$DKB200:, device type SEAGATE ST336607LC, [...]
Disk ALP$DKB300:, device type SEAGATE ST3146707LC, [...]
Disk ALP$DKB500:, device type YAMAHA CRW2100S, [...]

Where the added adapters are:

Device PKB0:, device type Qlogic ISP1020 SCSI port, [...]
Device PKC0:, device type SYM53C895 LVD SCSI, [...]

Problems are always possible but, although useful
information may be scarce these days, it's also usually
easy to obtain at a very low cost. So, ...
John Blake
2017-05-05 21:46:59 UTC
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Post by David Froble
Where are you located? Maybe I can get rid of some old HW ..
Central VA, what kind of hardware? Contact me off list, I may be
interested.
Post by David Froble
Have you posted details of this problem? I've used many
different optical drives on my Alpha systems over the years,
and haven't had any problems which kept me at VMS V7.2.
I haven't posted details, it hasn't been a big enough problem to bother
the list with but since you've asked:

The CD drive is a Pioneer DR-U124X 50 pin drive, the reason why it's on
7.2 is because that's the only media kit I've been able to snag (it also
runs a contemporaneous version of Multinet, because I was also able to
get a media kit for that). I'm not sure why it doesn't seem to like
CD-Rs, they worked fine on the 3100/38 which, in theory, should be more
picky than the 3000/400. It will allow the system to boot from the
CD-R, begin the installation process, and then at a random point which
changes each attempt, it will suddenly fail to read packages. I've
tried different CD-R brands, redownloaded images, etc. all to no avail.
I've had the same problem attempting to install a couple of different
versions of Digital Unix/Tru-64 as well, so it's not just a VMS issue.

I haven't wrestled with it for a while because I was able to install
OpenBSD via the network and honestly that's a lot less of a headache to
deal with.
Post by David Froble
[...] a modern 146gb drive using a scsi converter [...]
Every part of those descriptions is too vague to be
useful. Helpful would be actual model numbers, actual
commands, actual results, and so on.
The adapters I use are on ebay, listed as SCA 80 PIN TO SCSI 68 IDE 50
Adapter (it's not IDE, obviously). They work perfectly, and the drives
I use are Maxtor Atlas 10k 146GB Ultra320s. I have two plugged in, and
a couple of the Maxtor drives, since it's all quite cheap surplus on
ebay. I would recommend them as cheap replacement/expansion drives,
although given the size of the adapter it doesn't quite fit into the case.
Post by David Froble
Yeah, I burned a set of 8.4 install media and installed on my DEC 3000 a couple
years ago using the stock 1xCD-ROM drive (cd caddy and all). No issues, my
guess is that you have something else going on there.
I'm really interested in knowing which scsi converter you're using. Sizable 50
drives are getting pretty thin on the ground these days, and I've heard a lot of
mixed results with different SCSI converters, something about them VMS doesn't
like. I realize that's pretty vague, but I just don't remember the
details...it's been a while.
-- Jason
The ones I've been using work quite happily, the VMS 7.2 drive works
just fine, the system doesn't see them as anything other than a standard
50-pin drive, channels are just jumpers. The problems I've had with
installing a newer version of VMS are definitely on the CD drive end of
things. I have tried using actual RRD drives, but they're always broken
sadly. I do have another working CD drive, a Toshiba XM-5701B which is
the equivalent to an RRD, and that has the same problem as the Pioneer
when it comes to installing from CD-Rs, eventually it fails to read the
disc contents and the installation dies. I have also attempted burning
the images from two different computers.
David Froble
2017-05-06 01:09:22 UTC
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Post by John Blake
Post by David Froble
Where are you located? Maybe I can get rid of some old HW ..
Central VA, what kind of hardware? Contact me off list, I may be
interested.
Nostly old VAX stuff, MicroVAX 3100 model 10, MicroVAX 3100 model 20, and a
couple VAXservers. Tales a slightly different license. Doesn't take user
licenses, I think.

Probably free, as long as they don't end up in a dumpster.

