Red Falcon's Retrocomputing Thread!

Discussion in 'All non-AMD/Intel CPUs' started by Red Falcon, Nov 16, 2014.

  1. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    - Red Falcon's Guide to Installing NetBSD Mac68k on an unsupported Apple Quadra 950 -

    ::primary Hardware Requirements::
    - Apple Quadra 950 with Motorola 68040
    - Apple keyboard and mouse (only for Mac OS)
    - At least 16MB of FPM RAM (32MB or higher is recommended)
    - At least 1MB of VRAM (only if X11 GUI is used)
    - Seagate 2.5" Savvio 10K.1 ST973401LC SCSI-320 HDD (or similar)
    - SCA SCSI 80-pin to 50-pin (16-bit to 8-bit bus-width) adapter
    - Active 50-pin Male-to-Female SCSI-1/2 terminator (passive terminators will not work)
    - Asante FN10TA 10BT RJ-45 10Base-T AAUI adapter (NuBus NIC adapters may or may not work)
    - 3.6v 1/2 AA PRAM New Battery (20 year old batteries will not retain the ROM settings)
    - Apple CD-150 or CD-300 SCSI-1 CD-ROM drive (anything beyond a 2x CD-ROM drive will not work)
    - 4-pin Molex Male to 2x Female Power Y-Splitter
    - Apple IIgs Cable Mini-Din8-Male--to--DB9-Serial
    - 3rd party computer with Windows/Linux, a DB9 serial port, and Putty

    ::Secondary Hardware Requirements::
    - Any modern Apple system running OS X from G3-present with Internet connection
    - USB Floppy Drive (black IBM model works good for copying small files)
    - Floppy diskettes (one to three will be needed)
    - AztecMonster SCSI-to-CF adapter
    - 4GB Hitachi CF Microdrive (NAND-based CF cards may be used, but are not as reliable)
    - USB 2.0 Media Card Reader/Writer

    ::primary Software Requirements::
    - Apple Mac OS 8/8.1 OS Disc
    - Apple Drive Setup (comes with OS 8 installer disc)
    - NetBSD 6.1.5 Mac68k installer disc (optional if installing from HTTP or FTP)
    - BSD/Mac68k Booter (runs in Mac OS - found on the Internet)
    - NetBSD-INSTALL.gz or NetBSD-INSTALLSBC.gz bootable kernel file (found on the Internet)
    - Stuffit Expander for OS X (2010 - PPC / 2014 - x86)

    ::Optional Software Requirements::
    - System 7.1/7.5 (may be used, but it does not have the Drive Setup program)
    - A/UX 3.0.1 to 3.1 (has Apple HD SC Setup)
    - Apple HD SC Setup 7.3.5 (must be patched to format non-Apple HDDs without Apple firmware)
    - Lido Disk Formatter (may be found on the Internet)
    - FWB Hard Disk Tool (may be found on the Internet)

    ::Getting Started::
    First, make sure you can get Mac OS 8 (or System 7) installed and running on your Quadra 950 utilizing the SCSI drive and adapters listed above in the Primary Hardware Requirements section.
    You don't want to start this endeavour without a working system to start with.

    With your spare floppy diskette(s), create a bootable diskette from Mac OS 8, and use the Apple Drive Setup Lite to format the SCSI HDD you have chosen.

    With this formatting tool, you may create multiple partitions, and alter their sizes; I normally create three partitions for simplicity later on in NetBSD, but a minimum of two is needed.
    Mac OS only needs around 400-500MB at absolute most; anything more is not needed.

    All three (or two) partitions will be formatted as HFS by default.
    Just install Mac OS onto one of the partitions, and leave the other(s) alone for now.

    Once your Quadra 950 is up and running, you can leave things as-is.
    There is no need for further configuration within Mac OS 8, as all network settings and other configuration options will be made in NetBSD once it has been installed and is running.

    If you are using System 7.x, be sure to use the Memory Configuration menu and ensure 32-bit addressing is enabled; 24-bit will be enabled by default, but this limits addressable system memory to 16MB, instead of 4GB with 32-bit.
    Mac OS 8 has 32-bit addressing enabled by default; do ensure than Virtual Memory and all RAM Disks are disabled, though.

    Since the Motorola 68040 has a 32-bit address (memory) bus, there is no need to leave it in 24-bit mode, if the option is available.
    The Quadra 950 should be running at least 16MB of FPM RAM, but 32MB-256MB is recommended.

    Now, we want to use our other Apple system running OS X, with Internet connection, to go out and find the BSD/Mac68k Booter, the NetBSD-INSTALL.gz (gunzipped kernel), and Stuffit Expander.
    Stuffit Expander will be needed to extract the HQX files; 3rd party websites and software most likely will not work, so save yourself a headache and use Stuffit Expander (the free version, if possible).

    These files absolutely MUST be downloaded using OS X, due to the proprietary permissions Apple OSes give these particular files; the same goes for all software listed under the Optional Software Requirements section.
    Do NOT download and save these files using Windows or Linux, as the files will not function when transferred to Mac OS on the Quadra 950 (they will appear as blank icons, and won't work).

    While Stuffit Expander may be easy to find, I cannot guarantee how easy this will be for the rest of the files.
    Once the files have been downloaded and extracted properly, they can be transferred to the Quadra 950.

    Make sure to not gunzip or extract the netbsd-INSTALL.gz file.
    The BSD/Mac68k Booter program will gunzip this file automatically.

    This is where the CompactFlash card (NAND or MicroDrive), USB 2.0 media card reader/writer, and AztecMonster SCSI-to-CF adapter will come in handy.
    Unfortunately, most of these files may be too big to use, but if you can get them on a floppy, you may use the USB floppy drive to copy them from OS X to Mac OS; make sure to format whatever disk you use as HFS, not HFS+.

    Once the files have been copied, click on the BSD/Mac68k Booter to select it, and then click on File -> Get Info.
    This will pull up the memory requirements for the program to run.

    My system has 52MB of total system memory (FPM RAM), so I set the minimum size to 42MB, and the prefered size to 45MB (this is what will be reserved specifically for NetBSD).
    Once this is done, click on the minimum size again for the changes to be made for both, and then check the Locked checkbox.

    Close out of the Info window, and double-click on the BSD/Mac68K Booter icon to start it.
    A blank window will appear, with a few options on the top menu.

    Click on Options -> Booting.
    You will want to select the first bullet, Mac OS file, then click on Set... in order to choose the installer kernel file (netbsd-INSTALL.gz).

    After the file has been selected, ensure that your boot disk is correct.
    The Quadra 950 is using SCSI, not PATA, so make sure to change your target ID; mine was not 0, but 1.

    Click OK to close the Boot Options window.
    Click on Options -> Serial ports.

    This is where that Apple IIgs Cable Mini-Din8-Male--to--DB9-Serial will come in handy.
    Check Serial Boot Echo and Serial Console on, and make sure the Modem bullet is selected.

    Even though the cable is using the modem port on the back of the Quadra 950, it will be utilized as a standard stty serial connection.
    Make sure the cable is plugged into a Windows (or Linux) system using Putty.

    Click OK to close out of the Serial ports window.
    Click on Options -> Monitor.

    This should be ok by default, but if not, change the monitor depth to B&W or Grayscale (1-bit), then click OK.

