SGI Stuff

How to Revive a Hung Octane

My Octane came with a PCI card cage. Strangely the system would hang at the PROM itself before even trying to boot. Removing the PCI card cage solved the problem. The nature of the problem is unknown, but I'm told those funny CPOP connectors the Octane uses are not rated for many insertions. On that assumption you should probably avoid opening the Octane often.

13W3 Craziness

Most SGIs ship with a 13W3 monitor connector physically identical to the NeXT and Sun connectors. An old NeXT monitor cable (the funny 3-connector one) works fine to connect the Octane to the SGI monitor (GDM-20E21). An old Sun 13W3-to-VGA monitor adapter, coupled with a VGA cable to the other input of the SGI monitor, does NOT work with the Octane. However, it DOES work with the Indy. The SGI monitor has no problem syncing an old Compaq laptop or an O2 directly via a standard VGA cable.

How to Revive a Comatose O2

This procedure is documented on the sgi O2 Unofficial Users' Guide and has been verified by me to work.


Not sure what exactly causes the coma condition, but the machine did fall on its side once. One would hope a computer once valued as much as a new car would be a little more sturdy, but then again this machine has nothing stopping you from ripping out the boards while it's plugged in either! Luckily the O2 has a jumper to revive itself.


2. Pull the mainboard.

3. Disassemble the PCI card assembly.

4. Locate the "POWER UP" jumper next to the Dallas clock chip and connect it with a jumper.

5. Reassemble the PCI card assembly and reconnect the mainboard.

6. Plug in the O2 and it should boot up by itself. At this point the switch still won't respond.

7. Follow steps 1 through 3 again.

8. Disconnect the POWER UP jumper.

9. Follow steps 5 and 6 again. This time the O2 should turn on from the power switch as normal.

My O2 is being fussy, dead, etc.

The O2 seems to be a flaky box. I'd keep only one of them except it's always good to keep a spare around for emergencies!


O2 will not boot without a proper keyboard/mouse. NOT all PC keyboards will work with the O2. An old Sega prototype keyboard (win95 layout) works fine with it, but a newer Logitech Deluxe 104 does not. With the Logitech plugged in, the O2 will power up and do the boot jingle, and the monitor will sync, but it will be a blank/black screen.

Reseating modules

First of all, never remove/install anything with the system plugged in!!! However, if you have recently opened up the system (e.g. to install more RAM), and the system does not boot, first try unplugging the machine and reseating the system module. That little plastic lever that locks the system module in place doesn't always seem to do a good job. Push firmly around the system module after it is locked in place to make sure it is truly in all the way.

How to use an O2 on an SGI with no CDROM drive.

SGIs are fussy about what CDROM drives they can boot from. Forget installing IRIX on many SCSI CDROMs. There are Toshibas that SGIs will boot from, but why not try using an O2's built-in drive (also Toshiba) to install IRIX? Assuming you have a spare O2 of course! Simply make sure tftp has access to the CDROM drive. Add the following to the tftp line in /etc/inetd.conf: /CDROM/dist

Now just use a standard ethernet network to hook up the O2 to your SGI. (I am testing this with an Indy.) You'll have to tell the installer the name/IP address of the machines when installing IRIX from a "remote directory".

O2 Performance

Having 3 different O2s for testing, I ran some unscientific tests with similar hard drive images.
testR12000 300MHzRM5200 300 MHzR5000 200 MHz
environment mapped beethoven70K tri/sec60K tri/sec44K tri/sec
environment mapped ranger92K tri/sec65K tri/sec57K tri/sec
non-textured beethoven with 8 lights56K tri/sec46K tri/sec34K tri/sec
xmen (xmame)35.9 FPS28.5 FPS19.5 FPS