Might have one AlphaStation 200/233, not sure, most of them had power supplies
that died, and trying to get a replacement power supply is sort of expensive.
I'm not a HW guy, so I've never tried to re-wire a PC power supply.
Post by John Blake
Post by David Froble
Have you posted details of this problem? I've used many
different optical drives on my Alpha systems over the years,
and haven't had any problems which kept me at VMS V7.2.
I haven't posted details, it hasn't been a big enough problem to bother
The CD drive is a Pioneer DR-U124X 50 pin drive, the reason why it's on
7.2 is because that's the only media kit I've been able to snag (it also
runs a contemporaneous version of Multinet, because I was also able to
get a media kit for that). I'm not sure why it doesn't seem to like
CD-Rs, they worked fine on the 3100/38 which, in theory, should be more
picky than the 3000/400. It will allow the system to boot from the
CD-R, begin the installation process, and then at a random point which
changes each attempt, it will suddenly fail to read packages. I've
tried different CD-R brands, redownloaded images, etc. all to no avail.
I've had the same problem attempting to install a couple of different
versions of Digital Unix/Tru-64 as well, so it's not just a VMS issue.
It just may be the CD-R. Original CDs were 540 megabytes, or something like
that. Some CD-Rs will take up to 700 MB. Older readers may not work with the
larger optical media.
Post by John Blake
I haven't wrestled with it for a while because I was able to install
OpenBSD via the network and honestly that's a lot less of a headache to
deal with.
Post by David Froble
[...] a modern 146gb drive using a scsi converter [...]
Every part of those descriptions is too vague to be
useful. Helpful would be actual model numbers, actual
commands, actual results, and so on.
The adapters I use are on ebay, listed as SCA 80 PIN TO SCSI 68 IDE 50
Adapter (it's not IDE, obviously). They work perfectly, and the drives
I use are Maxtor Atlas 10k 146GB Ultra320s. I have two plugged in, and
a couple of the Maxtor drives, since it's all quite cheap surplus on
ebay. I would recommend them as cheap replacement/expansion drives,
although given the size of the adapter it doesn't quite fit into the case.
Post by David Froble
Yeah, I burned a set of 8.4 install media and installed on my DEC 3000 a couple
years ago using the stock 1xCD-ROM drive (cd caddy and all). No issues, my
guess is that you have something else going on there.
I'm really interested in knowing which scsi converter you're using. Sizable 50
drives are getting pretty thin on the ground these days, and I've heard a lot of
mixed results with different SCSI converters, something about them VMS doesn't
like. I realize that's pretty vague, but I just don't remember the
details...it's been a while.
-- Jason
The ones I've been using work quite happily, the VMS 7.2 drive works
just fine, the system doesn't see them as anything other than a standard
50-pin drive, channels are just jumpers. The problems I've had with
installing a newer version of VMS are definitely on the CD drive end of
things. I have tried using actual RRD drives, but they're always broken
sadly. I do have another working CD drive, a Toshiba XM-5701B which is
the equivalent to an RRD, and that has the same problem as the Pioneer
when it comes to installing from CD-Rs, eventually it fails to read the
disc contents and the installation dies. I have also attempted burning
the images from two different computers.
I've got 7.3 distribution media ....

My VAXstation 4000 90A is still running 7.2. I don't seem to have any issues.

David Froble Tel: 724-529-0450
Dave Froble Enterprises, Inc. E-Mail: ***@tsoft-inc.com
DFE Ultralights, Inc.
170 Grimplin Road
Vanderbilt, PA 15486
Steven Schweda
2017-05-06 01:55:18 UTC
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[...] it's on 7.2 is because that's the only media kit I've been able
to snag [...]
The current Hobbyist kit for Alpha is V8.4. If you're registered,
then an e-mail request to ***@hpe.com should return the
credentials needed to access the kits.
[...] it will suddenly fail to read packages. [...]
As usual, an actual error message could be more helpful than that
description. I've been using home-made CD-R discs since V7.2 (in 2000),
or, for IA64, DVD-R, with no particular problems. I probably made most
of them using Cdrecord/Cdrtools on an Alpha running VMS, but almost any
program on any hardware should be able to make a good disc from a
disc-image file, unless the program thinks that it's smart enough to
fiddle with the data before writing them. (Cdrecord can be trusted to
be stupid enough to work.)

If there's doubt about the integrity of a disc, then it should be
possible to extract an image from it, and then compare that with the
source image. If the optical drive can't read the thing (retries are
often audible), then that may be a different problem.
The adapters I use are on ebay, listed as SCA 80 PIN TO SCSI 68 IDE 50
Adapter (it's not IDE, obviously). They work perfectly, [...]
I'll assume that yours look like mine. Are you using the "68" part
or the "50" part? I don't know what the SCSI adapter in a "DEC
3000/400" looks like. The built-in on my XP1000 is wide (Qlogic
1020/1040), as are all my add-in PCI cards. (My now-disused
AlphaStation 200 4/233 systems might have started with narrow SCSI, but
I'd've added a Qlogic 1040 (wide) card pretty soon.)

As usual, many things are possible, and more info than "didn't work"
would probably be needed to make any progress.
My VAXstation 4000 90A is still running 7.2. I don't seem to have any
issues.
Bear in mind that that fellow doesn't get out much, and shuns
open-source software. Plenty more things work better (or at all) on
V8.4 than do on V7.2.
Stephen Hoffman
2017-05-06 13:02:46 UTC
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I've been using home-made CD-R discs since V7.2 (in 2000), or, for
IA64, DVD-R, with no particular problems...
Optical drives from the beginning of the recordable and rewritable
media era didn't and don't always read the newer media reliably.
Reflectivity from the recordable and rewritable substrate now in use
are much lower than the reflectivity from the traditional pressed media
the earliest drives were built for. The RRD42 was a salient example
of this. Plus old drives — Blake's Pioneer DR-U124X is from 1995,
right around the time that CD-R recorders were just starting to become
widely available — are old, and thus sometimes dusty and otherwise out
of spec. Blake's is a tray-loader seems of similar vintage as the
RRD42, so it wouldn't surprise me that it has issues with at least some
of the recordable and rewritable media in that came into common use
over twenty years after it was built.

This Toshiba XM-6201B is decently fast, should work with OpenVMS and
various other systems, and is cheap:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Toshiba-XM-6201B-Desktop-50-Pin-SCSI-Compact-Disc-CD-Rom-Drive-/132151519317

https://groups.google.com/d/msg/comp.os.vms/oFRZNYnQWtY/ZPUClzAJTJwJ

Some other models and drives have been discussed here, too. Old Sun
SCSI CD-ROM gear tends to work with OpenVMS VAX SCSI and OpenVMS Alpha
SCSI configurations, too.

