CUS was a Solaris cluster operated by the University of Cambridge Computing Service from 1991-2008. Designed to be a replacement for the IBM 3084 mainframe named Phoenix, accounts were available to staff and postgraduate students. Richard Watts did an 'end of Phoenix' video so I thought I might do an 'end of CUS' video.
Just to make things more complicated, I thought I'd use this as a final outing for the BBC Micro PHX ROM. In their early days Acorn and the University had a close relationship and out of this came the BBC Micro. They were heavily used as serial terminals for Phoenix, and various homebrew terminal ROMs were developed. The PHX ROM was the most widely used across the University, but others existed. The Computer Laboratory had a 'gterm/vdu emulator' (for which I can find no reference on the CL's fileservers, though it's possible it might still be on a floppy disc in the archives). The PHX ROM and another SSMP compatible (Simple Screen Management Program) terminal emulator can be found on The BBC Lives!. I have the termcap file from CUS and have permission to distribute these termcaps if anyone is interested.
I'd discovered that the bbc-phx termcaps were still on CUS in 2008, despite to my knowledge no BBCs being used as terminals for a good many years. The last one in use to my knowledge was displaying system status in the User Areas and outside the Austin lift - according to staff this was retained as it was the only machine with a video output strong enough to drive several hundred metres of coax. It was replaced by a networked PC+Java system sometime around 2002-4.
In the spirit of making things a difficult as possible, I set about trying to make a CUS farewell video. I used BeebEm for Windows to emulate a BBC Micro running the PHX ROM. I used a serial-telnet device driver (I forget which) to provide a COM device to BeebEm that got converted into a telnet session. This was then sent over an SSH tunnel to CUS. I also had to convert the termcaps to terminfo format (modern Solaris only uses terminfo) so I have to run a little script ('./phx') at the beginning of my session to set the TERM and TERMINFO variables correctly. Unfortunately in all this flow control got a bit mangled, but here is the (unedited) result.(YouTube page if the above doesn't appear)
I only recorded this as a backup video, and intended to take an end-of-CUS video at the actual closedown. I'd assumed this would be during office hours of 1st October 2008. Unfortunately staff were a bit too keen and began the shutdown at midnight, so all I have is this video and the above still.
Page by Theo Markettos (email at theo [at@] markettos.org.uk), last modified 2009-01-27
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