Rebuilding Darwin from source: Part 2 Building the kernel

Re-creating the steps from 7 years ago the first phase was to build the Darwin kernel. Like everything else, once you know what is involved, it’s not all that difficult. But as always finding out the steps to get there is half the fun!

I’m going to assume if you want to follow along, that you’ve completed the first part of this exercise, and you have a Rhapsody DR 2 system up and running. Due to some issues I’ve had with creating a lot of files & filesystem corruption, we are going to create and add two more disks to the system. On Qemu we need to add them via the CLI:

qemu-img create -f vmdk source.vmdk 8G
qemu-img create -f vmdk scratch.vmdk 8G

Adding them to the command line gives us something like this:

qemu -L pc-bios -m 512 ^
-k en-us ^
-rhapsodymouse ^
-hda rhapsody.vmdk ^
-hdb source.vmdk ^
-hdd scratch.vmdk ^
-cdrom darwin-builder-04-23-2024.iso ^
-fda nic.flp ^
-net nic,model=ne2k_pci,vlan=1 ^
-net socket,udp=,remote=,vlan=1 ^
-boot c ^
%1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7

Additionally you’ll also need to download the current ‘darwin builder’ ISO that I’ve put up on sourceforge. As of today it is darwin-builder-04-23-2024.iso

Step one is to boot into single user mode. As we need to prep & format the disks under Darwin before the system starts up.

We need to check the hard disk, and then create the device names for the third hard disk.

fsck -y /dev/rhd0a
mount -w /
cd /dev

Now we need to run the ‘disk’ command which will abstract the whole volume creation. There are numerous flags, but we don’t need all that many.

disk -i -l 'src' /dev/rhd1a
disk -i -l 'scratch' /dev/rhd2a

The output scrolls off the screen, so I didn’t capture it, but you’ll see all the inodes being created, it’s a lot of output!

With the disks created, we can now shut down the VM

shutdown -h now

and then restart Qemu, and let it boot up normally. We’ll get to the login screen, login as the root user.

The first thing I’d recommend is to drag the from /System/Administration to the desktop to make it easier to get to. Rhapsody, unlike NeXTSTEP & OPENSTEP doesn’t have any dock, as the goal back then was to make Rhapsody look and feel more like Platinum MacOS.

The next thing to do is to make the system very insecure by allowing remote root logins. It’s just easier to deal with. You could use sed or just copy the one I provided from the CD-ROM.

cp /source/ttys /etc

And with that in place, its easy enough to telnet into the VM so you can copy/paste stuff in and out with ease!

You should now be able to verify that all 3 disks are mounted:

# mount | grep hd.a
/dev/hd0a on / (local)
/dev/hd1a on /src (local)
/dev/hd2a on /scratch (local)

From here it should be very simple to kick off the build process:


And this will kick off the build, recreating all the fun steps I’d gone through so many years ago. These projects now are building in the following order:

  • kernel-1
  • driverkit-139.1-1
  • cc-798
  • bootstrap_cmds-1
  • objc-1

The first phase of the script will unpack both the kernel & driverkit and install their respective header files into the OS. NeXT a bunch of symlinks are created to link the system to the driverkit. Next I decided to build the ObjectiveC compiler from 10.0, hoping it’s more bugfixed and slightly more optimized than what was available back in 1999. Building the compiler is a little involved, as a good GCC tradition is to be cross compiled first, then re-compile itself with itself, then do that again and verify that the 3rd recompile outputs the same as the second one. Yes it’s a thing. Yes it’s slow. Yes you are lucky to live in the future, this was really painful back in the day.

With the kernel compiled, we can then compile the bootstrap commands, and the objectiveC runtime that is used by the kernel. Nothing too exciting here.

DriverKit however….

The PCMCIA code was not included in any of the 0.x Darwins, so for laptop enthusiasts you are basically SOL. As a matter of fact, a lot of weird stuff was pruned out, that either could be ‘touched’ or borrowed from the PowerPC port and massaged into place. Luckily I had at least figured out a simple fix for PCIKernBus.h so at least PCI works.

Likewise for the kernel, there was some guessing on the EISA config, which also overlaps ISA, along with having to remove the PCMCIA cardbus .. bus.

APM crash

I had issues with the APM (Advanced Power Management), another laptopisim I suspect. I had to amputate that.

for testing purposes

Naturally the cpuid code is broken much like early NT (I wonder if both were contributed by intel?), so it doesn’t detect any half way modern Pentium processors correctly which causes it to fall all the way back to the i386, which unfortunately, Rhapsody is compiled as 486 (remember NeXTSTEP had fat binaries allowing you to recompile for different processors and ship a single binary that can be ‘lipo’d into the appropriate one for the host). So being degraded to a 386 means nothing works.

bad CPU type in library!


Luckily patching the cpuid was pretty simple just force it always to be a Pentium. It is 1999 afterall.

I’ve done my best to make this a single script to run, and all being well you’ll get something that looks like errors, but it should be fine?!

tar: private/dev: Could not change access and modification times: Permission denied
tar: private/dev: Cannot change mode to 0755: Permission denied
tar: private/dev: Cannot chown to uid 0 gid 0: Permission denied
tar: Error exit delayed from previous errors

A quick look around shows that there is tgz files indicating that things have been compiled. I did backup the old original kernel as “rhapsody-gcc.tgz” in case you ever need it. Can’t imagine why but who knows?

qemu:13# ls -l /usr/src/*.tgz
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel   173706 Apr 23 15:25 /usr/src/bootstrap_cmds.bin.tgz
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  2184460 Apr 23 15:33 /usr/src/cc-798-bin.tgz
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  2747289 Apr 23 15:36 /usr/src/driverkit-kern-bin.tgz
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  1264957 Apr 23 15:26 /usr/src/kernel-driverkit-hdrs.tgz
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel   116343 Apr 23 15:26 /usr/src/objc-bin.tgz
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  2173005 Apr 23 15:26 /usr/src/rhapsody-gcc.tgz
qemu:14# ls -l /mach_kernel*
-r--r--r--  2 root  wheel  1459520 Apr 23 15:36 /mach_kernel
-r--r--r--  1 root  wheel  1404116 Apr 23 15:38 /mach_kernel-rhapsody

You should now be able to reboot into the kernel that you’d compiled!

Next up is Phase 2, where we compile the tools to enter the dark magic that is the Debian build system. Yes, you read that right, Apple/NeXT was all in on Debian.