But old gear is old, so expect to have to spend some money replacing
parts, and trying stuff that may or may not work, too. Or on parts
that arrive broken, for that matter.
--
Pure Personal Opinion | HoffmanLabs LLC
David Froble
2017-05-06 13:07:54 UTC
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Post by Steven Schweda
Post by David Froble
My VAXstation 4000 90A is still running 7.2. I don't seem to have any
issues.
Bear in mind that that fellow doesn't get out much, and shuns
open-source software. Plenty more things work better (or at all) on
V8.4 than do on V7.2.
Boy, I really don't get out much! Can you tell me where to get V8.4 for my VAX?

:-)
Steven Schweda
2017-05-06 13:30:50 UTC
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Post by David Froble
Boy, I really don't get out much! Can you tell me where to get V8.4 for my VAX?
No, but V7.3 is available for VAX. Is a "DEC 3000/400" a VAX?
David Froble
2017-05-06 15:32:15 UTC
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Post by Steven Schweda
Post by David Froble
Boy, I really don't get out much! Can you tell me where to get V8.4 for my VAX?
No, but V7.3 is available for VAX. Is a "DEC 3000/400" a VAX?
I believe I mentioned that I have VAX V7.3, and that I wasn't having any
problems with VAX V7.2. I also seem to recall that there wasn't much new in VAX
V7.3, it was put out more as a final version of VAX VMS.

Is a VAXstation 4000 model 90A a VAX?
Bill Gunshannon
2017-05-06 13:57:54 UTC
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Post by David Froble
Post by Steven Schweda
Post by David Froble
My VAXstation 4000 90A is still running 7.2. I don't seem to have any
issues.
Bear in mind that that fellow doesn't get out much, and shuns
open-source software. Plenty more things work better (or at all) on
V8.4 than do on V7.2.
Boy, I really don't get out much! Can you tell me where to get V8.4 for my VAX?
:-)
Same place you get Java 8 for your VAX. :-)

bill
David Froble
2017-05-06 15:33:39 UTC
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Post by Bill Gunshannon
Post by David Froble
Post by Steven Schweda
Post by David Froble
My VAXstation 4000 90A is still running 7.2. I don't seem to have any
issues.
Bear in mind that that fellow doesn't get out much, and shuns
open-source software. Plenty more things work better (or at all) on
V8.4 than do on V7.2.
Boy, I really don't get out much! Can you tell me where to get V8.4 for my VAX?
:-)
Same place you get Java 8 for your VAX. :-)
bill
Oh, goodie, next time I want to try Java I'll run it on my VAX ....
John Blake
2017-05-07 20:41:48 UTC
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Just to clarify some things that keep coming up in questions from folks
who are graciously trying to help me out with this:

The reason why I'm using 7.2 is because I bought an actual 7.2 media kit
(original CDs, manuals, unopened before I got it, same for the Multinet
4.3 kit). I bought it because I wanted to test whether the system would
work with normally pressed CDs where it would not work with CD-Rs. I
have attempted to use several different versions of burned VMS install
discs (I have a valid hobbyist license and have installed 8.3 with the
upgrade to 8.4 on a number of FreeAXP machines, I'm not familiar enough
with VMS to figure out how to set up a media server and install it over
the network though), I have been a heck of a bother trying to get new
images to test from the hobbyist maintainers, under the assumption that
my images are in some way broken or incorrect, none of which has fixed
the issue.

The Pioneer drive that I've been mostly using is the exact drive that I
used to install VMS with the same brand and type of CD-R onto a
Vaxstation 3100/38, plus the software and freeware discs, all burned, so
it is fully capable of reading them. The Toshiba throws the same
errors, so I'm sure it's an issue with the system (which has had the
firmware updated so it should be capable of taking an updated version of
VMS as far as I know). It's been a few months since I've attempted an
install though, I'll try it and report back with proper error messages.
As I said before, it's currently running OpenBSD and working quite
pleasantly so I haven't been in a huge rush to bang my head against the
same wall again. Another thing worth pointing out: I've tried two
different brands of modern CD-Rs (it is impossible to buy 650mb CD-Rs
now, I've tried) and the batch that I used for the Vaxstation install
wasn't used up, so I still have some 8.3 burned install discs burned on
discs from that batch, which don't work. I also have newly burned discs
which also don't work, in the same way. So unless HP is putting out
faulty images, which I have absolutely no reason to believe whatsoever
since they're provably good in emulator tests, there's something funky
with my machine.

Also when I describe the alpha in question as a DEC 3000/400 it is
accurate and I don't know how else to describe it since that is
literally the model name. It's a first generation 133Mhz Alpha
workstation/server in a desktop case. Mine was apparently used for a
very long time as a controller for some sort of automated system, until
it was confiscated by the police and sold at auction to the person who
then resold it to me via ebay. Still had the evidence sticker on it.
Once I cleaned it out and got it working, the drives it came with were
both tiny, running VMS 5 point something, and sounded like a buzzsaw
spinning up. I've been nursing this thing back to health for a while
and it would be quite nice to have it run on 8.4. She isn't fast, but
she does the job and she's mine. By the way if anyone has some ram for
it, mine only has 64MB and I would love to bump it up a bit.
Christopher Myers
2017-05-07 22:15:00 UTC
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I don't post often here, if at all, mostly just a reader. If anyone remembers, I'm the guy with the VAXstation 3100 and that old TK50. I think I also asked for help with some install errors with VAX SPM a while back. Still been collecting DEC stuff since then.

