Macintosh SE/30

Running A/UX on a Macintosh SE/30

Mac SE/30 running A/UX in a X11 session.

This machine was bought from an individual that had an idea of converting it to a fish tank but never got around doing so. 
It was starting up when arriving but it didn't find any hard drive to boot from. Most likely a stuck hard disk head or similar. A quick knock on the hard drive and the machine was booting into System 7 nicely. However my plan for this machine was to see how A/UX looked like. The Unix variant that Apple came up with in the late eighties and early nineties.


Cleaning a MAC SE/30
The machine was pulled into pieces and cleaned
thoroughly. A lot of dust has collected over the years. 
Chassis cleaning

Everything was cleaned in the sink including the chassis. Glued on stickers and dirt was removed with isopropanol.

Caps replacement

Leaking capacitors
There were quite some green tarnish on several ICs on the board. It is usually due to leakage of either batteries or capacitors. in this case the battery was all fine, but the caps were leaking. Not to the extent that the machine had failed but if nothing was to be done it would probably get worser. 

The SMD capacitors had to be replaced and the board had to be washed in white vinegar to get read of the green tarnish on the legs of the ICs. Then the residual flux was removed with isopropanol and the entire board was washed in water and then dried.

SE/30 Motherboard


The hard drive was two small to put A/UX on and then also and the sticky head problem. It was replaced with a Maxtor LXT213SY drive. Testing it under System 7 and formatting it with a patched Apple HD SC Setup version 7.3.5 tuned out just fine. The machine came with just five megabytes of RAM, but 8Mbyte is minimum for running A/UX. Four 4Mbyte 30 pin SIMM was purchased over Ebay and installed. They worked just fine.

Running a unix without networking isn't really complete in my opinion. The problem is that I didn't have a network card and it seemed that SE/30 compatible network card are very expensive. The ebay prices on completed transaction were in the range $130-$200 which was far too much. I took a chance and advertised the Radius Pivot board that originally came with the machine to be traded for a network card. And yes it was a reply from a nice person in the US that was interested in trading. I sent my Radius board and a few weeks later a Asante Maccon SE/30 board arrived. It worked fine under System 7 both as a EtherTalk interface and TCP/IP interface. 

Installing A/UX

Now the machine was ready for A/UX installation. The problem was that I didn't have a CD-ROM reader laying around here, but it was solved by using a SCSI2SD card in CD-ROM mode. First I tried to install one of those A/UX 3.0.1 iso images that were floating around the net but it failed when it tried to install the A/UX software on the hard drive. A message said: "Cannot mount "/dev/dsk/c100/d0s0" - Invalid argument.

Also during the partitioning there were some weird messages printed in the background, directly to the frame buffer. "Disk read C103d0s6 Error: Illegal request code = 0x21 Generic Disk read c103d0s6 Failure: Logical block 292272, physical blocks 333328-333343"

This looked like some kind of problem with the installation media. It was possible to mount the ISO images under OS X and then extract slice 6. Slice 6 and slice 4 are UFS filesystems. But when trying to mount the extracted slice 6 image using a loop device under linux gave a unreadable filesystem. The same procedure on slice 4 worked very well. Could the problem be a corrupt ISO-file. Maybe? Doing the same procedure with the 3.0.0 installation media showed a perfectly working slice 6 UFS file system.

I then turned to install A/UX 3.0.0 and that worked just fine. Following this successful installation I installed 3.0.1 without any problem.

Running A/UX
Booting A/UX
Running A/UX is an interesting experience. The booting brings up a System 7 environment which then auto-launches (if enabled) the start of A/UX. Well. The screen to the right says "Apple Workgroup Server 95" which what Apple renamed A/UX with version 3.0.1.

The boot takes quite some time, but then finally you are greeted with a login screen. Or rather if you have A/UX 3.0.0 it will great you with a login screen. Later on the system will autologin the root account. To disable autologin one have to remove or rename  the autologin file in the /mac/sys/Login System Folder/Preferences. 

Login screen

Using the options meny it is possible to change what kind of session type to start. There are choices to start either a System 7 finder type environment or an X11 X-Windows environment.

The System 7 very much looks like a normal System 7 with the exception that there is a / hard drive in addition to the normal Harddisk. The / harddisk is simply the root of the A/UX system.

Word 5 under A/UX

Word 5 runs just fine in the System 7 environment under A/UX!

Probably most System 7.0 compatible application will run just fine.

A/UX command shell

Of course A/UX give you access to a bourne shell. Or a C shell if you prefer that.

Networking under A/UX

Networking under A/UX is absolutely no problem. Just do a "newconfig" in the shell and configure the network properly and everything after the reboot!

AppleTalk networking under the System 7 environment is just a matter of installing device driver for the ethernet card and enable EtherTalk in  Preferences. The chooser will then happily show my Linux netatalk server!


X11 session

From the login screen it is possible to choose a X11 session rather than a System 7 session. You cannot start X11 from within the System 7 environment since they would compete for the frame buffer. Instead there is a special session type chosen at login time which give a X11R4 session with the old twm window manager.

Links contains a lot of useful information. But it has unfortunately closed down. But wayback machine has it stored in the archive.

Some notes on how to install A/UX by Cameron Kaiser.