Cobalt Qube 2 - Restoring the Original Operating System
December 28, 2002

It seems like many of you are interested in the Cobalt Qube 2 and enjoyed my article about it.  Many of you have asked me how I was able to install the Cobalt Qube 2 operating system onto the Gateway Micro Server.  It must seem confusing since the Qube 2 doesn't have a CD drive or anything to install software.  Well, the trick is that you restore the operating system over the network.  This short guide should help you out.  This article is also useful to you if you are happen to own a Cobalt Qube 2 and want to restore the machine to its factory fresh condition.

Note: Before we start, please backup all your data because by installing the original operating system fresh onto the Qube 2, you will erase ALL your data.  If you jack up your Qube 2 and lose all your data, don't blame me!  I warned you!  :)

Here is a list of things that we need to make this work:

  • Cobalt Qube 2 Restore OS CD
  • Desktop or Laptop computer that can boot from a CD-ROM
  • Compatible Network Interface Card
  • Crossover cable or 2 regular cables and a 100 Mbit hub/switch
  • These instructions
  • Patience
The first thing you need to do is download the restore CD ISO for the Qube 2 from Sun.com.  This file is an ISO or otherwise known as a image file which you can eventually burn onto a CD.  As of the writing of this article, you can download the ISO here:

http://ftp.cobalt.sun.com/pub/iso/960-QUB20101AU.iso.gz

The file weighs in at 112 megs and is encoded in gzip format which is compressed.  You can use WinZip or the Linux equivalent to decompress the file.

Once you uncompress the file, it should be a ISO file.   Open up your favorite CD burning program and burn the file to a CD as a ISO or image.  Each burning program is different so I can't tell you how to do this.  However, the way to tell if the CD was burned correctly is that the contents of the burned CD should look like this:

If you see a single file on the burned CD, you made a mistake.  Go back and burn the CD as an ISO.

Now that you have the restore CD burned and ready, you need a computer that can boot from a CD-ROM.  It doesn't matter if it's a desktop or laptop.  You'll need to go into the BIOS and make the CD-ROM the first boot device so that when you turn on your computer, your computer will boot from the CD we just made.

The network card needs to be one on the list below.  If you don't own one of the following network cards, this process will not work.  We'll talk about the network cards more later.

Now, connect your desktop or laptop to the Qube 2 via a crossover cable or use a regular network connection (2 cat 5 cables and a 100 Mbit hub or 100 Mbit switch is fine).  If you do use a hub or a switch, it must be 100 Mbit.  A 10 Mbit hub or switch will not work.  I recommend that you use a crossover cable for simplicity sake.

For the rest of this guide, I'm going to be referring to the instructions that Cobalt includes in \ROOT directory of the CD.  From now on, everything in black is from the original instructions.  I will be adding comments in RED.

===============================================================================
Cobalt Networks, Inc.
Cobalt OS Restore CD Version 2.0
===============================================================================

Welcome to the Cobalt Networks OS Restore Disc.  This is a self booting Linux distribution on a disc.  It is designed to allow you to restore the software on your Cobalt Networks server appliance to its original factory-fresh condition.  This CD will allow you to turn a Gateway Micro Server into a Cobalt Qube 2 or restore the software on the Qube 2 to its original factory-fresh condition. Please use the up or down arrow keys to navigate through this file.

Warning:  Restoring your server appliance to its original factory-fresh condition will completely erase any and all data stored on the target hard drive of the server appliance!  Please backup any and all valuable data
before proceeding. Yes, backup your data or it will be lost!

After successfully restoring your server appliance, please immediately download and apply the latest security and system software updates which are available from the Cobalt Networks (http://www.cobalt.com) Web Site.  As of now, the current download site for the updates for the English version of the Qube 2 is here:

http://sunsolve.sun.com/patches/cobalt/qube2.eng.html

===========================
Minimum System Requirements
===========================

