Summary: Disk Move from SGI to SUN?

From: Wilson Receda, GeoQuest, Beijing 8614376664 (
Date: Wed Mar 15 1995 - 19:29:16 CST

Lots of thanks to everyone who responed to my question.
In less than 24 hours There were a total of 7
responses and 1 request for summary.
The concensus is that it is alright to move disks
from SGI to SUN. The answers were short enough
so I included all in this summary.
I will forward all the responses to the sysadmin
concerned. Many thanks to Todd, Jon, Paulo, Gene,
Lars, Kev, janaka, and Dave.
My original posting was...
    "One of our sites moved a disk from an SGI
    system to a SUN Sparc system.
    When the disk is being formatted on the SUN
    the sysadmin guy got an error saying "Can't
    write label" or "Error writing Label".
    Has anyone any clue what happened?
    Is it safe to move disks from SGI systems to
And here are the responses...
Todd Kover (kovert@cs.UMD.EDU)
should be okay. The admin guy probably chose a bad disk geometry or some
such. It could also be that the disk just went bad, too.

Jon Howell ( 
The disks on our higher-end SGIs are SCSI2 *differential*, which is
electrically incompatible with single-ended SCSI, which Suns use.
Paulo Licio de Geus (
SCSI disks nowadays can be interchanged without any problems among all
platforms.  Old drives used to have particularities about the way the
first macintoshes ran the SCSI bus (blind transfers).  I do have a
Rodime 200 MB (made by the end of 1989) that can't be run on SS1+ and
possibly all other Suns, but works perfectly on a mac.  This is rare,
Gene Rackow (
This is typically a problem when you have the parameters set improperly
during the format on the Sun.  Try reformatting the disk with a smaller
number of cyl, or track, or head and see what happens.  Then get a copy of
SCSIINFO (avail for ftp from and see what the drive
really has compared to what you originally tried and the reduced parameters
you started with.
Lars P. Fischer (
Wilson> When the disk is being formatted on the SUN the sysadmin guy
Wilson> got an error saying "Can't write label" or "Error writing
Wilson> Label".
Are you sure that
  you are not having a SCSI id clash?
  your cables are OK?
  yu SCSI termination is OK?
Wilson> Is it safe to move disks from SGI systems to SUNS???
Well, I just moved a disk (2G IBM, type 664-M1H, very nice disk) from
a SGI Indy running IRIX 5.3 to a SPARCstation 5 running Solaris 2.3. 
I had formatted, labeled, and created filesystem on the disk on the Indy.
When I entered format on the SS5, I got
  [disk is formatted]
  no label, label now?
I answered "yes" and got a prompt. I proceeded change the partition
layout, write a label again, exit format and do newfs, and mount the
drive. I experienced no problems at all.
It is physically safe, but they use two different format of disk label.
Running format on the disk and re-labelling it will make it usable, but
you may have to lose the data.  Put that one tape first and restore it
once you get the disk running.  Restore always works :-)
Dave Haut (
I don't think that it matters whether the disk came from an SGI or not. I've
taken disks off of my PC's and put them in my sun's with no problem.
Are you sure that you have the correct disk geometry ( i.e. # of phys cyls,
heads, trks, and sectors ) for the drive ?? My experience with this problem is
that if I cannot write a label to the drive, 99% of the time, the problem is
that I had the geometry messed up.

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