An actual look at Microsoft OS/2 2.0

Years ago, feeling nostalgic, I had written a quick throw away thing about the old article from PC Magazine, 29th of May, 1990, detailing the coming future of Operating Systems, Microsoft OS/2 2.0. 14 year old me was blown away!

614KB Free! And Flight Simulator 4 in a window

This release marks the last time that Microsoft would release an OS/2 beta to developers, instead with the runaway success of Windows 3.0, Microsoft would remove resources from the constrained OS/2, and refocus both on Windows 3.1, and Windows NT.

Thanks to one of my Patrons – Brian Ledbetter, the much-sought Microsoft OS/2 2.0 Pre-Release 2 is now available! So obviously the first thing to do was to re-create the original magical screenshot.

One thing of note is that thanks to some of the metadata left at the end of the disks we know when this disk set was made:

$FTIME = Wed Jun 22 09:00:56 1988
$DTIME = Tue Aug 15 07:48:10 1989
$PCTIME = Thu Apr 27 11:51:54 1989
$FREV = Wed May 31 09:17:24 1989
$DUP TIME = Fri Jul 13 16:02:27 1990

Given that the PC Magazine issue was published in May of 1990, it showcased version 6.43, shipped to devs early January of 1990, and timestamped 20/12/1989. I would speculate that it’s the Pre-Release 1.

The OS/2 Software Development Kit

This Pre-Release 2 set was made in July with the files being timestamped 01/06/1990, so physical releases every 6 months? I guess that makes sense when you look at how many disks have to be duplicated, boxed up and sent out. It’s one big win for digital downloads, or how Windows 10/11 can background download updates, or even entire OS updates (that are more like new installs) today. Mailing big heavy boxes must have sucked. And dealing with lost/damaged disks. Also as you can see on the box, it only contains 5 1/4″ disks, they didn’t even ship dual media.

Maybe the large box is a reaction to the first Pre-Release’s 16 disks & a few photocopied sheets mere 10oz. Maybe people were displeased that they didn’t get much printed ‘bang’ for their $2,600 – the price of the 2.0 SDK.

The disks were dumped with Kyroflux, and on several of the disks there is extra trailing information on the disks revealing data from when they were manufactured:

$TRACEBACK (tm) Ver 1.04
$OPER = operator
$STN LIST = 1 3 5 7 11 13 15 17 19
$PRODUCT = z:/product/110098449.p
$PTIME = ???
$FORMAT = /format/fmt12.f
$FTIME = Wed Jun 22 09:00:56 1988
$DRIVE = /drive/3xhd96sdsmt.d
$DTIME = Tue Aug 15 07:48:10 1989
$MODULE = /config/3xhdSDSmt.s
$MTIME = ???
$FUNCTION = write/verify
$PRECOMP = /precomp/3xhdSDS.t
$PCTIME = Thu Apr 27 11:51:54 1989
$FREV = Wed May 31 09:17:24 1989
$LOADERSN = 525-100-70
$TSTRING = TraceBack (tm)   (c) 1989 Trace Products All Rights Reserved.
$DUP TIME = Fri Jul 13 16:02:27 1990
$DISK NUMBER =  22 of 45

That’s right, this disk (Install 1) was manufactured on Friday the 13th!

Running strings against the DOSKRNL reveals this string:

MS DOS Version 4.00 (C)Copyright 1988 Microsoft CorpLicensed Material - Property of Microsoft

Not only is it a new OS/2, but a new MS-DOS! Neat!


This is *NOT* a comprehensive version of MS-DOS 4.0. Then again anything to do with disks, you should be using OS/2. It’s more so commands needed for working inside the virtual MS-DOS environment. And yes, it doesn’t include any basic.

There is built in support for EMS, and there is an XMS driver, but it’s not activated by default. I didn’t bother trying Windows 3.0, but I did install Word for Windows, which has a runtime version of Windows 2.11

Windows 2.11 Runtime on OS/2

Trying to run the windows executable directly gives a weird error:

SYS0195: The operating system cannot run %1.

I went ahead and installed WLO, or the Windows Libraries for OS/2, and some things do run, and many more hang the system. I think its an issue in PM, and CAD (Control+Alt+Delete) does reboot the system.

WLO on Microsoft OS/2

It’s a shame Microsoft couldn’t get Windows as the UI to OS/2, it certainly would have had a far more viable lifetime. I’ve ranted about it before but IBM’s insistance of supporting the 286, releasing a $6,000 286 in 1987 basically ensured early OS/2 was facing the wrong direction technically, and by ignoring the existing Windows stack, it just delayed OS/2 being useful from the get-go.


And running strings against the OS2KRNL reveals:

Copyright 1986 IBM Corp.
Internal revision 6.78, 90/05/09

And to further muddle the waters:

@(#)ldrste.c    13.125 90/05/09
@(#)ldrfixup.c  13.43 90/05/09
@(#)ldrsubr.c   13.116 90/05/09
@(#)pgset.c     13.64 90/05/01
@(#)selmgrc.c 13.76 90/05/01
@(#)vmalias.c   13.48  90/05/01
@(#)vmalloc.c   13.71 90/05/01
@(#)vmapi.c          13.50 90/05/07
@(#)vmfree.c    13.89 90/05/01
@(#)vminfo.c         13.33 90/05/01
@(#)vminit.c    13.60 90/05/01
@(#)vmshared.c 13.41 90/05/01
@(#)selkh.c 13.14 90/05/01
@(#)tklibi.c 13.42 90/05/09
@(#)inidin2.asm 1.86 90/04/27
@(#)selinit.asm 13.51 90/05/09
@(#)ldrinita.asm        13.47 90/05/09
@(#)selwrk.asm 13.51 90/05/07
@(#)vdmaa.asm         13.54 90/04/27
@(#)trap.asm    1.82 90/05/04
@(#)trap286.asm 13.43 90/05/04

If you were ever wondering what the names of the source was, here is the .c & assembly:



I would imagine a lot of the v86 mode virtual device drivers came from Windows/386. But it looks like these were all written in C? Running strings against all the virtual device drivers reveals all C? I got zero hits for .asm


It’s not like any of this is ever going to see the light of day, but it’s all interesting, at least to me.

Let’s install!

Installing Microsoft OS/2 2.0 Beta on VMware

I’ll have to update where I had found this, if it was the electronic documentation, or the one time I got to go through the printed documentation that the Microsoft version was adding True Type Fonts. Sadly I can’t find any evidence in the binaries.

