Seriously, WHY would you do that? - Part 4

Episode 4 - "We have liftoff"

Last time, I got the RX2600 started up and failed to install OpenVMS because of a suspect hard drive.  From the screen shot above, you might observe that I have gotten OpenVMS installed and running on the machine.

There were a bunch of issues.  The hard drive supplied with the system was bad, and it was not the original device if the butchered screws on the caddy were anything to go by.  The seller did offer to replace it for me, but since I have a box of replacements, I didn't take him up on the offer.  Needless to say, if I want another RX, I know where I will look first.

The other curious issue is that the DVD drive is staggeringly slow.  It's not just OpenVMS, but also on RedHat.  Since it's not something you use much once the system is installed, HP didn't put much emphasis on it's performance.

I'm not going to take you through the whole installation process, that's what the OpenVMS manuals are for, but I will give you a few hints I found useful.

Boot the system with boot_ia64.efi which you will find in the "\EFI\VMS" directory of the DVD.  This should be "fs0:" in your EFI shell.

Wait a few minutes (no, really) and you get the installation menu.  Choose "Install" (the first option) and go make a pot of coffee.  You might have time to harvest and roast the beans too.

After an agonising wait you will get prompted whether to wipe or preserve the install disk.  Since mine was effectively a new disk, we want to choose "INITIALIZE"

You have to type INITIALIZE, so watch the spelling...

Now comes the first real test of your hardware.  You will be prompted for the disk to install onto.  I would suggest entering '?' first of all, and confirming your device list.  In my case it was "DKA0".  If you don't have a disk in an "online" state, there's a problem you need to solve first.

There is a choice of filesystems for the system disk.  Actually on Alpha or IA64 there's always a choice of filesystems when preparing a new volume.  ODS5 is the current standard, and unless you intend to run an old application, there's probably no reason to select the older ODS2 filesystem.

Next import question is whether to create or validate boot options.  This only appears on EFI (IA64) machines, and it's a really good idea to choose "Yes" for this one, because it creates an EFI boot manager entry:

Being lazy, not to mention inexperienced, I accepted the option to install default settings.

When it comes to entering the PAK details, at this stage you really only need to enter the values for OpenVMS.  You can paste the other commands in once the system is up and running.  It's a tedious process, but it has to be done.

After about an hour or so you will be greeted with the "installation is now complete" message.  Feel free to perform the victory celebration of your choice.

But your work isn't over.  The system needs to restart, and configuration needs to be done.  More on that next time!

Seriously, WHY would you do that? - Part 3

Episode 3 - "Are we there yet?"

Last time, we had the RX2600 plugged in and talking on the Management Processor (MP), and burned a copy of OpenVMS to a DVD.  Now let's get this thing running.  The green on black terminal mode is not required, but it does make things feel so much more serious.  I recommend it.

Of course, it's not as simple as it sounds!

My system had previously been configured with HP-UX as you can see from the Boot Manager menu.  With the DVD in the internal drive, I scrolled down (using the "v" key) and hit enter to boot it.  Wait a while (patience is a virtue...), you will get an OpenVMS startup message.  So far so good!

After a long time you get the installation menu for OpenVMS.  Wait a while again...

Alright!  Now, type INITIALIZE (Aussies, Kiwis, Brits etc, just tolerate the spelling) because this is an existing disk, and we're going to clobber it.

And this is why my problems began...

 DKB200 is online, and that matches the drive installed in slot 2 of the machine, so let's use it.

"medium is offline".  This is definitely not what I expected, and now I am stuck at this point.

Thinking this might be related to the old HP-UX  installation, I reset the EFI config which removed all the boot entries (including the DVD by the way!), and now if I try to boot from the OpenVMS DVD (using "fs0:\efi\boot\boot_ia64.efi") it sits there forever after choosing install.

Digging deeper I noticed a message when booting to the EFI shell.  While EFI detects the 73GB drive at SCSI 2 on the embedded controller, there was a message "failed to initialize", and I only had fs0: (The DVD) available.  Something is clearly not right here.

I had a couple of spare 73GB drives (but no caddies), so I slotted on in.  No more errors on the EFI shell, but still no luck with the boot.

So here's my theory at present:  The EFI config told OpenVMS there was a drive at DKB200, but the drive was knackered.  What I should have done was swap the drive out first, not wipe the config.  OpenVMS is also very tolerant of errors.  It just seems to keep on trying to find a suitable disk to install onto.  Presumably an installer might need to zone a Fibre Channel connection, or attach external storage.  By the pattern on the DVD LED it just seems to loop, but I could be wrong.

Also, I noticed that installation menu reports two U320 controllers (which seem to be in the PCI cage), but not the embedded controller, so now I don't know if I accidentally killed the EFI driver as well.

Next Steps

I'm going to download and re-init the SCSI drivers at the EFI level and see if this helps, also try installing another OS just as a sanity check.

More details as they come to hand

Seriously, WHY would you do that? - Part 2

It's here!

Last time, I wrote about my reasons for choosing the HP RX2600 to run OpenVMS.

Having gotten all the manuals, firmware and everything else, I set up the machine according to the instructions from HP, and nothing much happened.  Nothing on the monitor, even though all the docs said it should mirror the console.

Next step, connect a cross-over cable to the Management Processor (MP) serial port, and try again.  This time I get greeted by a login prompt.  The user needs to be "Admin", but I don't know the password...

No biggie, with the power on, hold in the reset button on the MP card and then you will be prompted to enter "p" to reset the accounts.  The manual says Admin (note the capital letter) should have no password, but the prompt on the console said it's "Admin", so that worked.

The Help command is your friend here.  First thing I did was to use the Command Menu (CM) then LC to configure the networking for the Management Processor.  Now my MP is on my network.  One small victory.

Here's a bit of fun, under the Command Menu, enter SO and reset the certificate.  You can find out who used to own your machine.

In my license application, I was given a login to download the binaries to install OpenVMS.  Burning the ISO to a DVD is the first step, but MacOS outsmarted itself and won't burn, because it can't read the image.  Windows didn't care.

I would also suggest you grab the OpenVMS installation guide from HPE.  There's a ton of steps involved, and it's easy to miss things which will bite you later.

Next Time: Installing OpenVMS on IA64

Wasting your and my time

I had a really interesting experience recently which I hope might enlighten others as much as it did me: I was approached (via LinkedIn) by ...