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Installing XENIX 386 on a real intel 486 PC Part 4 (at least the prerequisites) 
Sunday, June 29, 2014, 11:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
May be you know already, that the "Streams and TCPIP" packages does support only very few network cards, a 3COM 3C501, 3C503, WD8003 (8 Bit ISA) and last but not least hopefully also a WD8013 (16 Bit ISA). No NE1000/NE2000 support (SCO list a Novell (Exelan) 205T - but never heard before from it until I read the below mentioned compatibility note), although I read a usenet article which describes success with a NE2000 compatible Longshine card. See also here for more NE2000 comments.
So you do not need only the 4 TCP/IP floppy disks (and one Streams floppy disk), but also compatible hardware. I was so happy to find a WD8013 a few weeks before, also because these network cards are meanwhile very rare.
But I was also surprised about the size of the card - it's a monster:

The related link below mentions h/w compatibility - described by SCO itself.

Added later:

These WD80x3 cards are crap. Unbelievable how many problems occur with the configuration.
May be the Trident VGA in my 486 is the reason, don't know.

So I inserted my WD8003E (because the WD8013 didn't run, I took the WD8003 for further tests) in my IBM PC/XT, also because my XT does NOT have memory above 9FFFFh.

The default settings for these cards is i/o 280h, irq 3, ram address D0000h.
But almost all PCs of that era could have a second serial port.
So I have a big problem:
IRQ 2 = already taken by the SCSI card.
IRQ 3 = already taken by COM2 port (I have one)
IRQ 4 = already taken by COM1 port
IRQ 5 = already taken by LPT2 (I have also one)
IRQ 6 = Floppy disk
IRQ 7 = already taken by LPT1

At this point I realized I couldn't test further because my XT has no free IRQ.
So I disabled my COM2 port first (IRQ 3 is free then).
I was able to run DIAGNOSE with this result:

BUT. I was still not able to run EZSETUP.

At this point, I am out of any helpful idea.

So far I was also able to run the packet driver 8003pkdr.exe without errors.
I guess I will use the WD card with my XT, and continuing to test XENIX with my 3COM503.
May be there exist also an earlier (non SMC) WD8003 setup program, but I can't find it.
[this will be continued]
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Installing XENIX 386 on a real intel 486 PC Part 3 
Sunday, June 29, 2014, 09:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Before I try to install Streams and TCP/IP, let's try VP/IX.
I got three 1.2MB disk images, but to install it with my 1.44MB floppy drive in my 486-PC, I had to convert the disks first. How ? Easy if you already had installed XENIX.

1. Copy each 1.2MB disk image file onto a DOS formatted 1.44MB floppy disk media
2. Run XENIX and use doscp to copy the disk image files onto your harddisk
3. Use the dd command to transfer it back to a real floppy media:
dd if=vpixdsk1.img of=/dev/fd0 (or instead of "fd0" use "rfd0135ds18")
4. Do this for all three images
(as a result, you should get three 1.44MB installation disks)

Now type in 'custom' again, choose '4' (for additional packages) and if asked, insert the first of the three floppy disks. You should select 'ALL' as an option, a bit later you had to insert the other two disks also. When you typed in the serial number/activation successfully, it should go back to 'custom'. Just exit.

Now how to run VP/IX ? Easy if you know it. Just type in 'vpix' on console.
Even a BIOS is loaded, similar to modern virtual machine software.

Now you are able to type in DOS commands. 'VER' returns DOS 3.30.
Using ALT-F1, ALT-F2 and so on you can run DOS more than once... nice.
To exit VP/IX, type in 'vpixcmd quit' ... that's all.

Using Google there is almost nothing to find about VP/IX .... strange.

But next time I will tell you my expiriences with TCP/IP and XENIX, promised.
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Installing XENIX 386 on a real intel 486 PC Part 2 
Sunday, June 15, 2014, 09:00 PM
Posted by Administrator
Installing the XENIX 2.3.0d Development System isn't so hard.
Assuming you managed it to write six 1.44MByte floppy disk images back to real floppy disk media with success, you just have to enter 'custom' at the XENIX system prompt.
Then you have to choose '2' for Development System, '1' for installing one or more packages, and then 'ALL' for all packages. Be patient then, reading each disk will take a bit time.

Each disk contained a TAR file, which can be opened from any Windows machine with WINRAR also with ease (just open the image file of the floppy disk with WINRAR).

After all disks are processed, you have to enter the serial and activation code.
And last but not least, you have to decide what curses you want to use: termcap or terminfo based. Old skool people like me prefer termcap ;-)

After the system prompt reappeared, I tried to enter a small but famous test program.
But I could NOT enter the closing bracket '}' ... it's not available with my german keyboard. That's ugly, but because I had no time to figure out how to fix it, I just write the small text file in Windows, copied it to a floppy, and used 'doscp' to get the file into XENIX file system.

And it worked:

Remember - running the program without preceeding './' needs '.' to be added in PATH variable.
And without any cc option, the generated program is always named 'a.out'.

In one of the next parts, I will describe installing and using TCP/IP.

For a dev system manual, look at the related link below.