OS/2 System Monospace Fonts
OS/2 Courier Fonts, (c) Copyright 1988 Microsoft Corp., Portions Copyright 1985 Bitstream, Inc.
OS/2 Helvetica Fonts, (c) Copyright 1988 Microsoft Corp., Portions Copyright 1985 Bitstream, Inc.
OS/2 Times Roman Fonts, (c) Copyright 1988 Microsoft Corp., Portions Copyright 1985 Bitstream, Inc.

  "PM_Fonts"           "SYSMONO"            "C:\OS2\DLL\SYSMONO.FON"
  "PM_Fonts"           "COURIER"            "C:\OS2\DLL\COURIER.FON"
  "PM_Fonts"           "HELV"               "C:\OS2\DLL\HELV.FON"
  "PM_Fonts"           "TIMES"              "C:\OS2\DLL\TIMES.FON"

Well, that’s sad.

No VIO for you!
No VIO access from 32bit

As I had touched on earlier, These early OS/2’s have no user accessible way to call the legacy 16bit OS/2 API’s. At best you have simple text mode stuff, anything graphical, you need to port to Presentation Manager.

I was able to take the GCC port I did to OS/2 and re-link the objects ,and I was correct, it ran without any changes! I had compiled it using the December 1991 Windows NT Pre-Release’s CL386 compiler. So far so good.

I tried to use the 1991 compiler to build Sarien, and it instantly crashes. I also tried building everything but the Presentation Manager with GCC, and again instant crash. I was able to use the OS/2 2.1 v1.2 DDK, and get a working EXE, even using /Ox (maximum optimisations!). Clearly there is something fundamentally missing or I’m missing something fundamental.

While there is a HPFS installable filesystem, there is no CD-ROM IFS. Running strings against HPFS reveals this much when looking for C. There was no hits for .asm

execioh.c: calling strat2 with PIOH=%p
execioh.c: returned from strat2 with PIOH=%p
qdiskop.c: entered, ioh=%p lsnStrt=%lu csec=%u pbData=%p
unlckio.c:entered, pioh=%p
unlckio.c:retheaping lock handle %p

Even more strange, is that HPFS for OS/2 was still 16bit. I had hoped that even though this is a beta, that there would be a 32bit version of the filesystem. Sadly that kind of feature was reserved for Lan Server installs.

HPFS.IFS: MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (DLL or font)

Could you imagine shipping a 32bit filesystem to home/low/middle tier users today? Speaking of, let’s check the rest of the C:\OS2 binaries:

ANSI.EXE:     MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
ATTRIB.EXE:   MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
BACKUP.EXE:   MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
CACHE.EXE:    MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
CMD.EXE:      MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
CREATEDD.EXE: MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
E.EXE:        MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
EAUTIL.EXE:   MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
FDISKPM.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
FIND.EXE:     MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
HELPMSG.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
MAKEINI.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
MOVESPL.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
PATCH.EXE:    MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
PICICHG.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
PICPRINT.EXE: MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
PICSHOW.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
PMCPL.EXE:    MS-DOS executable, LE executable
PMEXEC.EXE:   MS-DOS executable, LE executable
PMFILE.EXE:   MS-DOS executable, LE executable
PMSHELL.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
PMSPOOL.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, LE executable
PSTAT.EXE:    MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
REPLACE.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
RESTORE.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
SORT.EXE:     MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
SPOOL.EXE:    MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
SYSLOG.EXE:   MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
TRACE.EXE:    MS-DOS executable, LE executable
TRACEFMT.EXE: MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
UNPACK.EXE:   MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
VIEW.EXE:     MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
VIEWDOC.EXE:  MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)
XCOPY.EXE:    MS-DOS executable, NE for OS/2 1.x (EXE)

The vast majority of them are 16bit. The 32bit stuff is in the defunct LE format. This is why nothing from the GA (General Availability) versions will ever run on these betas, and why I was trying to make stuff available as linkable objects. And yes, my Sarien port is LE:

SARIEN.EXE: MS-DOS executable, LE executable

There is a LAN client disk set, so I guess you were expected to just go across the LAN.

The SDK & Toolkit for this beta have been around for a substantial time. The big difference is that we now have binary compatibility so we can run ALL the examples, namely the Open Dialog demo.

Open Dialog

We take this kind of thing for granted today, common controls, but back in the early 1990’s this was a surprisingly lacking from many UI’s of the time. Since these beta DLL’s use a different format, this won’t run on the later betas, let alone the release. So, this is for those looking for secret hidden stuff.

Is it usable though? Well if your workload is OS/2 applications, ABSOLUTELY. If you want to do cute stuff on MS-DOS.. It’s all YMMV, but traditional apps seem to behave pretty well.

It’s a shame for some reason that overall, these early OS/2 2.0 betas were not all that wide spread, as they are just so interesting! And compared to the GA version of OS/2 2.0 these ancient versions with the 1.x Presentation Manager do feel a lot faster. Sometimes I miss the Workplace Shell, Other times I miss the old terrible Desktop Manager with its incredible simplification.

For those just wanting to mess with the Operating System, it really is a developer’s release so it’s pretty spartan. Sadly there is no XGA drivers in these early betas, there is 8514/a support but I had no luck with it. I suspect it’s probably something I had done wrong. I should also point out, if you are using 86Box, and are using a 486DX/Pentium be sure to enable the softfloat option.

FPU passthru gives major issues with MS-DOS under OS/2

Maybe a math co-processor really was a hidden requirement of these early OS/2 betas? So, perhaps more confirmation that buying an 80387 was NOT a waste of money. I should also add that when trying to compile PHOON, I did have to use /FPi87 or inline 8087 instructions, otherwise instant crash. I had thought it was a mixed FPU mode crashing the linking of GCC+MSC code but I tried a few combinations, none of them worked.

Once more again, I want to thank my Patrons for making this possible, and a big thanks to Brian Ledbetter for being so kind to preserve this incredibly rare, and historically significant software kit.

I’ve made my VMware image available, and 86box.

so I was excited to try this protoweb thing!

mjd -protoweb

I saw this video and I was like sold! I have this PowerMac 6400/180 so I figured this would be good. The problem was my network card was acting up so I figured instead of troubleshooting it I’ll just format it and go from there.

the machine is very much an Old World Macintosh, so that limits me from OS X. It’s 603ev CPU it’s not all that advanced either. I have an 8.1 ISO that I’ve been using under 68k emulation but the limit it has is old multimedia stuff ins t 68k compatible as nobody would imagine emulation putting 68k at speeds above a gigahertz.

