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Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 5:43 am 
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Hello,

I was recently in a local surplus store and noticed a few O2 machines in various states of disarray. I always wanted an SGI machine to tinker with so I decided to see if I could mix and match the hardware to build a single unit that works. That was not successful, but instead the owner pointed me to large purple boxes sitting underneath a pile of junk... To make a long story short, I am now an owner of two Tezro machines, both equipped with quad 700 MHz CPUs and 8GB or RAM. Of course I am completely green regarding SGI so getting the machines going is a bit of a struggle. They both boot into the login panel and I can access the desktop, but there was no display of any kind until the login panel.

I spent a few days reading through this forum before I registered, and also looking through the SGI documentation. So far I was able to change the 'console' nvram variable from "d" to "g" to get some display, but the machines still act unusual. There is no display for a long time after power-on, then the 'Starting up the system... / Stop for Maintenance' is briefly displayed, then the display disappears for a while again, and finally the login panel is displayed. Based on some youtube videos I reached a conclusion that the display should be present throughout the whole boot process, but I cannot figure out what PROM setting I need to change to make this happen. I also read in the SGI documentation about a jumper on the CPU board to force the graphical console during boot, but I cannot find any references to this jumper in the Tezro documentation.

Most of my Unix experience is from the 90s with a NeXTstation that I used throughout school and recently resurrected. The Tezro is such a beast compared to 33 MHz 68040 :). I am looking forward to some quality time with it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated - thank you!


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 7:39 am 
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t-rexky wrote:
I was recently in a local surplus store and noticed a few O2 machines in various states of disarray. I always wanted an SGI machine to tinker with so I decided to see if I could mix and match the hardware to build a single unit that works. That was not successful, but instead the owner pointed me to large purple boxes sitting underneath a pile of junk... To make a long story short, I am now an owner of two Tezro machines, both equipped with quad 700 MHz CPUs and 8GB or RAM.
That scores you some major nekochan envy points. :D

t-rexky wrote:
Of course I am completely green regarding SGI so getting the machines going is a bit of a struggle. They both boot into the login panel and I can access the desktop, but there was no display of any kind until the login panel. I spent a few days reading through this forum before I registered, and also looking through the SGI documentation. So far I was able to change the 'console' nvram variable from "d" to "g" to get some display, but the machines still act unusual. There is no display for a long time after power-on, then the 'Starting up the system... / Stop for Maintenance' is briefly displayed, then the display disappears for a while again, and finally the login panel is displayed. Based on some youtube videos I reached a conclusion that the display should be present throughout the whole boot process, but I cannot figure out what PROM setting I need to change to make this happen. I also read in the SGI documentation about a jumper on the CPU board to force the graphical console during boot, but I cannot find any references to this jumper in the Tezro documentation.
Sounds like you've got thing pretty well under control - but I can understand your desire to see the Welcome to Tezro visual workstation PROM splash screens on your new acquisitions. If the PROM environment in your Tezros are set to auto-load IRIX, the PROM splash screen is only displayed for approximately ten seconds - which might be longer than it takes for your monitor to sync to the signal (I use LCDs, some let me see the splash screen, others don't - especially monitors with more than one system connected).

As a not so elegant work around, you could set the PROM *not* to auto-load IRIX, which will case the Tezro to stop at the PROM maintenance menu every it's powered up. But if your monitor is real slow to sync to the Tezro's graphics signal, you may still not see the splash screen. Depending on the display resolution your Tezro uses after IRIX loads, it may change the display resolution it sends to the monitor several times as it loads the PROM menu, IRIX boot-time text port, log in screen and Desktop. All of which might cause periods of no visible display as your monitor adjusts to the changes.

BTW - if you'd like to see more of what's going on after the PROM but before the log-in screen, execute "chkconfig verbose" as root once IRIX is booted.

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Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 7:58 am 
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t-rexky wrote:
Hello,

I was recently in a local surplus store and noticed a few O2 machines in various states of disarray. I always wanted an SGI machine to tinker with so I decided to see if I could mix and match the hardware to build a single unit that works. That was not successful, but instead the owner pointed me to large purple boxes sitting underneath a pile of junk... To make a long story short, I am now an owner of two Tezro machines, both equipped with quad 700 MHz CPUs and 8GB or RAM.


Oh my GOD!!!

I am going to be no help to you, because I don't have a Tezro. But oh my GOD!!!

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Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 11:09 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Thank you both for your kind words and for suggesting how to get more information on the display.

I executed 'chkconfig verbose on' as root but unfortunately it made no difference. I then set 'verbose' and 'showconfig' environment variables to 'istrue' in the PROM and it also made no difference. I do see the graphics console messages during shutdown, but still no display between the PROM and the login panel.

