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Old 05-25-2019, 07:18 AM   #1
gaitos
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Of course it runs NetBSD! (diskless MicroVAX II)


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Hi there! I want to talk to you about VAX. Does your old VAX feels old-fashioned? Out of date?* It can still run NetBSD!

A few weeks ago, Lysander666 issued a challenge on the Slackware forum:

Quote:
It would be great to see someone install Slackware on a properly old computer and then take a neofetch shot
Not one to turn down an offer to show off I went as low as a 386 based computer. But I wanted to go even further back in time. The only machine that I have, older than the 386 and capable of running a Unix type OS with neofetch on top - is a MicroVAX.

This proved to be quite the adventure (I initially thought it will be simpler than installing Slackware 2.3). I didn't succeed in installing NetBSD on my MicroVAX 3600 (disk controller issues, I think), but I found out that the MicroVAX II (5MHz clock, 16MB of RAM) is capable of running NetBSD 7.1.1 without a hard disk, but that is too slow to be of any use. On the other hand, NetBSD 3.0.3 feels usable. And I'm sure that with a HDD it would be even better.

The server used for netbooting is a Linux machine (Slackware 14.1) running mopd (from NetBSD) besides dhcpd and nfsd. A real NetBSD machine was needed to convert boot loader from ELF to MOP image.

The full story (with pictures) is at hawk.ro/stories/bsduvaxii/

I hope this post fits here, despite not containing a question.
* - paraphrasing the intro from Brazil. No explosions occured.
 
Old 05-26-2019, 01:13 PM   #2
hitest
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Cool

Very cool!
 
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Old 05-31-2019, 04:03 AM   #3
Lysander666
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Fascinating stuff as usual, gaitos. Really great entry in the blog too, and well presented. Seeing neofetch running on that VAX is just mind-blowing. This is the oldest working computer you have, I take it? You've excelled at this!
 
Old 05-31-2019, 04:35 AM   #4
ondoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaitos View Post
The full story (with pictures) is at hawk.ro/stories/bsduvaxii/
very nice!
I also like the "slackware on a 486" story.
thanks for sharing.
 
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Old 06-01-2019, 05:26 AM   #5
gaitos
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Registered: Oct 2014
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Thank you all for your appreciation. And thanks for the sig, Lysander666! Be advised, Slackware 2.3 was installed on the 486 but I'll make a similar install on the 386 as well (now that it's mentioned there.. )

In the meantime I found that the HDD (30MB) seems to be functioning (I can't remember why I was under the impression that it's not) but it's quite small for an entire system. I think I'll have to try NetBSD 1.6 maybe I could fit a bare install on it (I want to at least have compilers beside base on the HDD).

Yes, this is the oldest computer I have that is capable of running a proper Unix. While there are options to run a sort of Unix on 8086 based computers, I doubt that bash 3.1 would compile on a 16bit machine with 640KB of RAM .. Besides, I guess most if not all of my PC machines are newer than 1985

However, that gives me an idea: while I did* a test run of Venix on a real 286, that was mostly to show that a 286 can indeed run it (and also to show what was in the backups the system was rebuilt from). I also erased that drive shortly afterwards. I do have another (portable, amber plasma screen) 286 that I could use to do/document a complete install on real hardware. And maybe try rogue and/or advent (Colossal Cave) on it as well? Suggestions?

*https://youtu.be/iE3OpxV92VU
 
  


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