I went looking for a 8.6 ISO, and that is where the fun hit me again that many so-called ISO images aren’t. Rather they are giant floppy disk images with the media headers and/or partition tables being obliterated. As an ISO they don’t detect at all, and as a giant floppy, of course they don’t boot as MacOS checks if it is on read-only media.

This ISO isn’t an ISO

very annoying

I did manage to finally find one that does work however!

working ISO

I forgot where I found it though. I did save it to, since I have another 5 versions of this downloaded, none of which will boot.

I should also add the MacOS 8.1 CD-ROM image Ive been using as again,l I have the same issue where so many are headderless ‘floppies’ and not actual CD-ROM’s that don’t work in Cockatrice III or an actual Mac using BlueSCSI.

MacOS 8.1 CD-ROM on Cockatrice III

Sorry the image shows in black & white, but as you can see from the CD-ROM background it is in fact booted from the CD-ROM. You can download it from here:

In no time, I was able to get online only to find that the power Mac plugin’s seem to be unavailable for anything and unsupported.

old netscape website

but the rendition of the old Netscape page was a treat!

Now I do have a Windows Surface RT tablet, and sure enough pluggin the proxy values, and YES the video site does work!

Warpstream on Windows RT

Very cool! So it turns out Protoweb can actually save all those old devices that work fine enough, but not fine enough for ‘Modern platforms’.

Another G5, Another SSD nightmare

So I got this iMac G5 with a defective display super cheap. Turns out that all these displays fail, so if you find one with a good display it’s either been RMA’d or its going to fail. and quickly.

cheap iMac G5

On the back of the unit there is a video out port, so you can hook up an external monitor, and now you have a chunky G5.. minmaxie.

Sadly the OS was a bit messed up, and had a bunch of user files, and I just wanted to do a fresh install. And the hard disk was LOUD and slow. Naturally I thought I’d install a SSD. I had forgotten what amazing luck I had with the Grandpa G5 back in the day, and did I just get lucky with that?

First I got this super cheap 2-Power SSD.


Of course it didn’t work, nothing shows up at all.

I had this fancy Kingston SSD, surely it’ll work?

Kingston SSDNOW 300 SV300S7A

NOPE, nothing from that either.

So I went ahead and ordered the cheapest Samsung I could find.

Samsung M27PC120HAFU

And yeah, whatever it is the Apple SATA controller does, that annoys all the other brands, the Samsung pulled through.

Sucess with the Samsung PM830 SSD

I did get an iMac G5 10.3 restore CD set, but sadly it didn’t want to work with this iMac. However I did get a deal on a boxed copy of OS X Tiger.

Change the way your Mac works for you

And yeah I was able to do a clean install, and patch it up. I’m still impressed that Apple keeps stuff up like the update servers & all the combined patches. I guess one thing worth mentioning is that the WiFi wouldn’t join the home LAN at all, but the 10.4.11 patch fixed that right up.

I should try some much newer Samsung SSD’s to see if it’s just this one generation, or are they just that much better? Also what about NVMe/SSD bridge?

Installing the IBM SCSI / A ‘tribble’ card in an IBM PS/2 model 60, using BlueSCSI, and a tale of painful lessons.

As a follow up to Installing a Gotek floppy emulator, this time I’m adding something desperately needed, mass storage using a SCSI card.

IBM SCSI / A adapter
IBM SCSI / A adapter

The machine is the 40Mb MFM based model, the cheapest option of getting a PS/2 model 60 back in the day. MFM hard disks are incredibly old, and sadly the eventual end point for these old disks is death. While I had investigated a MFM disk emulator they are very costly, with prices starting at $299 USD. Ouch. However, from my Dec Alpha experiments I do have the BlueSCSI was available for a more reasonable £52. So all I would need was a SCSI adapter, and I’d be good to go, right? Mostly.

Looking at the card, you can see that it doesn’t use a standard 50 pin connector. I guess it being the 1980s and IBM trying to re-capture the PC market by going all in with proprietary connectors, they used a 50 pin IDC connector to attach the 50pin SCSI ribbon cable. This would prove to be disastrous for me later on. I initially had no luck finding an original cable, while the SCSI cards themselves seem to be plentiful on eBay. I guess me buying 2 of them has triggered a lot of movement in the market. Another source of concern is that the 286 is 16bit, and the card is advertised as being 32bit, but rest assured the notched middle part seems to indicate that the card is 32bit/16bit compatible. I can attest it works in my PS/2 just fine.

My terrible idea + terrible soldering
My terrible idea + terrible soldering

I had decided that since I do have a bunch of jumper cables, I could just solder them directly to the card fingers. I only have one device, so I don’t really need a ribbon cable, the BlueSCSI can emulate multiple devices, so I figured it’d be fine. Of the 50 pins in a SCSI ribbon more than half are ground, so I figured I only needed to solder up about 25 connections, just like how Apple got away with 25 pin connections. I did tone out the pins looking for the +5v power signal, along with checking the common ground, where the flip side of the SCSI card is all ground.

I had connected it up, and the machine saw the blue SCSI, but for some reason it was always reading 25Mb.

I was unable to figure out what was going on, so when I went to inspect my setup, I had seen one of the cables had disconnected. Uh-Oh.

Card edge fingers torn off
Card edge fingers torn off

As I pulled the card out of the computer, 3 more cables had popped off, revealing that the fingers were nowhere near as strong as I had thought, and the fingers had been torn off the card. Very sad. The card still ‘works’ but it’d need someone with a good eye and soldering skills to re-attach the pads, or just solder bodge wires from the test points on the card to the IDC connector.

Obviously if I’d known the fingers were so fragile, I’d have not done this. But I was impatient for the IDC connector to arrive (it took about a month), and I really thought I could get away with it. So I don’t know if it matters for anyone else, but yeah it turns out these fingers are nowhere near as strong to side to side forcers as I had thought. Also I was told “on the internet, so you know it’s true”‘ that various super glues are conductive, so test before you think about trying to do it live.

IBM SCSI Adapter FRU 15F6561 IBM MICROCHANNEL SCSI 32 bit MCA Card + Cable

And that is when this pair showed up, another SCSI card, but this time with the illusive cable. There is something weird how the universe times things.

So got this card & cable set (If it was available 3 weeks ago, obviously I would have ordered this one as it has the ribbon!).

Where the magic happens, BlueSCSI!

Not knowing much about the IBM PS/2 SCSI/A adapter, I went ahead in BlueSCSI, and setup a 380MB disk on SCSI ID 0, a 1GB disk on ID1, and a 2GB disk on ID2. That’s when I found out that the adapter initialises the bus backwards.

