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OpenVMS Hobbyist Program | Alpha Systems Forums | Alpha Hardware Forum
Author SRM vs AlphaBIOS on PWS433au

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Posts: 86
Location: Illinois
Joined: 26.05.07
Posted on May 25 2011 03:19
OK, this is a puzzle, at least for me.

I have a PWS that was set up to boot any of OpenVMS or Debian or WinNT. When powered on, it went to the chevron prompt and you had to tell SRM what you wanted to boot. In other words, set the bootdef_dev variable and the os_type then boot dka0 or whatever. Booting NT required you to use the ARC command.

Suddenly it is coming up in AlphaBIOS and I can't get back to the SRM chevron prompt. I've tried disconnecting the keyboard, mouse, and monitor and putting a VT220 on the COM1 port, but it still boots into AlphaBIOS directly and then boots NT. When I disconnect the drive with NT on it, I still get AlphaBIOS which complains that the drive is invalid.

Even with the SCSI cable disconnected so there are no disk drives (the unit has no internal drive other than the CD and floppy) it goes right into AlphaBIOS.

How do I get back to SRM? Is there a jumper or something to force it back to defaults?

In the past, after it had been running NT it always returned to the SRM prompt after a power off.

The only documentation I can find says to press ENTER during the POST countdown (which isn't displaying on either the monitor or the serial terminal) or to press CTRL-C or CTRL-P to get to the chevron. No results. It also suggests pressing the reset button. That just reboots the AlphaBIOS.
Author RE: SRM vs AlphaBIOS on PWS433au

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Posts: 86
Location: Illinois
Joined: 26.05.07
Posted on May 25 2011 04:20
Likely answer found here:


One source for the replacement clock chip found here:


However, upon opening the case to make sure I knew which variation of the Dallas chip I needed, I find that there is in fact a coin cell, easily replaceable once you figure out how to slide the motherboard out. It's a CR2032, looks like that's what I need most likely.

For anyone's future reference, I'll leave the thread here. This is a PWS 433au with the MIATA motherboard, Digital model no. PSPBMLBMIATA
Author RE: SRM vs AlphaBIOS on PWS433au

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Posts: 86
Location: Illinois
Joined: 26.05.07
Posted on May 25 2011 05:21
After putting together bits and pieces from several sources, including EISNER and the VMS FAQ, I figured out how to get to SRM and boot OpenVMS in the interim, until I can get a replacement battery.

It's baroque, but it works.

Unplug PC keyboard and mouse. Turn on serial terminal connected to COM1. Then power on. Wait a while, and eventually the AlphaBIOS boot options appear on the serial terminal. Note that the "+" and "-" characters may not display properly in on screen instructions. If it tells you to use " " and " " to change options, use the keyboard + and - on the serial terminal (not the keypad.)

The Fn keys shown on the screen do NOT correspond to the keyboard function keys. Use these:

CTRL-A for F1
CTRL-B for F2
CTRL-V for F3
CTRL-D for F4
CTRL-E for F5
CTRL-F for F6
CTRL-P for F7
CTRL-R for F8
CTRL-T for F9
CTRL-U for F10
CTRL-V for Insert
CTRL-W for Delete
CTRL-H for Backspace
CTRL-[ for Escape
and keyboard + and - to set options
TAB key to move around in menu

Press F2 (CTRL-B) to get to Setup
TAB to "CMOS Setup..."
Press F6 (CTRL-F) to get "Advanced CMOS Setup"
TAB to "Console Selection"
Use + to change to "OpenVMS Console"
Press F10 (CTRL-U) to get back to "CMOS Setup"
Press F10 (CTRL-U) to save changes and exit
Press ENTER to confirm.

Use the RESET button to restart, and you will arrive at the chevron prompt. Now you can boot Linux or VMS, but will have to set date and time. After a power off and on, you may have to repeat this whole operation. Best to replace that battery, I think.
Edited by Altivo on May 25 2011 05:24
Author RE: SRM vs AlphaBIOS on PWS433au
Bruce Claremont

Posts: 623
Joined: 07.01.10
Posted on May 26 2011 03:37
All useful information. Thanks for posting it.
Author RE: SRM vs AlphaBIOS on PWS433au

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Posts: 86
Location: Illinois
Joined: 26.05.07
Posted on May 26 2011 12:34

CR2032 coin cell replaced. Go through the rigmarole once more to get SRM running. Set date/time properly, make sure serial console is active again.

Cycle power. And YAY! Here's our good old friend >>> back again. All working as it should.
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