    Make sure your Putty session is set to the right COM port in Windows (or Linux), ensure VT100 is used if possible (VT220 may be ok as well), and have the session running.
    This will pick up any signals being sent from the Quadra 950 automatically, so there will not be any login info or security certificates needed for this connection to be made.

    Click on Options -> Boot Now.
    Now here is where things start to get a bit tricky.

    The Quadra 950 is not under NetBSD's support hardware list for a reason: the keyboard and mouse do not work under NetBSD!
    According to many 3rd party sources I've found on the Internet, this is due to the Quadra 950 specifically being designed for A/UX, and as such, have two custom VLSI IC's in use, of which there are no BSD drivers for to this very day, or at least as of this writing (Nov. 2014).

    However, all is not lost; this is why we have our nifty serial cable and Putty session running.
    If everything goes right, your Quadra 950's monitor will turn completely gray, and Putty will start picking up the boot prompt text.

    If everything goes wrong, you may need to play around a bit with the settings in Putty.
    This was a bit flaky in Linux, but it has been 100% proven in Windows; of course a virtual terminal may also be used in Linux as well, so Putty is not required under Linux.

    Once you are into the NetBSD installer menu, only choose to use part of the HDD and use the second one or two partitions we had left alone from above.
    Do NOT utilize the whole HDD, as this will format and remove Mac OS and the Booter files, which are necessary to run NetBSD on this (or any) Apple Quadra; unfortunately, to my knowledge, there is no way to boot the system directly into NetBSD from the boot ROM; you can try EMILE, but this was only proven for GNU/Linux and has not been updated since 2008, so atempt it at your own risk.

    Now, the 68040 at 33MHz is not a speed demon by today's standards, and while it is far more powerful than the 68030 at 50MHz, it may still take anywhere from 30 minutes to a full day for everything to install, depending on what you have chosen in the NetBSD installation menu, your Internet connection, and/or the speed of your CD-ROM drive (1x or 2x).

    The system may act like it is frozen, or is stuck on some process, but I assure you it is not.
    NetBSD will download (CD/HTTP/FTP) one file at a time, and will then gunzip that file, which is what takes the most time.

    If you do get timeouts on your CD-ROM drive, it may be because the disc was burned at too high of a speed (try burning at 1-12x if possible), or that the drive may failing; with 20 year old hardware, this isn't too surprising.
    Now, unlike GNU/Linux Debian Etch m68k, which no longer has any supported repositories anywhere on the Internet, NetBSD Mac68k 6.1.5 is fully supported.

    If using the CD-ROM drive is not working out, make sure your NIC is connected to your Quadra 950, and feel free to use HTTP or FTP to download the necessary install files.
    You may have to setup your router, managed switch, or other network equipment with a static IP address for the Quadra 950's NIC; the NetBSD install should ask you ahead of time whether you want to use DHCP or not, and I would recommend using DHCP, at least for the initial install.

    Upon doing this, simply press Enter on your keyboard for the default options as they will work; there is no need to change anything for the network settings on the initial install, unless you really want to.
    Now, even though the NIC is 10Base-T, and half-duplex at that, your download speeds will stay around 90-200KB/s (1-2.5Mbps) on average, assuming your Internet connection supports these speeds.

    This is just due to the hardware's advanced age and the software currently being used for the transfer; I assure you nothing is wrong with your network or Internet connection.
    Once everything has finished downloading and is installed (again, this may take a few hours), you may finish up the installer and have the option to reboot the computer.

    Reboot the system and let it load back into Mac OS; you can leave your Putty session running, since there is no need to close it, as it will automatically stay connected to the Quadra 950.
    Now, double-click on the BSD/Mac68k Booter, then click on Options -> Booting.

    Since you have NetBSD installed, there will be no reason to use the installer kernel, so you may leave the BSD device bullet selected.
    Do make sure to change your HDD ID again though, so it knows which HDD to scan for NetBSD installations.

    Click OK to close the window.
    Click on Options -> Serial ports.

    Again, you will want to select the same two options we did above, earlier, then click OK to close the window; you may do the same for Monitors as above.
    Click on Options -> Boot Now.

    In your Putty console, let things load normally on this first boot; when it builds the RSA keys, this will take around 30-60 minutes, and again, I assure you, the system has not frozen and is indeed still working.
    Once the RSA keys have been created, this is where things become REALLY tricky!

    Normally, you have been able to type perfectly fine in your Putty session up to this point, but now, it may give you a message about ttyZ0 (or similar) not being configured properly, and thus, the system will no longer allow you to type, or enter anything.
    You might think that you can SSH into the system, since the sshd is running, but alas, the only user account existing at this point is root, and NetBSD's policy by default is to disable root logins from SSH.

    So, we can't type on the Quadra 950's keyboard, we can't type in the Putty session, and we can't SSH into the system in order to create a new user account.
    Don't give up though, as I've found a way around this!

    We can't power the system off through Putty at this point, nor do the key-switch functions on the Quadra work within NetBSD (or any other OS outside of Mac OS).
    Simply pull the power cord out of the Quadra 950, and wait about 10 seconds for everything to come to a complete stop.

    This is an unsafe meathod of powering down any equipment, but if you've come this far, you are probably willing to take risks as these.
    NetBSD is highly resistant to corruption using the HDD I have listed above, and I have done this many, many times with testing in order to get this far, and have yet to have anything corrupted, so don't be too worried.

    Plug the power cord back into the Quadra, and let it boot into Mac OS.
    Again, start the NetBSD booter program with the exact same settings as we just did.

    Everything should start to come back up within the Putty session.
    Now, here is the trick to getting this to work.

    Once the boot sequence has gotten to the point where the disk-check is being run, we will want to stop this.
    Press Crtl+C on your keyboard to stop the disk check from finishing.

    Now that the disk check is stopped, we may continue to type while logged in as root.
    You may notice that you can't make any changes due to the disks being made read-only; this was because the disk check was running.

    We can make everything writable again by using the command: mount -a
    Now, you may create a new user account: useradd -G wheel yourusernamehere

    This will add the user, and add them to the 'wheel' group, in order to not only allow that user account to SSH into the Quadra 950, but to also su to root with that account as well.
    If you have already added a user, but want to add them to the 'wheel' group, do the following: user mod -G wheel yourusernamehere

    Just to be sure that things will continue to work with the serial console after you have rebooted, we should make the fix for that as well, just in case things don't work properly in SSH; this way we won't have to pull the plug again to get back to this point.

    To fix this, do the following: vi /etc/ttys
    In this config file, there will be two lines under "Mac Build-in serial ports" you will want to change to look like the following:
    ttyZ0 "/usr/libexec/getty std.9600" vt100 on secure
    ttyZ1 "/usr/libexec/getty std.9600" vt100 on secure

    Now, vi under NetBSD may operate slightly different than it does within GNU/Linux (for those not privvy to NetBSD).
    Here are some basic commands to help you with vi:
    a - add text
    x - delete text
    :q - quit and close the document
    :q! - quit, close, and do not save changes to the document
    :x - save the document
    Esc - get out of whatever function you are currently in (a, for example)

    I do recommend you have a basic knowledge of vi before going further though, especially if you aren't sure, as you do not want to bork a config file completely.
    Once the file has been set and saved, you will want to configure rc.conf, to not only enable sshd by default, but also get the system out of single-user-mode.

