Getting Old

Yep... I'm getting old and so are my computers. I used to do a lot of coding on NeXT cubes and slabs.

I have a bunch of NeXT machines laying around and so do some of my friends.

But how does one get old data, programs, mailboxes, etc. off a NeXT machine? Turns out that it's not so hard.

NeXT machines used SCSI drives.

So, to get data off a NeXT drive, one has to put together a setup that supports SCSI-1 drives.

I purchased:

And I had a 50 pin micro to Centronics SCSI cable.

I installed the hard drive in the enclosure and hooked up the SCSI terminator. Then I installed the SCSI card in my Linux box. I connected the cables together (via the gender changer) and to the Linux box and SCSI enclosure.

I powered the drive first then my Linux system. Once my Linux system booted, the SCSI drive appeared as device /dev/sda. I copied the bytes from the drive:

dd if=/dev/sda of=/tmp/ns_drive1.raw

That line copies all the bytes from the drive to my system. Given that the SCSI drives are nearly 20 years old, there might be issues with the drive spindle lubrication, so once the drive is spinning, getting the data off ASAP is a priority.

Next, I mounted the raw file:

mount -t ufs -o ro,ufstype=nextstep /tmp/ns_drive1.raw ns_drive_1

Helpfully, Linux has a NextStep filesystem... and it works for both little and big endian filesystems (depending if the drive came out of a 68K or 486 NextStep box).

And there you have it... SCSI drive to bytes you can use.

Also, Apple's will read old .mbox directories... so you can get your old mail onto your bright, shiny Mac.