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.
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?
NOPE, nothing from that either.
So I went ahead and ordered the cheapest Samsung I could find.
And yeah, whatever it is the Apple SATA controller does, that annoys all the other brands, the Samsung pulled through.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 Â£15. A bit pricy but it turns out totally worth it!
Â£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!
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 Â£45, I got this RED5 Gaming keyboard for Â£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 Â£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?!
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.
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:
And of course, like an idiot, I installed VMware to at least make sure it’s working.
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 Â£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:
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\ Mojave.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --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.
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.
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
"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 Intelâ€™s workstation chipset lineup is: the C600/X79 PCH doesnâ€™t natively support USB 3.0. Thatâ€™s right, itâ€™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 itâ€™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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
In my “C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Emulation\Mobile\10.0.14393.0” directory I have a modest 2GB file called flash.vhd which contains the phone image. I copy it to where I run my VM’s and run it with the XDE emulator:
And I’m running in no time, I login, load some apps, then I notice the storage:
What?! the disk image is a paultry 10GB. I guess the idea is that you wouldn’t actually try to load up the emulator like it’s your daily driver, rather you load YOUR app and only YOUR app, and just pretend that this isn’t some weird offshoot nostalgia machine.
Well needless to say something needs to be done about this storage situation.
I look and find this package, vhdutils. I had to go to some sketchy site, but it did include source. I should put this somewhere more legit to take away from all those weird squatters.
So with stuff installed onto my phone I’m almost at 7GB physical 7.6 virtual space. I could go all crazy with 128 or 256GB but it’d largely be stuff I bought… which of course thanks to the magical world of DRM won’t play.
Yeah I guess you are welcome that I bought all those movies, and stuff but sure I wasn’t going to watch them on this phone… emulator. Thanks. thanks again.
So the resize vhd is quick. brutal. and efficient. I go with 64GB, because, why not? I could probably just grow it again if I needed to.
Now for the fun part. We need to attach the vhd, and resize the volume. I hope you like diskpart.
In the MMC I attach the disk image.. it’ll pop a few folders as it’s got a bunch of drive letters. I’ve never explored a phone, I don’t know if the ARM images are just as weird.
Even more strange, it’s MBR!
So if you were thinking, lots of partitions, and a clear win for GPT, sadly this isn’t it.
Sadly there is no free partitions (although one hiding could be deleted…?) And the UI doesn’t support expanding a logical drive (the green container). But diskpart does.
As indicated above the emulator’s vhd is disk3. You can see it’s the 64GB disk. Select it.
Next list the volumes. The Data disk (J:) is what we want so select Volume 10.
Literally just ‘select volume 10’ and ‘extend’. Don’t tell me this is difficult.
Listing the volumes again will show a 59GB Data partition. Congratulations we did it!
Back in the MMC, you’ll see it as well how the Data partition, along with the green extended partition is now taking up the entire disk. So we can now Detach the VHD, and run the emulator again!
And just like that we now have plenty of free space on the emulator.
I downloaded some games, and some music. It’s nice to be back home.
It’s not an extensive list as I didn’t game much on my phone but here is what I know works:
Final Fantasy 1
Heroes of Larkwood
Skulls of the Shogun
Candy Crush Saga
Pixel Dungeon +
Halo Spartan Asslt just closes, and Asphalt 8: Airborne doesn’t get the screen size right so it’s impossible to click enough buttons.
It’s nice that sonic runs, (haha) although using a mouse makes it impossible to control.
Now one fun thing is that the emulator is x86, nor ARM based so I converted the VHD to a VMDK, ran it under VMware, and YES it RUNS… sort of.
Perhaps a format that never was to be, the Phone/Tablet but it boots quickly and is so responsive. Windows without most of the .. Windows bits. I guess the real experiment will have to be will it run on a Surface?
It’s all 32bit anyways, and such an evolutionary dead end. Pitty.
Aaru is a fully featured media dump management solution. You usually know media dumps as disc images, disk images, tape images, etc.
With Aaru you can identify a media dump, extract files from it (for supported filesystems), compare two of them, create them from real media using the appropriate drive, create a sidecar metadata with information about the media dump, and a lot of other features that commonly would require you to use separate applications.
So this started out as a weird thing that killed a day for me. I thought it was a little fun to look at but, ultimately I proved that I could extract files, but not from the requested image.
So let’s get into some more details, my failure, and well it’s been raised into another chance for some luck/fast knowledgeable hacker to get a payout to extract a single file.
As mentioned above the computer is the Texas Instruments S1500, the disk image was dumped on bitsavers years ago as s1505_cp3540/s1505_cp3540.dd.gz. As you may guess it’s a raw ‘dd’ of a disk.
Now looking at a few sources namely unix-ag the OS in question is TI System V, an AT&T SVR3.2 derivate. Running strings does reveal ‘SysVr3TCPID’ And this appears to be the Unix Version Banner:
(c)Copyright 1993 Hewlett-Packard Company, All Rights Reserved.
(c)Copyright 1986-1992 Texas Instruments Incorporated, All Rights Reserved.