    To edit the file, do the following: vi /etc/rc.conf
    Within the file, you will want to add the following:

    Close and save the document, and then type 'reboot' to reboot the system.
    Let the system load back into Mac OS, then do the same as we have above to get back into NetBSD.

    Once everything comes up in the Putty session, you should still be able to type now, as well as SSH into the Quadra 950 using another session.
    Be patient when SSHing into the system, as it will take a few moments for the connection to establish.

    If you have Putty (or your connection terminal) set to timeout, either disable the timeout, or set it to 180 seconds or longer.
    Once the connection has been made and the security key has been accepted, you may login with the new user account you created and added to the 'wheel' group.

    To su to the root account, simply type: su -
    From here, you no longer need the serial console, but are welcome to use it at any time, assuming you don't want it disabled.

    From here on out, you may use your Quadra 950 with NetBSD, an "unsupported system", however you like!
    If you do decide to utilize the system as an Apache web server, I would highly recommend storing your files within a RAM disk (using NetBSD), as FPM RAM has very low latency compared to the disk drive and SCSI-1 bus, and has a maximum data transfer rate of ~177MB/s, compared to 5MB/s for the SCSI-1 bus.

    As the NetBSD developers state, "Of course it runs NetBSD"!

    ::Extended Notes::
    For those of you who are using the PDS (Processor Direct Slot) with a PowerPC 601 CPU, this will either need to be taken out, or disabled in Mac OS.
    NetBSD Mac68k only supports Motorola 68k CPUs, and does not support PowerPC CPUs.

    If you are lucky enough to have the 128KB L2 cache card for the PDS, you may use that as NetBSD will take advantage of it.
    Just be sure not to use the 32KB L2 cache cards, as they are designed for much older Apple systems.

    For better performance, it may be possible to utilize a SCSI-2 NuBus'90 card with a second HDD if you wish to utilize the higher performance; the highest I have seen from 3rd party sources is around 20MB/s, which is much improved over the built-in SCSI-1 bus of only 5MB/s.
    Just be sure to use the built-in SCSI-1 bus for the HDD running Mac OS, as the the NuBus'90 cards are not bootable by the boot ROM or Mac OS as of this posting.

    For improved CPU performance, there are PowerPump Accellerator cards, available on eBay; they come with the NuBus'90 adapter, custom ROM card, overclocking software, and heatsink with active fan (not noisy at all).
    These will allow the Motorola 68040 to be overclocked from 33MHz stock to 40Mhz+.

    3rd party sources also state that it is possible to overclock the Motorola 68040 up to 50MHz using a 100MHz oscillator, instead of the 66MHz stock part.
    Try this at your own risk, as I cannot guarantee this will successfully work.

    ::Special Thanks::
    I could not have found any of this information without the many people who have donated their time and knowledge across the Internet and across decades of time.
    Much of the research and concepts I have come up with and discovered up to this point, was while researching A/UX and GNU/Linux on the 68k CPU architecture.

    There are a lot of amazing things still waiting to be discovered on the Internet, from websites dating back to 1996 to present, along with some of the websites like A/UX Penelope being archived.

    The credit for getting this idea and process started go out to the following:
    NetBSD - Developers and Software Engineers.
    68k Macintosh Liberation Army - Forum Members who experimented with different HDDs and benchmark tools.
    A/UX Penelope - Rest in Peace.
    Gheorghe Ardelean - Who may have found half of this solution first back in 2006, but never shared how he got there!
    Game Sack - For giving me the motivation to do this with their Sharp X68000 review.
    Dennis Nedry - For giving me the motivation to do this originally with a Quadra 700, and to not get eaten by dinosaurs.

    ::Helpful Links::

    NetBSD Mac68k
    NetBSD Mac68k Install Guide
    Classic Mac Networking (System 6 through OS 9)
    68k Macintosh Liberation Army - Classic Forum
    A/UX Installation and Booting
    A/UX Penelope (archived - still has many resources and guides)
    Apple A/UX Project and Information
    Quadra 950 Booting Issues
    A/UX FAQ
    Early Macintosh Image Loader (EMILE - Helpful for booting straight from startup to GNU/Linux, possibly NetBSD)
    A/UX Software Programs and Binaries
    BootX (PowerPC Macs only)
    Oracle 7 for A/UX Help Guide
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  2. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    I will try to include pictures for visual guides to this as time permits.
    The initial guide was made, however, strictly text-based as time on the Internet is not kind to images.

    The last thing I would want is a guide based on visual images, only for someone to discover it a decade from now, and the hosting provider for the images to have long since disappeared.
    Enjoy! :D

    Added links to main guide.
    A lot of these are for A/UX, but many of the concepts in using A/UX also apply to NetBSD, and other UNIX-based operating systems.

    I found the Macintosh Networking Site to be very helpful in testing the network connection before NetBSD/installer is running.
    On a side note, MacSSH is a very helpful tool, which allows users running Mac OS to be capable of SSHing into other *NIX systems.

    EDIT 2:
    Here are some links to some of the hardware involved:
    Apple Serial Cable - eBay - Used between the Quadra 950 and another system running Putty.
    AztecMonster CF-to-SCSI Adapter - Works great with Flash and MicroDisk CF cards; the SCSI ID may also be changed very easily via jumpers on the top of the adapter.
    ACARD ARS-2000SUP 50pin SCSI to SATA II Adapter - Very high quality but pricy; I've heard of many individuals having great success with this; I've found it cheaper to go with the Seagate HDD I have listed above.
    SCA 80-Pin to 68/50-Pin SCSI Adapter - Works great for any 80-pin 16-bit SCSI HDD on the market.

    EDIT 3:
    This system was featured in the Blaster Nation web comic!
    Yes, this is the very same system from this thread! :D


    Special thanks goes out to Brad and Leslie Brown for this.
    These guys rock! :cool:
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
  3. lordsegan

    lordsegan Gawd

    Jun 16, 2004
    Wow. This was a trip down memory lane. I never installed BSD on my Macs, but I did a lot of cool hacking back in those days.

    Computers sorta suck now. They work too well and are not magical. I use my computer 99% to send emails to either my boss or my employees. Both suck.
    Deleted member 88301 likes this.
  4. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Yeah, I hear you on that.
    It is a lot of fun working with such equipment, and knowing that because something worked, YOU are the one who made it work, not some automated process. :cool:

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
  5. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Apple Quadra 950 - Gallery

    - Front View -
    The Apple Quadra 950, from circa 1992-1995, running NetBSD 6.1.5 Mac68k in 2015!

    - Rear View -
    The backside of the Quadra 950 showcasing the rear ventilation, data ports, and NuBus 90' expansion bays.

    - Internal View Wide Shot -
    The inside of the Quadra 950. Note the sixteen FPMRAM slots on the left, the four VRAM slots on top, and the five NuBus 90' expansion bays on the right.
    This unit has an additional fan mounted on the CPU (normally, the 950 units only have a passive heatsink), with an overclocking NuBus card and modified 1MB PROM.

    - System Active and Live -
    Here is the Quadra 950 running NetBSD 6.1.5 Mac68k, which is fully functional and is acting as an NFS and Apache Web server.
    This was soon after NetBSD became functional on this system.

