Christopher B. Browne's Home Page
cbbrowne@acm.org

9. Retired Servers

Some systems have gotten retired...

9.1. knuth: HomeBrew AMD 64

This machine was rebuilt in October 2004, replacing Chvatal.

Note that there was a predecessor "knuth" running an AMD K6 CPU, as well as a further predecessor that was a Cyrix 150+-based system purchased from Atipa.

The Atipa unit unfortunately suffered from a "motherboard fire." A capacitor on the motherboard approximately an inch away from the CPU caught fire and exploded. The "can" wound up elsewhere in the case, and a significant chunk of the motherboard had melted traces. This left the assortment of peripherals (that did survive the "blaze") without a system to connect to.

I replaced the motherboard with a FIC 2001, CPU with an AMD K6-266, replaced the case, and it provided service until late 2000 as my main machine.

Unfortunately, the power supply fan died, and there was a bit of a heat problem, which resulted in an IDE hard drive sitting at the top of the stack of drives of various sorts overheating severely and burning out.

This led me to removing most of the case, to ensure adequate cooling, and to start to build Chvatal, which has not one, not two, but three case fans. Overheating shouldn't be a problem...

This machine's host name was inspired by Donald E. Knuth, Professor Emiterius of The Art of Computer Programming. His series The Art of Computer Programming is an incredible resource in theoretical computing. (And is of practical importance in designing efficient algorithms.) He created the TeX typesetting system, and has developed the whole concept of Literate Programming, where documentation and software is fundamentally linked together so that you can describe why the program is correct, and compile the program out of that documentation package.

9.2. WITS A81

This is one of the Chinese-made Section 1 tablets. Possibly somewhat hackable. I have one of the resistive-touch ones, branded as a "Nationite MIDnite". Sadly, dysfunctional. One of the firmware updates "bricked" it.

Here are some links less specific to the A81 unit:

9.3. Viewsonic gTablet

This is quite a nice Section 1 tablet. It runs CyanogenMod nicely, and it was very easy to install that as a substantial enhancement. Sadly, it got burgled.

9.4. chvatal: Homebuilt AMD K7 Duron Server

This server is long dead, replaced by Knuth.

It consisted of:

This machine ran Debian GNU/Linux,

Linear Programming by Vasek Chvatal was my main reference to linear programming whilst in both my undergraduate and graduate studies.

9.5. GrabBag of Hardware...

There is a bunch of hardware that may or may not be connected to anything...

AMD K6-2 CPU

Running at 266 MHz

S3 Virge video card, 4MB RAM

I had to use a version of SVGAlib modified for glibc2.0 and S3Virge (Trio64 mode) in order to get SVGALIB to work. SVGALIB is (whether fortunately or unfortunately) considered pretty obsolete these days.

>BusLogic "MultiMaster" 946C PCI SCSI-2 Host Adaptor

To this has been connected:

  • Quantum "Fireball" SCSI-2 1GB disk drive

  • Tandberg

  • UMAX S6E Color Flatbed Scanner, used to scan pictures and for document imaging. MacWarehouse had a really good deal, pricing it at $130...

    UMAX Scanner drivers are available that work nicely with this scanner.

  • ExaByte 8500 8mm tape drive - 3.5GB capacity uncompressed, SCSI-2, 7GB "claimed capacity."

    This drive is a little less esoteric than the Tandberg, with the advantage that tapes are cheaper (note that there are video cassettes in the same form factor, thus bringing in further economies of scale), and I'm less concerned that if my apartment burned down that I'd not be able to find another drive.

    I bought my unit from Computer Systems Consultants for the unprincely sum of $250.

Memorex CRW-1622 CD-RW Recorder

Recording a CD:

cdrecord -scanbus

Cdrecord release 1.6 Copyright (C) 1995-1998 Jorg Schilling scsibus0: 0) 'SAMSUNG ' 'SCR-830 REV 4.01' '4.01' Removable CD-ROM 1) 'Memorex ' 'CRW-1622 ' 'D3.9' Removable CD-ROM 2) * 3) * 4) * 5) * 6) * 7) *</programlisting></para>

cdrecord -v dev=1,1 speed=2 /var/tmp/sapcd.img

See also:

HP LaserJet 5L

Over my many years of involvement with computing, I have owned three printers; they have all seriously outlived (in usefulness) the systems to which they were originally connected:

  • Mannesman Tally Spirit 80

    This is an Epson MX-80-compatible dot matrix printer. It hasn't been used since probably 1989, but is still in fine shape in my father's basement.

