At 17:30 20/08/2004. Warren Block had this to say:
>On Fri, 20 Aug 2004, Richard P. Williamson wrote:
>>venus# vnconfig vn0 san32.img
>
>I don't know what that does, but it does not agree with the examples in the vnconfig 
>man page.  Instead, it should be
>
>vnconfig -c -v /dev/vn0 san32.img
>
>(It may also need the -s labels option.)

absence of any - commands implies -c, -v is verbose.
And yes, it turns out the -s labels option is required!

After more digging, these are the steps to take...

1) The Compact Flash image must be copied off into the file using
the rad0 device (for example), and not the ad0 device:

dd if=/dev/rad0 of=/home/test/san32.img 

Using the ad0 device resulted in an img that had no sector zero,
and thus no master boot block, I think.

2) Once you have your san32.img, you attach it through the vn0 device:

vnconfig -c -s labels vn0 san32.img

3) To verify that you are golden, use fsck:

fsck /dev/vn0s1a
...
fsck /dev/vn0s1e
...

Note the devices are the drilled down ones, all the way to the 
distinct slice partition (I think that is the terminology, erm.)
fsck /dev/vn0 complained, as did /dev/vn0s1.

4) And now the slice parts are mountable:

mount /dev/vn0s1a /parta
mount /dev/vn0s1e /parte

Which is different from my normal usage of just mount /dev/vn0a /parta,
for example.

Thanks for you help, it was the -s labels comment that was the
key!

rip

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