    - AsanteFast 10/100 NuBus 90' NIC -
    This gem was found online, unopened and brand new (circa 1996), and is now in active use in the Quadra 950.
    This gets about 20-40% better performance over the onboard NIC using the Asante 10Base-T transceiver.

    - AztecMonster CompactFlash to 50-pin SCSI Adapter -
    This was used in the Quadra 950 to setup temporary Operating Systems (System 7.5 and OS 8) and transfer files.
    This device is made by Artmix (from Japan!) on eBay, and I must say the engineering on this adapter is superb and is extremely high quality.
    This will work without an 8-bit SCSI terminator, and will work with SCSI-1 to SCSI-2, with a sequential transfer rate of 5MB/s to 20MB/s.
    It will also work with CF Micro HDDs, standard CF, and SS-CF cards.

    - Apple CD-300 2x CD-ROM Drive -
    This Apple CD-ROM drive (Circa 1994) is the fastest optical drive available for the Quadra 950.
    This optical drive has Apple firmware loaded, but will be detected under GNU/Linux Debian 4.0 and NetBSD 6.1.5 as well, and can read CD-ROM and CD-R discs at 2x speed (300KB/s).

    - Internal View of RAM and CPU -
    Here is an internal view of the Quadra 950 showcasing the FPMRAM and Motorola 68040 CPU clocked at 33MHz.

    - Apple Quadra 950 NetBSD Server -
    ...and here is the Quadra 950 in all its glory!
    Green cold-cathodes were added, and the system is running headless with NetBSD 6.1.5 Mac68k.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
  6. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Apache 2.2


    For the Apple Quadra 950, a system of this age and caliber, it can still have a lot of useful functions.
    An Apache web server is one of them.

    Here is a very helpful guide to get getting Apache 2.2, along with its dependencies, compiled and installed on NetBSD and the 68k architecture.

    Now, in doing this, you may want to host your files within a RAMDisk, assuming there will be above-average web usage and file transfers.
    The SCSI-1 bus integrated into the Quadra 950 will have a maximum data transfer rate of 5MB/s for a single disk, where as the FPM RAM will be capable of up to 177MB/s.


    Here is a nice guide using FreeBSD to create a RAMDisk.
    Some things may vary for NetBSD, but the same principles will still apply.

    A RAMDisk will certainly improve transfer speeds and latency, just be sure to write a script or cron-job to backup your data to disk after startup and before shutdown, as FPM RAM is still volatile, much the same as modern SDRAM variants are.
    Now, if you are using the 10Base-T Ethernet adapter (or NuBus90' variant), the only real improvement by using a RAMDisk will be the reduced latency.

    However, there do exist 100Base-TX Ethernet NuBus90' cards, in which the RAMDisk can fully saturate.
    The AsanteFast 10/100 NuBus NIC will do just this, if you can get your hands on it.


    Here is a great guide to installing one, assuming you can find the coveted NIC from 1996; but hey, the journey is half the fun!

    Motorola 68040


    This bad boy is among the fastest CPUs you can find on the 68k-era Macintosh line.
    The Quadra 950 is using the full 68040, with an integrated FPU and MMU, and is a "pure" 32-bit CISC processor, with 32-bit internal/external data bus', register, and address bus.

    NetBSD will take advantage of the FPU, and the performance of this will be much higher than that of the earlier 68k-era Macintosh systems utilizing 68020 and 68030 CPUs with secondary 68881/68882 FPUs.

    Here is a great chart of performance from Wiki:

    155,000 transistors on-chip
    16 MHz version ran at 160 kFLOPS
    20 MHz version ran at 192 kFLOPS
    25 MHz version ran at 240 kFLOPS

    176,000 transistors on-chip
    25 MHz version ran at 264 kFLOPS
    33 MHz version ran at 352 kFLOPS
    40 MHz version ran at 422 kFLOPS
    50 MHz version ran at 528 kFLOPS

    1.2 million transistors on-chip (CPU+FPU+MMU)
    25 MHz FPU ran at 3.500 MFLOPS
    33 MHz FPU ran at 4.662 MFLOPS
    40 MHz FPU ran at 5.600 MFLOPS

    Remember, the Quadra 950 can be paired with the PowerPump Accelerator card, which will allow the 68040 to be overclocked from its stock 33MHz to 40MHz.
    These units, as stated above, will come with a new heatsink with a ~40mm fan, which runs quietly.

    I have personally tested this and it does indeed work.
    Just make sure that your PRAM battery is good to go, otherwise the voltage/OC settings may need to be wiped from the custom 1MB ROM card the accelerator is paired with.

    The settings will be saved on the custom ROM card, so the OC settings will carry over when booting from Mac OS to NetBSD.
    This is transparent to the OS, so no additional drivers or software will be necessary for NetBSD.
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
  7. Sgraffite

    Sgraffite 2[H]4U

    Jan 10, 2006
    I recognized the CPU picture as I've been using a Motorola XC68LC040RC33B as a beard scratcher for years and never even bothered to look up the CPU sepcs.

    That's pretty impressive that you can still run apache2 on this hardware. Is there any issues if you are SSH'ed in and try to serve web pages at the same time? I had an old Atom based box I was running Ubuntu 8 server on, and if someone was downloading a file from the server it would drop my SSH connection.
  8. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    It is a pretty neat CPU, as is the whole Motorola 68k architecture and series of processors.
    Just think, all of our Sega Genesis/Mega Drives and Sega CD systems were running a 68000 processor, and most of the Amiga systems and all of the X68000 workstations were running variants as well.

    No, there is no issue, at least none that I have seen thus far.
    Ubuntu 8.xx was a good OS, but was still very young for a GNU/Linux distro.

    Even with Ubuntu 10.04LTS Server on modern hardware running ECC memory, I had certain issues occur, such as the one you described.
    I have not seen this with Debian, Linux Mint, or LMDE, however, nor any variant of BSD.

    NetBSD handles network connections exceptionally well.
    If you have the opportunity, try out PFsense (firewall), which is based on FreeBSD.

    I've had PFsense running on hardware from Socket 754 Athlon 64 processors, Atom processors, and higher-end processors (for the time) such as a Phenom II.
    Never had any issues with connections being dropped.

    Now granted, the 68040 is a 24 year old processor, and the system itself is 19 years old at the newest (1995).
    The SSH connections will sometimes take a minute to fully connect, but they never drop and have been 100% reliable and stable, regardless of the network activity.

    Both the serial console and SSH terminal have been awesome thus far, and I'm actually enjoying it more and more with BSD variants than I am with GNU/Linux distros, surprisingly.

    Here are some general descriptions of the main four BSD variants I pulled from Wiki:

    FreeBSD, an open source general purpose operating system. - Useful for everything, especially x86-based equipment; the "Slackware" of BSD.
    NetBSD, an open source BSD focused on clean design and portability. - Multi-architecture support; the "Debian" of BSD.
    OpenBSD, a 1995 fork of NetBSD, focused on security. - Hardened OS design and very tough to crack, the "RHEL" of BSD.
    DragonFly BSD, a fork of FreeBSD to follow an alternative design, particularly related to SMP. - Multi-system design, ex. Beowulf clusters.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  9. Sgraffite

    Sgraffite 2[H]4U

    Jan 10, 2006
    That is really impressive. I imagine a modern database is out of the question with such low memory? I always like to tinker with old hardware and see what it can and cannot do these days. Once I even discovered a bug in my web site because of how slow an older computer handled the load.

