The Gould SEL Concept 32/87

Despite Gould’s location being a few minutes drive from where I first arrived in America, I never had any idea they existed, were making their own exciting machines, or were even a Unix VAR. At a time during the Unix wars one was left to choose SYSV or BSD, but Gould had gone another direction with UTX with a ‘why not both’ approach. Truly an 80’s miracle of Unix.

Well as luck has it there is a SIMH emulator! James C. Bevier has a project on github where he’s building his SEL32 emulation on SIMH!

Even better he’s included tape images, and working INI files which I was able to make into a working system! (after some help with a tape bug)

File is COFF format
-> section (.bss) size (177960) clearing at (0xcbc18)
-> section (.text) size (724800) loading at (0x1200)
-> section (.data) size (105176) loading at (0xb2140)

Start 0x1200

UTX/32 2.1B (exp) #0: Mon Apr 10 19:46:05 GMT 1989
    [email protected]:/usr.POWERNODE/src/src/sys/obj

V6 CPUIPU(P) configuration (IPU not present)
top of system = 0x400000
real mem = 8388608
End of kernel map 0x218464
avail memory = 7356416
using 256 buffers containing 262144 bytes of memory
using 256 mirror buffer headers
ioi: channel iop0 at 7e00 online
ioi: channel dc0 at 800 online
ioi: channel dc1 at c00 not present, dci cc=2
ioi: channel dc2 at 400 not present, dci cc=2
ioi: channel tc0 at 1000 online
ioi: channel en0 at e00 online
swapping on the b partition
dmmax 512 mbswap 3576
dumplo 11776
Checking root filesystem
Check commented out, uncomment once you have edited /etc/fstab!
Automatic reboot in progress...
Mon Aug 30 05:35:46 CDT 2021
/etc/fsck -p /dev/rdk0d
/etc/fsck -p /dev/rdk0e
/etc/fsck -p /dev/rdk0f
File systems OK

Mon Aug 30 05:36:06 CDT 2021
Mounting file systems
/dev/dk0d mounted on /usr.POWERNODE
/dev/dk0e mounted on /home
/dev/dk0f mounted on /usr/local
Initializing loopback
Starting line printer daemon
Starting standard daemons: update cron.
Adding swap partitions
Standard setup functions
Invoke local rc file
Entering /etc/rc.local
dumpdirectory: No such file or directory
Starting Syslog Daemon
Starting local daemons: inetd.
Starting NFS/RPC daemons: portmap sund.
Mounting NFS filesystems
Leaving /etc/rc.local
Starting mail
Checking aliases file
Preserving editor files
Clearing /tmp - does not remove directories
Clearing pseudo terminals
Leaving rc
Mon Aug 30 05:36:07 CDT 2021

GOULD UTX/32 2.1B (noname) (console)


It’s very BSD feeling on the boot and in the /usr directory there is 5bin 5lib

Sadly transferring stuff by just pasting on the console reveals that there is some IO issues in the simulator:

syncing disks... done

dumping to dev 101, offset 11776
ioi: channel dc0 at 800 online
dump succeeded

As a matter of fact doing anything too fast can/will panic the simulator. That goes for Ethernet and additional serial ports.

Interesting highlights of the platform:

Produced by hard-params version 4.1, CWI, Amsterdam
Compiler does not claim to be ANSI C

Char = 8 bits, signed
Short=16 int=32 long=32 float=32 double=64 bits
Char pointers = 32 bits
Int pointers = 32 bits

Alignments used for char=1 short=2 int=4 long=4
Character order:
    short: AB
    int:   ABCD
    long:  ABCD

Obvious issues with the platform is a lack of GCC. The PCC compiler while standard for early 80’s non PDP-11/VAX machines is a bit lacking as the years went on. I was unable to build gzip due to the following error:

# gmake
cc  -o gzip gzip.o zip.o deflate.o trees.o bits.o unzip.o inflate.o util.o crypt.o lzw.o unlzw.o unpack.o unlzh.o getopt.o
ld: warning: near subsegments too big for static base spanning
ld: gzip.o:
        no base for reloc of memref instruction at .nbtext+0x18 relative to symbol _progname
        1221 more 'no base ' errors
gmake: *** [gzip] Error 4

Sadly I don’t find much on Altavista other than this & this. It only offers this terse comment:

The constraints on address space on a Gould are quite severe.

Bummer. Additionally neither Hack 1.0/1.03 or PDP-11 Hack will build either. Surprisingly bash-1.14.7, make-3.75 and ircii-2.5 compiled. Obviously with no networking IRC is kind of pointless.

It’s an interesting time capsule of life outside of AT&T/CSRG or SUN, going in a different direction. It seems like a larger lost opportunity to take their ‘it runs both’ approach software and not have it available on different platforms. Granted for a hardware company once the software leaves the compelling reason to buy the hardware evaporates. Hello NeXT.

If anyone wants to try to re-create it, download and build the SEL32 emulator from github, and I put my vague instructions here.

Or for like minded OS tourists, you can give it a spin here: UTX32_2.1B.7z. I included a ‘9346-UTX-blank.disk’ file which is already prepared if you don’t want to go through the 15 questions to prep a disk. Likewise I made a ‘9346-UTX-biga-blank.disk’ image which is just a single large ‘a’ partition as it’s trivial to just add a bunch of big disks these days.

Full 32bit Unix machines from Ft Lauderdale! Who knew?

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