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VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

 
John T. Farmer
Regular Advisor

VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

Hello all,

After upgrading my AS800 lab machine from 8.3 to 8.4 (from CD), the console displays "cannot display this video mode". Not sure if this is from the alpha or from the monitor firmware. Using a DELL LCD monitor. Prior to upgrade, console was in text mode. DEC/Windows has not worked in a while. While booting, the text mode displays in the monitor. Then it appears to display in a graphic mode but screen is blank and displays the above message in white letters. Ideas on how to trouble-shoot this are appreciated.

Also, is there a simple solution to use TCPIP connection to console port, so I can access console directly from my pc?

Alpha AS800
OpenVMS 8.4

Thanks,

John
11 REPLIES
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

> [...] AS800 [...]

"AS"? AlphaServer? AlphaStation? What does
it actually say on the front? (Ambiguous
abbreviations don't really save time and
effort.)

> [...] the console displays "cannot display
> this video mode". Not sure if this is from
> the alpha or from the monitor firmware.

My remote viewing capability is quite
limited, but it sounds more like a display
message than a computer message. How would
the computer know that some external device
could not display some video mode? And then,
how could it display the message?

> Using a DELL LCD monitor.

It's a good thing that Dell only ever sold
one type of LCD, otherwise we might not know
which one this is, or what its capabilities
might be.

> Also, is there a simple solution to use
> TCPIP connection to console port,

No, the serial port is a serial port, not an
Ethernet port.

> so I can
> access console directly from my pc?

Does your (unidentified) "pc" have a serial
port? Do you have a suitable (null-modem?)
serial cable? Any kind of terminal emulator
program? Normally, if there's no keyboard
connected to an AlphaStation, the SRM console
firmware will try to use one of the serial
ports, even if it's set for a graphics
console.

It might be easier to connect some (more
tolerant) CRT display, and see if that does
any better.

> DEC/Windows has not worked in a while.

Not the world's most informative problem
description.

Are you offering any clues as to the graphics
hardware?

Should we assume that the system isn't
booting, so that any normal network access
(Telnet, SET HOST, ...) is not possible? If
you could log into VMS, then you might be
able to investigate/change the DECwindows
device configuration, including items like,
say:

decw$xsize_in_pixels
decw$ysize_in_pixels
decw$server_refresh_rate

(SYS$MANAGER:DECW$PRIVATE_SERVER_SETUP.COM)
Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

Dell offers a gazillion monitors, as do most vendors.

And there are a number of VMS graphics controllers.

It's the combination and the available settings for each that's key to getting this working.

As for this question...

No. No console IP path, but (if the box is working) you might gain access via an existing IP path. You're here, which implies there isn't one. And the console path is serial on this box, and not IP.

Alpha SRM serial console:
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/1254
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/995

DECconnect (and pinouts)
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/467

Your average DB9-DB9 cable will work, whether from a Mac OS X, Linux, Windows or VMS box, directly for via a USB to serial adapter.

Replacing an old monitor with an LCD:
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/446

List of VMS-compatible graphics controllers:
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/46

Shutting off DECwindows "properly" (and keeping the box in its text mode, or "glass TTY" as it's often also known):
http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/909

If this is one of the soft-loaded graphics controllers, then the file centrally involved here is

sys$manager:decw$private_server_setup.com

and (if that file got nuked) (and if you have a soft-loaded controller) you'll get exactly this behavior. And see the .template version of that file.

But you'll need to identify the Dell widget and the graphics widget. Or do some reading from the above and from a Google search for the documentation for whichever graphics controller is involved here.
John T. Farmer
Regular Advisor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

AlphaServer AS800. I did not know AS800 was ambiguous.

From HP trouble-shooting documentation, I found that @sys$startup:decw$startup restart causes the console to work in decwindows mode. After bootup, telnet into the server and issue the restart command... an ok workaround for now, but not ideal.

"DEC/Windows has not worked in a while"
Dec/Windows used to work correctly on this system and at some point, the system changed over to text-mode on the console. I did not pursue that, as I typically run this lab server headless (just keyboard & mouse) and telnet in using at VT emulator. But upon upgrade, to 8.4 (added a monitor during backup of system disk, and upgrade from CD), after the upgrade, the console displayed the reported message.

As mentioned, this is my lab server, hence the aging Alphaserver AS800. I will review the recommended documents.

Thanks,

John
Volker Halle
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

John,

you might want to check SYS$MANAGER:DECW$SERVER_0_ERROR.LOG and/or check the messages on the console terminal during startup for some message related to a failure starting DECwindows. You can have the startup console messages be written to SYS$SYSTEM:STARTUP.LOG by setting the system parameter STARTUP_P2 = "D".

Volker.
Hoff
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

AFAIK, it's technically an "AlphaServer 800" box.

If the DECwindows RESTART works here, then definitely have a look at the log as Volker suggests, and also look at logging the startup output via the STARTUP_P2 system parameter.

http://labs.hoffmanlabs.com/node/192

FWIW...

Seeing shorthand product names is a cautionary flag when answering questions. The poster is (unintentionally) flagging that the information might not be entirely correct or consistent; that there can be problems with the context of the question beyond the obvious; beyond the model name.
Steven Schweda
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

> AlphaServer AS800. I did not know AS800 was
> ambiguous.

It may not be ambiguous, but how much work
should I need to do to find that out?