    One issue I've run into is how can I easily tell what instruction set is needed to run a particular linux/unix distro (is NetBSD considered a distro?)? I tried a few different common linux distros on a Pentium 233MMX and they all required i686 instructions. I finally got Puppy linux up and running on it, but without Apache and MySql I didn't know what to do with it.

    I'm not sure if you dabble in the x86 realm, but I recently picked up a dual Pentium III 1.266GHz. I bought 4GB of ECC SDRAM off of Amazon for $8/GB and maxed it out. It's itching to serve some web pages me thinks :)
  10. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Old hardware is definitely a lot of fun, especially when you can get it to do things it was never designed to do, and do them well. ;)
    As for a modern database, it really depends on the database; a system like this should be able to handle a MySQL database just fine, but something like an Oracle database (modern) would be out of the question, just due to the extreme system memory requirements (normally 20GB+ of RAM), which would require a high-end modern x86 server.

    On my system, I have the SWAP set to 19GB, so even if I run out of system memory, it has a ton of disk space to access.
    Granted, the disk is a 10K RPM SCSI-320 HDD, but it is running on a SCSI-1 bus, which caps at 5MB/s.

    So far, I've noticed no slow down when the system dips into SWAP, which is very rare, and only uses around 20MB or lower of it, and only if I'm compiling a lot of softare in sequence.
    If it were an extreme issue, there are NuBus90' cards which can allow SCSI-2 (WIDE) 8-bit HDDs, which will cap at around 20MB/s.

    I do have one of these cards in my system, but it is currently un-utilized at the moment.
    In such a case, it would be possible to setup another HDD, or use the AztecMonster CF adapter with a SS-CF disk, and set that as a dedicated SWAP.

    Just remember, that Mac OS itself can only boot from the on-board SCSI-1 bus, and not the NuBus90' SCSI card, at least as of this posting.
    Now, on certain Quadra 950 systems, such as the Apple Workgroup System 95 (AWS95), there is a dedicated SCSI-2 bus which can be booted from using Mac OS, but these are very rare and sometimes expensive to find.

    They were originally designed to be used with A/UX, but NetBSD will fully utilize them if used.
    Again, though, I've never experienced any slow down on the system when accessing SWAP, and it's normally only for storing larger, unused files; I don't see it actively being used, nor constantly changing.

    This is with 52MB of system memory, with ~45MB dedicated to NetBSD.
    The Quadra 950 can be maxed out with up to 256MB of FPM RAM using 16MB modules.

    GNU/Linux does not have the x86 instruction-set flexibility that most BSD distros have.
    BSD is UNIX, but it just doesn't have a "legal" license or approval from AT&T to be officially called UNIX, even though it really is.

    I can't speak for other distros of BSD, but NetBSD can be compiled to run on just about any platform available.
    If you look through their website, you would be surprised as to what can run it.

    I've heard of others compiling OpenBSD to run on a slew of different platforms and CPU ISAs as well.
    To my knowledge, FreeBSD and DragonFflyBSD are purely x86 and x86_64 (i686 and above) in order to keep things simpler for development and to keep them clean.

    The same could be said for most RHEL and Slackware branches and distros of GNU/Linux, where as Debian can run on almost anything.
    Techically, GNU/Linux of any distro or branch can be compiled to run on any CPU ISA, but the drivers and packages will start to deminish once the user does so; depends on the user's skill, experience, and ability, but it is entirely possible.

    Yes, I've worked with x86 from an 8088 up to modern E7 Xeon CPUs.
    That's impressive, and I would like to see how much you could host from that system. :cool:

    If you can, depending on your OS, see if you can utilize some of that ECC RAM to make a RAMDIsk, and cache your webfiles on that.
    It will help tremendously with latency when serving files, but just be sure to keep the system on a good UPS if you do so. ;)

    It actually sounds like a fun project, and I did something similar with a first-gen P4-class dual socket Xeon system with 1GB of RDRAM; now that memory was expensive, even back then!
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  11. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    I have confirmed that 30-Pin SIMM 16MB FPM RAM modules from this seller on eBay work in pairs of four on the Quadra 950.
    It will require 16 pairs in total to max the system's memory to 256MB.

    (Image is not mine - though be sure to notice the 16 FPM RAM slots on the left-side of the motherboard)

    ::System Memory (RAM)::
    Remember, it will require at least 16MB of FPM RAM to run NetBSD on the Quadra 950; dedicate around 12MB if you are going to do so.
    I would definitely recommend 32MB or more if anything beyond a single program or dedicated daemon is going to be running.

    If you are looking to upgrade the VRAM, proprietary Apple VRAM memory modules are used; located at the top of the motherboard.
    The Quadra 950 has 1MB of VRAM on-board the motherboard, located directly below the VRAM slots.


    These can be upgraded with four 256KB memory modules, or four 512KB memory modules, but only 256KB on the 512KB modules will be utilized.
    This is helpful if you wish to run a GUI on your system and remote in; if not, the 1MB of on-board VRAM is more than enough to run CLI at any resolution at or below 1280x1024.
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  12. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  13. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Just to emphasize this a bit further:


    Have a happy new year everyone, and make 2015 a year of [H]ard fun and discovery! :cool:
  14. jimmyb

    jimmyb 2[H]4U

    May 24, 2006
    This is a vague statement that I find hard to believe. With the exception of inlined assembly, ISA optimization is primarily a function of the compiler target. In terms of assembly, I suspect Linux is has more a broader range of support for ISA-specific optimizations, but I've personally never done a comparison.

    Simply recompiling won't work. Each unique ISA requires some level of assembly support. However, in practise, I think Linux has the broadest support for different CPU architectures of any OS.
  15. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    I said compatibility, not optimization.
    You are right, compiling does not equal optimization, but then again, I never said it did. ;)

    Here is a list of the supported CPU ISAs and types supported by GNU/Linux:

    Here is a list of the supported CPU ISAs supported by NetBSD:

    It does look as though Linux supports more ISAs out-of-the-box than NetBSD currently does.
    Again, while Tier II may not be highly optimized, they will still run; as per what I said above in terms of compiling and compatibility, it still stands correct.

    I should also note that I have nothing against GNU/Linux, as it is a great kernel and OS.
    Perhaps I should have said "native support", as technically, the Linux kernel can run on virtually anything; I cannot say this about BSD in general.

    For example, here, an individual is running Linux on a Motorola 68000 CPU (vanilla) with 8MB of RAM and without an PMMU or FPU:

    The individual's website and progress on this project can be found here: and


    ^ That's actually quite the feat, and I'm very impressed by their progress on such a design.
    Just think, that device is running Linux on a CPU developed in 1979! :cool:

    To think, I was impressed by running NetBSD on a CPU developed in 1990. :p
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  16. jimmyb

    jimmyb 2[H]4U

    May 24, 2006
    I piped those lists through nl and get ~68 platforms supported by NetBSD, and ~127 by Linux. If we're just talking about support for CPU architectures (roughly equivalent to ISAs) rather than platforms then the counts are ~15 for NetBSD vs. ~28 for Linux - so my conclusion is the opposite yours.

