Best OSx86 system for my glamourous AMD Opteron

Naquaada

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Hi there!

I'm new in the forum, but a long-time OSx86 user. I made my first build on an AMD Athlon 64 Socket 754 3400+ in March 2006. Later I switched to an Athlon 64 Socket 939, then to an Opteron 185 o'clocked to 3.00 GHz. My gfx card was a ATI Radeon HD2600XT with the weird ability to 'overclock' monitors: My 20" HP L2035 with 1600x1200 native allowed up to 2048x1536, my LG 3D TV even up to 2560x1440 or 2560x1600. My board was for years an Asus A8N-SLI Premium which always worked great. Now I found it again and renewed it. I also had my old boot system (10.5.8 from about 2008) by hand and it worked flawlessly. I also found my Asus U3S6 card, which is a PCI-E x4 card with 2x USB3 and 2x SATA3. This card is even bootable, the A8N-SLI Premium shows it as SCSI-1 and SCSI-2.

In honor to my old trustworthy system I would like to revive it and would like to check out what is possible with our modern OSx86 techniques. I heard that Sierra should work on an Opteron. But I think there was never a fully working 64 bit AC97 driver. I have a device ID list available.

Greets, naquaada.
 
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Shaneee

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To be honest it's more hassel than it's worth on an older system. You'd need to apply a patched kernel, and updates would break this. There isn't any bootloader patches for the older systems. Personally if I were to revive an old system like this I'd stick a Linux distro on it.
 

Naquaada

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I know it makes no sense. But I'm still interested in creating the best system for this board. It's a nostalgic thing. I've used this system for more than four years without reinstallation, and it is still working without problems. The board has an nForce 4 chipset, the BIOS doesn't even have an AHCI option. The 10.5.8 installation I have uses Chameleon bootloader version 1.0, you'll have nothing except booting from the partitions of the actual harddrive and entering kernel options. It doesn't even accept booting from other harddrives. However, the only function what is not working on this system is sleep.

I started with the early beginnings of OSx86, so using patched kernels is no problem for me. I also have a working system, so it will be no problem to make a Clover installation. I want to try several versions, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Mavericks, because these are the versions I'm using frequently. But what is the maximum version which would be working on the Opteron? It is a Denmark Dual-Core, 90 nm. These command sets are supported:

MMX, Extended 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, NX-Bit, SMP, AMD64, OPM (Optimized Power Management, similar to Cool'n'Quiet)

Andy's 9.8.0 kernel only has an SSE3-emulator, nothing more. The system I have is completely manually AMD-patched. I'm also interested how far the AMD support is today. I switched to Intel after I bought 2012 new hardware. Lion needs SSSE3 for several purposes, and at least Mojave requires SSE4.2 during the installation, otherwise there's a boot loop. I think AMD used SSE4a. What is an actual AMD kernel capable of? There were experimental kernels with AMD on-the-fly patcher, but that was about the time I left the scene. I had in four systems an ATI Radeon X1600 Pro, everything was working fine. Then came the update of Quicktime 7.4.5 to 7.5 and a simple AVI now needed 90% CPU time on my Athlon 64 4000+. Things like this could happen these times. I noticed it was my graphics card, so I replaced all with an ATI Radeon HD2600XT. As Snow Leopard appeared, the AMD support was very bad at the beginning. And the Radeon HD2600XT wasn't supported at all. I didn't want to buy again four new graphics cards. So I was stuck - but happy - with 10.5.8. I upgraded only because there was nearly no actual software for Leopard. Firefox stopped with version 16. But now there's TenFourFox, an actual version of Firefox for PowerPC-Macs designed to work even on an G3 with Tiger. Leopard and Snow Leopard still have PPC-emulation, so it should be possible to get an actual browser.

So, the reason why I want to upgrade my old system is because it never let me down. It deserves it.
 

Naquaada

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Thanks. Do you have any information about the hardware requirements? On which systems were your kernels compiled on?
 

Shaneee

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Kernels were compiled mostly on my system wether it be my old Ryzen or FX system. I'm not 100% sure if Sierra will work, personally I'd go for Yosemite just to be sure.
 

Naquaada

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What capabilities do the kernels have? AMD on-the-fly patcher, SSE emulators?
 

Naquaada

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Great news!

I used Clover 3882 because it is the last one with full 32bit support. I used a Radeon HD6770 as graphics card. The system is configured as iMac10,1. At first the USB ports didn't work, wrong Clover settings. I'm booting from the U3S6 card with Marvell SATA chipset.

But now it works really great. My old Leopard system is supported like usual, except graphics card and sleep. USB3 is also working.

Snow Leopard is the system directly from my Core i7 with AMD kernel. It crashes at sgke.kext, but nForceLAN.kext works. Graphics is working with full QE/CI, but the card is detected as Radeon NI40. USB3 and audio is also active, but I've not tested the quality yet. Even sleep is working!