Anyway, for what it's worth John, I'm using a Toshiba XM-5401B with my VAXstation 3100/30. It was capable of reading CD-Rs I burned from my Windows 7 system and the 1995 VMS software library I have. VMS 7.3 read just fine and even VMS 6.1 read CD-Rs if I recall correctly. Obviously VMS 5.5-2H4 which I have currently installed now can't read CD-Rs.

If anyone is interested in this, I've recently backed-up the disk (old hard drive was making noise) onto a SCSI2SD and it's working perfectly thus far.
j***@yahoo.co.uk
2017-05-08 07:32:02 UTC
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Post by John Blake
Just to clarify some things that keep coming up in questions from folks
The reason why I'm using 7.2 is because I bought an actual 7.2 media kit
(original CDs, manuals, unopened before I got it, same for the Multinet
4.3 kit). I bought it because I wanted to test whether the system would
work with normally pressed CDs where it would not work with CD-Rs. I
have attempted to use several different versions of burned VMS install
discs (I have a valid hobbyist license and have installed 8.3 with the
upgrade to 8.4 on a number of FreeAXP machines, I'm not familiar enough
with VMS to figure out how to set up a media server and install it over
the network though), I have been a heck of a bother trying to get new
images to test from the hobbyist maintainers, under the assumption that
my images are in some way broken or incorrect, none of which has fixed
the issue.
The Pioneer drive that I've been mostly using is the exact drive that I
used to install VMS with the same brand and type of CD-R onto a
Vaxstation 3100/38, plus the software and freeware discs, all burned, so
it is fully capable of reading them. The Toshiba throws the same
errors, so I'm sure it's an issue with the system (which has had the
firmware updated so it should be capable of taking an updated version of
VMS as far as I know). It's been a few months since I've attempted an
install though, I'll try it and report back with proper error messages.
As I said before, it's currently running OpenBSD and working quite
pleasantly so I haven't been in a huge rush to bang my head against the
same wall again. Another thing worth pointing out: I've tried two
different brands of modern CD-Rs (it is impossible to buy 650mb CD-Rs
now, I've tried) and the batch that I used for the Vaxstation install
wasn't used up, so I still have some 8.3 burned install discs burned on
discs from that batch, which don't work. I also have newly burned discs
which also don't work, in the same way. So unless HP is putting out
faulty images, which I have absolutely no reason to believe whatsoever
since they're provably good in emulator tests, there's something funky
with my machine.
Also when I describe the alpha in question as a DEC 3000/400 it is
accurate and I don't know how else to describe it since that is
literally the model name. It's a first generation 133Mhz Alpha
workstation/server in a desktop case. Mine was apparently used for a
very long time as a controller for some sort of automated system, until
it was confiscated by the police and sold at auction to the person who
then resold it to me via ebay. Still had the evidence sticker on it.
Once I cleaned it out and got it working, the drives it came with were
both tiny, running VMS 5 point something, and sounded like a buzzsaw
spinning up. I've been nursing this thing back to health for a while
and it would be quite nice to have it run on 8.4. She isn't fast, but
she does the job and she's mine. By the way if anyone has some ram for
it, mine only has 64MB and I would love to bump it up a bit.
Your DEC 3000 AXP Model 400 is one of the TURBOchannel Alpha
systems - of course that description may not really help much.
Some people may recognise it as a Sandpiper:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DEC_3000_AXP

It's been a very long time since I was near one of these,
and there weren't all that many of them around. If you
want to carry on down this particular route you might
expect some challenges, but in general this stuff was
known to work, back in the day (which was a long time ago).

Some semi-random questions (it's early):
Do you know that the system firmware is up to date?
Do you know that the SCSI bus is correctly configured
(the DKA200 mount verification message is a hint that
all may not be well)?
Were you aware that it is possible to copy a bootable
distribution CD to a plain ordinary SCSI hard drive and
then boot and install from the hard drive? Even if you
can't do this on the 3000/400, someone else might be
able to help????

If you have this thing configured with serial (rather
than graphics) console, you could in principle
provide loads of extra info, including a complete log
(from power on) of any power-up messages and the progress
of the installation. Most of it would lead nowhere, but
somewhere is (e.g.) the reason for the mount verification.

When this stuff is properly configured and the hardware
is working, the software works too.

Best of luck.
Stephen Hoffman
2017-05-08 12:21:58 UTC
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Post by John Blake
Just to clarify some things that keep coming up in questions from folks
The reason why I'm using 7.2 is because I bought an actual 7.2 media
kit (original CDs, manuals, unopened before I got it, same for the
Multinet 4.3 kit). I bought it because I wanted to test whether the
system would work with normally pressed CDs where it would not work
with CD-Rs. I have attempted to use several different versions of
burned VMS install discs (I have a valid hobbyist license and have
installed 8.3 with the upgrade to 8.4 on a number of FreeAXP machines,
I'm not familiar enough with VMS to figure out how to set up a media
server and install it over the network though), I have been a heck of a
bother trying to get new images to test from the hobbyist maintainers,
under the assumption that my images are in some way broken or
incorrect, none of which has fixed the issue.
Booting as a satellite or booting via InfoServer are the other
approaches. InfoServer can be real hardware if you've scrounged that
hardware, or have converted certain older VAX boxes into an InfoServer,
or — easier — host-based InfoServer on some other V8.2-1 or later
OpenVMS I64 box or V8.3 or later OpenVMS Alpha box.

