Subject: Re: largest disk in a vs4000/90
To: None <>
From: Carl Lowenstein <>
List: port-vax
Date: 07/26/2003 20:41:46
> From:
> Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003 23:07:23 EDT
> Subject: Re: largest disk in a vs4000/90
> To: mouse@Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA,
> Floppies and HD's are not really formatted anymore in
> Billywares.  After DOS 3.3, all the format does is check
> the disk and rewrite the tables.  Actual formatting is not
> done, unless it detects something really funky on the disk
> as strange.  That is why I have to keep an ancient dos 3.3
> laptop around, just to clear up Billyware consternations,
> when I have to write boot disks from this aol box.  One
> thing nice about the VAX is that it actually does the low
> level format, without requiring vendor software, since the
> formatter is in the prom.

To the best of my knowledge, the low-level formatting is done
by the disk firmware.  The VAX might rewrite some parameter
pages of the drive, but the drive does its own formatting.

> One problem I have run into from
> Billyware machines using scsi drives, and less so on real
> *nix boxes, is that if a power failure occurs during disk I/O,
> tracks and sectors can be randomly overwritten, trashing
> the disk, or so it seems to the peecee folks that want to
> scrap the drives.  Throw the silly drives on the VAX, and
> it rewrites the tracks and sectors correctly and what was
> thought to be a bad disk..... is perfectly fine.....(:+}}...
> I love it when I can pick up a bunch of drives at a Hamfest
> or flea market that came from such boxes and were thought
> to be duds.  Easily better than 50% of them, in my hands,
> turn out to be perfectly fine, after a VAX has low-levelled
> them....(:+}}.... good karma these VAXen toyz.

Bet you could do the same thing with a minimal Sun workstation.
But you would need to read the format(1M) program from a CDrom.
Add to your collection of hardware bookends.