I had thought it was a weird thing in the setup utility, so I booted up MS-DOS and ran FDISK to reveal that it really does read the ID’s backwards.

Obviously with the BlueSCSI they are just files on a SD card, so it’s trivial to just rename them.

I had also thought it was weird that the reference disk reads the disks being 2GB just fine, so I double up with both data disks being 2GB.

And sure enough, MS-DOS only sees 1GB per bigger disk. After search for a bit, it turns out that the 1GB limitation is a known thing and newer ROMs can work around the issue. Eagle eye’d might have noticed the first adapter had ROMs from 1990, while the second card has ROMs from 1991. But the better ROMs come from a totally different card. Normally I might have been annoyed, but since my disks are virtual I can just give myself 5x1GB data disks, along with that 360MB OS disk.


This is the best part of virtual peripherals, is that you can load out what would have been super expensive, and impractical for being era correct. Instead, now it’s super easy, barely an inconvenience. I can’t imagine trying to use physical disks in 2023.

One of the reasons I kept the smaller ‘C’ drive was to make for installing OSs a bit easier, as many older things hate ‘large’ disks. But being able to connect so many gives so much flexibility.

It’s a shame the MFM hard disk emulators are a bit expensive, even with my screwup it was still cheaper to go with SCSI, and the BlueSCSI basically just works, the only weird behaviour is all on the ‘tribble’ SCSI / A adapter.

Installing a Gotek floppy emulator in an IBM PS/2 model 60

Well like everything else, once you know what to do, its pretty self explanatory and easy. But until that point it’s a lot of trail and error.

The PS/2 model of computers went away from the PC/XT/AT design for something that would be more toolless and allow for more automation in the building & assembling of these machines. That means they removed loose wiring where possible to give not only great airflow, but an overall clean aesthetic to the PS/2 build. What this also means is that the old 34pin floppy ribbon will not do.

The PS/2 version uses and edge connection and integrates the 5v/12v power rails into the interface. You can try to add an old floppy to the mix, but there is 5 pins that need to be held high through a resistor pack to get an old floppy drive working. I didn’t want to fight it that much so instead I ordered an adapter from eBay, being sold by markgm.

Yes I don’t know what is up with the shipping either.

After much trial and error I found

After a lot of trial and error I found jumpering it for S0 was what worked. While I had read that JC was also needed, it just didn’t work when I tried. S0 puts the gotek into the first floppy position, in the older PC/XT/AT’s they jumper every drive as S1, but have a twist in the cable to negate it on the primary position.

The other catch is that it absolutely required a FF.cfg file

interface = ibmpc-hdout

Even though so many other systems didn’t need it, mine sure did. And Obviously I flashed my drive to the latest version of flashfloppy (3.41 as of now.). That also meant checking the processor type, which, is simple enough to check by opening it up, and setting your camera to maximum zoom.

Gotek AT32F415 processor

Or checking the gallery of microcontrollers in the various Gotek’s. The prices have shot up dramatically over the last few years for unknown reasons, so they switched to from the ST to the AT line or similar processors.

Can’t say I blame them.

So with the drive updated, and config file loaded, along with a disk image, it finally booted up!

First boot!

And with that in place I was able to boot the reference disk, and setup the system. The inside is a bit ugly but, I wanted to get this thing fully loaded, so I picked up an 80287-10.

One interesting thing about the PS/2 line of machines is that the 286’s could run their math coprocessors in synch. The IBM-5170/AT ran it asynchronously at 2/3rds the clock value. I would have imagined they convinced someone somewhere how at big step up from a 6Mhz 80286 & 4mhz 80287 to get into a PS/2 model 50/60 with a blistering 10Mhz 80286/287.

Happily the 80287-10 I had gotten from fractal2015, worked just fine.

Wow. awesome.

I’m waiting still for some cables to hook up the bluepill to the SCSI card, and the memory card, so I can run meaningful applications like SimCity for Windows, and OS/2.

PS/2 60 playing battletech, from a gotek emulated floppy

In the meantime I can do simple stuff from floppy. I’m still trying to keep an eye out for either an ethernet card, or a Token Ring card & MAU, along with cisco cards to at least let me use NetBEUI.

But for anyone else needing a solid answer on how to get the Gotek working with an IBM PS/2 model 60, here you go!

Adding multiple PCnet NIC’s to a Windows NT 4.0 Terminal server under Qemu

So this is probably nothing that exciting for most people, but for me, I wanted to have a Terminal Server onto a DECnet network. Sure I could have probably just done one nice with tun/tap, dumped all the protocols on there, and called it even. But for some reason I wanted 2 NICs to keep the IP on one side, and DECnet on the other.

One thing I wanted was an internal bridge for DECnet only traffic, and since I just need MSRDP access, SLiRP can handle a single TCP port redirect.

The flags are as always pretty simple once you work them out:

qemu -vga std -cpu pentium -m 384 -vnc :0 -net none \
-hda nt4tse.vmdk \
-device pcnet,netdev=slback \
-device pcnet,netdev=decback \
-netdev tap,ifname=tap1,id=decback,script=/root/nt4tse-up,downscript=/root/nt4tse-down \
-netdev user,id=slback,hostfwd=tcp::3389- \
-cdrom Windows\ NT\ 4\ All-In-One\ (Workstation\,\ Server\,\ Terminal\,\ Enterprise).iso

And the two network scripts starting with nt4tse-up:

echo starting $1
ip tuntap add mode tap tap1
ifconfig tap1 up
ifconfig tap1
brctl addif decnet0 tap1
brctl show decnet0
echo done with tuntap

And the nt4tse-down:

echo shutting down $1
ifconfig tap1 down
brctl delif decnet0 tap1
brctl show decnet0
ip tuntap del mode tap tap1
echo done shutting down $1

for completeness here is the bridge config in /etc/netplan/50-cloud-init.yaml

            - SOMETHING/24
            gateway4: SOMETHING
                macaddress: 00:f4:c1:56:40:7e
        dhcp4: no
        addresses: []
        dhcp4: no
    version: 2

This way I have an IP bound bridge for things that talk IP, and a raw bridge, decnet0 that has my non IP decnet stuff on there. Naturally it’ll have my SIMH VAX on there:

# brctl show decnet0
bridge name     bridge id               STP enabled     interfaces
decnet0         8000.aede9f227e7b       no              tap0

Also the ability to mount directories as fake fat drives had it’s syntax change as well

 -drive file=fat:rw:win95cd

into something like this:

-drive file=fat:rw:dos,id=fat32,format=raw,if=none -device ide-hd,drive=fat32

A wild Macintosh Plus appears!

