The best laid plans of mice and Slor…

February 3, 2008

You know how some things tend to snowball?  Well, let’s just say my last week has been rapidly rolling downhill, getting larger and larger as it’s moved on.  If you recall, I stated in my last entry that I would be posting photos of the machines I’ve been working on the next day.  That was just over a week ago.  Here’s a summary of events that have taken place between then and now:

– I decide it’s time to take some photos to post here.
– In order to be able to take decent photos, I figure I’ll need to finishing cleaning up the computer room.
– Just after I’ve started cleaning again, I’m notified that someone in the area is looking to part with a VAX system cheap.  As is my tradition when I’m not sure if I should buy something, I offer the guy half of what he what he’s asking for the system.  He says “yes”, so that’s another half trunk full of stuff I need to find room for.  It’ll have to stay in the trunk until either my room or the garage has some space freed up.
– As I get back to the cleaning, I figure it would be stupid of me to get everything all packed up and put away again without taking out, photographing, and settin aside the multitude of “stuff” that I have been meaning to get rid of for a while now.  This, of course, means making the mess worse before it gets better.  The VAX stuff makes itself comfortable in my trunk while I tear up the computer room and garage some more.
– Each time I start to clean up again, I run across a piece of hardware that I can’t put away in good conscience without installing whatever upgrade has been sitting around for it. There are a couple late nights gone.
– After a good chunk of time upgrading, photographing, and setting aside items to sell (more on that later :)), I am finally able to make some progress putting things away.
– Today, I am finally able to walk through the room again, take some photos, and write this blog entry.

As you’ve probably already noticed, the RetroChallenge ended 3 days ago, so that pretty much means I made ZERO progress in finding something “interesting” to do with the machines I spent the previous days getting up and running.  Am I disappointed by that?  Yeah, a little, but my disappointment is greatly overshadowed by my happiness that those machines are now working, I have organized a bunch of stuff to get rid of, my work area is nearly a work area again, I eventually found a nice spot to put the VAX(guess what my next restoration project will be), and it’s only been a couple weeks.  I’ll credit the RetroChallenge for getting me on gear on a lot of that, and perhaps I’ll enter myself for the “Most Untimely Yet Productive U-Turn in a RetroChallenge” prize.  At the very least, I’ll be ready when the next one comes along!

For what it’s worth, here are some photos of the machines I worked with for this challenge.  In the next few days (no, really), I will do another post or two to detail all the machines currently in this room that is nearing museum level and shoot more pics of the everything in sight.  Anyway, thanks to the RetroChallenge for some motivation, and on to the photos:

P2030045 The Amiga 3000 and DEC 3000

P2030046 The HP 9000

P2030047 The TT030 with Spectre

P2030048 The next project…


HP 9000 – it’s alive!

January 17, 2008

Wow – this one was smooth sailing after finally getting the right CR-ROM drive hooked up.  The HP-UX install process took about as long on this machine as did the DEC 9000 OpenVMS install.  A notable difference between the two is that there were no errors incurred by the HP-UX install.  Even though I tried to cause myself some grief by incorrectly configuring the network settings, HP-UX recognized my potential for mistakes and put something on the screen to tell me how to redo the network settings later on without having to scour the web for instructions.  Like a long lost friend who knows my potential for losing information, it even left me an email on the machine to reiterate the process for making configuration changes – that’s a big gold star for user-friendliness.

Bottom line is that I now have this machine up and running with the OS it was intended to run, and I have one more item checked off of my “building the eclectic office” goals list.  Only thing left to do right now is to pretty it up just a bit with some of my open source favorites like bash, openssh, and gcc.  Then, on to the next machine…

HP 9000 – finally some progress

January 17, 2008

It’s been a while since I messed with the 9000.  In fact, I actually stole its 1 GB drive a while back for use in my TT.  Yesterday at the office, I stumbled upon a 4 GB drive in the junkpile that (assuming it was still functional) would be perfect for this box.  I actually rebuilt the machine once after I brought it home, but I had so much trouble trying to figure out a way to install HP-UX on it that I gave up and did a network Debian install.  That worked well and ran fine, but it was very much against the spirit of my goal to regain another OS that I used to work with.  So, tonight I was determined to finally get HP-UX onto the box.  That meant getting around the fact that the machine has no CD-ROM drive, you cannot install HP-UX from a floppy drive, and you cannot netboot an HP-UX install from anything but another HP-UX machine.  This would be fun…

Software-wise, I was already in good shape thanks to an HP-UX 10.20 original CD set that I acquired from someone who replied to my call for help in comp.sys.hp.hpux (who says Usenet is dead?) with a very reasonable price of $20 shipped.  They’ve been tucked away just waiting for another shot, and tonight was the night the would get it.  Tonight was the night I managed to get the right CD-ROM drive temporarily added to the internal SCSI chain, typed “boot scsi.1”, and nearly did the Dance of Joy when I started seeing boot messages from the install CD!  In case you’re wondering, I only DIDN’T do the dance because there is currently not that much open floor space in my computer room.

Once the install kicked off, I answered just a few questions and sent it on its way.  As I write this post, I see the installation process I began before starting on the post is currently on package 38 of 243.  It’s going to be another waiting game.

Revival of the fittest…

January 16, 2008

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve taken on the task of gathering up a number of classic machines that have been sitting around my house in non-running condition and bringing them back to life.  All of them are in pretty good shape hardware-wise (some needing new hard drives) but without any installed software to run them, which always makes me appreciate my 8-bit machines that need nothing more than OS ROMs to get them booted.  So, this will be a journal, I HOPE, of the journey back to functionality for 3 1/2 machines that are currently collecting dust:

* DEC 3000-M600 (circa 1994) – This machine sports a 175 MHz Alpha AXP 21064 processor with 64 MB RAM and a 1 GB SCSI hard drive.  I picked it up this summer at the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest for the grand sum of $30 (including 17″ Digital monitor, keyboard, and mouse).  It was running a Purdue University installation of OpenVMS 6.1 and, of course, did not include any re-installation media or current license for the software.

* Amiga 3000 (circa 1990) – This machine has been upgraded to a 25 MHz 68040 processor and 80 MB FastRAM.  It also includes ethernet, CV-64 3D graphics, and Sunrize Studio16 cards.  I picked it up this spring, along with a keyboard and mouse, with the transportation help of fellow classic computing folks.  I don’t remember what OS was installed when I received the machine, and it also came without re-installation media.

* Spectre GCR (circa 1989) – This is where the 1/2 comes in.  The Spectre is an add-on device for Atari ST/TT computers that provides Macintosh hardware emulation using installed OS ROMs from a Mac Plus or similar 128K machine.  I acquired the Spectre just last month on eBay, complete with installed ROMs, docs, and software.  I will be working with it attached to my Atari TT030.

* HP 9000 712/60 (circa 1994) – This is a late addition to the list for this project.  It needs to be rebuilt as well, so I might as well take care of them all!  The 9000 boasts a 60 MHz PA7100LC RISC processor and 32 MB RAM.  I brought this home from the office over a year ago after it sat in storage at the office for about 6 years.  Prior to that, I had actually used it for work purposes, and I believe it had HP-UX 10 on it.  You guessed it – no re-installation media could be found.

So, those are the machines I plan to bring back to life, and my end goal for this project is to get them all networked and particating in some common task.  I haven’t yet figured out what that task will be.  I also hope to post pictures any anything else interesting as I go.

3 1/2 neglected classic machines: This is their story…