Mavericks is also from my Core i7 with AMD kernel. It begins booting, but stops after this message:

pci (build 18:30:21 Jan 11 2016, flags 0x61008, pfm64 (40 cpu) 0xff80000000, 0x80000000
[ PCI configuration begin ]


Any ideas?

However, I wasn't excpecting that Snow Leopard is working so great!
 

Shaneee

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Mavericks is also from my Core i7 with AMD kernel. It begins booting, but stops after this message:

pci (build 18:30:21 Jan 11 2016, flags 0x61008, pfm64 (40 cpu) 0xff80000000, 0x80000000
[ PCI configuration begin ]


Any ideas?

Have you tried with npci=0x2000 or npci=0x3000 ?
 

Naquaada

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I had 0x2000 from my old system. I tried 0x3000, (Snow) Leopard still booted, Mavericks stopped again. After removing the npci entry, Snow Leopard didn't boot anymore. I noticed that Clovers config.plist contained a lot of stuff which I never entered, like Intel device ID's and AMD display strings etc. They were included in the default_config.plist of Clover. To get rid of them, I used a completely empty config.plist xml file. The sized was reduced from nearly 24K to just 6K. I don't know if this is a good idea, but I also did this for my different Intel systems and it works fine.

I also noticed that audio doesn't work, also in Leopard. The boot process stops at ApplenForceATA.kext if all SATA ports are disabled. Do you know a SleepEnabler.kext for Leopard? The ones I have won't be loading or are crashing the system. Two ATI graphics cards won't work at the same time. But an ATI and nVidia card? The 6670 isn't supported in Leopard at all, but there will be some working nVidia cards.

But I'm very pleased with the results. It's less frustrating than my Intel builds.
 

Naquaada

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So, tried some more things, like PCIrootUID=1 and whatever, still no success in Mavericks. I've found a package for the A8N SLI Premium with some BIOS settings and a dsdt.aml, it makes no real difference. Weird, except for my laptop I again have a board which works without dsdt.aml.

I've noticed that Clover's timeout counter runs much faster. One second is less than one second. I've overclocked my Opteron to 3003 MHz, so the multiplicator is 13x and the clock speed 231 MHz. The processor is also undervolted. During the boot process Mavericks shows a bus frequency of 185.556850 Mhz, in Snow Leopard it's a bit less (185.556409). So I changed the Clover entry BusSpeedkHz to 187556. Now it's shown on both systems with 187.556000 MHz. The HD6670 is shown as NI40 because there's no entry for it in my version of ATY_init.kext. I also noticed something different: In my Mavericks system I have the most OSx86 kexts in /Library/Extensions, this doesn't work in Snow Leopard, they won't be loaded, even after running Kext Utility. However, SL still boots completely.

Well, I still want to do fresh installations of Leopard and Snow Leopard. The SL installation has a weird bug that it starts at the beginning the process sed which uses about 100% cpu usage. This also happens on my Intel systems. sed quits after a while, I also can kill it using Activity Monitor, but it's a bit annoying. Still, it's really astounding that the board runs so fine. I'm trying to install High Sierra first because I have a laptop with Core i3 and Radeon HD5xxx Mobility series. So at least for this thing installing High Sierra would be the best option.
 

Naquaada

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So... I read somewhere that the pci configuration error should be removed by a rollback of the 10.9.0 versions of AppleACPIPlatform.kext and IOPCIFamily.kext. I tried various combinations, this results in a kernel panic. I also tried 10.9.0 IOACPIFamily.kext later, still no success. I also removed unneccessary kexts like PXHCD.kext (NEC USB3 drivers by Lacie), still no success. I only got no KP if all 10.9.5 kexts are installed, but then it stops after PCI configuration begin. I also changed in Clover the bus frequency from 187556 to 187000 to get smoother values for BUS and TSC.

There are two BIOS settings, what can I do with these: 'PCI Synronization Mode' can be set to Auto, CPU or 33.33 MHz. 'Hyper Transport Frequency' can be set to Auto or values from 1 to 5. Both settings are actually Auto. I tried 'Plug and Play OS' as Yes or No, no changes.

Well, the systems are directly ported from my Core i7, so it's incredlible enogh that they are working so good at all, just by exchanging the mach_kernel. I now searched (and found) AMD-compatible installations for 10.9 and a 10.13 installer. With the option -force64 Leopard works in 64 bit, but nearly every system software is in 32 bit. I don't know if this was a method to save space in the Leo4All V3 10.5.2 distro from 2008 or if Leopard is still mostly 32 bit. So I reduced the Retail DVDs of Leopard and Snow Leopard to the absolute minimum. Some packages are manually pacthed with Zephyroth's AMD patcher. Let see what happens.

Here's a screenshot of the Mavericks kernel panic - a little text modification in the mach_kernel file also was done ;-) Are these weird characters after the version number normal? It looked always like this, even before my text mod.

 
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