22 February
2007

Due to a flood in our basement, we were forced to do some cleaning up recently. I found an old Next Computer NextStation and a Next Cube. These are attractive old computers that were cited a while beack as one of the "most collectible" tech artifacts from the last millenium. Each of these was made to run NextStep, the UNIX variant that is the predecessor to Apple's OS X, but NextStep is hard to find and exotic. I decided to install a normal UNIX variant which would be booted over the network, that is, using netboot. The Next hardware architecture is supported by NetBSD and the installation and network boot went smoothly except for a few glitches and problems which I am documenting here any other who may do the same
thing.

For starters, if you netboot using DHCP, as most people will today, then be sure to use full pathnames as the boot names to download. Missing this kind of issues that to a lot of wasted time as the next made successive "RRQ" requests, but was never able to get a file.


My NextCube had no SCSI disk, but the NetBSD kernels I used (version 3) seem to expect something on the SCSI bus (at least on my cube, but odds not on my NextStation). This result of the missing SCSI disk is the error message "esp0: SCSI bus reset" which seems to repeat forever. This same problem has been documented on other NetBSD architectures as well. The only solution I found was to recompile a kernel without the esp SCSI driver (which I did not have time to do). If you recompile a kernel on the 68040 25MHz NextStation, it seems to take over 3 hours.


The ROM Monitor can have a password; mine did. To "fix" this, remove the battery from the motherboard for a while (2 to 10 minutes). I also noticed the machine was unresponsive and would not do anything at all without a good battery in place so if your Next Cube or NextStation seems dead and won't even turn on, this could be why.


By Gregory Dudek at | Read (2) or Leave a comment |    
Comments
Re: NextStation Next Cube Revival

Hmmm... sounds like a 'blast from the past' for next year's CRC Robotics Competition, maybe with solar-powered battery. Show today's generation how the dinosaurs innovated!

Posted by: SAS at February 22,2007 11:52
Re: NextStation Next Cube Revival

Thanks for the suggestion. The Next cube is a real classic, especially since it is made completely of magnesium. There must be something interesting one could do with it (besides use it as a computer); it's actually kind of stylish.

Posted by: GD at February 28,2007 19:51
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