Chookfest
Back

Digital Equipment Corporation VAXserver 3800

[Really bad picture of the DEC VAXserver 3800]

Specifications

MANUFACTURER  Digital Equipment Corporation
MODEL  VAXserver 3800
YEAR OF INTRODUCTION  1989
MAIN PROCESSOR  KA655 (CVAX+)
BITS  32
CLOCK SPEED  33 MHz
FLOATING POINT UNIT  CFPA
MEMORY MANAGEMENT UNIT  integrated
CO-PROCESSOR  none
RAM  64M
ROM  128k
OPERATING SYSTEM  NetBSD
HONOURABLE MENTION  Leon Martin

grumpy

This is the second of the two VAXes I own. I was very excited about getting this one as it was the same model VAX that SimH emulated, which meant that I could run 4.3BSD Quasijarus on it. I tried installing it around 2010 and proved to be far harder than expected as my TK50 drive was constantly having a hissyfit as tapes were jamming due to suffering from sticky shed syndrome. I then installed NetBSD 5.0.2 from a CD, made easy due to having a Dilog SCSI card, and tried using it to install Quasijarus from. I wasn't terribly successful but it was a rather interesting learning experience. It sat unused for a good 14 years after that.

Fast forward to 2024 and I pulled the machine out of storage to have another play. This time I wanted to install onto the internal DSSI hard drives and not use the SCSI controller for anything apart from installation. The three drives installed were an RF35 (852M), RF36 (1600M), and RF71 (400M) which showed up a DUA0, DUB1, and DUC2 repectively. As 4.3BSD Quasijarus can only boot off a disk from the first controller DUA, I decided to install NetBSD 10 on the second drive. I was not having any success booting from a CD image on a ZuluSCSI connected to the Dilog SCSI card, so I set up a PC running NetBSD to act as a server to boot from using MOP. After a fair bit of tinkering I got the VAX to successfully boot over the network and load the install kernel and RAM image. Sets were installed directly from the NetBSD ftp server and, several hours later, I had a fully running machine.

I learnt several lessons installing a modern Unix on a 35 year old machine:

Below is a list of the cards installed in it.


A B C D
1 M7625-BA (KA655-BA CPU)
2 M7609-AT (MS650-BA 16M RAM)
3 240-153-600 (EMC 16M RAM)
4 240-153-600 (EMC 16M RAM)
5 240-153-600 (EMC 16M RAM)
6 M8087-PA (Scanner & Printer Controller)
7 M3127-PA (DESQA Ethernet)
8 M7769 (KFQSA DSSI Disk Adaptor)
9 (empty) (empty) (empty) (empty)
10 (empty) (empty) (empty) (empty)
11 (empty) (empty) (empty) (empty)
12 M9060-YA (Qbus End Card)
Back
Chookfest