OPENSTEP Intel Installation Issues

The bottom line / opinion time. PC's are great commodity machines, they have come a long way, and they perform very well. In fact, they perform better than most Sun, HP, Next, DEC boxes these days. Their video boards are really quite incredible for the price. However, installation is still not easy and will not be easy for quite some time. Macs and Suns are put together Very Well and make upgrades easy and painless. I would really like to see what Rhapsody on a PowerMac will be like. I really like the zip drives instead of floppies, the use of OpenBOOT/Fcode device driver technology, NICE cases without screws, built in sound, built in ethernet. The PowerMacs (and clones) could be very nice, easy to maintain machines.
Now back to the show...
Openstep 4.1 - Installation Startup Disk problems
I have a friend who wanted to run Openstep 4.1 on an Intel box. He looked around and decided to build his own. So we made a trip to Fry's in Palo Alto and purchased all the parts. We saved about $1000 - $1500 by doing this. He purchased a Pentium Pro motherboard (in ATX format) with the latest Intel PPro/PCI chipset, and Adaptec 2940UW, gobs of memory, Matrox Millenium, a SoundBlaster Pro 16, Intel Ethernet Pro 10/100, and a 10X EIDE CDROM drive.
Issues that popped up. For some reason, which we will not go into, someone ran fdisk after the install. Now, the system wouldn't boot. We tried to reinstall Openstep and it would fail stating that no drive was suitable for being the startup disk.
The Trick: When the system asks for the CD-ROM device driver, via the menu choices in the beigining of the install, pick the SCSI device driver for the hard drive (in our case the Adaptec 2940UW). Then when the system asks for the hard drive device driver, pick the ATAPI CDROM driver. This is backwards, undocumented, and worked great. I believe the issue might have been device driver ordering. At any rate, the system installed very nicely afterwards. Note: this trick came about after several days worth of booting in single user mode (5 mins minimum each time), trying every trick I know, and trying every permutation of every configuration option.

PS/2 Keyboard
Courtesy of:

heres one that catches a lot of people - after the install on the first
reboot it freezes when trying to configure the device drivers. The problem is
PS/2 mouse support on some mothrboards - if you aren't using the PS/2 mouse
then you may need to disable it. Boot single user with -s, then go into
/usr/Devices/System.config and remove the PS2Mouse from the list of active
drivers in the tables you find there. Then use /etc/reboot and continue.
(to remove the PS2Mouse from the active drivers, use vi or specify an
alternate list when booting as a boot command line option)

This bugs been around years - but it seems very few people know how to fix
the damn thing !

If you don't have the soundblaster like the one listed in the device driver list, chances are it will not install. If you do, but it still wont work, it might be the plug and play ID of the SoundBlaster.
The Trick: Log in as root. Open up a terminal window and look at /usr/adm/messages with 'more' or 'less' commands. There should be a list of Plug and Play ID's or devices found. There should be some hexadecimal numbers for each device. Now, leave that window open and start the system configuration program. Under the speaker icon, select the soundblaster that you have. Now, click on expert mode. If that Soundblaster Plug and Play ID is close to one of the ID's in the terminal window (by one or two digits), then chances are that you have a later model Soundblaster. Change the ID in the System config/expert mode window. Save the settings, logout, and reboot. If all goes well, you should have sound.

Adaptec 1542CF
I bought one of these way back for my own system so I could run Nextstep 3.1/3.2. It was the best board at that time for SCSI (other than the DPT which are still VERY nice boards for any OS). Well, I decided to go to Openstep 4.1. Things didn't happen smoothly. The Mach Console would show errors after the SCSI reset portion of the boot.
The Trick: was to set the Adaptec to all of its defaults before things started working again. Funny thing, this system was working great with Nextstep 3.2 and the Adaptec patch.

Openstep 4.2prerelease
I tried running the upgrade for this, it would hang often. Of course, my computer would hang infrequently so your guess is as good as mine.
The Lame Trick: reinstall the OS from the 4.2prerelease boot disks. Still doing that right now, so we'll see...

To send me mail/comments/questions, click here. If some of this info saved some time out of your life, I'd like to hear about it :-)

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Copyright 1997 Dru Nelson