    NetBSD certainly has portability as a design goal and they've done a really good job with this, but Linux has substantially more people developing it, so even though portability isn't ostensibly as important it does seem to be more portable out-of-the-box.

    That looks like an 68HC000, which would be no earlier than 1985. The earliest supported architecture I can find on google is the 8086, which is ~1976 - although I question the utility of supporting architectures this old. For deeply embedded applications that might still use ancient processors, there are several "better" operating systems.
  17. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Wow, I totally miscounted, you're definitely correct.

    Yes, I believe the 68HC000, specifically, was released around that time.
    His is the 8MHz version; similar to the one found in the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.

    I agree, anything older than an 8086/8088 starts to have limited functionality due to the extremely small address buses available in those processors.
    There is only so much one can do with a modern OS and 16-256KB of RAM, but it never hurts to try.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  18. 70 Polara

    70 Polara Limp Gawd

    Jul 31, 2004
    Thanks for the fascinating post!!!!!!! I love old forgotten hardware and love reading stuff like this!!!

    I just completed a restoration on a 1994 HP Vectra 486 100MHz 8MB that I found at a local thrift store for 5 bucks. It was in bad shape, but now cleaned up and running great. Found some dirt cheap memory on ebay and took it to 32MB and tossed in a Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 I have saved for years. Was thinking of trying some type of Linux / Unix variant on it just for fun. Right now though I'm playing System Shock 1!!!!!!!!
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  19. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Hey, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
    It's fun getting to take a stroll down memory lane, especially with equipment from the 1980s and 1990s.

    That's awesome, and considering it is from 1994, that has to have been one of the last 80486 systems on the market, especially from HP.
    It's quite the find, and completely cool that you are actually playing SS1 on it, classic! :cool:

    If you have some time, you should make a thread about it, as I would actually like to see some pics and screenshots of what you have going on that system.
    Here is a thread with some nostalgic memories and good times.
  20. 70 Polara

    70 Polara Limp Gawd

    Jul 31, 2004
    I have more fun with old hardware these days, I have built a few Haswell based systems for friends, but for me my Core 2 still does what I want. We have it easy these days, I have more fun benchmarking the old stuff and fooling with IRQ jumpers and DOS commands.

    I'm sure you have been to Vogons......

    I just moved so I haven't unpacked everything yet, but when I do I will get some pictures up. The system started as a Vectra 486/33N and wouldn't post. I tried to find a replacement motherboard about everywhere and came up empty, so after obtaining some ancient HP documentation I was able to adapt the motherboard from a later Vectra VL into my system, though I had to build a new power/status LED panel for the front and make custom standoffs to mount the board since it was smaller then the original. Now someday I hope to find a 256k cache expansion module and the last revision BIOS chip so I can put in a Pentium Overdrive 83MHz. I upgraded from BIOS ver 1 to BIOS ver 5 by finding a new original HP BIOS chip on ebay, but that isn't new enough to recognize the OD.

    I also built a 486 DLC-40 system a few years ago in a mini-tower case. I have a rare motherboard that actually activates the 1kb L1 cache in BIOS that the DLC CPUs had, so the system performs well. Running 32MB of memory (30-pin SIMMS), 128kb L2 cache, a Cirrus Logic 2MB ISA video card, Sound Blaster Pro 2.0, and an ISA hard drive controller card that allows for drives up to I have a 7200rpm 10GB drive running Windows 95 OSR2 :D. It is surprisingly snappy, and plays Wing Commander about perfectly (Wing Commander is very CPU speed sensitive).

    And lastly I have an original Pentium 60 in the first Intel branded motherboard with 128MB of memory, a Matrox Millenium video card, Sound Blaster 16, and also running Windows 95 OSR2 on another 7200rpm 10GB drive. I haven't really gamed on this system, just built it and put it away.

    I will have to jump into your other thread when I get around to getting everything up and running! :cool:
  21. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Wow, that sounds like an awesome project!
    Nice job, I really look forward to seeing some photos or video of it.

    Hopefully you will find that cache module soon, those shouldn't be too tough to find.
    I used to have a Pentium MMX system with that exact 256KB L2 cache module, and it definitely made a difference in performance.

    I'm still trying to find the 128KB L2 PDS Cache Card for the Quadra 950, really the last component to maximize performance on the 68040 CPU.
    It's time for us to 'cache' in on this challenge! :D
  22. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Check out this awesome thread on the Celeron 300A by Sampsa.
    He managed to get it OCed to over 720MHz, and that's pretty impressive.

    If only the m68k architecture had kept going, maybe the 68080 (non-existent in m68k) could have competed with Pentium II era processors.
    I might have to open a PowerPC or SPARC thread for comparison, but those chips could never hope to achieve the performance, or extreme OC of the Celeron 300A.

    Nice job, Sampsa, stay [H]ard! :cool:
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2015
  23. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    It might be time to push the next system to the limits!
    Just ordered an Osborne 1 with a ZiLog Z80 CPU @ 4MHz from 1981, with the super rare internal 300 baud modem. :eek:

    I will post pics as soon as it arrives in this post.
    Stay [H] everyone!

    For some cost effective and reliable SCSI HDDs and SCSI components, these work great:

    Seagate Savvio ST973401LC 2.5" 10000 RPM SCSI-320 HDDs - Go for $10-20 each, and are compatible from SCSI-1 up to SCSI-320

    SCSI 80-pin to 68-pin adapters - Go for around $9-15 each

    SCSI 68-pin cable with built-in terminator - Go for around $10-15, and one or two should be sufficient for quite a few HDDs

    Dell PERC4/DC SCSI-320 hardware RAID PCI-X (64-bit PCI) cards - Goes for $3-30 on average, and these have BBUs for write-back (higher performance than write-through), 128MB SDRAM cache, and are compatible with 32-bit 33MHz PCI slots
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
  24. Danith

    Danith 2[H]4U

    Oct 13, 2004
    I have one, missing the OS disk though. My mom accidentally threw it out before I could grab it :(

    Not sure if it has a modem


  25. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    ^ Oh that's awesome, thanks for sharing!
    The one I ordered as well may not have the OS disks, but it shouldn't be too hard to get a copy of CP/M for the Z80 CPU architecture.

    Also, wasn't this your original thread on it?
    If you can, try to find some disks for it and put that unit to work! ;)

    The system I ordered also has the rare integrated 300 baud modem as well.
    It's also kind of weird to think that the Osborne-1 (and Executive) systems have nearly the same Z80 4MHz CPU as the original Gameboy had; the Gameboy Color Z80 could be clocked at 4 or 8MHz.

    EDIT: Still waiting for the unit to arrive, hopefully no later than next week; images will be posted when it does!
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  26. Danith

    Danith 2[H]4U

    Oct 13, 2004
    Ya, that was my thread. I still have the machine just sitting closed up in my closet. What are the chances that a 5-1/4" OS disk survived and is still bootable? I am tempted to try to find some off of ebay but after booting it up not really sure what I would do with the machine. Don't really have the space to make it a display item or piece of art :p
  27. jbltecnicspro

    jbltecnicspro [H]ardness Supreme

    Aug 18, 2006
    Can't wait to see it when it arrives. :)

    EDIT: I would love to get my hands on a portable IBM PS/2 with an amber plasma monitor. :D
  28. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    At long last, I after going through two broken units, the third was the charm!



