20170415

Rainbow 100 Venix/86R Disks Found

Recently, there was a post on an obscure retro-computing blog. It said that someone had acquired a Rainbow 100, which isn't so unusual (though there's only a few on the market). The part that was interesting was that it said it included VENIX disks. After some email back and forth, the owner sent the disks to me for reading.

After fighting for a week with PCs (more on that in another blog), I decided to search to see if there was a Rainbow native solution. Turns out that there was something called RBIMG by PrintStar (Jeff Armstrong) which I was able to get going on my old Rainbow 100B. It came with source because the Venix disks were mostly good, but some sectors requires a number of retries. It appears to be a Version 7 Unix for the PC.

I've read in the Boot disk, a bunch of Xfer Disks (not sure what they are), All the User and System utilities and an BWS extension disks. That's the good news. The bad news is that I still have a few sectors that aren't doing so hot. User3 disk has 3 errors, User2 disk has 2 errors and the boot disk has 1 error.

The Boot disk's one error, though, seems intentional. I've actually booted the Venix disk on my Rainbow, and it comes up. It also tells me the serial number after what sounds like a read error. I'm not yet sure what scheme that Venix uses, so that one might be solvable. It's cool to see a unix kernel that's only 45k in size.

So I'm 5 errors away from having a full set of disks. My thought was that maybe these disks were produced with a 1.2MB drive instead of a real RX-50, so diversity being good, I'm going to try to bring up an old PC I have sitting on the E-Waste pile. I have newer ones, but the BIOS doesn't support 1.2MB drives in those, which may be a clue that 1.2MB drives won't work at all in them (the literature on the web is spotty on this topic, but seems to indicate that latter-day systems cost-reduced 360k/1.2MB support out of the controller). More on those trials and tribulations in a newer post.

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