a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

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hamei
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a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby hamei » Sat Jun 13, 2015 5:19 am

Ian's site is definitely the most helpful for normal installs but as the offical tester for When Things Go Bad, here's a few things I noticed recently :

Installing to an O350, if you use a USB keyboard and mouse doing the graphical install, things will go nicely until you get to the Inst> prompt. Then the USB keyboard disappears. Oh crap. So the install by console method works fine but now you have a botched miniroot. A "fixup" blew the machine out of the water. 'C'ontinue or 'r'eload is probably a better choice. Better yet is to not bother with the graphics install, start straight from the console. They never did get USB working properly.

(I added < rm /etc/ioconfig.conf > to the shutdown script.)

6.5.21 is the earliest version that supports O350, by the way. Found that in the release notes, in case anyone searches for that in the future.

fx -> exercise -> sequential -> wri(te)-o(nly) takes about six hours with a 146 gb drive but still doesn't zero out the partition 1 miniroot. Ain't that sweet ? An Adaptec 2940 in a peecee will actually wipe the entire drive from its own BIOS. It's easy and works. There may be a way to do this from an Irix miniroot but I just gave up and put the 2U piece of shit in the closet. I hope it doesn't poison the moths.

On an Octane, graphical install from an external CD-ROM works well. However ... I have both an IDE DVD-Writer with a Yamaha adapter and a Toshiba (?) scsi dvd-rom removed from a dead O2. Trying the IDE dvd-writer first, everything went swimmingly until it got to the "List distributions" choice 1 under the Inst> prompt. "No Local CD-ROM Found." Wa ? Since it had just loaded the miniroot from the CD-ROM, I figured it was probably there. Choice 14-ed out, ran hinv. No cd-rom. Did "boot -f dksc(1,4,8)sash64" &c &c, booted fine to sash from the exact same cd-rom that 12 seconds previous it couldn't see to open the distribution.

Well crap, let's try the real scsi cd-rom. Maybe it's picky during the install phase.

Same result. What the hell ? Remembered that jan-jaap once said drives need to have parity enabled. Scrounged up a jumper and enabled parity on the drive. It had been disabled because with the parity jumper in place, I got lots of spurious error messages. With the parity jumper on the drive, it now 1) gave some error messages booting into Inst> but 2) saw the CD-ROM at the Inst> prompt and showed the drive with an hinv.

So, hell. If you get some weirdass problems from your CD drive during installation, it might help to play with the parity jumper. Didn't retry the IDE-Yamaha combo but it is probably the same. Next time I install (hopefully never) will test that. Pre-Inst> and post-install it works mostly fine without parity.

Along with USB, they never really got cd-rooms working reliably. You know, ...? well, anyway ...

After installation, both of them are a little flaky until you get some of the Irix utilities installed (mediad, maybe ?) so Be Prepared and Stay Calm. Then they seem to settle down.

Got 21 running, I have looked all over the innertubes and found either very basic installs with no desktop and barely a command line (can do 'ls' and 'cd' but not much else) or the "install standard" process that installs three different non-functional web browsers, five insecure web servers, two incompatible help documentation systems and two cycle-gobbling services that no longer exist. Not kidding. This

Inst> keep *
Inst> install required
Inst> install default eoe 4Dwm desktop_base x_eoe desktop_eoe
Inst> keep *.books *.man
Inst> install prereqs
Inst> go

will give you a very basic but completely working Irix desktop with no baggage. There's no System Manager so you either have to set up networking by hand (not a big deal) or install the desktopsysadm package right away. I discovered there's no command line way to add users and groups, except by editing the password and group file. That was kind of a shock. Software manager will be there tho, so adding exactly what you want is easy.

The nice thing about Software Manager as opposed to Inst> is that you can easily open up the packages and see what's inside, then choose what you want. Yes you can do this with Inst> but it's a pain in the rear to keep track of everything. Software Manager is okay.

This probably isn't for everyone (if I had never done an Irix install before I'd be screaming and pounding my head against the wall) but the results are good. Not gonna lie, 2 x 400 !> 2 x 800, but with a clean 6.5.21, it's not as sleepy as you'd think. And an Octane turns on when you push the button.

Although mine still bitches about the botched miniroot. I'm thinking of leaving it there as a security measure. Anybody who can get past that is welcome to the computer and any nekkid photos inside. They're probably hackers from the China government anyhow, we can't possibly hope to out-think those guys !

Extra credit question : who is stupider, the NSA or the people who believe their bullshit ? :P
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foetz
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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby foetz » Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:31 pm

why did you run the disk exercise at all?
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hamei
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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby hamei » Sat Jun 13, 2015 8:57 pm

foetz wrote:why did you run the disk exercise at all?

Because when it blew up and dropped me into pod, I figured I'd try to clean out whatever was making the mess in the miniroot. No luck with that, tho. I've got a 2940 around here somewhere, some day I'll wipe that disk and try again.
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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby foetz » Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:55 am

if you just wanna start fresh there's a faster way:

hook the disk up to some bsd/linux/whatever, run "shred" on the raw device just for a few seconds, put it back into the sgi and it'll look like it'd have never been used with irix. then go on with fx and mkfs_xfs as if the disk was brand new

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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby josehill » Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:08 am

hamei wrote:
foetz wrote:why did you run the disk exercise at all?

Because when it blew up and dropped me into pod, I figured I'd try to clean out whatever was making the mess in the miniroot. No luck with that, tho. I've got a 2940 around here somewhere, some day I'll wipe that disk and try again.