I also explored the PROM a bit and when I issued a 'help' command I noticed a 'console' command with options of 'sc|ioc3|ioc4', set to ioc4. Could this perhaps be the issue? I could not find any reference to these settings in any manuals - the only reference I found was to nvram variable 'console' with the 'g|G|d' options that I used previously. When I issued 'console sc' command in the PROM monitor I got a warning about potential inability to boot the system, so I aborted it.

I had no idea what I was getting when I purchased the Tezros, since I have previously only seen the older SGI boxes like the O2 and the Indy. I was really pleasantly surprised to learn that they are pretty much the paramount of SGI MIPS based workstations. I seem to be starting a small collection of obsolete systems and I only wish I had more time to spend with them.

Thank you!


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Just out of curiosity, where is this store located?


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 1:05 pm 
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Welcome to Nekochan, t-rexky. You should buy more lottery tickets, my friend... ;)

No Tezro or O350 experience here, but good luck. I have the sync and timing issues recondas mentions all the time with the LCDs I'm using - with PCs as often as SGIs. I basically have to remember which keys will get me into the BIOS/EFI in different machines because I never see the screens - each stage of initialization seems to require a complete resync, and then it moves on as I get barely a flicker of display.

Love my LCD panels, wouldn't ever want to go back to CRTs, but this is a real pain some days.

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Unread postPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 3:43 pm 
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@astouffer: The store is in Toronto, Canada: A-1 Electronic Parts. They sell new electronic components as well as a huge random selection of recycled and preowned electronics. Many businesses recycle their equipment with A-1. They have a huge turnover though and their stock changes on an almost daily basis. I really enjoy browsing forgotten and abandoned high-end equipment and I drop by there once a month or so, if I can. Every now and then there are true gems to be found there that make me wish I had more space at home.

@smj: I know what you mean by never wanting to go back to pre-LCD days on the computers, even though I would not touch an LCD for home entertainment. However, I didn't quite realize how versatile the CRTs were until I tried to find a truly "multisync" LCD panel that would work with the unusual NeXT resolution, refresh rate and SOG. All is good now, but it took quite a bit of research. I think our point of reference has really been recalibrated by today's race-to-the-bottom hardware pricing (I remember my first external 60MB hard disk costing just under $1000). Unfortunately in many cases we get what we pay for...

I really enjoy "retro-computing" and have in the past owned an Atari 130XE, Atari Mega ST, NeXT Cube and NeXTstation. They were followed by various Intel boxes that I built, running Linux and various incarnations of Windows. My Apple era began after that, with the G4 Cube that still runs perfectly and is being actively used as our kitchen / recipe / internet access computer. I recently spent quite a bit of time trying to port reasonably recent GNU software to NEXTSTEP, which is an interesting and very educational experience, since I am not a computer or software professional. If anyone is interested, here are some photos of my recent NeXT adventures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/t-rexky/. I also enjoy tinkering with high end audio and older electronic test equipment such as oscilloscopes, etc.


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Unread postPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 6:21 am 
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Just a quick update. I naively forgot to mention that the Tezros were obviously used to run Smoke and have some extra hardware in them that probably is responsible for the display "anomalies" that I noticed. Both machines have the DCD option, so there are 3 DVI ports to chose from. They also have the DM3 boards, dual gigabit ethernet boards and what looks like dual serial boards. I still need to properly clean the units and study the hardware in more detail.

I experimented a bit and noticed that I get the boot console display if I use the DCD Right DVI instead of the primary DVI-I port. So this must be somehow related to multi-display configuration. I will experiment a bit more and do some more reading here in the forums and on SGI techpubs...


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Unread postPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 7:32 am 
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t-rexky wrote:
Just a quick update. I naively forgot to mention that the Tezros were obviously used to run Smoke and have some extra hardware in them that probably is responsible for the display "anomalies" that I noticed. Both machines have the DCD option, so there are 3 DVI ports to chose from. .

Umm, no. With a dcd there are two DVI ports to choose from. The original port on the main board will not work correctly with the dcd attached.

You can use either of the dcd ports or, if you aren't going to use two monitors, I'd just take it off.


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Unread postPosted: Fri May 11, 2012 7:42 am 
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hamei wrote:
Umm, no. With a dcd there are two DVI ports to choose from. The original port on the main board will not work correctly with the dcd attached.

You can use either of the dcd ports or, if you aren't going to use two monitors, I'd just take it off.


Hmmm, that probably explains my issue. Being completely green with zero SGI experience I could not find any references to which DVI port should be used. NB, the original DVI port worked fine with the PROM display and the login screen / desktop, but not the boot console between the PROM screen and the login. So much to learn...

Thank you for your clarification.


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