Newbie with an Indigo2 needs some help getting started

wowbobwow

New member
Oct 16, 2019
6
5
3
Hi everyone! Many years ago when I lived in Albuquerque I picked up a sweet SGI Indigo2 at a surplus sale. Mine was originally owned by MIT, going by the inventory stickers on the back. I've got the Indigo2 itself, plus a nice SGI keyboard and mouse to match. The whole kit has been in storage for 12-13 years and I'm honestly not sure if I ever spent any time with it even when it was "new to me" - I bought it in a large lot of vintage / surplus computers, and other machines pulled my attention before I had a kid, moved multiple times, started a new career, etc.

Anyway. I've been able to power the machine on and connect via Serial from my MacBook Pro, from the PROM Monitor I learned that the machine is equipped with the following:

195MHz R10000 CPU with FPU
256 megs RAM
"High Impact" graphics system
1 SCSI CD-ROM drive
1 SCSI hard drive

So all-in-all, not a bad configuration to play with! Unfortunately, this is as far as I've been able to get. I have a monitor which (as best I can tell) should be compatible with "Sync on Green" video (I've tested with 3 LCD panels, but the one I'm most confident in is the NEC MultiSync 1700M+ seen in my pic above - it specifically says "composite sync on green compatible" in the product documentation), but I just cannot get the damn SGI to show an image on any display I've tried. I bought a 13w3-to-VGA adapter on eBay which was specifically noted for being SGI-compatible - it looks like it's had the necessary pins removed to make it compliant with this generally-reputable article.

Any suggestions here? I can sorta watch the machine booting while connected via Serial terminal, but that's where I'm getting stuck and I'd really like to explore the machine and OS further than this.

Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

Huxley
 

Elf

Storybook
Feb 4, 2019
82
14
8
Hello and welcome!

In order of likelihood:
  1. It's possible that the PROM is set to boot over serial only and not graphically. Check printenv from the boot PROM menu, or prom from a running IRIX shell. See the console variable, described at: http://nixdoc.net/man-pages/IRIX/man1/prom.1.html
  2. If you can get in via serial I'd check hinv to make sure that the graphics card shows up; but if it does and there are no errors, then maybe I would also try a different adapter. This is the one I usually use, as it can be configured to work with many different types of UNIX workstations: https://www.ebay.com/itm/6-ft-13W3-Male-to-SVGA-HD15-Male-Universal-Cable-w-12-Dip-Switches-W3-606/270832512031
  3. If it is set to boot graphically, shows up in hinv with no boot errors, etc. and if you have an oscilloscope available I'd suggest looking at the video card output for signs of life, but I know that a scope is not a common household item :)
 

wowbobwow

New member
Oct 16, 2019
6
5
3
Hello and welcome!

In order of likelihood:
  1. It's possible that the PROM is set to boot over serial only and not graphically. Check printenv from the boot PROM menu, or prom from a running IRIX shell. See the console variable, described at: http://nixdoc.net/man-pages/IRIX/man1/prom.1.html
  2. If you can get in via serial I'd check hinv to make sure that the graphics card shows up; but if it does and there are no errors, then maybe I would also try a different adapter. This is the one I usually use, as it can be configured to work with many different types of UNIX workstations: https://www.ebay.com/itm/6-ft-13W3-Male-to-SVGA-HD15-Male-Universal-Cable-w-12-Dip-Switches-W3-606/270832512031
  3. If it is set to boot graphically, shows up in hinv with no boot errors, etc. and if you have an oscilloscope available I'd suggest looking at the video card output for signs of life, but I know that a scope is not a common household item :)
This is all fantastic info, thank you! I ordered that cable about 2 seconds after I saw your reply - it's exactly what I've been thinking I might need. I had searched eBay multiple times and didn't find it - I suspect because their description includes the fact that it's compatible with "Silicone Graphics" LOL

That cable can't ship soon enough!
 
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wowbobwow

New member
Oct 16, 2019
6
5
3
Hi again guys!

Wanted to offer a HUGE shout-out to @Elf - I ordered the switchable 13w3-to-VGA cable you suggested above, it arrived tonight, and IT WORKS! It took a little bit of fiddling with the switches on the cable to find the right settings for this machine + display, but WHAMO the SGI fired right up with a full graphical interface. I'm so excited! Not only is the machine working, it turns out to be an "IMPACT 10000" machine, despite it's lack of that name-badge on the front. Super cool! It seems to be running IRIX 6.5, but I'm not sure it's a "complete" install since a lot of stuff seems to be missing or not working. If I want to do a complete fresh re-install of IRIX, can I download the CD images I'd need?

Here are a few pics - I'm so excited to finally get to play around with this magnificent purple beast!

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