  • HP DeskJet 500

    In active use through most of my time in Grad School, this 300 DPI ink jet printer provided superb service for many years. My brother Brad now uses it in Halifax; no doubt it will continue to be useful for a number of years.

    I primarily used it in conjunction with TeX DVI drivers on my Atari ST.

  • HP LJ 5L

    I use it primarily in conjunction with PostScript output produced by various Unix-based software; I use Ghostscript to render PostScript into the printer's native PCL mode.

Out of my experiences at SHL Systemhouse as an SAP Basis Consultant, I learned rather a lot about the care and feeding of Unix LPD print queues, where I "abused" them for various purposes. I have written a web page about Frequently Asked Questions about Unix printing that I keep answering over and over again...

9.6. godel: IBM Intellistation Pro Z

This used to be my the main server, consisting of:

Intel Pentium Pro 200 (256K Cache)

64MB RAM

Adaptec 2940 UW-SCSI Host Adaptor

I had some concerns that this would not function well with Linux; Adaptec has been known to make board and BIOS changes that have resulted in incompatibilities. No problems; apparently the batch that IBM acquired for use with this line of computers is compatible even with older AHA2940 drivers.

4.3 GB IBM UW-SCSI Hard Drive

Matrox Millennium II Graphics Card with 4MB RAM

Intel EtherPro 100BaseT

Which, as an on-the-motherboard component, fried itself in a power surge, replaced by a NetGear 310TX.

This machine may occasionally be running SAP R/3 for Linux.

With, initially, only 64MB of RAM to work with, it probably represents one of the slowest R/3 systems on Planet Earth. It really wants a lot more RAM than that...

The IBM IntelliStation Z Pro Replacement Parts List noted that it uses "EDO ECC DIMMs." The model number seems to be 6899... See also

PR440FX motherboard Supported Processors, System Board Memory - PC 300/700 and IntelliStation Series, 6899 - PentiumŪ Pro 200MHz System Board, 6588 and IntelliStation - 6888, 6898, 6899 Models 6899 - PentiumŪ Pro 200MHz Parts Listing, and 5V to 3.52V VRM-Connector

Kurt Godel set up a representation of a "general theorem construction system," the propositional calculus and provable manipulations of expressions using multiples and powers of prime numbers. From this, he established that not all statements that can be represented in the Propositional Calculus can be proven to be correct by "provably correct manipulations."

This proved that Bertrand Russell's attempt to build a comprehensive guide to the theory of mathematics, Principia Mathematica, was to be a project doomed to failure. You can't prove everything in mathematics.

This box has been running Debian since about 2001, and has been my firewall throughout that time.

9.7. dantzig: Digital Alpha

Compatible RAM variations:

Found on the web variously as:

3DFX Voodoo 3000 graphics card, cannibalized from Knuth

Compaq/Digital has various updates to BIOS and other system components:

AHA-2490UW Dual SCSI Controller User's Guide

It's got a PCI bus, 53C810 SCSI, Alpha CPU running at 166 MHz, 96MB RAM, 340MB SCSI disk, and a 15" SVGA monitor. The specs are described in much more detail in my Alpha UDB/Multia web page; I've added only external components: a satellite Sony 2x SCSI CD-ROM, and a Zip drive. Note that 10Base2 and 10BaseT Ethernet is built-in on the motherboard.

It was upgraded to "Red Hat 4.1 Official Version" on April 6 1997 after a several-month hiatus wherein I had (unsuccessfully) tried to move several times to version 4.0; as of April 1999, it more recently runs the stable version of Debian GNU/Linux.

It has been upgraded, adding a Diamond Stealth Video 3200, using the S3 968 chip chipset with 2MB of apparently fast RAM. This is compatible with the S3 XFree86 X server, and provides decent high resolution graphics.

AHA-2490UW Dual SCSI Controller User's Guide

It's got a PCI bus, 53C810 SCSI, Alpha CPU running at 166 MHz, 96MB RAM, 340MB SCSI disk, and a 15" SVGA monitor. The specs are described in much more detail in my Alpha UDB/Multia web page; I've added only external components: a satellite Sony 2x SCSI CD-ROM, and a Zip drive. Note that 10Base2 and 10BaseT Ethernet is built-in on the motherboard.

It was upgraded to "Red Hat 4.1 Official Version" on April 6 1997 after a several-month hiatus wherein I had (unsuccessfully) tried to move several times to version 4.0; as of April 1999, it more recently runs the stable version of Debian GNU/Linux.

