Return of the VAX

Once upon at time (Feb 2004), there was a slight hick-up with the group server for our group's GNU/Linux machines at GSI, and thus trouble in GNU/Linux LAND. To fix the problem, the server would have to be taken off-line for a few days, and some other server would in the meantime have to take over the task of furnishing the file systems for our desktop machines. As there was very little progress at the time from the computing department to come up with a temporary replacement server, my office colleague and me decided to use an old and decommissioned VAX with a NetBSD installation to serve our desktop machines.

This page has some commemorative pictures of the successful operation.

The system was accessed using a VT320 serial console. Login prompt to the system: landtest02.

Successful login.

Since the group server was serving it's own system files, in particular the /usr directory, we had to binary patch the entire NetBSD/vax system to itself operate with /usr as /rsu instead. A simple replace on the entire NetBSD installation worked.

Listing the connected clients.

Disk space was provided by a software RAID on 4 SCSI disks in a tower.

The VAXstation 4000 itself.

The VAX only had a BNC network connector. It was connected to the network using a HUB and a self-made crossed CAT5 cable.

The boot splash screen for the desktops shows who's the server today.

Successful boot!

The VAX had no problems to handle the network load of the 10 or so connected machines, even with the limited 10 Mbit/s network connection.
E-Mail: Håkan T. J. (

Back to Håkans page