But with a flaky SCSI, all bets are off.
Post by John Blake
The Pioneer drive that I've been mostly using is the exact drive that I
used to install VMS with the same brand and type of CD-R onto a
Vaxstation 3100/38, plus the software and freeware discs, all burned,
so it is fully capable of reading them.
RZ26L was flaky in combination with various CD-ROM drives, and this
could also be improper bus termination or a cabling or cable problem.
Could also be a bad disk or controller. Probably not a SCSI LUN
collision, but that's usually worth checking. Usually best to avoid
the RZ26L, and roll the entire bus forward to something newer (and to
something that runs cooler than many of the old RZ drives).
Post by John Blake
Also when I describe the alpha in question as a DEC 3000/400 it is
accurate and I don't know how else to describe it since that is
literally the model name.
DEC 3000 model 400, per the marketing materials.
Post by John Blake
Once I cleaned it out and got it working, the drives it came with were
both tiny, running VMS 5 point something,
Would have been 1.5 or 1.5-1H1, or 6.1 or later. V1.0 didn't boot on
that box, and there are no V5 versions of OpenVMS Alpha; of OpenVMS
AXP, as it was also known.
--
Pure Personal Opinion | HoffmanLabs LLC
John Blake
2017-05-08 06:52:53 UTC
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The error message I find while attempting to install a freshly burned,
freshly downloaded VMS 8.4 iso directly from the HP hobbyist servers is:

%SYSTEM-I-MOUNTVER, DKA200: is offline. Mount verification is in progress.

and for a period of time, that results in this message:

%SYSTEM-I-MOUNTVER, DKA200: has completed mount verification.

unfortunately, and trust me when i say this, it leads to absolutely nothing. I have let the thing run overnight, there is no interactive way for me to help it along, and once the first error throws i have learned to give up.

It's telling me now that it's 50% of the way done off that fresh 8.4 CD-R. I have little faith that it will get anywhere close to the end.
Steven Schweda
2017-05-08 07:24:24 UTC
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Post by John Blake
%SYSTEM-I-MOUNTVER, DKA200: is offline. Mount verification
is in progress.
Smells to me like (SCSI) hardware -- bad/overlong cable, bad
termination, dying drive, ... The fact that the drive has
worked in the past is no guarantee that it's still good.
(Most bad hardware was previously good hardware.) Should it be
obvious to me whether DKA200 is the hard drive or the optical
drive?
Post by John Blake
[...] it leads to absolutely nothing. [...]
I seem dimly to recall having trouble with mount
verification on an optical drive being fatal. I don't recall
the circumstances, however. (With hard disks, proper
recovery seems to be more typical, in my experience.)
Post by John Blake
Just to clarify some things [...]
[...] I've tried two different brands of modern CD-Rs [...]
We seem to differ on the meaning of "clarify". "I've
tried" does not tell me with which image file you started,
which CD-writing program you used, whether that program (or
anything else) verified the resulting disc, and so on. If
the discs were bad, then I'd expect some error other than
mount verification, but what do I know? Can you connect the
SCSI CD-ROM drive to the PC with the CD-writing drive (with
different cable/terminator), and can it read the disc there?
David Wade
2017-05-08 22:09:53 UTC
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Post by John Blake
The error message I find while attempting to install a freshly burned,
%SYSTEM-I-MOUNTVER, DKA200: is offline. Mount verification is in progress.
%SYSTEM-I-MOUNTVER, DKA200: has completed mount verification.
unfortunately, and trust me when i say this, it leads to absolutely
nothing. I have let the thing run overnight, there is no interactive
way for me to help it along, and once the first error throws i have
learned to give up.
It's telling me now that it's 50% of the way done off that fresh 8.4
CD-R. I have little faith that it will get anywhere close to the end.
This is my experience too with a VAX 3100. I have some old silvery
single speed CD-ROM that "just about" works but the disk may need
cleaning and polishing a couple of times for a complete install..

Dave
Stephen Hoffman
2017-05-09 14:05:06 UTC
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Post by David Wade
This is my experience too with a VAX 3100.
There are more than a dozen different systems that can be abbreviated
"VAX 3100", from three (or more) different families of VAX systems; the
MicroVAX 3100 series, VAXserver 3100 series, VAXstation 3100 series.
Some of those VAX systems share similarities, and some are very
different. Given I've also seen both Alpha and Integrity systems
called "VAX", I don't always trust that "VAX" term to be used correctly
either. Some of the systems using the 3100 model number are very
old VAX systems with very limited six-byte SCSI firmware and other
limitations, some are among the newest VAX systems and with decent
firmware.

Again, vendor and model specifics matter for these questions.
Post by David Wade
I have some old silvery single speed CD-ROM that "just about" works but
the disk may need cleaning and polishing a couple of times for a
complete install..
Specific CD-ROM vendor and model information helps these discussions.

In general, anything prior to a DEC RRD44 or so is probably not worth
using. RRD42 is and RRD50 are definitely not worth using for anything
other than show. Well, other than as an electronically-deployable
coffee or tea mug holder. Same for most of the older RZ-series disks,
and there are particular old DEC SCSI disks that are best avoided, such
as the RZ26L. But I digress.

