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DEWC$SERVER causes system crash

Francisco Hermida
Occasional Advisor

DEWC$SERVER causes system crash

I am running OpenVMS V7.1 on a AlphaServer 400 with DECWindows Motif version 1.2-4. The graphics adapter is a PCXGB-AA PCI card.

When I log in the graphics console with the new desktop enviroment and I select the "Backdrop" option in the "Style Manager", the system hungs if I select the "InlayColor" or "InlayPlain" backdrop. The display freezes and in the serial console is showed the following:

**** OpenVMS (TM) Alpha Operating System V7.1 - BUGCHECK ****
** Code=00000215: MACHINECHK, Machine check while in kernel mode
** Crash CPU: 00 Primary CPU: 00 Active CPUs: 00000001
** Current Process = DECW$SERVER_0
** Image Name =
**** Starting selective memory dump at 18-MAR-2009 12:28...


After the dump, the system reboots but the graphic screen remains the same and at the end of the startup the system crashes again:

**** OpenVMS (TM) Alpha Operating System V7.1 - BUGCHECK ****
** Code=00000215: MACHINECHK, Machine check while in kernel mode
** Crash CPU: 00 Primary CPU: 00 Active CPUs: 00000001
** Current Process = DECW$STARTUP
** Image Name = CSIPFC$DKA400:[SYS0.SYSCOMMON.][SYSEXE]DECW$REINIT.EXE;1
**** Starting selective memory dump at 18-MAR-2009 12:36...

I need to press the power button to reboot the server.

Any idea? (Apart from defining DECW$START_NEW_DESKTOP to false). I have installed the patch ALPMOTF03_U4012 but it remains the same

Regards,
Fran Hermida
2 REPLIES
Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: DEWC$SERVER causes system crash

Machine checks are often hardware errors, but this could well be a low-level software (driver-level) error. Possibly a known low-level error, if you're lucky.

Presuming this isn't broken hardware, I recall discussions of various crashes in DECwindows including in decw$reinit and such - and if that is the case here - you'll probably need to go load a number of patch kits. Or you'll need to upgrade off of V7.1.

Can you confirm the PCXGB-AA? There's a PBXGB-AA, but I'm not familiar with a PCXGB-AA. There are definitely ECO kits for the PBXGB-AA PowerStorm 3D30 TGA2 board back within this general range of OpenVMS and DECwindows releases, too.

You will want to patch to "current" for the V7.1 release or move to the consolidated patch kit for V7.1 (the V7.1-2 release) and then patch V7.1-2 to "current." Or upgrade to a supported release. In either case, that's a number of patches. (And I'm not sure anything here short of moving forward off of V7.1 will really help here; V7.1 dropped off support a long time ago.)

(V7.1-2 was a roll-up of a number of patches and a whole new patch management process using PCSI, as the patch dependencies and reboots and installation order of the kits got to be a serious issue for folks working with and updating the V7.1, V7.1-1H1 and V7.1-1H2 releases.)

Or pull the graphics card. Or don't touch the backdrops.

And in all seriousness, staying on old releases does start to get expensive; if you have a the rights to upgrade or a support contract (and you have the free physical memory and disk), spend a little time and upgrade to a more recent release. Some of the OpenVMS Alpha upgrades improved performance, too.
Francisco Hermida
Occasional Advisor

Re: DEWC$SERVER causes system crash

Thank you for your answer, Hoff.

It is actually a PBXGB-AA card, sorry it was a typo.

I also think that it could be a driver error. It seems that there is no easy way to solve it so I will follow your suggestions "Or pull the graphics card. Or don't touch the backdrops."

Regarding the OpenVMS upgrade, I am not sure whether my company has the upgrade rights or not. Do I need rights to upgrade to V7.1-2?

Regards,
Fran Hermida