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Ecrix VXA-1 Firewire problems with Mac OS 10.3.6?

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Some folks have reported problems with Firewire peripherals, once they've installed Mac OS 10.3.6 (see www.macintouch.com, for example).


I called the support desk at Exabyte (the company that now sells the VXA-1) and asked if customers have reported problems. Tech support person said they have received such reports. This is really some sort of a driver/software issue (which for me means Retrospect 6.x), and so they suggested I see if Dantz has anything to say about the issue. Exabyte suggested one stay at 10.3.5 or earlier until the problem is resolved...


Thought I'd also see if any users on this Forum have upgraded to 10.3.6 and are using a VXA-1 Firewire device, and if so, what problems (or lack thereof) have been experienced...


Any info would be helpful - I'd like to upgrade, but obviously won't if I can't make backups...



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This is really some sort of a driver/software issue (which for me means Retrospect 6.x)



How do you come to that conclusion? Everything I have seen indicates a problem with firewire support in the OS - Neither Exabyte nor Dantz can do anything about that.


There have been a number of cases where the firewire ports built into a Macintosh are very slow or don't work reliably. This got worse or improved for a lot of people with the 10.3.6 update. Invariably, installing a new firewire card in the machine resolves the issue.


What specifically is happening in your case?




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Hmm...I didn't mean to imply that Ecrix/Exabyte or Dantz was responsible for the problem...in fact, I'm quite sure they're not. I'd just hoped one of them could provide a temporary fix until Apple fixed what appears to be a rather commonplace bug in their new Firewire driver code. It seems that other peripheral makers are already providing a "fix" to work around the bug, as reported in a forum on macintouch.com:




"Mac OS X 10.3.6: FireWire Problems


Chris Heimark

I received a new Fantom 200GB FireWire drive (TFDF20072) only to discover the 10.3.6 OS X update I had performed the day before led to NO extra storage.


I contacted the extremely helpful Micronet support folks. They were very helpful and got a patch to me which so far appears to work. Here is quote from their email to me w/o attachments. They did indicate that they have recently switched ISP's and have an email backlog of 1k+ emails to work through...


Attached are:

MAC OS - V4.70 FW to fix Apple Mac OS 10.3.6 issue

MAC OS - FireWireUpdater – Mac OS X Flash Utility for 1430

2000_XP – Windows 2000 and above 1430 Flash Utility

98MEFlsh – Windows 98SE/ME 1430 flash utility

Apple made a change in their 10.3.6 FireWire driver and requests very big packets (8K) but will not accept that packet when sent. This firmware update breaks up the packets into a size that the new Apple drivers will accept.


It's a simple and straight forward procedure. So it is a software problem that Apple introduced, but seemingly unrelated to prior FireWire difficulties. "




The Exabyte tech support guy seemed to think that Dantz could/should provide a patch, but the above indicates that a firmware change may the the only "solution" until Apple fixes their issue. I don't know enough about Firewire and hardware to make a judgement in this area, though.


Exabyte tech support, again, did say they've had customers reporting problems with the VXA-1 Firewire box and 10.3.6, and offered no solutions from their end. I can only conclude that I should not upgrade my Mac OS until Apple resolves the problem.


In answer to your last question - I'm not having problems because I've not yet upgraded :-)


Thanks for the reply...


- Philip

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I see.

Thanks for the clarification.


It may be a minor tweak but unfortunately that doesn't make the development/QA/release process any shorter.


From what I see Apple has got an earfull about the issue. At this point I think Apple will probably beat Dantz to the punch with an update.


If this issue becomes a permanent "feature" of OSX I suspect Dantz would try to address it in a more permanent manner.




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So far, our experience with an Exabyte Firewire VXA-2 has been pretty positive. We put one into use about a month ago, connected to a green G3 tower with OS 10.3.x on it. We only had two problems - First, the computer didn't recognize the tape drive until I ran the VXATool software. Also, the firewire ports on this computer don't seem to be hot pluggable, because I have to turn on the tape drive before turning on the computer, otherwise it's not recognized.


Finally, I'm starting to suspect that the tape drive has to remain on for the computer to shut down properly, but I haven't checked this out.


Oh - one more problem - looking at the front of the drive, I can't tell which way is up. To my chagrin, I got it upside down at first, and I couldn't figure out why the tapes weren't going in. :^)


The real problem with OSX seems to be Retrospect 6.0, which has retained all but one of its horrendous user interface blunders, but has lost some basic functionality.


Andy Johnson

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