(c)Copyright 1984-1988 AT&T, All Rights Reserved.
(c)Copyright 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985-1990 The Regents of the Univ. of California
(c)Copyright 1980, 1984, 1986 Unix System Laboratories, Inc.
(c)Copyright 1990 Motorola, Inc.
(c)Copyright 1989-1990 The Santa Cruz Operation. All Rights Reserved.
RESTRICTED RIGHTS LEGEND
Use, duplication, or disclosure by the U.S. Government is subject to
restrictions as set forth in sub-paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of the Rights in
Technical Data and Computer Software clause in DFARS 252.227-7013.
3000 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, CA 94304 U.S.A.
Rights for non-DOD U.S. Government Departments and Agencies are as set
forth in FAR 52.227-19(c)(1,2).
Along with further extraneous info like:
TI Sys V
Hewlett-Packard 9000 Series 1500
Fantastic. Well digging around you’ll eventually find that SYSV filesystems have a magic number, and it’s 0xfd187320
So a simple search through the raw filesystem reveals some:
And this fits the bill, as the next 32bit ‘word’ is the version, in this case 2 to indicate 1024k blocks ,and improvement added to SYSVr2. One thing is that the struct to read a super block is 512bytes (or is it always?), and the magic number is near the end, so from the above offsets, subtract 496 (decimal!) and you can get the start and sizes of each filesystem. Fantastic!
Speaking of SYSVr2, Do you know what is another SYSVr2? A/UX.
Shoebill was panned for not emulating the full Macintosh, rather it reads the kernel directly from the filesystem, and boots into it. That means Shoebill can read UFS/SYSV. Great start?
So I took the filesystem code from Shoebill, hacked it enough to let me build on Visual Studio, and point it to a raw filesystem and take a look. I put it here: filesystem.c
Now I’m impatient so it still needs a legit Apple A/UX virtual disk. Granted we don’t need it, but it made it easier to let the existing code fiddle with apple partitions, but when it comes time to read SYSV blocks, I closed the file handle and swapped things around. And that lead to this:
As you can see there is a LOT of zeros. However the magic & type align.
Meanwhile here is what an A/UX SYSV filesystem looks like. Notice far less zeros.
Additionally I was able to get another 68k based SYSV Unix disk, and yeah not all zeros. Also yes, using the Shoebill code it extracted files just fine.
However using my approach on the filesytem I always only get a directory with 2 enteries the ‘. ..’. I modified the source to just count inodes and write them to disk. And use inode 2 is just a tiny file. No doubt with all the zeros the disk is either very corrupted (backup superblocks?! where?! how?!) or the kernel implicitly knows these things, or finds them somewhere else.
I’ve been authorized to give a bounty of $200 USD to be able to extract arbitrary files from the 1505 disk image. I thought I’d give it a shot, but I don’t get how the super block aligns but the data doesn’t. Unless there is some other insane padding thing for a 1k superblock? The more I think about it, it’s probably likely as I know at some point I was skipping 3 blocks from an offset to get to a superblock, and 3 is just a weird number. 1 block header, 2 block superblock makes more sense.
Additionally this table may prove useful, especially for the ‘skip 3’ or pad to 1k:
Tape and disk utility is in progress...
26 partitions, 12-longword descriptors:
Name Start Length User Comments
1 * LABL vl 0 2 FFFF
2 * PTBL pt 2 3 FFFF
3 SAVE sb 5 3 FFFF
4 FMT fp 8 9 FFFF
5 TZON tz 17 296 FFFF
6 * unx1 lb 313 1024 0002 TI Sys V 3.3.2
7 * unx1 lb 313 1024 000A TI Sys V 3.3.2
8 * unx1 lb 313 1024 0013 TI Sys V 3.3.2
9 * unx1 lb 313 1024 0014 TI Sys V 3.3.2
10 unx2 lb 1337 1024 0002 TI Sys V 3.3.2
11 unx2 lb 1337 1024 000A TI Sys V 3.3.2
12 unx2 lb 1337 1024 0013 TI Sys V 3.3.2
13 unx2 lb 1337 1024 0014 TI Sys V 3.3.2
14 unx3 lb 2361 1024 0002 TI Sys V 3.3.2
15 unx3 lb 2361 1024 000A TI Sys V 3.3.2
16 unx3 lb 2361 1024 0013 TI Sys V 3.3.2
17 unx3 lb 2361 1024 0014 TI Sys V 3.3.2
18 * cfg1 cb 3385 17 FFFF TI Sys V 3.3.2
19 cfg2 cb 3402 17 FFFF TI Sys V 3.3.2
20 cfg3 cb 3419 17 FFFF TI Sys V 3.3.2
21 * root fb 3436 12288 FC02 TI Sys V 3.3.2
22 usr fb 15724 32768 FC02 TI Sys V 3.3.2
23 jdis an 48492 2 FFFF multi-volume file system anchor
24 pipe fb 48494 1024 FC02 pipe file system partition
25 * swap pb 49518 32768 0002
26 prt1 fb 82286 448972 FC02 part of jdis multi-volume
Did you know there is almost nothing left to document that this poor machine even existed?