Subject: Re: Can't partition and format Sun3 disk
To: Jason Thorpe <>
From: Brett Glass <>
List: port-sun3
Date: 12/29/1995 11:58:56
> Well, every SCSI disk I've ever purchased has been low-level formatted at
> the factory.

True. But older Sun 3's (e.g the 3/50 and 3/60) came with ESDI drives
connected to the SCSI bus via Emulex SCSI "bridge boards." One can't ignore
these systems when doing a port to the Sun 3; they were the most popular

>  A SCSI formatting utility shouldn't be that hard to write
> (it's a matter of setting a couple of page parameters and sending a
> format unit command), but a nice, well-rounded SCSI device manipulation
> tool is a little harder :-)

Simply sending a "format unit" command is an important part of the process,
though it's not all of it. The utility must also perform surface
analysis and create and manage a defect list.

>> To sum up: if your disk drive has not previously been used with SunOS
>> (or an earlier version of NetBSD), you cannot install NetBSD from the
>> currently provided install tape. To fix this "can't get there from here"
>> problem, NetBSD must add a low-level formatting utility to the install
>> tape.

> That statement is extremely misleading.  I know of cases where a disk was
> fresh-from-the-factory and NetBSD installed on it.

Depends on the type of drive, and which "factory" it came from. A SCSI
drive does not need to be low-level formatted unless there is a need to
change the block size.  However, a truly factory-fresh ESDI drive -- the
kind Sun used in its Sun 3 "shoeboxes" at the time -- could not be used
until it had been low-level formatted, either by Sun or by the end user. If
you bought a drive from Sun, it came preformatted and ready to go, but at
an exorbitant price.  If you bought somewhere else at a more reasonable
price, you had to run the formatting utility (included on the SunOS install
tape).  Because Sun put the utility on the tape, users had their choice.

You may not have encountered this problem, but I've received mail from
others who have. Most seem to have used SunOS's format utility to get
around the lack of one in NetBSD.

Does someone out there have the tools to add a format utility to the
NetBSD 1.1 install tape?  If not, I'll be in the awkward position of
having to find and run the SunOS install before I can install NetBSD.