1MB Macintosh Plus, with extended keyboard & original mouse.
Mac Plus!

This was rather unexpected, but this auction for a loaded Macintosh Plus had shown up, and it was shipping local, and very cheap for what it was. It included the larger keyboard, original mouse, and an external 20MB hard disk.

Rodime ro652 20mb hard disk
Assembled in Scotland!

Sadly, the hard disk is dead. And not like dead dead, but dead dead dead! After I freed the disk from the external enclosure, and tried to power it on, stand alone, the PSU refused to start as the disk has a hard short in the board somewhere. And I can’t say that I’m all that surprised that a hard disk from 1989 is broken. I’m more surprised that someone was using this in 1989 and didn’t take the plunge and upgrade the machine to the full 4Mb of ram.

Anyways I have this chunk of plastic and glass on a desk, but I can’t do a thing with it. I’ve heard of various SCSI emulators out there, and decided to go with a bluescsi v1 with a DB25 interface as they are generally cheaper, and the Macintosh Plus isn’t exactly all that fast so the effort of the v2 is mostly lost.

bluescsi on the back of the Macintosh Plus
Bluescsi module on the back of the Macintosh Plus

Documentation on the bluescsi is scant, but it seems that a diode needs to be soldered onto the Macintosh Plus motherboard to enable bus power, so you don’t need an external USB power source. I’m a bit worried about opening up this thing as I’ms suspecting the plastics are a log weaker than they look, so I opted for just using a USB cable to power the device.

Anyways let me cut to the chase, I have an 8Gb Micro SD card that I formatted ExFAT (the documentation says Fat32 will work, but I found it might work once, but it’ll definitely never work after a reboot), with a single file emulating a 100Mb hard disk (Luxurious!). I named the file simply ‘HD10_512.hda’ which specifies it’s a hard disk, SCSI ID 1, target 0, 512 bytes/sector and it’s a ‘hda’ image. It’s what the Bluescsi want’s so don’t fight it!

To prepare the virtual hard disk, I used Cockatrice III, since the Macintosh Quadra 800 emulation includes SCSI, which let me create a raw disk image, partition it, and format it under MacOS 8.1. The real trick was installing the operating system.

I first tried MacOS 7.0.1, but it would boot up greeting me with the error that needs more than 1Mb of ram. I tried installing a MacOS 6.0.8 manually, but it crashed saying the system folder was corrupt, and then it just went empty disk mac on further boots.

I’m not sure what the problem was, it’s possible it was the filesystem on the card, or some other issued with the Macintosh, I have no idea.

So I broke down and ordered a pre-installed diskette with MacOS 6.08.

reproduction System 6.0.8 disk
Repurposed System 6.0.8 disk

I booted off the diskette, and amazingly the floppy drive worked! And in about a minute I had booted up, and it saw the hard disk! I dragged the System folder over the hard disk, and rebooted, and yeah it booted right up!

Obviously, the next step will be to get a proper screwdriver to open this thing, figure out how to discharge the CRT so I don’t kill myself, and add some additional RAM. I know it’ll be slow but I do want to see MacMiNT run on this thing! Maybe I’ll find/order the needed diode and make the DB25 bus powered eliminating one cable.

A long long long time ago I did own a Macintosh Plus, with 4Mb of RAM, although I mostly used it as a terminal, since it powered up quickly (it was the mid 90s!) and doesn’t take up that much space, so maybe I can slave it to an ESP32?


I had been using some generic 8GB microSD card on this, and while it seemed mostly fine on the Macintosh Plus, I had since managed to score a Performa 6400. I had been using this Kingston generic 8GB card, and it had frequent timeouts writing/reading on the Performa. As a matter of fact if the SD card was plugged in at powerup with an ISO image it would crash the Mac.

Kingston SDC10/8GB 015FCT C08G… no good!

I scored this SanDisk Extreme 32GB for £15. A bit pricy but it turns out totally worth it!

£15 SanDisk Extreme!

Not only does the Performa not crash with an ISO image but it’s pretty darn quick! Well worth the purchase as all my weird issues seemingly just disappear!

So yeah, lesson learned, don’t go cheap on flash.

Server in a can: Unbridled rage

Back nearly a decade ago, Apple was going to release a new Mac Pro. And it was goi to be unlike all the other computers, it was going to be compact, and stylish, a jet engine for the mind.

However instead, we got what everyone would know as the trash can.

big brain idea

So at the time i had this idea that I wanted a Xeon workstation in a nice portable form factor. And this little cylinder seemed to fir the bill. But things changed in my life, i was okay being tied down, and a regular Xeon desktop became my goto machine, a desktop would do just fine.

Then years later, an artist id commish to do some stuff was selling their Mac Pro, as they’d gone all in on Hackintosh, and this was my chance to get one on the cheap. As I’m on a business trip at the moment, I thought this would be a good time to test out what I had envisioned as the future of a personal server in a can.

A long while ago, I’d bought a newer/faster/larger flash for the Mac Pro, and it was a simple matter of hitting the Windows key + R and the machine boots up into an internet recovery mode, and will install OS X Mavericks over the wire. Which sounds great, but this is where the fun begins. Since I ordered. a NVMe M.2 module, it of course is too new for the 2013 machine, so I had to use a shim bridging the Mac’s NVMe SSD port to M.2 for my modern flash. And it never fit exactly right, and I kind of screwed it in incorrectly, but it held in place. Obviously flying bumped things around, as I had kind of figured, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I didn’t take any big peripherals with me, as I figured I’d just get some new stuff, and didn’t worry about it at all. I picked up a View Sonic VX2770 for £45, I got this RED5 Gaming keyboard for £13, and I already had this Mad Catz 43714 mouse NIB with me. I think I paid $200 HKD or so a year ago, but I like the feel of this style of mouse, and was happy to bring it with me. Little did I know…

So after setting up a desk, and the system, it performed like crap. Worse it was locking up again at random times. I already was using Macs Fan Control to set the fan to 100%, and still it was locking up. I had guessed it’d taken a jostle too many, and I reseated the storage. And then on booting it back up I only got the blinking folder. Great, either it was dying, or I’d just killed it.

A quick jump on Amazon, and I found the “Timetec 512GB MAC SSD NVMe PCIe Gen3x4 3D NAND TLC”, which at a whopping £68 seemed like a good idea. And since it was SSD NVMe, it’d just slot into the Mac Pro, and life would be good. Or so I thought.