It has been upgraded, adding a Diamond Stealth Video 3200, using the S3 968 chip chipset with 2MB of apparently fast RAM. This is compatible with the S3 XFree86 X server, and provides decent high resolution graphics.

Note

Should Dantzig fall down, and have difficulty coming back up, here are some notable bits of configuration:

  • /dev/sda1 is the MILO partition

  • /dev/sda2 is the root partition

  • Unfortunately, there are several dysfunctional kernels kicking around; the one known to work OK is invoked via the MILO command: boot sda2:boot/vmlinuz-2.2.1 root=/dev/sda2

Warning

Dantzig "the Multia" is now defunct, due to a severe power surge. It has been replaced by a rather faster Alpha box by the same name...

George Dantzig was the inventor of Linear Programming, a "mathematical programming" approach to solving optimization problems. This was one of the early techniques that popularized Operations Research in industry.

9.8. salesman: AMD-based Toshiba Satellite 2105CDS Laptop

For on-the-road operations... It fairly regularly got "scraped off" to try things out, and has been known to run BeOS, FreeBSD and Debian Linux.

9.9. wolfe: AMD5x86-133 VLB System

This machine used to be my main server, but is presently disused.

It has gotten fairly seriously "hacked on" and has been used to supply spare parts for other systems, so that any correlation between the configuration mentioned below and reality may be purely coincidental. It's liable to either disappear or to spontaneously turn into a PCI bus machine. But there are some useful notes here nonetheless.

Amptron VESA Local-Bus motherboard, 2x8MB 72pin SIMMS

AMD 5x86 CPU running at 133 MHz

This chip is pin-compatible with Intel 80486es, and internally represents a "fast clone" of the 486. (The similarity may go further than mere "similarity;" AMD's early chips were identical to Intel's as AMD was a "second source" for the products.) The claim I hear is that this is about equivalent to an Intel P5 running at about 75MHz. I'd tend to agree.

No-name EIDE/FDC/Serial/pllel card

As it only supports 500KBit/s FDC data transfers, this prevents my tape drive from using it with the high-capacity QIC 3020 format.

I attempted to "upgrade" to a SIG VLB/EIDE/Multi-IO card with the faster FDC. (Picked it up at Computer City; model #CN4205.) Unfortunately, it did not happily co-exist with Linux for some inexplicable reason.

Exabyte TR-3 tape drive, connected to Exabyte Accelerator Card

More information on this can be referenced at Linux Floppy Tapes.

My attempts to get the TR-3 tape drive working are now pretty stagnant as I now have an array of other backup devices, including SCSI tape drives and a CD burner, with corresponding improvements in performance and usefulness.

See also FTAPE Page for more details.

Maxtor 1.7GB IDE drive

Panasonic "SBPCD" CD-ROM; LaserMate interface

Generic NE2000-compatible Ethernet card

With all the "plug-and-play" configuration entertainment that ensues...

Diamond Viper (2MB/VLB) video board.

The Viper uses the Weitek "P9000" chipset which is unfortunately not supported by SVGALIB. To ease X configuration, I (when I, rather seldom, run X on it) run the Accelerated-X X server.

This machine is very much a hodge-podge of components acquired from various places Old IDE disk drives, CD-ROM, and video card were raided from an old system, case and monitor came from an Addison-based surplus store called CompuSurplus, newer IDE drive bought at some "outlet" computer store. It's all been in pieces and all been dysfunctional at various points in time.

Once legacy files get dumped off, this machine ought to become a "test bed" for OS experimentation; I'd like to try out some combination of:

Wolfe and Dantzig created a scheme known as Dantzig-Wolfe Decomposition that splits large linear programs into a set of subproblems (that are themselves LPs) that are connected together using a "master problem." These pieces are all smaller and more easily solved than the original LP.

9.10. On the Road

When on the road, I used a PalmOS PDA.

I've got a web page of Pilot Links, but my brother, David runs the vastly more voluminous PDA-Archives web site.

9.11. escher: UMAX PPC/603e

SuperMac C500LT/200 w/ PowerPC 603e, 16MB RAM, 2.0GB HD, 8X CD, 1MB video RAM

To be deployed real soon now, this might run MacOS, BeOS, or LinuxPPC . Uncertain at this point.

Afterthoughts: It's currently in mothballs, as 16MB RAM isn't enough for Linux/PPC, and is a bit flakey running MacOS.

9.12. NSLUG

Google

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Contact me at cbbrowne@acm.org