Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by David Merr » Tue, 02 Sep 2003 22:29:35

I've been beating my head against the wall (that's the hollow 'CLONK!'
sound you've been hearing), and have tried everything I can think of -
including RTFM (repeatedly), and still can't make much progress. Here's
the story...

First, I'm a relative *** to the Alpha chip/system scene - I've always
worked with x86-based systems. I'm a little more knowledgable about *nix,
being the sysadmin for a RH9 box.

A volunteer group I work for was given a DEC AlphaServer 1000A 5/333 -
minus any hard drives. First thing I did was try hooking a known good
plain old Seagate 19171N (9.1G) drive to the backplane, and it _seemed_
to recognize it. That accomplished, I went to RedHat and downloaded 7.1
(the most recent RH I could find with explicit Alpha support) since I've
got RH9 running on another (newer, x86) box. Burned the CDs, and managed
to get the installation process started.

Then the adventure _really_ started.

When the system starts, it complains that the HD I stuck in it isn't
ready (I can hear it spinning, and the light comes on now and then). The
drive is set to NOT terminate the SCSI bus, ID 0, and doesn't have motor
drive/startup (x seconds per ID or wait-for-start) jumpered - those
didn't seem to help get it recognized. Also tried various permutations of
SCSI power - from chain, to chain, etc. When starting the installation,
it complains there are no valid devices. What magic am I missing?

I've tried going into the BIOS and tried adding the drive there, but even
THAT says it's no good - even though it recognizes there's a drive

It looks like the failure to see/use the drive I hung off the backplane
(tried there, and in the CD/Tape chain) is the root of my problems - but
*** all if I can figure out WHY.

Any assistance and/or pointers would be *greatly* appreciated. The
volunteer group I help out could really put this thing to use, if I can
get it up and running....

David Merriman

PS - Is there anyplace or anyone that I can get the drives/or frames for
the front bay? I'd really prefer to use those if I can get them... DM

Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by costell » Tue, 02 Sep 2003 23:13:39

David Merriman < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > writes:

The box seems to be missing that very disk. If you plug a disk to that
scsi-connector on the back you should terminate the scsi cable either with
the disk (by setting terminate jumper) or by using external terminator.

Does the system boot to srm or arc console? E.g. does it give you
the nice >>> -prompt, try selecting
"Set up for booting Digital Unix after next power cycle"
as told in
.. I don't have as1000a handy so I can't really tell but there should
be menu item in ARC console for invocation of SRM console.

When you get to SRM console try typing
show dev
and check if you can see the scsi controller (propably qlogic or sym53xxx)
there and if yes, can you see the disk in there? If you see the disk,
you might as the very first thing after booting from installation cd
to try to get to a shell, run fdisk and write bsd disklabel to that disk
and then try re-booting.


what "show dev" displays?

Antti Jvinen, XXXX@XXXXX.COM
"concerto for two *** s and orchestra"


Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by David Merr » Wed, 03 Sep 2003 02:33:17

XXXX@XXXXX.COM (Antti Jvinen) wrote in

The SCSI chain _appears_ to be terminated at the top of the backplane
with a large black plastic module, and I'm assuming that the controller
is terminated as well. Also, when I terminate the drive, the system just
seems to 'hang', which it doesn't do when the termination on the drive is

I did learn that I needed to boot to srm; I have the >>> prompt :-)
From there, when I type show dev I get:
dka0.0.0.2000..0 DKA0 Seagate ST19171N 0024
dka500.5.0.2000.0 DKA500 RBD45 0436
dva0.0.0.1000.0 DVA0
mka600.6.0.2000.0 MKA600 TL209 0167
ewa0.0.0.2003.0 EWA0 00-00-F8-04-39-88
fwa0.0.0.2004.0 FWA0 00-00-F8-6B-15-86
pka0. PKA0 SCSI Bus ID 7 5.57

?? To get the monster to boot for installation, I've been using "boot
dka500" to start the install from the CD; it always comes up with an
aboot prompt, and I can't see how to shell out to try an fdisk or do

Quitting out of aboot gives me the same list of devices as before.


Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by Jafir Elku » Wed, 03 Sep 2003 03:32:42

You can configure the disk from within setup. At the aboot prompt type 0
(zero) and press enter.

Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by David Merr » Wed, 03 Sep 2003 04:06:46

"Jafir Elkurd" < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > wrote in

When I do that, it goes through the installation process, gets to the
graphical setup. I click on the appropriate keyboard, language, mouse,
etc. Then when I select the installation type, it complains "an error
occurred reading the partition table for file block device sda. The
error was: input/output error"

I know that sda is an IDE device; so why it's not seeing the scsi drive
is what's making me crazy(er).


Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by Mathieu Ch » Wed, 03 Sep 2003 04:10:02

David Merriman < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > writes:

sda is a SCSI device, hda is IDE...
Mathieu Chouquet-Stringer E-Mail : XXXX@XXXXX.COM
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately
explained by stupidity.
-- Hanlon's Razor --

Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by Torsten Zi » Wed, 03 Sep 2003 04:37:12


David Merriman < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > writes:


I got two ideas. The first one might be that the appropriate SCSI
controller is not known to the kernel or the disk is formated as a
DOS/Windows partition scheme. SRM could only handle a BSD partition

Those would be my guesses why you got the trouble.



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70190 Stuttgart
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Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by costell » Wed, 03 Sep 2003 17:59:07

David Merriman < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > writes:

OK, bueno.

When the graphical installation thingie start, press alt+ctrl+f2 (or f3
or something) and it should give you a shell. In there say
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=10 (wipe previous contents)
sync (to get better feelings)
fdisk -f /dev/sda (create disklabel)
fdisk /dev/sda (open fdisk)
and from there give first command b that enters disklabel mode. .. I have
right now only access to x86 linux and in there fdisk has no -f switch.
But you can create the disklabel also with interactive mode, just enter
command b, then p to print possible partitions, delete them all and
then create new ones. check that the first partition does not start from
track 0 but somewhere around 5. you should leave a few tracks empty
in the beginning of the disk in order to have space for aboot.

There is some discussion about this topic in

Antti Jvinen, XXXX@XXXXX.COM
"concerto for two *** s and orchestra"

Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by David Merr » Wed, 03 Sep 2003 22:58:33

XXXX@XXXXX.COM (Antti Jvinen) wrote in

... <snip> ...

Thanks - I'll check out the link, and try the fdisk stuff.


"... And God said 'sqrt(E/M) = C', and there was light..."

Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by Michal Jae » Thu, 04 Sep 2003 01:14:32

A SCSI disk on id 0. This will be 'sda' for Linux and
later /dev/sda will be a "special file" which gives an access to it.

That would likely really be RRD45. An old, original DEC, 4x
SCSI CD (id 5). I wonder how its laser is holding up. Did you
try to clean it up? A compressed air ofter will work to remove
layers of dust from a lens. With this configuration your
CD-ROM will show up later as /dev/sdb.

A floppy drive.

SCSI tape drive on id 6. /dev/st0 (/dev/nst0 as non-rewinding).

Two ethernet cards

Your SCSI controller. Likely you can lear more what it really
is from 'show config | more' typed at SRM prompt.

You do not have any IDE devices.

That is not not enough to boot it.

And a message which describes what 'h' or 'l' keypresses are doing.
Right? So what shows up if you will do 'l'?

You are still in a bootloader. This is too early.


Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by Michal Jae » Thu, 04 Sep 2003 01:23:22

If you are trying to do that with your RH 7.1 disks then be aware
that this installer had even more bugs than in current versions. :-)
On many machines you had a much better chance to install in a text
mode. Try 'l' at aboot prompt to see if you have predefined boot
entries for that. I would also disconnect a tape for a time beeing
(unplugging a power cable should be enough). It may hold a bus long
enough during probes to *** things up.

In any case I would start from updating a distro as otherwise the
whole exercise is to a great degree a waste of time.


Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by costell » Thu, 04 Sep 2003 05:37:17

Michal Jaegermann < XXXX@XXXXX.COM > writes:

Hmm hmm hmm.

I've in the past installed rh7.1 into as1000a 5/400 and having the TLZ09
plugged did not do anything bad with rh. With debian install kernel
I also tried the boot stopped at recognition of that tape.

Using the tape was a nightmare, tough. Should I have typed
tar cfvz /dev/st0 /foo/bar
and then pressed ctrl-c in middle if the operation, would the tar process
hung there until next reboot and prevent any access to that tape. That
problem was cured by changing the scsi controller driver into that one:
and the tape worked like a buick after that. I do recommend. Of course only
if there is qlogic scsi card in that machine, some AS1000As may have
ncr or symbios controllers that have very different driver.

Antti Jvinen, XXXX@XXXXX.COM
"concerto for two *** s and orchestra"

Help req: AlphaServer 1000A + drive woes

Post by Michal Jae » Thu, 04 Sep 2003 13:15:07

I said "it may". This depends on many factors and so far we do not even
know for sure which controller/driver is in play. A tape is not needed
while installing and less possible trouble spots the better. This may
have zero effect (unless this tape provides a powered termination on a
bus - probably not :-).