Subject: Re: Just what is going on here
To: None <port-hp300@NetBSD.ORG>
From: Fletcher Christian <>
List: port-hp300
Date: 09/16/1996 19:38:18
** Reply to note from Jason Thorpe <> 09/15/96 11:54pm  

First up, I'd like to say that my post was not intended to be a flame, it may have  
come over more grouchy than I'd intended because I wrote it *Very* early
this morning after being up all night with stomach flu. So if anyone was offended
I'd like to appologise in advance.

> On Mon, 16 Sep 1996 07:16:32 EST 
>  Fletcher Christian <> wrote:
>  > With so much HP stuff becoming landfill I would have thought that  
>  > getting hardware information out there would be a priority. Each guy  
>  > who realises that it's worth his while to pluck an HP out of a skip is  
>  > potentially the Jason Thorpe of the future :-)
>  >
>  > The unfortunate truth of the matter is that at the moment is isn't worth  
>  > anyones time to rescue one of these machines. For a start there is no  
>  > way to boot one unless you already have NetBSD working on another  
>  > platform. I have a number of computers running a variety of OS's if I  
>  > realy look into rbootd and the NET2 code I'm sure I could do  
>  > something. The question is should I have to go to all that trouble?
> That's not strictly true... Scott Reynolds, Mike Hibler, and I helped a 
> fellow netboot from a FreeBSD system ... I'm told that someone netbooted 
> from a SunOS system (with the LBL multicast code, which includes bpf).

The problem is that to use the port as it stands you need.
     1)   An HP
     2)   A network card.
     3)   Another host to network off that supports NFS, TCPIP and BPF.

Really we should only need 1). I have 5 computers capable of networking
(in addition to the HP) running MacOS, tripos, OS/2 and Solaris if I can't do
it easily who can?
> It would be nice if someone were to do the work to rbootd to make it work 
> on non-bpf systems ...

What is the story about this? I tried to get some information on BPF from a  
number of sources and the consensus seems to be that it is a tool for packet
monitoring on the network (ie used for debugging). If the rboot stuff is now
well understood why is BPF still needed.

>  > I think the problem is that there is a massive difference between the  
>  > guys running the porting effort and the first time user. From reading  
>  > the group I would say that people like Jason have 2 or 3 different  
>  > machines all net capable and at least a working HPUX or 
>  > NetBSD machine to boot off. In addition they have several years of  
>  > HP experience and are frankly of Guru or SuperGuru status in Unix
>  > hacking :-) The way the OS installation is handled is designed for these  
>  > people. IF you don't have the capacity to netboot then you are out of  
>  > luck.
> It is true that I have several systems at home... I'm a bit of a computer 
> buff (umm, duh :-) with an affinity for hardware that people consider 
> obsolete... (Hey, it still works, right?)  When I started hacking 
> NetBSD/hp300, there weren't very many of us (umm, 5?), and we sort of 
> relied on whatever we happened to have around (in my case, HP-BSD 1.7).

The number of computers  was not supposed to be a dig, I have several machines at  
home (at least 5 "modern" systems and countless working 8 bit
machines doing all sorts of minor tasks). I agree with you about if it works use it.

My point was that the netload option only realy works if you are in a computer
rich environment. If you're not then you have problems. The fact that the  
installation method IS netbooting (as opposed to a media based boot) emphasises
that the originators of the port are in a computer rich environment.

What I would ask is this. Suppose you pulled a 380, 9144 and a 7958 out of a skip
but had no access to any other computer, can you load the OS?

> >  > The installation notes say that this will be fixed but unfortunately this  
>  > has NO priority since the leaders of this effort already have working  
>  > systems. I would offer to help, but I can't get the OS on my machine.
> Please don't make false assumptions ... The fact is that I _have_ been 
> working on making tape booting work. 

Ok to quote my managers lets look at your "opertunities" :-)

> But, the combination of a flaky HP-IB tape drive,
Is this flaky as in a bad unit or is this a unit design problem? Being in
Europe I can't help with a bad unit (other than point out a shop in Montreal
Canada with lots of 9144's) but analysis of the design of the tape drive
may be possible once I've sorted out my logic analyser.

> a very short supply of usable tapes,

The same store in Canada has lots of SH tapes too. Better than that I know of a
place in England with boxes and boxes of NEW HP 1/4" tapes marked  
"Preformated for use on HP systems"  So far I haven't picked any up because
it doesn't say WHICH systems. If you can send me the HP part numbers for the  
useable tapes I will send you some new ones if they are ok and it helps the effort.
 >and not a lot of  time to spend on it means that it just hasn't been finished...

That I can't help with. :-)
 In the 
> post-1.2 sources, I've done a fair bit of work to the boot code (the same 
> boot block will net or disk boot, and is _very_ close to tape booting).

About the HP tapes. Does anyone know what the story is?? Are the mechanisms
the same as standard QIC02 1/4" drives (ie are they only formated diferently) or  
are ther actual hardware differences? Does anyone know if it's possible to format
standard 1/4" cartridges to allow them to work in place of the rare HP ones?

> >  > Anyway I have an offer. If people will send me what little hardware  
>  > data they have I'll start to compile a hardware FAQ. I'll need help  
>  > because I've only seen 2 or 3 of these machines but I'll do all the admin  
>  > and compilation and posting. This is all I can donate to the project  
>  > because I can't get the damned OS on my machine. Now once we have  
>  > some hardware data AND an OS you dont HAVE to netboot I think  
>  > we can start making progress.
> If you have any machine capable of being an NFS server, and a tape on 
> which you can dd SYS_INST, you don't _have_ to netboot, you know.  The 
> installation notes mention that you can load the miniroot tool from tape, 
> but that it's only capable of reading the miniroot image from an NFS 
> server.  If that part of the notes isn't clear enough, _please_ let me 
> know so I can update the documentation... (I do try really hard...)

Thanks I'll look into this.

> Anyhow, if you're serious about maintaining a NetBSD/hp300 FAQ, I'd love 
> to have the assistance.  

I'm serious, but to be honest I was more intent on an HP hardware FAQ
than a NetBSD one. The reason is that a HW FAQ is principly a compilation
and editing effort since no one person can have access to all the available
hardware anyway. Software FAQ's realy need the author to know a lot about
the software because he WILL receive questions about it. In a lot of peoples minds  
the FAQ editor IS the expert on that subject. Until I have more familiarity
with NetBSD I wouldn't realy feel comfortable as FAQ editor.

HOWEVER I would be willing to do the donkey work of compiling and  
maintaining a HP300/NetBSD FAQ if someone with more experience
proof read and co authored it.