    This unit arrived with a rare vinyl carrying case, all software and CP/M 2.2, and full 1st and 3rd party documentation.

    I will post more pics once I have a bit more time to explore the software suites.
    The first unit I received, sadly must have been kept in an area with a large amount of moisture, as nearly everything inside was completely rusted.

    The second unit had a bad FDD, which unfortunately, was the one on the left, which runs the OS diskette.
    I even tried swapping the two FDDs, but strangely enough, the left unit (now on the right) would still attempt to be read, asking for the OS diskette; these drives do not have any jumpers on them, which means that they are most likely identified in the EPROM on the motherboard and within their own ROMs.

    After breaking down and reassembling two of them, twice each, I realized that these systems are actually very easy to break down.
    The second unit, since it couldn't be returned, has now been turned into spare parts for the new unit, and the motherboard is now mounted above my door (pics of that to follow).
    I will see if I can get the modem to dial out on a land line as well, and see if we can't get some action from that.

    Oh, as for the Quadra 950, I reinstalled the DayStar PowerPC 601 100MHz CPU, and ordered an external SCSI optical drive.
    Once that arrives, I'm going to fire up Star Wars: Tie Fighter (CD-ROM Edition) and enjoy it on PowerPC... because x86 is too mainstream. :D
    Last edited: May 15, 2015
  29. billabong132

    billabong132 Gawd

    Mar 8, 2001
    This is a seriously impressive thread.

    I too am having more fun with old stuff these days.

    When I was a kid I'd drool over all these exotic chips in computer shopper now I can buy them for nothing on ebay and tinker around.
  30. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Hey, thanks a lot, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    I've just recently picked up a Sun SPARCstation IPC with a bunch of attachments.

    I will probably get NetBSD loaded on that next, though that will be infinitely easier than the Quadra 950 was. :D
    If you ever decide to build something retro or old-world, share it in this thread!
  31. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    ::Quick summary as to why the Quadra 900/950/AWS95 was needed in the field::

    These systems were originally designed to run A/UX 1.0.X-3.0.X, so people could use it as a conversion file and print server in a multi-system environment.
    Back in the early 1990s, on computer networks, Sun, Microsoft, and Apple systems could not communicate with one another.

    This system actually allowed them to do so using A/UX.
    TCP/IP and PCL5/6, along with SMB were not standardized like they are today.

    Today, things like this are trivial, but back then, for a multi-system environment, one of these was critical for communcation.
    If the Apple systems were creating marketing ads and editing photos, the Sun systems were designing 3D models and CAD work, and the Microsoft systems were typing up papers and presentations, there had to be a way to get all of these systems to communicate. The Quadra 900, 950, and Apple Workgroup Server 95 all did just this!
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  32. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Gave up on that old Sun system and decided to go with a Sharp X68000!
    We need to continue the trend of Motorola m68k ISAs within this thread! :cool:
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  33. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    It has been a while since I've last posted in here, but I thought I would share a few new things I have been working on lately, m68k ISA related, that is.


    Well now, I've had some real fun with this beast of a system!
    Here are a few pics of my system:

    This is a Sharp X68000 Expert-HD from 1989, of which the system specs can be found in my sig:

    The X68000 Expert-HD running Human68k 3.02 with the LHES TUI - Human68k is basically DOS ported to the Motorola m68k CPU ISA:

    Here are a few of the internals, and, from left to right, a J-RGB to VGA connector (hand-made, haha), an AztecMonster CF-to-SCSI adapter, and the original 40/80MB HDD:

    Here is an XSIMM10ss (model PC0077) memory expansion board with 10MB of FPM DRAM, which is currently installed:

    This is an interesting piece, a KGB-PRK RAM+FPU module with a Motorola 68882 FPU (upgraded from the original 68881) running at 16MHz:

    Last but not least, is my new mascot, ISO-9000, a giant isopod who cares about quality management! ^_^
    From top to bottom:

    XSIMM10 PC0057 - 10MB FPM DRAM memory expansion module
    Sharp CZ-6BM1 - MIDI interface card with tape synchronization ports
    Sharp CZ-6BS1 - SCSI-1 interface card with 5MB/s data transfer rate
    Xellent30Pro - CPU upgrade module with a Motorola 68030 25MHz CPU and a 68882 33MHz FPU
    Sharp CZ-6BE1A - 1MB FPM DRAM memory expansion module

    This post will be edited further, so there is much more to come!!!

    ::Helpful Links::
    GameSX X68000

    Xellent30 CPU Upgrade
    Jupiter-X CPU Upgrade
    superdeadite's YouTube on X68000 and MIDI
    OmniFlop Floppy Diskette - Custom Writing/Formatting Software
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  34. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    X68000 Music - FM, MIDI, and more!

    Here is my Sharp X68000 Expert-HD from 1989 currently running Etoile Princesse.

    The Sharp X68000 has a built-in Frequency Modulation, or FM for short, synthesis chip, the Yamaha YM2151, which was also used in many arcade boards and systems from the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as X-Men arcade (1992).
    You might notice a few similarities to the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, as it has a Yamaha YM2612 FM synthesis chip.

    Now, the X68000 can also be paired with an optional MIDI interface board, which can then be linked and paired to a single, or multiple, MIDI synthesizer modules.
    My X68000 is currently paired up with a Roland CM-500 MIDI synthesizer from 1988, and ROLLS MINIMIX-II MX-51s auxiliary-powered audio mixer.

    The Roland CM-500 can also output as not only the CM-500 mode, but also CM-300, simulated CM-64, and SC-55 + CM-32L.
    A few things about these MIDI synthesizer modules, many of them could be, and were, paired with x86 PCs back in the late 1980s to the mid 1990s and could be utilized in many games such as the original DOOM as shown here - the way it was meant to be heard!

    The Sharp X68000 is still in use to this day with modern musical composition and synthwave neo-80s music!
    In fact, many of the composers actually keep multiple units on hand, in case one breaks or starts to fail.

    I've recorded quite a few songs off of the X68000 and Roland CM-500, of which I would like to share with you here.
    Some of the songs are FM synth, and most of the others will be MIDI synth, mainly since the MIDI songs utilizing the Roland CM-500 cannot easily be obtained.

    FM Synthesis Music:

    Compared to the original NES song: Best VGM 303 - Mega Man 3 - Snake Man Stage - YouTube

    MIDI Synthesis Music (CM-500):

    Link to the playlist: Akumajou Dracula (X68000) - MIDI CM-500 Soundtrack - YouTube

    Link to the playlist: Hellhound (X68000) - MIDI CM-500 Soundtrack - YouTube

    Link to the playlist: Nemesis '90 Kai (X68000) - MIDI CM-500 Soundtrack - YouTube

    MIDI = Musical Instrumental Digital Interface
    CM = Computer Module
    SC = Sound Canvas
    GM = General MIDI
    GS = General Sound

    ::Helpful Links::
    Yamaha 2151 - Wikipedia Information Page
    Yamaha 2612 - Wikipedia Information Page
    Roland Sound (RS) Canvas - Wikipedia Information Page
    General MIDI - Wikipedia Information Page
    Linear Arithmetic (LA) Synthesis - Wikipedia Information Page
    General Sound (GS) Synthesis - Wikipedia Information Page
    Frequency Modulation (FM) Synthesis - Wikipedia Information Page
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  35. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    SPARCstation 5 - NetBSD 7.0.1

    It's been a little while since my last post, but I am proud to present... the SPARCstation 5 from 1994, fully upgraded and ready to rock and roll!