The first problem I ran into is that I couldn’t boot the mac into either diagnostics, or recovery mode. There is something really weird with a UK keyboard on a non UK machine. I think the 2013 (and probably many more) power up as American, and this is some kind of common issue with non American keyboards. Seriously why is the pipe,backslash on the lower row? Quotes is over 2? It’s a mess. And since I got my Mac Pro in Asia, maybe it defaults to Chinese? Japanese? Who knows?!

Crappy keyboard controller

Lucky for me, I had this ugly little thing with me for another project. And yeah holding down the ‘Win’+R button got me to recovery mode, with zero issues.

Loading Recovery

I still have to say, this is pretty cool. However what wasn’t cool, is loading the disk util, and yeah, NO FLASH detected. I have VMWare ESX 7.0 on USB, so booting that up, and yeah it totally sees the drive:

TIMTEC drive is spotted!

And of course, like an idiot, I installed VMware to at least make sure it’s working.

ESX on Mac

Yeah it’s booting fine.

By default the Mac Pro seems to be picking up bootable USB devices, so I pop in a Windows 10 MBR USB, and instead I get this:

Bad memory on the GPU? Bad cable? Bad monitor? I have no idea. At this point I’m thinking I’ve totally killed the machine, but a power cycle, and I’m back in ESX in no time. Something is up.

I pull the flash, and I can boot Windows 10 to the installer, but obviously there is no storage to install to. I try adding in a 16GB USB thumb drive, and … It won’t let you install to it. It appears that there is a way to prepare a USB drive for Windows 10 to install, but it’s not exactly something that is easy to do. However Mac OS X, doesn’t suffer this limitation and will let you install to whatever you want, so I install Mavericks to the 16GB drive, and yeah it’s booting. And SUPER slow. The flash still doesn’t show up, so I read the amazon page some more and find this tidbit:

My Macbook came with Mac OS Capitan as the operating system for recovery, and therefore did not detect the SSD. I had to create a High Sierra installer on a USB using another Mac and an app (DiskMaker) in order to reinstall the operating system from High Sierra. Once this was done, the SSD appeared available and I was able to install the operating system and upgrade without problem.” –Gilberto R. Rojina

Oh, now isnt’ that interesting? So of course I got to update my thumb drive, and of course 16GB isn’t enough space. Great. So I order a Elecife M.2 NVME Enclosure for £23, thinking I should be able to figure out once and for all if I can see the old drive, or maybe boot from it. I get the drive, plug in the storage, and Disk Util sees a drive, but will not mount it, nor is it selectable too boot from. The issue of course is that it’s APFS, which I guess cannot boot from external media? I have no idea, but I don’t have anything that critical on there, as I keep my stuff backed up on some cloud thing. So I do have a 128GB thumb drive on me, so I format the 1TB as HFS+, backup the drive, and and once more again reboot to the recovery mode, using the crap keyboard, to install Mavericks onto the 128GB flash. Thinking everything is going to be fine, I find this apple support page, with the needed links to get ‘old’ versions of MacOS.

These versions can be directly downloaded and installed without the store.

Another weird thing is that Mavericks won’t let me login to the Apple store. It notifies me on my phone, I approve it, but it never prompts for the verification. Maybe it’s too old? Anyways I install macOS Sierra, and do the upgrade.

Now running Sierra, I can use the store, and try to take the leap on my USB to Mojave. And of course disappointment strikes again:

You may not install to this volume because the computer is missing a firmware partition.

What the hell?! So now I’m trying to find out how to create a bootable USB installer from the download. That leads me to this fun page at apple. Apparently an ‘install installer to USB drive’ would be too complicated for Apple, so its hidden in a terminal command. Fantastic. Since I’m using that 128GB as my system, I grab that 16GB flash drive, and install the installer to that.

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ --volume /Volumes/SanDisk\ Fit

What an insane path to get this far. The tool will partition and format the drive, and now I can shut down, pop out the 128GB Sierra drive, and boot into the Mojave installer.

I didn’t take pictures, but by default the Mojave installer & DiskTool only show existing partitions. You have to right click on the drive, to expose the entire drive. This was an issue as I’d installed ESX onto the new storage. I clear the drive, and now I can finally install Mojave.

Home run?

Thinking it’s all over, I reboot into the Mac Pro, thinking everything should be fine, I have a properly fitting drive that is super fast, and It’s already 10.14.6 the latest and last version that lets me run 32bit stuff. Except that It’s slow. And unstable. No progress was seemingly made.

Trying to search ‘why is my Macintosh slow’ is, well a total waste of time. And it periodically locks hard making it extremely annoying.

Somehow I found this thread over on Apple support:

I have a quad-core CPU Mac Pro late 2013 (Model Identifier: MacPro6,1).  MacOS X 10.9.5. 
I have had all sorts of USB devices hooked up to it.  At any one time, I usually have all 4 ports filled.  I have a 3TB USB 3.0 disk that stores my large files, a USB mouse and keyboard (logitech with a usb mini dongle), a cable to charge my logitech USB cordless mouse, Lightning cable to my iPhone 5, and other things that I rotate in and out, like CF card reader, Audio Box USB audio interface from PreSonus, Sony Webcam, etc. 
About 3 months into having the Mac Pro, I noticed that my keyboard went dead in the middle of using it.  The mouse was dead too.  I blamed the RF dongle that they both share, because the Apple Magic Trackpad (bluetooth) I have still functioned.  Try as I might, I couldn't get the keyboard or mouse to work again, so I used the Magic Trackpad to restart the machine, and then my keyboard and mouse worked again. 
It wasn't until later that I realized that all the USB busses on the machine had frozen or "died" temporarily.  I realized it later because my USB hard drive complained about being "ejected improperly." 
Now I have had the USB die on the Mac Pro at least 15 times over the last month and a half.  Usually once every two days or so. 
I have tried (almost one by one) using some of the USB devices on the mac, and removing others to ascertain if it's a certain USB device that is causing this.  But the odd thing is that I never get a message from the OS like "xxx USB device is drawing too much power." 
I'm going a little nuts here because I cannot see any rhyme or reason to the USB interface lock ups.  And each time it happens, all the USB devices go dead until I restart.  Sometimes, I'm able to SSH into the machine from my iPhone and issue a "shutdown -h now" and even though I see the Mac OS X UI shutdown, it never fully halts.  I often have to hold the power button to get the machine to turn off. 
I really can't say if it's software related, hardware related or what.  I've tried to watch my workflow carefully to see if anything seems to make a pattern, but nothing yet. 
Any suggestions? Is anyone else seeing behavior like this?  Do we think it's a USB device... or is my Mac Pro flakey? -- Cheule

Wait the USB?

