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Date:      Thu, 17 Dec 2015 15:03:25 +0000
From:      John McDonnell <>
To:        FreeBSD Questions <>
Subject:   POS system trashing hard drives during install
Message-ID:  <>

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I rescued a Point Of Sale system from recycling and had the bright idea to =
put it out on one of my kitchen counters with the intention of creating a k=
iosk of sorts to allow looking up recipes (I still need to search ports for=
 some type of cookbook software though there are plenty of recipes availabl=
e online as well) as well as perhaps providing some music as well.

The print on the bottom lists the model name as POS System and model number=
 as Frontier. The user manual I have says CobraPos 1370/1478, so not exactl=
y sure which model it is, but I'm fairly certain it is only minor differenc=
es between the two after looking through the manual. The systems originally=
 had 256 MB of RAM, a 40 GB hard drive, a 2 GHz Celeron processor, and a sl=
im CD-ROM drive. (I'm not sure of the exact processor, but I have a couple =
more of these here at work so I could look it up if needed if I have time, =
or I can find out when I get home.) They originally ran Windows XP Professi=
onal on a 40 GB PATA hard drive. There is apparently SATA available somewhe=
re, but I've not tried locating the ports on the motherboard yet but I've g=
ot that idea in the back of my head for something to possibly attempt in th=
e future. It does not have any of the optional credit card readers or secon=
dary displays, though it would be kind of cool to get the 2x20 VFD for a fu=
n retro POS look, though the secondary smaller monitor that mounts in the s=
ame position would be prettier and both are moot since I won't be using thi=
s as an actual POS system, but perhaps if I decide to rescue one of the oth=
er units here...

I upgraded the RAM to 1 GB (all I have laying around are sticks of DDR in 5=
12 MB for the two sockets, but it will accept 1 GB sticks if I come across =
any, though I think we already recycled all of our PCs running DDR, and I d=
on't recall seeing any that had 1 GB sticks in them anyway) and wanted to p=
ut FreeBSD on it instead of XP, so I dug out an 80 GB PATA hard drive for a=
 bit of extra space and so I could save the XP hard drive as a backup of a =
running system. I'm going to try and dig through some of our old laptops th=
at we haven't recycled yet and see if I can find at least a slim CDRW drive=
 though I'm really looking for a DVD drive with the correct connectors, tho=
ugh I probably won't be using the drive at all after installation. I didn't=
 take the 40 pin IDE and power adapter off the drive to get a good look, bu=
t the brief glance reminded me of the connector on an older (T40?) ThinkPad=
, which we've already recycled of course.

I believe the disk I had on hand is a FreeBSD 10 disk, though I'm going to =
burn a 10.2 disk if I don't find one laying around already, though I don't =
think the difference between 10 and 10.2 will make any difference. I might =
even be better off going with an older version due to the installer default=
s and then doing an update. Sorry for the long post so far, but here is whe=
re I'm running into my problem. The installer boots up and runs through the=
 process perfectly fine. But upon rebooting after install, the system locks=
 up. It runs the memory check and displays the connected IDE devices (the h=
ard drive and CD-ROM drive) and the keyboard is still semi-responsive, I ca=
n hit Del or F9 and it will display "Entering BIOS" or "Loading Boot Device=
 List" but that is all that happens. It doesn't actually go into the BIOS o=
r do anything and CTRL+ALT+DEL doesn't restart the system, I have to hard p=
ower down. If I disconnect the hard drive at this point, the system boots f=
ine. I pulled the hard drive out and connected it to my PC with an IDE to U=
SB adapter and Windows won't initialize the drive and says there is an erro=
r with it. (ie I can't even re-format it in Windows, I know UFS wouldn't be=
 available.) I thought well, maybe it was just bad timing and the drive jus=
t died. So I grabbed another 80 GB drive I had, checked it in my Windows ma=
chine and then put it into the POS. I had the same thing happen after the f=
irst reboot. I plugged it back into my Windows PC and once again, it can't =
do anything with the drive. So now I'm thinking maybe the system doesn't li=
ke GPT formatting and was doing something funny with it. So I grabbed anoth=
er 80 GB drive and put it in and went through the manual process of using g=
part to use MBR partitioning instead of GPT. But once again, I rebooted the=
 system and it locked up the same way. I didn't plug this drive back into m=
y Windows PC to see if it is trashed as well as it was 2 AM at this point a=
nd I was calling it a night. I think I have one more working 80 GB drive at=
 home, but I'd really like some input on how to possibly get this working. =
And my other 80 GB drives might be salvageable somehow, perhaps plug into a=
 system with onboard IDE connectors and try some low level utilities or som=
ething, but I'm not sure I have a system at home with that kind of setup an=

Perhaps I'll try and find a BIOS update, but with all the extras added onto=
 the motherboard internally, I'd be afraid of it not working afterwards unl=
ess I can verify it's specific for this POS system. (It's one of the weirde=
st layouts I've ever seen with the motherboard mounted behind the LCD monit=
or and some daughterboards connected via I have no idea what as I didn't go=
 disconnecting any of them yet. One of them seems to have an additional VGA=
 port on it but not connected to anything but does have a header that the s=
peakers are connected to. I accidentally knocked them out of their mount in=
 the case and have no idea if they are stereo or dual mono, but if stereo, =
I probably now have the left on the right and the right on the left... Then=
 in the base of the system there's the power supply, hard drive, CD-ROM, an=
 additional board providing access to a CF card slot, front USB ports, mic =
jack and power button and then another additional board in the back providi=
ng the rear IO panel with its extra serial ports, LAN (which is a passthrou=
gh type of connector as there is an Ethernet cable that plugs into a jack o=
n the board to go back to the motherboard along with the quite large ribbon=
 cable that connects this board to the motherboard) some additional 12 volt=
 power ports, parallel port, a 12 volt USB port and 24 volt USB port.) (I n=
eed to look into these powered USB ports which are apparently something of =
a standard for POS systems to provide data and power to cash drawers and pr=
inters and such without having to have extra power cords and such, it sort =
of looks like a dual USB port stack with a normal USB port on the bottom an=
d the port on top is closer in size and a similar shape of a cat5 port but =
with a block in the middle with connectors like a larger USB port. I'm assu=
ming the larger connectors for the higher voltage. The bottom USB port is s=
tandard size as I did try plugging a USB drive into it while it was off jus=
t to see if it fit. I'm thinking it might operate as a normal USB port and =
all the higher voltage runs through the adjoining port. I'll have to look i=
t up later.)

A thought I had this morning after getting into work was to perhaps attempt=
 installing FreeBSD onto a hard drive on a machine here at work and then ta=
king it home and try booting it there. Might be something weird the system =
does when formatting that makes it screwy. I know the system itself works a=
s it runs with the Windows XP hard drive I have as backup. I'm open to sugg=
estions, though I've kind of run out of hard drives for too much testing un=
less I can find some more, though I do have more 40 GB drives, which should=
 be more than enough space for this machine really.

Sorry for the really long post, but I tend to ramble a bit and I also wante=
d to make sure I included as much relevant information as I could think of.=
 If you have questions about the hardware, I can check it out when I get ho=
me, or grab one of the other systems from work to look at here if I have so=
me spare time. Hopefully since we've outsourced our e-mail, I can post to t=
he mailing list from this address, but I'm still half expecting it to bounc=
e since it is Office 365.

Thank you in advance for any and all help you can provide with my problem a=
nd for all the help you've already provided from me reading the mailing lis=

John McDonnell

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