ANNOUNCEMENT: BusLogic FlashPoint/BT-948 Upgrade Program

ANNOUNCEMENT: BusLogic FlashPoint/BT-948 Upgrade Program

Post by Leonard N. Zubkof » Fri, 02 Feb 1996 04:00:00

Ever since its introduction last October, the BusLogic FlashPoint LT has
been problematic for members of the Linux community, in that no Linux
drivers have been available for this new Ultra SCSI product.  Despite it's
officially being positioned as a desktop workstation product, and not being
particularly well suited for a high performance multitasking operating
system like Linux, the FlashPoint LT has been touted by computer system
vendors as the latest thing, and has been sold even on many of their high
end systems, to the exclusion of the older MultiMaster products.  This has
caused grief for many people who inadvertently purchased a system expecting
that all BusLogic SCSI Host Adapters were supported by Linux, only to
discover that the FlashPoint was not supported and would not be for quite
some time, if ever.

After this problem was identified, BusLogic contacted its major OEM
customers to make sure the BT-946C/956C MultiMaster cards would still be
made available, and that Linux users who mistakenly ordered systems with
the FlashPoint would be able to upgrade to the BT-946C.  While this helped
many purchasers of new systems, it was only a partial solution to the
overall problem of FlashPoint support for Linux users.  It did nothing to
assist the people who initially purchased a FlashPoint for a supported
operating system and then later decided to run Linux, or those who had
ended up with a FlashPoint LT, believing it was supported, and were unable
to return it.

In the middle of December, I asked to meet with BusLogic's senior
management to discuss the issues related to Linux and free software support
for the FlashPoint.  Rumors of varying accuracy had been circulating
publicly about BusLogic's attitude toward the Linux community, and I felt
it was best that these issues be addressed directly.  I sent an email
message after 11pm one evening, and the meeting took place the next
afternoon.  Unfortunately, corporate wheels sometimes grind slowly,
especially when a company is being acquired, and so it's taken until now
before the details were completely determined and a public statement could
be made.

BusLogic is not prepared at this time to release the information necessary
for third parties to write drivers for the FlashPoint.  The only existing
FlashPoint drivers have been written directly by BusLogic Engineering, and
there is no FlashPoint documentation sufficiently detailed to allow outside
developers to write a driver without substantial assistance.  While there
are people at BusLogic who would rather not release the details of the
FlashPoint architecture at all, that debate has not yet been settled either
way.  In any event, even if documentation were available today it would
take quite a while for a usable driver to be written, especially since I'm
not convinced that the effort required would be worthwhile.

However, BusLogic does remain committed to providing a high performance
SCSI solution for the Linux community, and does not want to see anyone left
unable to run Linux because they have a Flashpoint LT.  Therefore, BusLogic
has put in place a direct upgrade program to allow any Linux user worldwide
to trade in their FlashPoint LT for the new BT-948 MultiMaster PCI Ultra
SCSI Host Adapter.  The BT-948 is the Ultra SCSI successor to the BT-946C
and has all the best features of both the BT-946C and FlashPoint LT,
including smart termination and a flash PROM for easy firmware updates, and
is of course compatible with the present Linux driver.  The price for this
upgrade has been set at US $45, and the upgrade program will be
administered through BusLogic Technical Support, which can be reached by

FAX at +1 408 492-1542.

I was a beta test site for the BT-948 and versions 1.2.1 and 1.3.1 of my
BusLogic driver already include latent support for the BT-948.  Additional
cosmetic support for the Ultra SCSI MultiMaster cards will be added in a
subsequent release.  As a result of this cooperative testing process,
several firmware bugs were found and corrected (make sure you have firmware
version 5.04B or later).  My heavily loaded Linux test system provided an
ideal environment for testing error recovery processes that are much more
rarely exercised in production systems, but are crucial to overall system
stability.  It was especially convenient being able to work directly with
their firmware engineer in demonstrating the problems under control of the
firmware debugging environment; things sure have come a long way since the
last time I worked on firmware for an embedded system.  I am presently
working on some performance testing and expect to have some data to report
in the not too distant future.

BusLogic asked me to send this announcement since a large percentage of the
questions regarding support for the FlashPoint have either been sent to me
directly via email, or have appeared in the Linux newsgroups in which I
participate.  To summarize, BusLogic is offering Linux users an upgrade
from the unsupported FlashPoint LT (BT-930) to the supported BT-948 for US

654-0760 to take advantage of their offer.



ANNOUNCEMENT: BusLogic FlashPoint/BT-948 Upgrade Program

Post by Jo Kellne » Sat, 03 Feb 1996 04:00:00

Thank you, Leonard, for posting that.

When contacting BusLogic Technical Support by email regarding this
upgrade program, please include a valid email address in the body of your
message, plus a contact phone number, if possible.

Jo Kellner
BusLogic Technical Support