And to follow up, this thread over on Apple, that mentions:

"When I plugged in the same config on my new machine USB 3.0 directly it was very weird, devices would not remount and only show up if they were then when present at startup, and thruput was sluggish.  So I stopped using the in built USB 3.0 and grabbe the old belkin thunderbolt USB hub, and BAM it all works perfectly.  Better than that after testing the throuput , the belkin gave me 30-50% better performance that the inbuilt USB, that is without any hubs just direct." -- symonty Gresham

And sure enough another search about the USB setup seems to confirm it from Anandtech

Here we really get to see how much of a mess Intel’s workstation chipset lineup is: the C600/X79 PCH doesn’t natively support USB 3.0. That’s right, it’s nearly 2014 and Intel is shipping a flagship platform without USB 3.0 support. The 8th PCIe lane off of the PCH is used by a Fresco Logic USB 3.0 controller. I believe it’s the FL1100, which is a PCIe 2.0 to 4-port USB 3.0 controller. 

Unreal. I notice as I try to use the machine more occasionally the mouse turns itself off. Replugging the mouse shows it powering up and immediately powering off. I turn on the annoying backlight of the keyboard, and yeah it powers down too, however reinserting it brings it back to life. Luckily I still have this A1296 Apple Wireless Magic Mouse with me, so I pair that and unplug the mouse, and everything else USB.

Mad Catz, the Mac KILLER
This mouse killed my Mac Pro

It was the mouse. I can’t believe it either. I am simply blown away how this could possibly be a thing. I haven’t ordered the thunderbolt to USB dock yet, as I really didn’t want to spend any money on this thing, it was a grab and go solution, that has proven itself not so much grab and go.

Finally getting somewhere

After 6 hours of working yesterday, I shut it down to give it a break for a few hours, and it’s been up some 12 hours so far, pain free. In 2022, the Xeon E5v2 processor just really isn’t worth lugging around, but I already had it, so when it comes to transport, it actually works out pretty well. I wonder if this would have been a good traveling solution 2013 onward, but the fact a mouse could basically bring the machine down makes me think I’d have gone totally insane trying this on the road. Just as the USB Win/Alt/Alt GR/FN keys not being able to trigger the recovery mode was also crazy.

I don’t know why Apple insists on such fragile machines, but maybe the new Arm stuff is better? I can’t justify one at the moment.

Updates in the field

I’m working on getting some local retro kit, and I’ll have more fun coming up. But this fun experience ate 4 days of my life, and the least I could do is document it. I don’t know if it’ll help anyone in the future, maybe once these become iconic collectable, like the Mac Cube. Although as a former cube owner, those at least didn’t freak out when you used a 3rd party mouse.

Manually migrating NT 4.0 on VMware ESX to Hyper-V or what is a ‘flat’ vmdk anyways?

So due to recent economic events I’m having to consolidate all my VM’s back to the office I’m currently renting. I had a fancy 1gig internet connection installed and I’m still under contract for a year. Before the c00f it made sense as I did a lot out of that office and was getting ready to do something fun and big. I had planned on making a cloud service, I’d bought a bunch of Xeon boards, and started the initial build of my cloud to shop around but then the world ended the following weekend. As they say, bad timing.

So as a fan of old junk I still have some NT 4.0 stuff, and it’d been running on VMware for years, no issues everything being great. But I need to do double+ duty at the moment and to make it easier than trying to get GPU passthru working, I’m just going with Hyper-V on the Windows 10 desktops that I have running. May as well make people doubly useful!

In some idea of ‘performance’ I had converted all the virtual disks to ‘flat’ VMDK’s and never thought twice about it as it worked, and all was well.

Naturally to start with I uninstall VMware Tools while running under ESXi and shut down the VMs.

Well after rsync‘ing my disks back, I converted them with qemu-img and got this weird error that my VMDK’s were not VMDK’s. They are infact FLAT disk images. With really screwed up geometry that prevented both qemu and Hyper-V from mounting the raw converted disk images.

So first let’s verify the data:

root@NT15:/mnt/d/virtual/USENET-AltaVista# sfdisk -d USENET-AltaVista-flat.vmdk
label: dos
label-id: 0x8058e639
device: USENET-AltaVista-flat.vmdk
unit: sectors

USENET-AltaVista-flat.vmdk1 : start=          63, size=     4096512, type=7, bootable

And sure enough yeah it’s like a typical DOS disk with the start 63 sectors in. So to mount this under Linux (WSLv2 too!) we need to tell the loop driver the offsets, which is the start and size * 512 or:

# mount -o loop,offset=32256,sizelimit=2097414144 USENET-AltaVista-flat.vmdk /mnt

And all is good. Yes even a type 7 for HPFS/NTFS it mounted find and the data is there.

Now the ‘fix’ was an old one from back in the day, when moving stuff around and things get goofed you can try to xcopy and permissions always get messed up or cheat, and just use another NT installation and format a floppy disk and copy the following system files to it:

  • ntldr
  • boot.ini

In my case that’s all I needed to do, I re-ran qemu-img to convert from raw to vpc disk images:

qemu-img convert -f raw -O vpc USENET-AltaVista-flat.vmdk USENET-AltaVista-flat.vhd

And setup Hyper-V to boot my virtual diskette first, and in no time my NT was back up and running.

Naturally be sure to install the legacy network adapter for the VM, and re-configure NT for the DECchip 21140 adapter.

DECchip 21140

Dont’ forget to re-run service pack 6, and the update. Since these disks & VMs were pre-installed I didn’t have to mess with the “CompatibilityForOlderOperatingSystemsEnabled” flag. Although that was quite the fun adventure at the time.

In my case there was some IP addresses to change, but it’s back online with minimal effort which is always fine. Hyper-V doesn’t have any real integration stuff for old Windows so it’s pretty much a set it an forget it thing, or use Terminal Server for remote access.

So yes, many of the hosted things I have are down. I know. Yes it sucks. And yes I think the disk I put this on at the moment kind of sucks too. It’s been super cold here lately and I didn’t want to be exposed out there riding around getting soaked in the high winds so I’ll keep shuffling stuff later. But for now I got to save some hosting fees. And things like the gopher are dead. for the moment.