P.S.: I solved the problem with the german keyboard layout. You have to replace a file named 'keys' within the /usr/lib/keyboard directory with a modified version, then you have to run 'mapkey' one time. The modified 'keys' for my german keyboard can be downloaded >here<. If unsure, backup your original 'keys' file first before replacing it.
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Installing XENIX 386 on a real intel 486 PC Part 1 
Saturday, June 7, 2014, 05:46 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well, sometimes you would like to try something you never tried before.
So after installing many times Linux on my newer PCs, I thought it would be fine to have Xenix 386 also installed, to play with it, or better, to compile some programs also (e.g. the "hack" game).
After I got the 7 Xenix floppy disk images (N1, N2, B1, X1, X2, X3, X4 for 3.5" HD media) from someone, I had to write the images back to real floppy disks first.

Unfortunately WINIMAGE does not know how to handle non-FAT formatted floppies.
Also, RAWWRITE (using real raw images) does only write tracks (sub)sequentially back, so if you write 720KB images back to a HD floppy disk, RAWWRITE generates junk.
So I decided to use my "disktool" I already used also for writing CP/M-86 disks.

After this, I tried to boot from the N1 (the only one which boots)floppy disk.
This worked as intended, but after going on within the installation dialog, I recognized there should be non-used space left on your harddisk to create a Xenix Partition.
I wanted to have a DOS partition (1st Partition) and also a Xenix Partition (2nd Partition).
It was a bit strange because I thought I can "re-use" the already existing extended DOS partition, which I didn't used so far. No, I had to go back to DOS, start FDISK, and delete the logical and extented partition first. THEN I was able to go on, choosing "Create XENIX Partition".

Btw. this was not really bad luck, because before I rebooted it for FDISK, I choosed to display the partition info within the Xenix installation dialog (and I remembered these numbers later on when creating the Xenix partition...).

Some uncommon questions raised then, after I was able to wrote the base/minimal system.
It asked me not only for a name of a non-american timezone (for me, CET), it asked me what parameters the timezone have, and what name the summer time has (? for me, it was always CET+1, but Xenix don't like to get a '+' in the name of the timezone).
My last floppy I had to insert, N2, had an error, and I got also a strange message "tar: tape read error".... I didn't used a tape, but on all other floppies except N1 just a single big tar file is existing. So I had to use another floppy disk, which was prepared in hurry from me again, too.

Then at the end, it asks me for a "link kit serilization". I didn't expected again such a question because I already typed in the serial number for the OS.
So I tried to enter the already used number again, and voilą, it worked ;-)

The whole installation (option 'ALL') occupied 13.3 MByte.
Very helpful also: The Xenix FAQ

Part 2 will follow with the description of my experience I made with the XENIX development environment.

P.S.: Xenix 386 2.3.4a supports MFM, IDE, RLL and also SCSI harddisk drives, so it also works in a virtual environment as well as on a real system. I've read it will not work with a Pentium machine, so please give me a feedback if you was able to install it on a newer system than my 486. This is my hardware configuration I used (80MB IDE drive):

P.P.S.: Beware of the Y2K bug in Xenix. Look for xnx427d.Z in known internet search engines.
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How to figure out structure / disk parameter of an unknown CP/M floppy disk ? 
Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 06:30 PM
Posted by Administrator

Meanwhile - more than only one time - I got mails with questions about unknown CP/M floppy formats. Often computer are mentioned, which are used in industry only, or names from SBC / self made systems were telled.

So how to figure out structure or disk parameter of a floppy disk of an unknown system ?

If you have access to that unknown system, take a look at the build-in floppy drive - at least you will get the model/type of the drive itself, and then you know how many tracks are used, e.g. if a TEAC FD55FV is used, usually 80 tracks is the number of tracks.
Also, you know then it's a double density drive, and MFM coding was used.

If you don't have access to the original system, just the floppy media, it's much more difficult. You can use devices like Kryoflux or SuperCard Pro, this is the most easy way.
If you own a PC with installed MS-DOS (not Windows!) and at least a floppy drive with the same physical media dimensions (e.g. 5.25 inch), you can use ANADISK.
ANADISK can help to get the needed disk definitions (e.g. Skew, DPB values etc.) for 22DISK, which can be referred as a companion software of ANADISK. To alter the definition file of 22DISK, you have to decompile them first (with STRIPIDX).

Entries look like this one:

BEGIN A1 Generic CP/M - SSSD 8"
SIDE1 0 1,7,13,19,25,5,11,17,23,3,9,15,21,2,8,14,20,26,6,12,18,24,4,10,16,22
BSH 3 BLM 7 EXM 0 DSM 242 DRM 63 AL0 0C0H AL1 0 OFS 2

(Note: 77 tracks were only used by 8" floppy disk drives)

A complete description of these parameter can be found in 22DISK documentation (usually included in the programs ZIP file).

You can take a look into a very helpful newsgroup message also:

You have to have an understanding about the disk structure of CP/M disks in general.
Take a look inside the CP/M Alteration Guide, Chapter 6.11 (see related link also).

After figuring out the parameters (these parameters typically are very often more or less similar or equal to already existing entries !), you can re-compile the disk definition file back to a binary file (with GENINDEX).
If all parameter were correct, you can use CTOD or DTOC for transfering single files, or you can use the main program to copy a whole floppy disk.

Alternatively you can try IMDA, which is part of Dave Dunfield's ImageDisk program package, which can be found at

For more infos about transfer CP/M files, take a look also at my "Transfer page".
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