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Date:      Fri, 18 Dec 2015 10:14:17 +0800
From:      Ernie Luzar <>
To:        John McDonnell <>
Cc:        FreeBSD Questions <>
Subject:   Re: POS system trashing hard drives during install
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <>

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John McDonnell wrote:
> 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 kiosk 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 available 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 exactly sure which model it is, but I'm fairly certain it is only minor differences 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 slim 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 Professional on a 40 GB PATA hard drive. There is apparently SATA available somewhere, but I've not tried locating the ports on the motherboard yet but I've got that idea in the back of my head for something to possibly attempt in the future. It does not have any of the optional credit card readers or secondary displays, though it would be kind of cool to get the 2x20 VFD for a fun retro POS 
look, thoug
>  h the secondary smaller monitor that mounts in the same position would be prettier and both are moot since I won't be using this as an actual POS system, but perhaps if I decide to rescue one of the other units here...
> I upgraded the RAM to 1 GB (all I have laying around are sticks of DDR in 512 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 don't recall seeing any that had 1 GB sticks in them anyway) and wanted to put 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 that 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, though 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, but 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 defaults and then doing an update. Sorry for the long post so far, but here is where 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 hard drive and CD-ROM drive) and the keyboard is still semi-responsive, I can 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 or do anything and CTRL+ALT+DEL doesn't restart the system, I have to hard power down. If I disconnect the hard drive at this point, the system boots fine. I pulle
d the hard 
>  drive out and connected it to my PC with an IDE to USB adapter and Windows won't initialize the drive and says there is an error 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 just died. So I grabbed another 80 GB drive I had, checked it in my Windows machine and then put it into the POS. I had the same thing happen after the first 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 like GPT formatting and was doing something funny with it. So I grabbed another 80 GB drive and put it in and went through the manual process of using gpart 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 my Windows PC to see if it is trashed as well as it was 2 AM at this point and I was calling it a night. I thi
nk I have o
>  ne 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 something, but I'm not sure I have a system at home with that kind of setup anymore.
> 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 unless I can verify it's specific for this POS system. (It's one of the weirdest layouts I've ever seen with the motherboard mounted behind the LCD monitor 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 speakers 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 providing the rear 
IO panel wi
>  th its extra serial ports, LAN (which is a passthrough type of connector as there is an Ethernet cable that plugs into a jack on 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 need 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 printers 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 and 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 assuming the larger connectors for the higher voltage. The bottom USB port is standard size as I did try plugging a USB drive into it while it was off just to see if it fit. I'm thinking i
t might ope
>  rate as a normal USB port and all the higher voltage runs through the adjoining port. I'll have to look it 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 taking 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 as it runs with the Windows XP hard drive I have as backup. I'm open to suggestions, though I've kind of run out of hard drives for too much testing unless 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 wanted 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 home, or grab one of the other systems from work to look at here if I have some spare time. Hopefully since we've outsourced our e-mail, I can post to the mailing list from this address, but I'm still half expecting it to bounce since it is Office 365.
> Thank you in advance for any and all help you can provide with my problem and for all the help you've already provided from me reading the mailing list.

I would say your problem is with the hard drive and how its laid out. 
The POS pc being an older hardware system it uses the MBR (master boot 
record) formate. Freebsd 10.x releases do not use that format any more. 
Try doing a .iso cdrom install and this time do not take the hard drive 
default, instead select the MBR option. You can verify this as the cause 
by putting the 80gb H.D. you all ready installed 10.2 on into a newer pc 
that is running 10.0 or newer and it will boot ok. If I remember 
correctly the 7.x series defaulted to the MBR formate.

There is one got ya, the HD you installed 10.x on is now formated with 
the new gpart boot formate. I do not know if the 10.x bsdinstaller MBR 
option will identify the HD has the gpart formate and issue the commands 
to delete that formate from the 80gb HD with 10.x installed on it

You can run this little simple script called gpart.nuke to prepare the 
HD for MBR install method.

#! /bin/sh
echo "What disk do you want"
echo "to wipe? For example - da1 :"
read disk
echo "OK, in 10 seconds I will destroy all data on $disk!"
echo "Press CTRL+C to abort!"
sleep 10
diskinfo ${disk} | while read disk sectorsize size sectors other
  # Delete MBR and partition table.
  dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/${disk} bs=${sectorsize} count=1
  # Delete GEOM metadata.
  dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/${disk} bs=${sectorsize} oseek=`expr $sectors 
- 2` count=2

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