Or if you want to post tales of grief and woe and the sheer enjoyment
of troubleshooting flaky old SCSI hardware and the
how-does-this-even-work-as-well-as-it-does of optical media recording
media and devices — have at. It was a problem then — lots and lots of
discussions in the archives here in the comp.os.vms newsgroup — and
it's only gotten more "interesting" with the aging of the hardware and
cabling and power supplies.

The oldest CD drives — anything prior to an RRD44 or so — were and are
really flaky, and not all media reads in all drives, and most older
optical drives have trouble reading modern media.

Back in the day, DEC had one official OpenVMS media distribution that
didn't even read in some of the contemporary CD drives and had to be
remastered, too.

Verify bus length and proper bus termination, and start swapping for
spare drives. If you're working with old hardware — and any of the
VAX gear here is old — then sufficient budget to purchase and maintain
spare parts and/or to repair parts is essential to maintaining working
systems, too. Older VAX systems failed far more often than current
gear, too. That's before considering the age of the systems now, as
well. Some SCSI devices contain termination, some don't. Etc.
--
Pure Personal Opinion | HoffmanLabs LLC
Hans Bachner
2017-05-10 23:15:55 UTC
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[...] Same for most of the older RZ-series disks,
and there are particular old DEC SCSI disks that are best avoided, such
as the RZ26L.
why? The RZ26L is the largest drive that can be used as a boot device on
most/all VAX 3100 models (regardless of subtype/variant) as far as I can
remember. (Ignoring custom non-DEC firmware)

My experience with these drives is not that bad at all, given their age.
I have seen man more modern/younger drives with way less operating hours
fail on me...

No, I'm not using them 24*7, boot them up occasionally and run them a
couple of days/a few weeks before shutting them down again.
[...]If you're working with old hardware — and any of the VAX
gear here is old — then sufficient budget to purchase and maintain spare
parts and/or to repair parts is essential to maintaining working
systems, too. Older VAX systems failed far more often than current
gear, too. That's before considering the age of the systems now, as
well.
I firmly believe that almost any (physical) VAX still in use today is
run for fun. Production systems have been migrated to emulators years
ago. I've seen many of them being upgraded just as in the earlier days.
Since the owners migrated to the emulator, they have replaced the
underlying ProLiants (or whatever) two or three times, and upgraded the
emulator software to then current versions accordingly.
Older VAX systems failed far more often than current gear, too.
I guess you can replace "VAX" here with any system of those days, among
which a VAX certainly was one of the more robust and reliable systems.

So what are you trying to tell us? That DEC produced garbage, mostly?

You don't compare a current car's reliability and service requirements
with a model from back in the 80ies, and complain about the old one, do you?

Hans.
Stephen Hoffman
2017-05-11 16:31:18 UTC
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Post by Hans Bachner
[...] Same for most of the older RZ-series disks,
and there are particular old DEC SCSI disks that are best avoided, such
as the RZ26L.
why? The RZ26L is the largest drive that can be used as a boot device
on most/all VAX 3100 models (regardless of subtype/variant) as far as I
can remember. (Ignoring custom non-DEC firmware)
Because that drive has the occasional incompatibility with other
devices, as was mentioned. That is, that device does not play well
with other SCSI devices. That is, that device has had notices from
DEC indicating a problem, and the sorts of problems that can arise in a
configuration such as this one. Interestingly, there are SCSI
configuration problems in this configuration. Which could be due to
the RZ26L.
Post by Hans Bachner
[...]If you're working with old hardware — and any of the VAX gear here
is old — then sufficient budget to purchase and maintain spare parts
and/or to repair parts is essential to maintaining working systems,
too. Older VAX systems failed far more often than current gear, too.
That's before considering the age of the systems now, as well.
I firmly believe that almost any (physical) VAX still in use today is
run for fun. Production systems have been migrated to emulators years
ago. I've seen many of them being upgraded just as in the earlier days.
Since the owners migrated to the emulator, they have replaced the
underlying ProLiants (or whatever) two or three times, and upgraded the
emulator software to then current versions accordingly.
I firmly believe that some folks do run production on some of these old
VAX configurations. There have been postings here in the comp.os.vms
newsgroup that certainly imply that. I also firmly believe that some
folks — hobbyists and retrocomputing folks, and folks new to running
VAX configurations — don't immediately realize that there are
differences between newer gear and older gear, in terms of interfaces
and failure rates. Small herds of older VAX systems — then-new and
DEC-maintained configurations I was managing — could see failures as
often as once a month or more. Back then. This is not something
that many folks — particularly those more familiar with more recent
systems — have necessarily experienced. Folks do learn about this,
and about the other sorts of oddities and issues that arise when
running older hardware and software. That's part of what some
hobbyists and many of the retrocomputing folks are interested in, too.
In short, expectations can be challenged.
Post by Hans Bachner
Older VAX systems failed far more often than current gear, too.
I guess you can replace "VAX" here with any system of those days, among
which a VAX certainly was one of the more robust and reliable systems.
So what are you trying to tell us? That DEC produced garbage, mostly?
You don't compare a current car's reliability and service requirements
with a model from back in the 80ies, and complain about the old one, do you?
I don't. But many folks just starting out with older gear do make
exactly that assumption. Usually implicitly. More than a few didn't
realize that they can and variously do need a budget to keep the boxes
going, This is based on the "help me" email messages and queries I've
received from various hobbyists over the years. This is also why I
complain about software UI details, like reconfiguring the IP address
on OpenVMS. Because various folks can and do get in trouble mapping
present-day assumptions onto older hardware and older software.
--
Pure Personal Opinion | HoffmanLabs LLC
abrsvc
2017-05-11 17:22:43 UTC
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While not entirely germane to this discussion...

