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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:37 pm 
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Hi,

here is a wacky idea:

Could you install multiple instances of IRIX on a single, external disk and choose a boot partition depending on which system you felt like hooking it up to today?

To me, one of the things I would love to improve when playing with old SGI machines are the hard drives:

They are either:
- to noisy
- to small
- to slow
- to dead
- if dead, to hard to find
- really, REALLY noisy
- and always have a scsi-2-narrow-wide-3-ultra-mega-din connector when the only cable you have is a scsi-narrow-wide-1-2-3-ultra-hoopla-dingdong-ni-ichy-ichy-petang variety.

(sorry, went on a rant there)

But seriously, I think the noisy is the thing that bugs me the most. Besides the fact that any (excessive) noise in your room is highly annoying, I think it does not do for a machine that is supposed to be "A supercomputer under your desk" to hyperventilate like an old man trying to catch a city bus.

Wouldn't it be much cooler if there was just the soft "whoosh" of some German engineered fans and the soft "click-clop" of mouse click sounds effects while you navigate the desktop? It sure would increase the WAF* to a level that might actually one day allow one of these beautiful machines in the living quarters.
(* Wife Acceptance Factor)

So, what I was thinking, I could make an insulated external housing, with a nice, reasonably quite mucho-GB (SATA?) drive that I could hook up to which ever machine I wanted to play with that day? It could contain all the sources of OS cd's and nekoware as well. The IRIX installations would have to be completely separate so you could used it just as easily for your Indy as for your Octane.

(every system would still have an internal disk with OS to keep it self contained and if I ever wanted to have two machines running at the same time)

It would be worth the investment to get this one disk working really, really well, as you could use it for many different machines.

The problem is that I could not find any mentioning of Irix multi-boot.

- Is is possibly to boot off a particular partition and leave the other partitions alone?
- Would some SCSI trickery with IDs help?
- Would it help to have a RAID array of sorts, perhaps a simple NAS that could be configured to offer "virtual" scsi devices?
- Even wackier: Could you boot THE SAME Irix installation on different hardware platforms? (i don't really want this, but would be a cool hack)

Thoughts?

Matt

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:01 pm 
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My O2 came with a Maxtor Atlas II 15k hard drive and I fitted my O2's power supply with a Noctua 80mm fan. After the fan swap it's quieter than my Phenom X4 desktop. I have to look at the green LED to make sure it's still on.

On the other hand, I'm not quite sure what the WAF will be when my new Origin 300 arrives this week. I guess it's a risk that comes with the territory.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:26 pm 
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Buying replacement larger/quieter fans was the key for me. I bought several 4U cases so I could use quieter lower rpm 120mm, coupled with quieter WD Green SATA drives, my SAN and NAS are virtually silent.

My Origin 300 is virtually silent as well after doing a replacement fan swap for some 80mm Coolermaster fans. As far as drives are concerned, stick to the latest 15k drives, the only time I hear then is when I am doing a larger install (like gcc for instance). It's not like the old IBM Ultrastar drives I used to use back in 2002-2003. Maxtor Atlas II 15k drives have been very good to me, make sure to get the Atlas II drives and not the originals, the originals often have a high pitch whine when running.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 1:56 am 
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Adrenaline wrote:
My Origin 300 is virtually silent as well after doing a replacement fan swap for some 80mm Coolermaster fans.

Really ? Would you happen to know which model ? The only ones I found that didn't kill the env monitoring are difficult to find here. We've got Coolermasters coming out the yin-yang, for cheap.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:37 am 
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You can use my contraption to generate the fan signal - that, with a little soldering will save you all the need to look for matching fans.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:22 am 
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Quote:
- really, REALLY noisy

Ugh, I know what you're talking about. Back in the day disks were much louder, even when new. When worn out they become absolutely intolerable.

I have good experience with late model Seagate 15K disks (15K.3 and newer). They have FD bearings so they're basically as quiet as a modern SATA disk. Seek noises are a little louder, but not annoying. YMMV, others like Maxtor. I can find the Seagates easily, so I've standardized on them. I started with the newer systems, but when I recently moved my Power Challenge I found it had two 36GB 15K.4 disks installed ;)

The external SCSI box is easy (I have one with a pair of 300GB Seagate 10K.7 disks). If you want to have a dedicated system disk in each system you can use the external disk box for user data ($HOME). You'll still need a handful of SCSI cables (50pin, 68pin, VHDCI maybe) to attach it if you have multiple generations of systems around. Additional benefit: often, faster SCSI adapters were available as an option, e.g. an Octane has UW SCSI (40MB/s) internally, but it can use a dual channel U160 adapter in the PCI shoebox/shoehorn.

