Some good Middle School fun (As opposed to Old School or New School) - RS/6000

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Joined: Feb 11 2004
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So, I bought this RS/6000 at an auction that had to be close to 8 years ago now. I break it out and tinker with it occasionally. This time it was kind of on purpose, as I've gotten a lot of headhunters talking to me because I have AIX and Solaris on my Resume.

It's been a while since I took it out of the box and tinkered with it, but I figured with Kansas City starting to crave AIX admins, I had best start brushing up on it again.

So, now, my AIX RS/6000 box sits atop my Solaris 10 Sun UltraSparc box, which sits atop my OpenBSD Sun Sparc box.

God I love archaic hardware and obscure OS's! I'll get some good pics tonight and post them.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 234
Sweet what model is it? What

Sweet what model is it? What version of AIX are you running?

I've been thinking of getting a 43p or 44p to use at home as a notes/websphere server. I need to hit some of the local places as they are over priced on eBay.

On a related note today at work, I got two JS20 blade servers to play with. Well not really play as I have to use them to build the proof of concept for my project. Still going to be fun.

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Joined: Feb 11 2004
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RS6K Model 250

It's an RS/6000 Model 250 - The "fast" 80 MHz one. It was sold "loaded" - that is, with eight(!!!) 8MB Parity 72 pin SIMMS for a total of 64MB RAM and a MicrApolis 8GB HDD. lollerskates.

In it's early days it would mysteriously kill (and I mean dead) SCSI drives. Not sure why, but I think it was heat related. I never knew 80 MHz could get so hot. I have a 20GB Seagate parracuda in it now that works pretty well. It also came with an MCA video card with the oddball Sun-esque 13W3 connector, but the card was fried. This RS/6000 is headless, serial console and used mostly over the network now.

Anyhow, it's running AIX 4.3.2 (the CD's that supposedly went with it).

It's an interesting story. Up till January of this year I worked at a Community College. I started back in '97 so I worked there a while. Well, they take old stuff (furniture, kitchen/foodservice, office cubicle walls, filing cabinets, and yes, computers) to the warehouse and auction it off once a year.

Well it was probably 1998 or 1999 when I bought it, and it was about 5 years old or so back then. Most of what was being sold were 486's and some pentiums up to 90MHz. What happened though, is that computers on this table started selling for ridiculously low prices while I was off looking at other stuff, and the auctioneer sold the whole table and everything on it for about $200. A pentium, lots of 486's, some 15" VGA monitors and, lo and behold, a WYSE replica of a DEC vt100 serial terminal (orange screen), sitting atop this RS/6000.

Now, I had a load of cash with me. I was ready to maybe plop down $100 or so for the RS/6000 and maybe $50 for the terminal. I asked "how much for this little guy?" and the dude, obviously computer inept, flipped down the front panel, showing only a reset button and a floppy drive, said "what the.... no CD-ROM drive? Gimme $5, $10 if you want the crappy keyboard and monitor sitting with it. I don't got no use for a 386"

I paid up, grabbed it, and ran. Then on monday, I got the CD's that went with it, and the key to unlock the front, from the sysadmin that sent it down to warehouse.

Anyhow... if you mess with AIX, you *NEED* these sites:

AIX Public Domain (and freeware/open source) Software Library at UCLA:

http://aixpdslib.seas.ucla.edu/
ftp://aixpdslib.seas.ucla.edu/pub -- FTP counterpart

BULL AIX Freeware:
http://www.bullfreeware.com/

Holy carp. These sites are my saviors. I'd be dead in the water without some necessities. Like sudo, links, and ncftp. Okay, I lied. I wouldn't be dead in the water. I would be miserable, though.

Here's the pics. This is the infamous "Stack" - The CD-ROM drive is out because when I dusted this thing off, I had forgotten all my passwords, so I had to boot into maint. mode off the CD and reset the root pass.

This is my improvised serial console. This monitor is crappy as hell but for command line work (where most of my work is done anyways) it's fine. It's a serial to VGA/PS2 Keyboard adapter. I still have the WYSE somewhere.

BTW, Jon, if you're reading this, the Ultra 5 (right below the RS6K) is back up and running.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Wow $10 was a great price for

Wow $10 was a great price for that back in 98.

I got a chuckle out of the guy thinking it was a 386.