I am aware of over 10 sites that are still using VAX hardware legacy systems (not emulation) running V5.5-2 up to V7.3. These are specific applications that have not changed in many years and just keep chugging along. In many cases, specialty hardware interfaces prevent the use of emulation.

And yes, these sites do have spares and a budget for hardware support.

Dan
j***@yahoo.co.uk
2017-05-11 18:18:20 UTC
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Post by abrsvc
While not entirely germane to this discussion...
I am aware of over 10 sites that are still using VAX hardware legacy systems (not emulation) running V5.5-2 up to V7.3. These are specific applications that have not changed in many years and just keep chugging along. In many cases, specialty hardware interfaces prevent the use of emulation.
And yes, these sites do have spares and a budget for hardware support.
Dan
Thank you, I was going to say something similar (but
without estimating a number of sites or whatever).

Vast numbers of modern computers (and the associated
software) seem to be disposable items, part of the IT
empire's budget, to be thrown away at the vendor's
beck and call, every five years max, preferably less,
maybe even much less if you're Amazon's AWS group,
or if you're FaceBook, Google, MS, etc.

Not all computers out there fit that description,
especially where the computer may be part of a bigger
system which itself may be part of a critical
organisational function. There may also be
hardware-specific requirements which VMS has often
been quite capable of handling.

It's almost as though one size does not fit all,
that there may even be room in the business for
people and organisations that want to "think
different".
Scott Dorsey
2017-05-11 18:28:05 UTC
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Post by abrsvc
While not entirely germane to this discussion...
I am aware of over 10 sites that are still using VAX hardware legacy system=
s (not emulation) running V5.5-2 up to V7.3. These are specific applicatio=
ns that have not changed in many years and just keep chugging along. In ma=
ny cases, specialty hardware interfaces prevent the use of emulation.
And yes, these sites do have spares and a budget for hardware support.
Two years ago, if you'd have asked, I would have been aware of five. But
today I am aware of three, and if you ask in six months and the schedule
doesn't slip, it'll be two.
--scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
Bob Koehler
2017-05-12 13:51:37 UTC
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Post by Scott Dorsey
Two years ago, if you'd have asked, I would have been aware of five. But
today I am aware of three, and if you ask in six months and the schedule
doesn't slip, it'll be two.
I'm aware of about a dozen at one site. If they're schedule doesn't
slip, it will remain a dozen until well into the next decade. Don't
know other sites as well.
Steven Underwood
2017-05-11 23:14:08 UTC
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Post by Hans Bachner
I firmly believe that almost any (physical) VAX still in use today is
run for fun. Production systems have been migrated to emulators years
ago. I've seen many of them being upgraded just as in the earlier days.
Since the owners migrated to the emulator, they have replaced the
underlying ProLiants (or whatever) two or three times, and upgraded the
emulator software to then current versions accordingly.
While I doubt there are many in production use, there are some. I maintain a VAX 7000-630 running OpenVMS V7.1 here. There has been a project to replace its functions since the day I started 10 years ago... my first meeting after being hired to administer this system was about retiring it... glad I did not go with my first thought and leave. The main part of those functions MAY be replaced later this year since the first trial was done 6 months ago and is "working". Then they start to realize the "other" functions it performs that they need to be replaced that they have yet to think about, though being asked throughout the years.

I have priced emulation for this system several times but the cost has always immediately been met with "but it will be gone in X months" by management.

In the 10 years I have managed this system, I have replaced probably 5 or 6 failing DSSI hard drives, and a couple of TF85 tape drives. I used to work for the 3rd party support company we use and generally replace my own hardware. In my time there, I have also retired the line printer and TU81 tape drive that were in daily use.
John Blake
2017-05-08 20:31:06 UTC
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Post by Steven Schweda
Smells to me like (SCSI) hardware -- bad/overlong cable, bad
termination, dying drive, ... The fact that the drive has
worked in the past is no guarantee that it's still good.
(Most bad hardware was previously good hardware.) Should it be
obvious to me whether DKA200 is the hard drive or the optical
drive?
I wouldn't paste it in if it were the hard drive, the CD drive is the
one in question and I don't have any method of installing an image onto
a hard drive, unfortunately. The cable is the original and works
perfectly fine on hard drives on that end of the cable, the problem is
definitely with the machine not liking CD-Rs.
Post by Steven Schweda
I seem dimly to recall having trouble with mount
verification on an optical drive being fatal. I don't recall
the circumstances, however. (With hard disks, proper
recovery seems to be more typical, in my experience.)
That sounds about right in my experience. That was the single time on
this attempt that it threw that error though, so hope springs eternal.
Post by Steven Schweda
We seem to differ on the meaning of "clarify". "I've
tried" does not tell me with which image file you started,
which CD-writing program you used, whether that program (or
anything else) verified the resulting disc, and so on. If
the discs were bad, then I'd expect some error other than
mount verification, but what do I know? Can you connect the
SCSI CD-ROM drive to the PC with the CD-writing drive (with
different cable/terminator), and can it read the disc there?
Mount verification is the only error that happens, on both the Pioneer
and the Toshiba drive. I usually use Brasero on a linux laptop (dell
E6400) and imgburn on a windows 7 laptop (Asus G71GX), the images are
directly pulled from the HP site and both programs verify the images
after they're burned. I'm using Verbatim 700MB discs from a 50 disc
spindle, which are exactly the same discs that I used when setting up
the Vaxstation 3100 using the same Pioneer drive. I do not have a PC
with a SCSI port.