If you really want large storage volumes (>= TB), use the network. 100Mbit adapters exist for Indigo2's, gigabit for Octane & newer etc. A simple Linux box with a couple of TB SATA disk makes a pretty capable NFS server, a NAS will do the same thing (slower, but often cheaper and less power hungry). With more than two systems around you will quickly get tired of the 'on which system is that file' shuffle and get some form of network storage anyway.

Quote:
- Even wackier: Could you boot THE SAME Irix installation on different hardware platforms? (i don't really want this, but would be a cool hack)

No. It's possible to boot an IRIX installation in another system, as long as it has the same IPnn number. The system disk of an O300 will work in an O350 or Tezro; they're all IP35. Ditto for an Indy and a Challenge S (both IP24) etc. It will probably rebuild the kernel to match the installed hardware, but otherwise it's painless.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:37 am 
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kubatyszko wrote:
You can use my contraption to generate the fan signal - that, with a little soldering will save you all the need to look for matching fans.

I was thinking that before but if Adrenaline has a part #, at $3 per fan delivered I'm too lazy to fight with the electronics bazaars to find the parts I'd need for a soldering project :D


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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:09 pm 
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Thanks guys,

I guess that pretty much concludes that using a single disk is out of the question.
I appreciate all the suggestions about quieter disks but the main goal of this idea was to avoid buying new disks for each of these systems who, I'll be honest, I will only turn on occasionally.
Maybe If one would be promoted to the living room it would warrant a new disk.
Anyone know any good refurbished hardware store in New zealand?

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:04 pm 
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Dunno if it helps, but I'm going to try the 2.5" 80-pin Savvio disk route, with SCA-50/68 pin adapters for whatever I need to put them in. I've found the 36GB drives under USD10, and adapters under USD4, so maybe with shipping it wouldn't be impossible... (still need the 2.5 -> 3.5 brackets, of course)

There's another thread around where this is discussed, but basically the 2.5" drive should yield some extra room to squeeze in the adapter board for the older mahines that were built for 50 pin drives in tight quarters.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:20 pm 
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It's not completely out of the question, but you would need to do a lot of variable swapping in the PROM. You'd need to have a large volheader if you need different SASH versions (64-bit ARCS, 32-bit ARCS are the most common, earlier machines used their own custom versions). You'd also need to change the relevant partitions and bootfiles for each different IP and graphics configuration.

There would be a limit based on the available partitions (0-7, 8 is volume header). You can share a swap.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:41 pm 
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There are actually 16 partitions. #10 is usually reserved for mapping the whole disk. (the dks0d1vol device, for example). Still, it seems like creating such a disk would be a lot of work.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 8:43 pm 
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There's also a limit of 15 files in the volume header, so minus "sgilabel", you would need to allocate those between sash and ide (not really needed) and possibly symmon, on all of the architectures.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:49 pm 
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So it's more trouble than it's worth, probably, but: I'm picturing a box with a row of six or so of these Savvio disks mounted on their sides. One could be a spare or data drive, at ID2. The rest are enabled via a switch, only one active at a time, and when active that drive is at ID1. Switch would allow you to select the right drive for a given configuration - PI, Indigo, O2, Octane, IP35.

Or tear apart one of the old Compaq ~15 slot disk arrays to do the same, rewiring the ID/enable lines somehow. Might have the advantage of coming with 15 18GB drives. Of course it'd be big, heavy, and loud - not unlike most of the SGI machines it connected to. :)

Yeah, let's just put that idea in the special queue for later...

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:01 am 
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smj wrote:
So it's more trouble than it's worth, probably, but: I'm picturing a box with a row of six or so of these Savvio disks mounted on their sides. One could be a spare or data drive, at ID2. The rest are enabled via a switch, only one active at a time, and when active that drive is at ID1. Switch would allow you to select the right drive for a given configuration - PI, Indigo, O2, Octane, IP35.


Not sure the ID-switching is necessary if the aim is IRIX for different machines in a single box - if the third disk with ID4 is the IRIX-for-Octane disk, configure the Octane's PROM to boot from dks0d4s8, while the O2 is configured in PROM to boot from dks0d3s8, because the second disk in your row with ID3 has been set up with IRIX-for-O2. As far as I can tell (having booted an I2 and a Fuel from disks with ID2 or 3) having the system drive at ID1 is a convention, not a necessity.
Different matter if you want different versions of IRIX for the same machine, of course.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:39 am 
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I've wondered several times during this thread if the "IRIX Diskless Workstation" approach might be a better solution than Swap-o-Matic hard drives. I don't have first hand experience managing such a setup, but it doesn't look to be too complex. (I'm not sure if you need any special licensing for it. I suspect not, but I might be wrong.)


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