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The lazy man would rather exert himself than make two trips. -- Slovenian saying

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Joined: Feb 11 2004
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Wanna freak out your other admins?

If you want to freak out your admins, run this script as root. It throws random numbers and bizarre shapes onto the 3-digit LED/LCD on the front panel of RS/6000's

running it in the background and logged off is even better:

nohup ./foo.sh&exit

#!/bin/sh
while true
do
sleep 1
export rnd=`echo $RANDOM | cut -b-3`
/usr/lib/methods/showled $rnd
done

If you REALLY want to freak them out with "Crazy Eights" (flashing "888" on the display designates a REALLY bad problem)

#!/bin/sh
while true
do
sleep 1
/usr/lib/methods/showled 0x888
sleep 1
/usr/lib/methods/showled
done

I'm evul.

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Jon
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You know, I've still got 2 Wy

You know, I've still got 2 Wyse WinTerm 2500TP terminals. One has a bad ethernet card, but the serial port works fine. I'd give you that one for nothing. It can do ASCII terminal mode, and even can handle Citrix ICA and I think Windows TS with an 800x600 on it's CRT. I used to use it to control my dial-up sharing rig (headless Quadra 700 running NetBSD 1.4) before we moved over here.

I've eeven got a keyboard-less Wyse model 30 (IIRC)...

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Joined: Feb 11 2004
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Kinda funny...

So on the 13th, I posted that I broke it out because it looks like AIX is getting big in the job marketplace. When I wasn't using my work-issued PBG4 at home (I used it more than anything) I was using Solaris 10 on my Ultra 5. So I have Solaris down pretty well.

Now I'm REALLY glad I broke out the ol' RS6K though. As many of you know, on the 21st of June, I left my old job for greener pastures, less stress, and to get out of the startup.com lifestyle.

Anyhow, I have one contingency interview lined up tomorrow (basically a formality inteview, the headhunter already screened multiple candidates and chose me) and a possible second interview lined up with another company later this week. Both for AIX! Both gigs would have me working as an employee of a consulting company (2 different ones), but subcontracted out to clients for projects.

Of course, my Model 250 is running AIX 4.3.2, which is pretty old. I just recently found out it can run AIX 5L up to 5.1 but no higher than that. It's a little late to upgrade though. I'll obviously be using AIX 5L, not 4.3 at either of these jobs, unless they have some really archaic systems.

I Picked up a book (AIX 5L Administration by Randal K. Michael) to bone up on my AIX skills even more, get some actual book smarts to put behind my lab-environment exposure to AIX, and to learn the differences between AIX 4.3 and 5.x.

Despite a few typos that slipped through in editing, the book itself is amazing and close to 700 pages. It's one of the few Operating System books I've found that can be read cover-to-cover. Most are better as reference material that you just look stuff up in occasionally. This book can be used that way once you've read through it or if you already know AIX inside and out and just want a specific piece of info, with tables at the end of each chapter making handy quick-ref guides. As it stands, I'm learning a TON about AIX that I didn't know, and a good deal of it works very well on 4.x even though the book was written as a guide to the newer version. Also, some aspects of AIX that I already knew kind of well (package/patch management, volume management, etc) I'm getting even sharper on.

By the way, "The complete FreeBSD" by Greg Lehey is the other OS Book/Manual/Guide I've seen which is just as well written.

Anyhow, I'll keep you guys posted, but for the time being, it looks like I took this project out of the mothballs just in time. Even though it's more "big iron" commercial than the other flavors I've come to know, use, and love, it's always been more of a toy to me. As a BSD zealot and daily user of BSD, MacOS X and Solaris, I never imagined I'd end up taking a job as an AIX Administrator.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Good luck with the interviews

Good luck with the interviews.

I have been doing some work with AIX lately and it has become my favourite UNIX. I really like smit. If I don't know how to do something I can usually figure it out pretty quickly with smit.

Hopefully you'll get a chance to work with the new POWER 5 systems. They are freaking sweet. I have a couple of LPARs for testing on ours at work and it is just great.

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Nice!

Yah, the new POWER5's look flippin' sweet. AIX has always been in my pile of favorites because of it's extensive hardware diagnostics, "self healing" and borderline paranoid logging facilities.

Even this machine, which as near as I can tell was "a big deal" in 1993, has features you just don't often find on more modern enterprise-level hardware.

