Troubleshooting a Mac SCSI drive

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Sometimes SCSI just doesn’t want to work. I tried to configure an Initio Miles 9100UW card and a 20-gig Seagate Barracuda drive in a Power Macintosh 8600 yesterday. I’d have much preferred an Adaptec card, because I haven’t had much luck with Initios in the past and Adaptec’s Web site has great tech support, but the user bought the stuff without asking me, partly because the Initio cards are really cheap. The 9100 spun up the drive and allowed us to format it, no problem. Then we installed an OS and tried to boot from it… Bus error. Or, if we were lucky, Error Type 96. (I’ve never seen that one before. I think we got a Type 97 once too.) We installed the factory SCSI drive, which we knew worked, alone on the Initio. Same result. I tried different cables just to eliminate that possibility. Nope. So I pulled the 9100 and the Barracuda and put them in a Power Macintosh 7300 we use for support. It worked the first time, and every subsequent time.

I found absolutely no reference to bootup problems with this card, or incompatibility problems, anywhere on the Web or in Usenet. The card had the latest firmware, so I went ahead and downloaded all available firmware versions and tested the card with them, one at a time. It seemed to get a little further in the boot process with the older versions, but I’d still get a bus error.

We ended up just putting the OS on his factory drive, kept it connected to the motherboard’s built-in SCSI, and we moved virtual memory and applications to the new drive. That way, he still gets most of the new drive’s speed benefit. Once the OS is loaded into memory, it won’t touch the old drive for much. Putting more time into it just didn’t seem to be worth the slight benefit we’d get.

Converting movies between different types. If you want to convert QuickTime movies to MP4 format (so you don’t have to keep QuickTime installed, or to make the movies take up less space on disk), you can find instructions for doing it here. It’s easy to use the Bink Converter to do other things as well, such as changing an AVI file to use a less obscure codec, or remove an audio track…

Conversion takes some time though. Don’t try this on your Pentium-133, unless you like waiting.

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