WTF does Garfield on a waveform generator

And how to fix it ...

Project motivation

Have you ever associated Garfield with Agilent? No - then it's right now time to start!

I've recently seen this message on the front panel of an otherwise really nice waveform generator:

> garfield.exe must shut down
garfield.exe must shut down

"Application Garfield.exe encounterd a serious error and must shut down". Wow, Garfield messed up our waveform generator without even beeing here.

We hadn't done anything evil, just updated the firmware some days ago and used the supplied PC software to create and download some waveforms. Basically nothing which this thing isn't intended to. But at some point Garfield appeared. This happens right before menus etc. are available on the screen, so my first though was: "Now this thing is a brick. We'll have to go for a service call and possible send the box back to Agilent customer service". Bad, really bad!

Have you tried turning it off an on again?

Yes, of course, but didn't help.

What have you done right before the failure

Don't know, but the firmware upgrade broke the instrument, it shows now "Keysight" instead of "Agilent".

Major failure found

This must be a serious error, so I decided to downgrade the firmware back to Agilent. So go to the Agilent (also broken now -> Keysight) website and grab the FW upgrade utility together with some older firmwares. Lucky enough, the IP Address of the box was set to a known manual value and it did ping. Some more luck -> the upgrade utility is able to connect the instrument and to apply the upgrade, which is rather a downgrade now. First try, downgrade to rev. 03.03, fixed the Keysight display error, but Garfield still bricked the unit. Now the second try, downgrade to rev. 02.03, removed Garfield from the instrument. Instead it showed an error message about an invalid configuration file due to firmware update, but otherwise everything was fine. Saving the default configuration removed the error message. Upgrade back to rev. 03.05: tadaaa - Garfield is back here!

Forced amnesia required

So gone back to rev. 02.03 firmware, and search for the "clear all memory" option. Found it somewhere in the system menus, called "NISPOM Erase" (WTF?). Basically, this option cleared all internal memories (except calibration data, I hope), and the rev. 03.05 firmware worked again, Garfield disappeared.


So Agilent made at least two faults: Renaming Agilent to Keysight, which is rather a cosmetical fault, things appear to be still working, and some really bad handling on corrupted internal files. It's only a rough guess what might be happened here, circumstancial evidence leads me to believe that a corrupted configuration file caused the Garfield message. And Garfield left you with no obvious way to delete the file. Really bad software engineering, folks! Go and do your homework!


Having an expensive instrument fail by software and no way to recover is a real PITA.

It seems, the box was previously left in the cal unlocked state, which I would consider a serious operator fault. But maybe this left open the option to access the firmware upgrade over the ethernet port, considering the instructions saying you'll have to unlock the instrument before you can upgrade the firmware. So, if the instrument would have been locked, maybe it would have been a brick now, and the only way to recover would be to call the service. Even worse software engineering, folks!. Always provide a documented way to recover (even if this would be a hardware jumper inside the box). Okay, I didn't check if one exists and if it is written in the manual, my fault if there is a documented one.

BTW 2:
Speaking English and listening German, the first two syllables of "Agilent" sound like "Ätschi", which means something like "Gotcha!" or "nya-nya". So this is why my pronounciation of Keysight sounds Ätschilent. Keysight - WTF? In German this means Schlüsselsicht, what do these guys want to tell me?

BTW 3:
There's nothing special with Garfield appearing as an internal name, the famous HP34401 Multimeter was called "Alf" internally, this is documented in the service manual.

Go back to the main page ... und ein Zaehlpixel hab ich auch :-)