    The system is not running with the usual microSPARC-II CPU, normally clocked from 50-110MHz, but is running with the upgraded Fujitsu TurboSPARC (SPARC V8 ISA - 32-bit) at 160MHz, with a 512KB L2 cache, and modified firmware for the CPU.
    I have also upgraded this system to 256MB of ECC FPM DRAM (in 168-pin DSIMM modules), and two Seagate Savvio 73GB 10000RPM HDDs; soon to be running in RAID1.

    Also present is the SBUS TGX+ 4MB 8-bit frame buffer, SBUS SCSI-2 and 10/100 NIC combo card, and SBUS SCSI-2 card.
    Two blue cold cathodes and a custom blue 40mm full-height CPU fan has also been added.


    Here we have the SPARCstation 5 running NetBSD 7.0.1, yeah!
    This is before the memory upgrade, so in these photos, it is still running 64MB of ECC FPM DRAM.

    It was enough to compile and run a single program at a time, but it was hitting SWAP too often when doing anything heavy, hence the later upgrade to 256MB.
    The RAM modules themselves are unique to the SPARCstations of that era, being that they are FPM DRAM, are ECC, and are in a 168-pin package, which is normally used for 66/100/133 SDRAM, and occasionally EDO DRAM.


    Here are two Sun SPARCstation frame buffers (early GPUs or graphics processors).
    The unit on the left is the rare SS5/TCX 24-bit color accelerated frame buffer which utilizes the AFX port on the SPARCstation 5; works good in Solaris, but is emulated as a cgthree in NetBSD.

    The unit on the right, which is presently being used, is a cgsix TurboGX Plus (TGX+) 4MB 8-bit color accelerated frame buffer which utilizes the SBUS port on any early SPARCstations; it is fully supported in Solaris and NetBSD, and is quite a bit faster than the SS5/TCX, despite using fewer colors.
    Hopefully the TGX+ will be running DOOM and Quake, compiled for the SPARC V8 ISA, very soon!


    Ahhh, yes, those blue cold cathodes and fan are doing their jobs well! ^_^
    I have also attached two Sun 411 external modules through SCSI-2 (10MB/s), featuring a Seagate Hawk 2.1GB 5400RPM HDD in the bottom unit, and a Matsushita 32x CD-ROM drive in the top unit.

    The system is now running headless with NetBSD 7.0.1, until DOOM, and Galaga are compiled, that is.
    Even Dobkeratops from R-Type is excited about this!

    This system isn't quite complete yet, and I hope to run it as an Apache webserver soon as well as file sharing.

    EDIT: XDOOM and XGalaga have now been compiled for SPARC and are running!

    ::Boot Commands::

    Stop+a (halts boot)
    .version (shows PROM version)
    boot sd(0,3,0) (boots internal HDD)
    boot sd(0,5,0) (boots external CDROM)
    boot fd() (boots FDD)
    probe-scsi (shows all SCSI devices)
    printenv (shows PROM settings)
    setenv boot-device sd(0,3,0) (setenv can change a PROM option)


    NetBSD OS must be installed on the first 1GB of disk space due to PROM v1.
    NetBSD OS must be installed on the first 2GB of disk space due to PROM v2.


    [PROM v2 commands]
    boot floppy
    boot cdrom

    (set optical drive to SCSI ID 6 physically)
    boot cdrom
    boot disk (default disk to boot, usually 0,3,0)
    boot disk1 (use this to boot upper disk in SPARCstation 5)
    boot disk2

    ::Helpful Links::

    Installing NetBSD 7.0.X on Sun SPARC Equipment
    NetBSD RAIDFrame RAID1 Setup How-To
    How to Setup a Webserver on NetBSD
    Using PKGSRC (Package Source) with NetBSD
    NetBSD Software Packages Collection Information
    NetBSD Setting Date and Time with NTP
    NetBSD/SPARC 7.0.1 Packages Location
    Sun Frame Buffer Specifications
    NetBSD Supported Sun SPARC Hardware
    Sun Frame Buffer Obscure Information
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  36. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Behold! The complete retro setup!!!


    Everything is connected to everything, at some point or another, and all you see is fully functional in full production! :cool:

    - X68000 Expert-HD (1989)
    - Planar PL1500M LCD monitor (2015)
    - Sun Model 411 External SCSI Module - 32x CD-ROM (1992)
    - Sun Model 411 External SCSI Module - 2.1GB HDD (1992)
    - SPARCstation 5 (1994)
    - HP Procurve 1700-8 Managed Switch (2013)
    - Roland CM-500 MIDI Synthesizer (1988)
    - Rolls MX51S Mini Mix II Audio Mixer (2016)
    - Rapiro Robot (2015)
    - Jgglobe Bluetooth LED Speaker (2016)
    - Raspberry Pi B (2012) with Fairywren K50 Expansion Mini-ITX Board (2016)
    - Gorilla Hi Resolution Green Phosphorous Composite Monitor (1984)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2018
    scojer likes this.
  37. scojer

    scojer [H]ardness Supreme

    Jun 13, 2009
    Not only is the equipment awesome, but you have some killer posters too! You need to post a pic of all of them. I really dig the Castle Wolfenstein and Alien posters. (I'm pretty sure that is a Xenomorph hiding behind the monitor.)
    Red Falcon likes this.
  38. Red Falcon

    Red Falcon [H]ardForum Junkie

    May 7, 2007
    Haha, thank you for the compliments! :D
    Those are some fun posters, speaking of retrocomputing, here are a few of them:


    (the xenomorph on the poster is actually the first boss of R-Type, Dobkeratops, but if you look closely, there is a plush chest burster to the right of the setup) :smuggrin:



    If you have anything retro-related of your own that you would like to post, please do so, I would really like to see it, no matter how old. (y)
    Stay retro! :cool:
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
    scojer likes this.
  39. scojer

    scojer [H]ardness Supreme

    Jun 13, 2009
    The only retro stuff I have is a bunch of NES/SNES games. My old hardware I left at my parents house when I moved out 10 years ago. I'm not even sure if they still have them. I had a couple of CRT monitors and some old computers I put together with parts my dad brought home and I got from my school. I think the last CPU I had in there was a Slot A Athlon running at 366MHZ.

    The games are packed until I'm done unpacking. I'll definitely post pics once I get around to it. Thanks for sharing though, this is a badass thread!
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
    Red Falcon likes this.
  40. NickJames

    NickJames [H]ardness Supreme

    Apr 28, 2009
    I have a stack of about 5 Sony PVMs does that count? lol I would love to have a dedicated retro space though, I plan on building one when I get a bigger home. I want neon signs, tacky arcade style carpet, blacklight, overly loud arcade machine background noise, the works. My plan is to install a digital pinball machine, mugen arcade box, and the 2 PVMs setup for console emulation, pool table and bar with a switch to transform the place into 90s arcade mode.
    Red Falcon likes this.