SUMMARY: SGI/SUN-cdrom compatibilty

From: Vinay Somashekar (
Date: Mon Nov 22 1993 - 15:41:48 CST

Hello everybody,

Here is a summary of the worthy responses I rec'd regarding using a SUN-CDROM
with a SGI system.
My conclusion however is that it will be a problem for some SGI CD-formats and
it is better off getting a seperate one but off course that is your decision.
Most of the responses were skeptical, saying it would work for some instances
and not for all.

Thanx to the following people for their suggestions:

Roger Davis <>
Dave Olson <>
Glen Jerome Browning <gjb@UTC.MsState.Edu>

Summary: SGI/SUN-CDROM compatibility


The bottom line seems to be that you can probably get a Sun drive to work
most, but not all, of the time. Our SGI sales rep encouraged me to try, and
I got several responses from the net indicating that newer Sun drives
(SCSI-2 compliant as opposed to older SCSI-1?) basically worked OK. One
of our local computing center staff who just bought some SGI hardware told
me that there were some very definite firmware differences, though, and
certain things would not work, possibly including (i) booting up from
an IRIX OS distribution CD, and (ii) graphics/demo programs written for
SGIs that are tightly coupled to a CD-ROM which holds an image data disk.
My overall impression is that if you only want to load up some unbundled
software from CD onto a working SGI system, it will probably work OK.
We decided that it was worth the no-headache guarantee to just pay SGI
the $700 (our university discount price) for an internal drive and be done
with it.

Hope this helps.

Reports are mixed, and it may depend on exactly which SUn CD-ROM drive
you are talking about (there seem to have been several). Certainly
it should work under the kernel; the question is whether it will
work for installing s/w. Again, the reports I've had are mixed.
I've had some success with the one model I have (a Sony 8012) with
the Sun logo on the external enclosure, but I've also had problems.
One trick that helps is to disable sync scsi in the prom/standalone
by doing:
        setenv scsi_syncenable 2
at the PROM monitor before trying to install; this is not an nvram
variable, and may not do anything useful in the first r3k Indigo
PROMs; I don't remember just when I added it


I have a Sparc2 with at SUN cd-rom drive. We asked this same question of several
System Administrators on our campus, as well as Silicon Graphics. The answer we
received was a resounding NO. Although some success may be attained for some
purposes, if you are planning to install say a new version of IRIX on your SGI,
then the SUN drive will NOT work. As it was explained to me, "The SGI cd-rom
drives have a little 'S G I' added to them."

We decided to go ahead and buy an SGI cd-rom drive.


I do not know about Sun CDROM drive, but SGI-compatible CDROM drives
(Toshiba, with audio over SCSI capability) are in the $650 neighbourhood
from 3rd party vendors (Parity, Legacy, Compuplus, R-Squared, Western
Scientific, etc).


Here is other relevant stuff I picked up from the Newsgroups:

From: (Dave Olson)
Subject: Re: Mounting SGI CD's on RS6000 ?

The media is in SGI's EFS filesystem; you won't be able to mount
it elsewhere. The efslook program which can be compiled on non-SGI
systems after copying some header files will allow you to extract the
files onto a disk, and install that way...

efslook.c has been posted to various comp.sys.sgi groups about 4 times


From: (Kevin Martinez)
Subject: Re: Toshiba CD-Roms

>Hi folks,

>the subject says it all really. I would like to know if it's possible to
>use a TOSHIBA XM3401 (double-speed) cd-rom drive (without any special device
>drivers etc) in place of the drive that SUN supply (slower and more xpensive).

Toshiba tries to cover all markets with one drive by including
firmware for all their OEMs on the same unit. The 3301 and 3401
both have two jumper pads on the accessible back part of the circuit
board. The pads are solder joints shaped like two sets of opposing

On the drives shipped to the PC market, both pairs are jumpered.
On drives shipped to Sun, one of the pairs is cut. Drives shipped
to SGI have a different combination cut. The two pad pairs are labeled
0 and 1. The combinations are:

0 1 Selected Version
Connect Connect Toshiba Standard Version
Connect Cut 512 Byte Block Length
Cut Connect SGI Version
Cut Cut Intergraph/Sun Micro

The above chart is from a file passed around on the net. I haven't
tried cutting any traces yet, and can't vouch for it personally.
I do know that Toshiba considers the information proprietary and
won't help you if you call tech support.

You will quickly ascertain that once you cut a trace, your drive
is then altered for use on a different system. The only way to
go back and forth is to cut both traces and wire the pads to two
simple switches so you can set any of the four combinations as will.

Again, I haven't tried this, although I intend to. And it is a
very much unauthorized alteration.

By the way, I'm told that SunOS 4.1.3 includes the RockRidge
CD-ROM extensions, which you are going to want if you're brave
enough to alter your drive.



From: (Yaron Zabary) Subject: Re: Mounting SGI CD's on RS6000 ?

Yes. Get efslook from . It should let you copy the distribution stuff over from the CD to a distibution directory on the SGI.


Actually "efslook" is a program that one must look into for this situation. I just glanced thru' the README file and I think it should be OK.

Good luck,


#~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~# # Vinay Somashekar Room Tel. # e-mail # # Computer Science NAC 8/216 (212)650-6181 # Science Computing J 302 (212)650-7885 or 7886 # # CCNY/CUNY N.Y. N.Y. 10031 # #~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~#

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