The latest incarnation of my mainframe

So, I finished resurrecting my mainframe the other day.

When I was in Kansas City for KansasFest, I bought an RS/6000 7011-250, which uses the smallest chassis capable of holding 32-bit MCA cards that IBM ever produced – for comparison, I’d say it’s about the size of a Quadro 610 or Power Mac 6100, albeit a bit deeper. (It was also the first PowerPC machine ever produced (predating the PowerPC Macs by a few months), using a 66 or (in my machine) 80 MHz CPU.) This allowed me to physically downsize the machine significantly with minimal loss in functionality.

I installed the P/390 card set and installed AIX while at KansasFest, but was unable to get the mainframe actually running for several reasons. Ended up putting the project on hold for various reasons (including building the Mimeo).

Lately, decided to get back at it. Continue reading

More fun with retrocomputing

Added some retrocomputing stuff to my “collection,” so thought I’d post about it.

We’ll start with the smallest machine and work our way up. I bought a replacement eMate 300 (mine died in a fall, and I literally cannot find where the component came off the motherboard to replace it,) but this one has the RAM/flash upgrade – faster, and has a useful amount of storage.

Next up is an upgrade to my IIGS – a ZipGSX, this one with all of the card upgrades, and running at 10 MHz with 32 kiB cache. I’ve got parts on the way to make that either 12 or 12.5 MHz and 64 kiB cache, though. Having an accelerator makes a world of difference with performance – things happen on the desktop almost instantly, GNO/ME works significantly faster, Spectrum becomes much more practical for telnet use, etc., etc., etc.

Finally, something I’ve been thinking about getting for a while, and has been in the works for a couple months… I posted a request on P370-L asking if anyone would be willing to sell a Personal/370 Adapter/A, which was IBM’s first “mainframe-on-a-card” for PCs. Pretty quickly, I got an e-mail offering a PC Server 500 System/390 8641-MYC, which runs a much more modern version of that card (compatible with ESA/390 software, whereas the Personal/370 is only compatible with 370/XA,) for cost of shipping.

It arrived yesterday, and it looks like I’ve got a project on my hands, bringing it up. Some of the MCA cards came loose in shipping, and need to be reseated. Here’s the specs on what I’ve got, though:

Pentium 90 (all PC Server 500s have this,) 32 MiB of RAM
Dual SCSI RAID controllers (each with two channels)
Dual LANStreamer (not gonna be that useful, I don’t have Token Ring)
Two ethernet cards (that will be useful)
Some XGA card, I think
System/390 processor card
96 MiB S/390 RAM card (the most for this configuration)
14 hard drives totalling 159.3 GB

Yeah, this will be a fun one to set up. I plan on running VM on it, and maybe playing with the other IBM mainframe OSes as well.

Zombie OSes – OSes that aren’t dead, but they aren’t the most alive, either

I’m probably going to piss a few people off with this, but it’s something that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and I wanted to get it posted somewhere. This might not even make much sense. πŸ˜‰ Also, please note that I’m not knocking your favorite OS when I classify it as a zombie OS.

So, what is a zombie OS? A zombie OS is an OS that “should have” died, but has been kept alive and at least somewhat up to date by its community. Or, maybe it really did die, but its community has brought it back. (By “should have” died, I don’t mean that the OS deserved to die, just that the situation that it was in meant that it would have died if it weren’t for the community.) Either way, it’s now “undead,” if you will.

Most zombie OSes are now considered hobby OSes – OSes that most people play with for fun, and then reboot into a more mainstream OS (or switch to a more mainstream computer) for daily work. That said, there are often many die-hard users that use such an OS as their primary OS. At one time, most of these OSes were commercially sold, but their developer has abandoned the OS, or has gone out of business. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a new owner commercially selling it to the hobby market – in fact, in many cases, that is the case.

Why use a zombie OS? Quite a few reasons. For starters, nostalgia – you may have used the OS before, you liked it, so why not play around with it nowadays? That happens with a lot of dead OSes, too – OSes that have truly been abandoned, and the community around it exists solely to have fun with stuff they used years ago. Alternately, maybe you’ve always been using it, it fits your needs the best, or it has some features that you really like, so why stop now? Or, maybe you’re interested in using alternatives to the mainstream OSes, and as zombie OSes were usually well supported in their past, there’s usually more support available for them than for OSes that began as hobby OSes.

So, what is there to know about them? Continue reading

Liekomg, no more rice! Oh, and leenooks.

I got rid of my Civic today… I think the pictures will say it all. πŸ˜€ (They had a bit of a problem getting it on the trailer without ramps… so they took a running start. πŸ˜†

And then they strapped it on their trailer and left! πŸ˜€ I’m all of… um… $215 richer. Yay. At least I don’t have that pile rotting up the driveway any more… :p

Now, when they saw my Golf, they tried to get me to sell it, but… I just got that thing running. Glow plugs help a LOT with starting a diesel in this damn cold weather. πŸ˜‰

So, anyway, the other thing. I’ve decided to start running Linux on this ThinkPad. So, I decided to go with the flavor of the month, to try to make my life as easy as possible. That means Ubuntu.

I burned the CDs of my recovery partition, and saved ISOs of them onto my server. That way, I could restore the system in the future despite proceeding to nuke that partition. After that, I realized that I needed a hell of a lot more HDD space than that… so I started deleting crap, and got myself TONS of room. After some SNAFUs with defragging, then shrinking the partition, Ubuntu installed just fine.

Now, here’s something that is awesome. In my previous attempts to use Linux, I found that I had to install a whole bunch of BS to get the tiniest thing to work.

On Ubuntu… it just… works. Sure, I’ve had to install the occasional package now and then, but Ubuntu’s howtos actually… make sense! And are… helpful! And I’ve not noticed the dependency hell that I found on the RPM-based distros I’ve used. Then again, I am trying to stay within the distro’s packages when possible…

Anyway, I’ve only booted into Windows a couple times. Funny part is, Windows has slowed down a LOT since this… πŸ˜†