Did you try repartitioning as an option drive (i.e. no swap partition), laying down a new filesystem mkfs, and then repartitioning as a root drive (or root/option drive) and laying down a new filesystem on the root or root/option drive? That process blows away the old swap/miniroot and has always cleared up any odd miniroot problems I've ever had.

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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby hamei » Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:23 pm

josehill wrote:Did you try repartitioning as an option drive (i.e. no swap partition), laying down a new filesystem mkfs, and then repartitioning as a root drive (or root/option drive) and laying down a new filesystem on the root or root/option drive? That process blows away the old swap/miniroot and has always cleared up any odd miniroot problems I've ever had.

I have done that in the past, and seems to me it does work (as long as you remember to synch the label :) However, this time I thought 'what the heck, let's run a test on this new-to-me disk and blow away the partitions at the same time.' The write exercise does ask where to start -- block 0 should be the beginning of the disk, yes ? Well, it ain't.

People getting a degree in computer science should be required to pass a course in remedial English. They could start with the declarative sentence.
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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby robespierre » Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:09 pm

block 0 *is* the beginning of the disk, but the disk label is cached in a separate area of memory while you're in fx.
so to clear the label you need to deal with it explicitly. this is for your own good.
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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby hamei » Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:32 am

robespierre wrote: this is for your own good.

Yeah, I know. I'm sure it hurts them more than it does me, too.

I'm kinda sick of people protecting me from myself.
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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby hamei » Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:32 pm

A little update ... wow, how time flies.

For the people who are newish and want to rush to 6.5.30 instantly, well .... maybe for a quick look but imo you aren't going to get the good SGI experience that way.

As above, installed a very basic absolutely no-frills desktop then added just the stuff I needed. That was good. Real good. Not as fast as a 2 x 800 O350 but not that much slower.

Slowly added just the tools and programs I need and that is also good. No steenkin' dpnxagent makes Photosnot and Illustrious run better.

Just now got done ditching all the superfluous fonts. At 6.5.23 and above it's a real mess but even at 21 / 22, there's a bunch of crap. Why would I want two couriers and three Helvetica lookalikes ? And what's this Swiss 721 ? Just crap. Dumb. Have ten fonts and uses em all, is what I say.

Okay, you need the base Type1 fonts because PostScript printers are an absolute necessity. But beyond that it's bye-bye bitstream entirely ( Adobe is disgusting but at least they don't sneak into the house in a sheep suit then bite the children) , bye-bye schumacher clean, bye-bye cruft. xfontsel went from 996 fonts to about 500. And oh yeah, the SGI cutesy fonts (Cave, Rock, Inja, Amie) are disgusting ! All gone. Since quite a few programs load the font list every time they start up, this is a snappiness improvement. Just a little one but 100 times a day adds up.

Now to add a selected few quality fonts that will actually get used :

http://techpubs.sgi.com/library/dynaweb ... /ch03.html

My Octane is a 2x4, I'd imagine that an O2 or slower Oct would be slowed down even more by hundreds of pointless fonts. So far pretty nice. Back to the future :D


edit: here's another little feature that can add some excitement to your life : you probably don't have any Speedo or CID fonts. There's a couple in Irix 6.5.22, not sure if they were there earlier. So, what the heck, ditch them suckers.

No problem. Except when you decide to clean everything up and do it properly, so you clean out the fonts.dir and fonts.alias files. In fact, since there's no fonts in there now, you delete it. Then do a <mkfontdir> but since there's no fonts, it makes no fonts.dir file.

Doesn't seem like a problem, right ? Everything is fine.

Until you reboot. It seems that X is not smart enough to get past a directory with no fonts.dir file. Even if there's nothing in the directory and no fonts there that you have ever used, will ever use, or would even consider using, that fonts.dir file best be there or X will not start.

Oops.

A fonts.dir file with nothing but a 0 (that's a zero, not an O) will work. The error mesages are not too helpful either - it's something like "cannot set the fontpath to /usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi, /usr/lib/X11 ..." etc etc. Then the error message after that is "cannot find fixed font, cannot start x" or words to that effect. Another misleading clue from the parents, the easter eggs are really in the laundry room, under the dryer ! Ha ha ha, fooled you !

Luckily, the computer boots, it just doesn't have any X, so you can telnet or rlogin and fix things. A < touch fonts.dir > won't work tho, it has to have at least 0 in it.

More adventures in Irixland ....
I spent a fortune on booze, birds, and fast cars ... the rest I just squandered

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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby SAQ » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:57 pm

hamei wrote:
robespierre wrote: this is for your own good.

Yeah, I know. I'm sure it hurts them more than it does me, too.

I'm kinda sick of people protecting me from myself.


Remember when you could nuke your disklabel with the SunOS install tools if you weren't careful? I think it was the 3.5/4.0 days, but might have extended further. Haven't had to reinstall 4.1.1 in a while.

It would be nice if they'd actually document stuff like that. Though the older UNIX companies look great next to most of the FOSS projects.
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Re: a few hopefully helpful install notes ...

Unread postby hamei » Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:12 am

About fonts : an interesting tidbit ...

I kept wondering why, when I removed the 75dpi fonts from the font path, why did so many things change ? My monitor is well over 100 dpi.

Well, there are 140 fonts in the 75dpi folder that are not in the 100dpi folder. Zo, even if you have a 200 dpi screen and you set the resolution in X and make sure 100dpi directory comes first, lots of times you're getting 75 dpi bitmaps.

No wonder they look jaggety on a hi-res screen.

We'll have to see what we can do about that ....
I spent a fortune on booze, birds, and fast cars ... the rest I just squandered


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