> [...] What does
> it actually say on the front? [...]

To me, that seemed like a pretty easy
question, but I'd bet that we haven't yet got
the right answer (from you).

> [...] @sys$startup:decw$startup restart
> [...]

Ok. My guess (only _you_ can run the
experiment) would be that your (unidentified)
LCD says "cannot display this video mode"
when it gets some hard-to-accommodate set of
size+rate parameters, but not when it gets no
signal at all. So, knowing nothing (still)
about your graphics hardware, I'd guess that
the DECwindows server is using some sub-ideal
parameter set when it starts the first time,
but a better set when it gets restarted. The
size parameters seem to be set by symbols in
DECW$PRIVATE_SERVER_SETUP.COM, but
decw$server_refresh_rate is a logical name
("/system /executive_mode"), so I cam imagine
that some procedure somewhere defines it, too
late for the first DECwindows server
start-up, but in time for a later one.

This is, of course, all guesswork, based on
not much useful info. Do you have a
"DECW$PRIVATE_SERVER_SETUP.COM"? Does it
differ from the ".TEMPLATE"?

> Are you offering any clues as to the graphics
> hardware?

So, that was a "no"?
John T. Farmer
Regular Advisor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

- Front Panel: Digital AlphaPowered

- Back Panel: Series PB800, Model PB820-XA

- (SRM)Video Interface: VGA S3 Trio64/Trio32

- Dell Monitor: Model E173FP

- PC with Serial Port: Yes

- Null Modem Cable: No, but can acquire.

- Telnet: System does boot, successful telnet from pc with terminal emulator.

- db9-to-db9: Will have a look at using pc for console access in the future.

- Soft-Loaded Graphic Controller: sys$manager:decw$private_server_setup.com was not found on ALPHASYS (DKA0), I assume this does not apply to me.

- Error Log: "The OpenVMS license check failed and the display server was not started". So DECW does not start at bootup, but will when RESTARTed. Problem with my DECW license.

Investigating the license-check issue now.

Thanks,

John
John Gillings
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

John,

> "The OpenVMS license check failed

This suggests you have an incorrect base OS PAK for your system. There's a rather silly design fault in the way OpenVMS PAKs are treated, the upshot of which is an ACTIVITY based OPENVMS-ALPHA PAK with insufficient units will be successfully loaded, and will "work". The only consequence is you don't get your extra login for system management purposes, and DECWindows doesn't startup on booting. This is a technical breach of your license agreement.

Back several versions, there were no obvious clues during startup that the PAK was incorrect, and DECWindows was started. To "fix" this, a rather klugey check was added to the startup. SYS$STARTUP:LICENSE_CHECK is run to explicitly check that the base PAK satisfied the license unit requirement for the hardware. As well as $STATUS, it defines the logical name DECW$LICENSE_CHECK.

If the test fails, a message is issued, and DECWindows startup is skipped (see comments in SYS$STARTUP:DECW$STARTUP.COM). Because the "real" license check is fundamentally broken, you can successfully startup DECWindows later with no errors, as long as DECW$LICENSE_CHECK isn't FALSE.

I guess the logic of the above is that the Digital (err, HP) lawyer could have you in the witness box and establish that you read the license warning on your console or startup log, but still proceeded to (illegally ;-) use the software. Piracy "proven" and call for a hefty fine.

You can confirm this by checking the loaded base license:

$ SHOW LICENSE *VMS*

Most likely it will be OPENVMS-ALPHA ACTIVITY A. Compare the number of units loaded against the type A units required listed by:

$ SHOW LICENSE/CHARGE

The fix is to find the correct PAK for this system and REGISTER it in your LDB.
A crucible of informative mistakes
John Gillings
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

BTW

If you want to see how the license check works, try Hein's STRING utility on SYS$STARTUP:LICENSE_CHECK.EXE

U G L Y! (but I won't dob in the engineer responsible ;-)

A crucible of informative mistakes
Verne Britton
Regular Advisor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

Since I *know* I have the licenses and thought I had them installed right yet sometimes have problems, I have added this to the end of my systartup_vms.com:

$! Make sure DECwindows will start
$!
$ define/nolog decw$license_check true
$!


Verne
John Gillings
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS 8.4 Upgrade, "cannot display this video mode"

Verne,

>$ define/nolog decw$license_check true

The engineer in me says that's a prefectly reasonable thing to do, but I worry a bit about potential legal issues if anyone ever did a fine grain audit of your system.

Technically it's breaking part of the license compliance mechanism of the OS, which may be a breach of your license agreement, regardless of the validity of your LDB. From a legal perspective it's not much different from patching the system to ignore license checks.

(That said, I don't think HP care enough about the issue to be bothered with OpenVMS license breach prosecutions).

>thought I had them installed right yet
>sometimes have problems

The most recent changes to LICENSE_CHECK were made in 2006 to fix some corner cases involving soft partitioned systems, which share base OS license PAKs. A side benefit was the check should correctly on all systems post startup.

I thought all likely legal and illegal configuration issues were tested and correct. If you have seen issues with false negative LICENSE_CHECK results using a version later than:

Image Identification Information

image name: "LICENSE_CHECK"
image file identification: "X-13"
image file build identification: "XBC4-0080060000"
link date/time: 29-JUN-2006 18:18:53.11
linker identification: "A13-03"

please document the circumstances and log a case with HP customer support.
A crucible of informative mistakes