Intel-Compatible PC Desktop or Laptop: 
Computer Must Have an IDE (ATAPI) CD-ROM Drive and Must Be CD-ROM Bootable
Computer Must Have Only One of the Following Network Interface Cards:
        PCI Cards:
                Intel PRO/100+ Server Adapter (PILA8470B)
                Linksys EtherFast 10/100 LAN Card (LNE100TX)
                Netgear Fast Ethernet PCI Adapter (FA312TX)
                3Com OfficeConnect Fast Ethernet NIC (3CSOHO100-TX)
                3Com Fast EtherLink XL PCI NIC (3C905B-TX)
        PCMCIA Cards:
                Netgear Fast Ethernet PCMCIA Adapter (FA410TX)
                3Com Megahertz 10/100 LAN PC Card (3CCFE574BT)
                Xircom CreditCard Ethernet 10/100 (CE3B-100BTX)

If you don't have a network card from this list, you cannot proceed.  I guess the designers of the CD-ROM only had these cards in mind.  You can get some of these network cards for about $20 or less.  I have the 3Com Fast EtherLink XL PCI NIC (3C905B-TX) and it worked fine.  I tried the Netgear Fast Ethernet PCI Adapter (FA312TX), but for some reason, it didn't work for me.  Weird.

Either One 100Base-T Ethernet Hub and Two Standard Category 5 Cables, or One Category 5 Crossover Cable Hub or Switch must be 100 Mbit.

=========================
Installation Instructions
=========================

Connect this computer directly to the server appliance.  If you are using a crossover cable, connect the crossover cable from the network interface card on this computer directly to the primary network interface of the server appliance.  If you are using a hub and two standard cables, connect one standard cable from the network interface card on this computer to the hub.  Connect the other standard cable from the primary network interface of the server appliance to the same hub.  The server appliance must detect a 100Base T connection.  Otherwise, it will not begin the restore process.  That means the hub cannot be 10Base T, it must be 100Base T.  I recommend using a crossover cable if you have one.

Begin the restore process by net booting the server appliance.  Follow the instructions specific to your server appliance.

For the Qube 2, skip until the # mark
Intel-Compatible Processor Models, Including:  Qube 3 (4000WG and 4010WG and 4100WG) RaQ 3 (3000R) and RaQ 4 (3100R)

1. Turn on the server appliance while pressing and holding down the Select (S) button on the LCD console.
2. Continue holding down the Select (S) button until "Select  Option:" appears on the LCD display.
3. Press and release the Select (S) button until "Boot From Net" appears on the LCD display.
4. Press and release the Enter (E) button to begin net booting the server appliance from the OS Restore Disc.  The LCD display shows the "Loading Kernel..." message.
5. Wait until "PLEASE SWITCH OFF POWER NOW" appears on the LCD display.  The restore process is now complete.  Please turn off both the server appliance and the computer and return them to normal service.

# Qube 2 or Gateway Micro Server owners start here:
MIPS Processor Models, Including:  Qube 1 (2700WG) and Qube 2 (2800WG)  RaQ 1 (2700R) and RaQ 2 (2800R)

1. Turn on the server appliance while simultaneously pressing and holding down both the left (<) and right (>) arrow buttons on the LCD console.
2. Continue holding down both the left (<) and right (>) arrow buttons until "Net Booting" appears on the LCD display.  I can't believe that the instructions were so blank here.  Immediately after you get the Qube 2 to start "Net Booting", you need to turn on your other computer and boot from the Cobalt Restore CD.  You'll see a few screens of Linux boot messages and then finally this instruction file.  You'll then be asked to proceed.  Pay attention to the LCD screen.  It should display the current progress of the update.  If it just says "Net Booting" the process maybe stuck.  Reboot and try again, this is fairly common.
3. Wait until "PLEASE SWITCH OFF POWER NOW" appears on the LCD display.  The restore process is now complete.  Please turn off both the server appliance and the computer and return them to normal service.

Sometimes while the Qube 2 is updating it will hang.  It shouldn't take longer than 1 hour.  If it does, start over again.  During this whole process, I had problems with the different systems hanging and having to restart.  Eventually, after several tries, the process should be complete.  Maybe you'll be lucky and it'll work on the first try.  I'm just mentioning this so you know that if it doesn't work right away, you're not alone.

Warning:  During the restore process, the server appliance may automatically reboot itself and perform other installation tasks.  The complete restore process may take 15 minutes or longer.  This process must
be allowed to complete without interruption for a successful restore of the server appliance software to its original factory-fresh condition.

Well, that's about it.  If you think there are any little notes I should add into this guide, please drop me an email!
 




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