Saturday, April 6, 2019

The next How-To

Nearly 10 years after writing Solaris/SPARC under QEMU How-To, now it’s time for the AIX/PReP under QEMU How-To.

Back then my strategy was using the Power-On Self Tests and other tests from the original firmware to verify and improve qemu-system-sparc.

This time I took a different approach as some tests are synthetic and check some typical hardware-specific problems like broken and shorted wires or faulty memory chips. The result of IBM firmware diagnostics is something like “replace your motherboard” – which is not exactly helpful to find out for instance whether there is a problem with the interrupt or DMA emulation. And yeah, there are some problems with the DMA emulation, that’s why qemu-system-ppc -M 40p can not use IDE CD-ROMs under AIX, and probably some other DMA devices like sound card (haven't tried it yet).

The approach this time was making the emulation good enough and describe it the way that it

  • matches to the hardware implemented in QEMU good enough
  • has a driver in AIX

The later was tricky, as AIX does support only a very limited amount of hardware. It checks exactly that your IDE controller is from Winbond (does anyone still remember them?) and checks the exact chip model. It doesn’t care if your chip is compatible, it wants the exact match.

As result we have a -M 40p model in QEMU which is not perfectly matching the physical IBM PPS 6015, and a firmware which describes it the way AIX 5.1 can see the onboard devices.

But anyways, it was fun 10 years ago and it's still fun.

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