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Cobalt Cube 2

 
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Jenne



Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 338
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:25 am    Post subject: Cobalt Cube 2 Reply with quote

I know that this might not be the right place for my request but I'm trying to get as much information as possible...

Today I got myself a Cobalt Cube 2:



This little blue box has at least something to do with NeXT: one of the guys developing it was the former main developer of the Newton - made by Apple (Newton Technologies) and so on. I'm sure most of You know the history that followed.
As long as I'm not very familiar with Linux (Debian 3.1 as far as I found out) I'm facing a little problem. I want to restore the original OS of that cube by using the CD still ofered by Sun Systems. Alas, this restore procedure just accepts 3 PCMCIA cards and several PCI-Cards. I'm owning just a laptop with Windows and that is why any PCI-solution is obsolete to me. These are the cards that work:

Netgear Fast Ethernet PCMCIA Adapter (FA410TX)
3Com Megahertz 10/100 LAN PC Card (3CCFE574BT)
Xircom CreditCard Ethernet 10/100 (CE3B-100BTX)

Two possible solutions: anyone owns one of these and is willing to offer me one or someone knows a way how to implement other PCMCIA cards to the restore CD so I could use other models. Linux users wanted ;-)

Another topic touches the expensive RAM of those Cobalts. These machines are using

SIMM-Module 72 Pin
Extended Data Output RAM (EDO)
Non-Parity
3.3V
50ns

Did any Mac use those ones? Is there any place around Europe (!) where modules like these could be obtained?

Any help is very welcome!

J
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nextchef



Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 1006
Location: Missouri, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jenne,

Below is a link to a NetBSD port page for the Qube that contains some information and links about this. Mabey they have info on how to hack the disk to use other cards.

http://www.netbsd.org/Ports/cobalt/restorecd-howto.html

Chef
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Jenne



Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 338
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank You very much Chef for this hint, maybe someone over there can help me in this! Very Happy

J
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brams



Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Posts: 508
Location: Blackburn, England

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jenne

I had a Cobalt Qube II for a while, I ran NetBSD 1.6 on it. I never installed the Cobalt Linux OS on it and from what I recall NetBSD supported more NIC's.

Regarding the SIMMS, I scanned through the NetBSD Usenet group and somebody said they'd used normal EDO 72 pin simms IIRC these are supposed to be 5v. I bought a couple of 256mb ones, one for my BeBox and another for the Qube, the normal EDO simm worked fine in the Qube and when I sold on the Qube I fitted it's 256mb simm into the BeBox and it ran OK on that.

IIRC the simms are Viking branded which I used and the same as you'd use in a PC.

The Qube ran 24/7 for about a year like that, but maybe I was just lucky?

Cheers
brams
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NeXTcube Turbo Dimension, NeXTstation Turbo Color, MP2100, Q840av, Q650, WS G4 500, Pismo G4 550, SGI Octane R12K MXE, BeBox 133.
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Jenne



Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 338
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello brams ;-)

I know that NetBSD (and some other OSses) can be used with that cube. In fact it would be the better choice for my purposes but I have some sort of spleen: I like to use the OS that was once supplied with the machine or at least an OS from the same company like the machine itself. Not very wise, I know, but NetBSD is some sort of active project while informations on original systems are fading away year by year. So I try to go the "old" way and offer hints and solutions to those ways just in case someone else wants to use machines like these in the way I do. Just call it "past-times-supporting" ;-)

Regarding the RAM the informations are very irritating. While most of the users insist on using those 3.3 V modules some say that the 5 V ones should also work. I remember my Gravis TT Clone (Umax Clone from Germany) that had lots of difficulties with mixed RAM modules working with 5 or 5.5 V modules (or something like that, I haven't touched that one for years)...

This cube seems to be quite a reliable machine indeed. I think it will be the most needed machine in my little network.

J
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brams



Joined: 27 Dec 2005
Posts: 508
Location: Blackburn, England

PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jenne

I ran a 5v module in mine for a year and it ran perfect, from what I can tell, most EDO SIMM's seem to be dual volt 5v & 3.3v. I think this can be identified by looking at the spec sheets for the IC's on the SIMM. In anycase, all things being equal in terms of pin assignments etc, would the worst case scenario not be that undervolting 5v ram would lead to corruption and KP's etc. The other way round overvolting 3.3v ram should be more leathal.
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AStar617



Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 37
Location: Cambridge, MA

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you do run into a wall trying to resurrect the Qube, but are still interested in the Cobalt appliance software bundle, you should know that Sun opensourced the code under a BSD-style license at the end of '03. This resulted in the BlueQuartz project, which continued development of the appliance backend interface code and enabled the functionality to be provided to most any whitebox x86 hardware platform running RH9 (so your MIPS-based Qube 2 would not work). The equivalent project intended for FreeBSD on x86 is called RaqDevil. Neither has been tested on MIPS versions of their respective underlying OSes, though you could always attempt a port of the software yourself if you are bored/adventurous.

Convenient prebundled CentOS-plus-BlueQuartz distros are also available: StrongBolt specifically for the Cobalt RaQ 3/4/550, and Nuonce for whiteboxes.

Hope that helps...
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NeXTstation color slab: still in surgery | SPARCstation 5/110: 128mb, 4gb, 3xCG6, NS3.3risc | HP 712/60: still in surgery | Plus too many Suns to list
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Jenne



Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 338
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu May 17, 2007 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the hint!

In the meantime I've contacted almost every possible source on the net but didn't succeed to resurrect that Cube. Mots of the time no answer at all is provided anywhere, sometimes there's just a note that Cobalt hardware isn't supported anymore.... man, comments like these just drive me nuts, especially when I already mentioned that I know about this.
Anyway, BlueQuartz didn't answer, too. Seems to me that this appliance has reached the status of ancient hardware burried under the dust waiting to get re-discovered.
I made some efforts at last. It doesn't matter what OS restore version I use, the cube keeps on "searching for himself". It is very difficult to get one of the network cards needed and until today I found out that similiar (but not exactly the same) ones do not work. Two possibilities are left now.
I will recieve an exact network card soon, maybe this will help. The other one depends on if I will get myself a second Windows PC to set up a terminal session - I've never done this before but maybe I will get some useful information.
In fact this isn't a Cube 2 as I found out. The restore process doesn't make any difference between the Cube 1 and the Cube 2 but there is a major difference within the hardware configuration. The Cube 1 (the one I own) has only one network interface (Ethernet), the Cube 2 has two of them...

Maybe I will be lucky the next week...

J
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Jenne



Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 338
Location: Switzerland

PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update...

After trying many, many cards I gave up to restore the original OS of that cube. Some time later I got myself a Qube 2, placed the HD of the Qube 1 into it, started the process and it worked! Now the Qube 1 is back to life.

Weird thing: when restoring the OS to the Qube 2 it first seems that everything is ok, but configuring that one later on via the browser based interface keeps me dropping into an error message saying a directory is missing... So now the Qube 2 is dead :(

Soon i will have all three models together, just got myself a Qube 3 :)

J
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