Help with a real BeBox

Hi guys,
I am very impressed with the work you are doing! I am writing because I dont know how else to ask about this. I have been working on reviving a BeBox dual 66. It has an IDE drive and a SCSI CD ROM. I can install to the IDE drive with no trouble, but the BeBox never sees the IDE drive as a boot device. I suspect I could find a SCSI drive and it would work, but then I have to mess around with termination and all that.

Is there an EZ button that I am not seeing? I have a hazy memory that there were firmware updates distributed via floppy. Maybe I need a firmware update to allow IDE boot? Or, can a boot floppy be used?

I hope I am not trolling too bad, but I am not sure who might know something about this. I’d love to get this machine working just out of respect for the BeOS platform.


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What revision of the BeBox do you have, and what version of the BeOS are you installing?

It’s a dual 66 Mhz. The back has a sticker: Serial# PPC960400963
On the motherboard some text is silkscreened: BE ASSY 830 0000 - 06 Copyright 1996

I am trying to install BeOS R4.

The install goes fine. But when I boot, and there is not a boot CD in the CD, I get the text-only menu that says “press enter to re-scan for bootable disks”

If I put the CD in it sees it as part of the SCSI chain.

My best guess is that the firmware doesnt understand how to boot from IDE, even though the installer can see the IDE after a boot from CD ROM, I have a feeling the firmware can’t get a start from an IDE device.

Or maybe it has to do with partition setup correctly?

Again, appreciate the help. I am willing just to buy a SCSI drive if needed, but I thought no harm to ask

Thank you!

which boot rom is installed? If it is not PR2 or greater, you won’t be able to boot a modern OS

Also - how are you installing the OS? Remember that the x86 version uses a completely different endian for the filesystem and that a PowerPC system can’t boot from a little endian filesystem.

Best way to install is to boot from a CD(R?) and install from that… if you write anything to a hard drive, it probably won’t work. The CD file system was a weird hybrid with a partition for each version, so you can’t just write that to a hard drive, unless you know what you are doing.

If the BeOS 4 CD boots, the rom is already updated I suppose, but you could always try updating it again with the latest 3.2 bootrom floppy image.
Does the install process ask you to select the default boot device at the end?
How long did you wait at the boot text menu?
Do you have a nullmodem cable at hand?

PR2 will boot R5. There’s a certain advantage to using it as it better supports the Matrox video cards in the boot process, so you see the 3d logo etc. If you go to later boot ROMs, you end up losing the logo. For example the Millennium/ millennium 2 will lose the logo with later boot ROM revisions. There was some kind of bug in the driver that is compiled ion to the boot ROM, so they removed it after PR2. But my 66MHz never had any issues, so I left it as is.

Another question - what revision is the motherboard? The earlier ones can’t boot any version past DR8.x *** EDIT - serial number was at top of thread - looks like it’ll be a rev 6 board, so this should not be an issue… ***

Thanks everyone for the help. Sorry for slow reply. It really did look as though the install was happy. I partitioned the target drive, saw the progress, it copied things from the CD ROM, happy. At the end it says “take out CD ROM and press enter to reboot”.

After the Be logo, maybe a full 30 seconds, I get a text menu that says “select boot device” but the IDE drive is not listed. Even though I had formatted it and etc when I installed it.

Is there a way to get a legit copy of the flash update? I have long long lost my latest. I also may prefer just to try with a SCSI drive. The floppy disk drive is over 20 years old… I would hate to brick the machine because of a halfway successful flash update.

I will keep you posted!

Sorry - I do have a null modem avail. How do I know the bootrom version?


The Bebox outputs debug messages on the serial port 4, turn it on and press (maybe hold) F1.
Serial terminal settings are 19,200 baud, 8 bits data, 1 stop bits, and no parity.
I’m not sure it will give you the bootrom version, but you should have messages about your IDE hdd somewhere in there.

Thank you everyone for the input. It may be the weeknd before I give things another try. You know life, kids, and all. The other sad thing is that although I did find a null-modem cable in my toy box… do I have a PC with a serial port? This may require me to fire up one of my old Amigas to help. Anyway I will let you know what comes of it as soon as I have some me-time to work on this.

Most likely you have a problem with the hdd, I’m running DR8 on my BeBox and booting from the IDE hdd without issues.
The serial debug info doesn’t give the bootrom version number but its build date, here’s the log display up to the boot menu on my machine:

Be Boot ROM, built Aug 16 1996 18:17:08
Rev 6 motherboard, Rev 5 i/o card
Copyright © 1991-96 Be Incorporated. All Rights Reserved
ide:wait_status:mask=c0 want=40 cur=00 timeout=3000000.000000 usec
IDE Master Disk:
Mfg: FUJITSU M1636TAU € Ser: 01241794 Firmware: 5044 FUJITSU M1636TAU €
Configured boot device is ‘/dev/ide_disk_master’
fsmount(/dev/floppy_disk) failure
‘NewDisk’ (fixed, r/w), 2511840 sectors, vol=0, driver=3 (/dev/ide_disk_master)

Just a thought - could it be the size of the hard drive? I don’t know how big the BeBox supports.

Mine booted from SCSI or IDE IIRC.

You can get a USB-to-serial and SCSI-II/MMC adapter.

Some online guides and installation videos help like:

Pay special attention to things like disk install GUI selections.

If at Be Logo, press the spacebar or shift key. Should get you to the boot disk GUI. At the bottom
of the screen, it should say: “Be Boot ROM version XX.XX. Copyright…”. You should have a updated ROM since you have a Rev. 06 motherboard.

There is no bootman on PowerPC. The article you linked to is for x86, and a lot of the information is incorrect for PowerPC.

This article is old, but is nore useful:
From Power Up to the Browser: How the Be OS Starts Up

The BeOS faq mentions hdd in the petabytes supported since PR1 and the 64-bit bfs.
You’re right, bootman doesn’t exist in the ppc version but there is the Boot preferences application to select the default boot device.

I think the OP needs to get as far as the Boot menu… that proves the hardware might work. If there are no graphics, they might swap out the graphics card for something on the list of supported cards.

This is the HD he has in there… must be the original?

Thanks guys,
I found a 2 more IDE hard drives over the weekend. With these, I was able to set up partitions in the installer but not initialize them. So that is even less progress than with the first hard drive. Strange.

I appreciate the help. I think I am going to order a SCSI drive. When I first got the machine, it was SCSI but the drive failed. I’ll keep you posted!

Is there some sort of error log when you are doing this over the serial port?

I have a prototype 66Mhz bebox I’m going to be doing the same thing as you here shortly with so perhaps we can help each other out.