That being said, I have had some level of success in the most recent
attempt, I think I've got a bootable 8.4 install on a hard drive now but
I'm going to need to get some software installed before I'm properly
positive about it, I've been disappointed before. I have been able to
download the rest of the SPL from HP via FTP.
Hans Vlems
2017-05-08 21:15:29 UTC
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What does the console of the 3000/400 return on the >>> SHOW DEVICES command?
If you've moved the cdrom unit to the AXP without changing its SCSI id then there may be a conflict.
Alternatively, remove the cdrom altigether. Install axp/vms 8.4 on a simulator that runs on linux or windows. Configure it as an NI cluster thatwill serve diskless satelites. Boot the 3000/400 as a satelite. Note that you need two disks, copy the VMS kit on one drive and restore the VMSnnn.B saveset to the other.
Boot the alpha from the last disk and finish the installation.
You won't need licenses: on the simulator all you need is console access and the satelite will join without a license.
Hans
Steven Schweda
2017-05-09 03:29:54 UTC
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I wouldn't paste it in if it were the hard drive, [...]
I've lost much too much of my life by assuming that some
other fellow knows what he's doing, so I try no longer to
make that assumption. If you want to assume that you know
what I should assume, then I'd say that you assume too much.
[...] the problem is definitely with the machine not liking
CD-Rs.
I fail to see how "the machine" can know what's in an
optical drive. What "the machine" means to you is beyond my
ken. The optical drive might know, and I'll admit that it
might have more trouble with a home-made disc than with a
factory-made disc.
[...] both programs verify the images [...]
Then I'd guess that the discs are fine, and the (SCSI)
optical drive may be getting old/dim/blind (like some of the
rest of us).
[...] I have been able to download the rest of the SPL from
HP via FTP.
Sounds good. What could go wrong now?
[...] I do not have a PC with a SCSI port.
I'd guess that about $10 could cure that deficiency.
John Blake
2017-05-14 20:02:57 UTC
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Hi all, I haven't had much time to work on my system but I see the
discussion has continued. Let me try to catch up a little.
Post by j***@yahoo.co.uk
Do you know that the system firmware is up to date?
Do you know that the SCSI bus is correctly configured
(the DKA200 mount verification message is a hint that
all may not be well)?
Were you aware that it is possible to copy a bootable
distribution CD to a plain ordinary SCSI hard drive and
then boot and install from the hard drive? Even if you
can't do this on the 3000/400, someone else might be
able to help????
The system firmware is completely up to date, something I did not long
after receiving it and realizing that it couldn't be upgraded to
anything approaching a modern VMS or unix. It was originally a
production control system (as far as I know, I got it from a seized
equipment seller and it was horribly clogged with dust. Not that I mind
a complete disassemble/reassemble cleaning.) It came with two RZ
drives, one of which contained a bootable 5.2 system but sounds like a
buzzsaw, and the other of which was completely dead.

The SCSI bus is correctly configured, everything is accessible and
working right now (Set up with both CD drives and the 8.4 VMS install
drive on the adapter). DKA100 is the hard drive, DKA200 and DKA500 are
the cd drives.

I am aware that it is possible to copy a bootable distribution CD to an
ordinary SCSI drive, and I do have a 1GB 50 pin drive which would work,
but I don't have any other systems with a 50-pin SCSI interface. The
system is booting to 8.4 right now though, I just haven't had time to
set it up properly. Given that the brand of CD-Rs that worked are the
same that worked on the VAXStation 3100/38 on that CD drive, I think
that was likely the issue that I was having.

The reason why I described it as "the machine" rather than anything more
specific is because I know that this drive is capable of reading these
discs (now proven), and I also know how finicky old SCSI systems are,
particularly DEC systems. I was largely worried that it was an issue
with being unable to burn at the speed which the given CD drive would be
reading the disc, and then the alpha pushing the drive to read at a
particular stream/expecting the data to come off the disc in a certain
way which was within the expected tolerances of a manufactured CD but
something that wasn't worried about with burners/burning software made
years later. A similar thing happens with floppy discs, which is why
USB floppy drives are essentially useless for anything but reading
1.44mb DOS disks. In writing to the disk, I have sometimes found it to
become unreadable in an older machine for no apparent reason while it
reads fine in the USB floppy.
Post by j***@yahoo.co.uk
If you have this thing configured with serial (rather
than graphics) console, you could in principle
provide loads of extra info, including a complete log
(from power on) of any power-up messages and the progress
of the installation. Most of it would lead nowhere, but
somewhere is (e.g.) the reason for the mount verification.
It is configured with serial, which come to think of it, I don't expect
to find a compatible monitor, keyboard and mouse. Does anyone need a
turbochannel video card?

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