I've just never been given a chance to use it in the enterprise. Most of my experience with AIX was from the user perspective at the college, with a LITTLE bit of admin work as we transitioned email of AIX/Pine (telnet/ssh based) to Linux/IMP (Web based).

Almost everything I know about AIX I learned from setting up this machine at home several years ago. I'm amazed that a 13 year old machine can still be a worthy system this day and age. Mostly, though, I'm using it as a testbed to learn even more on.

Right now, I'm setting up NIM on my pizzabox 250 for a diskless RS/6000 7248 "POWER Personal" Desktop that AsmodianX gave me. I just started a few hours ago and most of my time's been spent building networked resources such as the SPOT for diskless machines. If I can get this up tonight I'll feel pretty confident I know what I'm doing with AIX. After all, if I can show up and explain in detail how to build a network boot/install (like solaris JumpStart) server, they'll probably know I mean business.

It's been a long time since I've been this "into" a topic. Back in my early-to-mid teens, I would read up RFC's and print them out and absorb them. Ask Jon, he's seen my file cabinets packed with archives of Internet past. I even have some printouts of postings he made on BBS's in the mid 90's!

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The cycle continues.

That was the RS/6000 I traded him for an SGI IRIS Indigo 3k. If you're in need of SCSI disks, get an SCA80 to whatever adapter and drop by Surplus Exchange. They had a few 18GB SCA drives for $5, and I picked one up late last week. Wink

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Actually...

I have 3 SCA80 - 50pin SCSI adapters. I was at SE today and didn't see anything I liked. I have a drive for it but I was trying to go diskless for the fun of it. I couldn't get it to boot off the external SCSI CD. Not much clue what I'm doing with it yet.

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I really like NIM. I have nev

I really like NIM. I have never configured it, but I used quite a bit.

I thought I was the only one that ever read RFCs for fun.

In releated news, my 44p-170 arrived today.

It has a 333MHz POWER 3-II CPU. I ordered a gig of ram for it and I plan to put a Ultra 160 36GB 15K RPM hard drive in it. I also have a 200GB IDE I plan to put in there somehow. I hope AIX reconizes the PCI IDE adapter I have.

Too bad I have a test tomorrow as I would really like to play with it tonight.

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The lazy man would rather exert himself than make two trips. -- Slovenian saying

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Joined: Aug 25 2004
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nice setup

i would just LOVE to play with stuff like that. I got a curiosity for the odd computer and antique stuff. Like, i have waited 10 years for a Jaz drive, and now that I have one (2GB sitting in my Beige G3) i love it. I will NEVER let it go.
I love obscure technology that failed without a good reason. i also loved the serial floppy drive that my TRS-80 Model 100 had. It was so cool, because it loaded like a top loading VHS Tape machine (the ones you find in schools, that you push the tape in from the front into a tray that pops up, then you push down into the machine). That, and the floppy ran on 4 AA Batteries.
I still want a Beta machine, and I love the victrola machine I got from my grandfather. I am currently saving for one of those Digital watches that use filaments for the digits (Glows red) i forget what they are called, but the look damn cool. Laughing out loud

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Jon
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Nixie tubes: http://en.wikipe
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I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

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actually, i was mistaken

this was more of what i was thinking of :

Retro LED Watch

My bad! sorry. But still, those LED watches are pretty cool! I would like to have one, but can't justify blowing $80USD on a watch just to look cool.

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Jon
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LEDs aren't filaments, so I g

LEDs aren't filaments, so I got a bit confused. Nixie tubes are a current rage too, and they really do use filaments inside a glass tube that glow orangish-red.

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I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

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Well that's 2 AIX boxen...

I got the 7248 up and running stand-alone. NIM is a pain in the arse on such weak machines as what I'm using. I did manage to get AIXwindows working. The GUI is pretty sluggish, but it works. The new box is down to the right of "the stack of doom".

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AIX 5L 5.1 IS ALIVE!!!

I bought AIX 5L 5.1 (the last MCA-compatable release) on eBay this week. It doesn't work on the 7248 (or so it seems) but it does work on my Model 250. I'm moving most of my old project blog entries to my new Blog ( http://retro-computing.blogger.com )

It will definitely contain some of my Macs. My goal is to chronicle my (mis)adventures in trying make modern use of my historic systems.

Pretty much everything I have powered up around me is from the 90's. I'll have lots to write about.

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