Active Alpha Linux Distributions?

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leec

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Oct 18, 2008, 6:58:23 PM10/18/08
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I am in search of a current Linux distribution for an Alpha DS20,
ES40, and Alphaserver 1000 with an active community. I also need to
have a corresponding Linux release to run on a couple of X86 boxes
(IBM eServer X300s).

I'm hoping to find a distribution with an active community around it
because 1) I want to run a distribution that is somewhat up to date
with the latest kernel and userland and 2) I'm relatively new to Alpha/
Linux and expect to need some newbie guidance occasionally.

I looked at the AlphaLinux distribution pointers off the
alphalinux.org main page and looks like Debian is the only
distribution with any active development being done and current
community activity - true?

Can folks on the list confirm this conclusion, or point me in the
direction of a distribution for Alpha and X86 that is current and
being maintained.

Thanks!

Lee C.

Steven Underwood

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Oct 18, 2008, 7:50:14 PM10/18/08
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"leec" <lee...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:ac012c16-5e9c-4528...@o40g2000prn.googlegroups.com...

>I am in search of a current Linux distribution for an Alpha DS20,
> ES40, and Alphaserver 1000 with an active community. I also need to
> have a corresponding Linux release to run on a couple of X86 boxes
> (IBM eServer X300s).


FYI, This group has been virtually silent for the last 5 months. I started
monitoring it for the same reason, but I have an XL box (NT only) and am
more limited since LILO is no longer supported and I have 0 Linux
experience. I have gotten an old version of RedHat booted on it, but it is
not a usable environment at the moment (need bigger disks for that).

F8BOE

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Oct 19, 2008, 4:00:32 AM10/19/08
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leec wrote:


Debian

Tobias Klausmann

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Oct 19, 2008, 7:44:57 AM10/19/08
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leec <lee...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I looked at the AlphaLinux distribution pointers off the
> alphalinux.org main page and looks like Debian is the only
> distribution with any active development being done and current
> community activity - true?

Gentoo still actively maintains an alpha port. Feel free to stop
by on #gentoo-alpha on Freenode.

Regards,
Tobias

--
fs_dprintk (FS_DEBUG_IRQ, "Iiiin-coming (0)!!!!\n");
linux-2.6.6/drivers/atm/firestream.c

Anton Ertl

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Oct 19, 2008, 8:50:30 AM10/19/08
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"Steven Underwood" <nob...@spamcop.net> writes:
>"leec" <lee...@gmail.com> wrote in message
>news:ac012c16-5e9c-4528...@o40g2000prn.googlegroups.com...
>>I am in search of a current Linux distribution for an Alpha DS20,
>> ES40, and Alphaserver 1000 with an active community. I also need to
>> have a corresponding Linux release to run on a couple of X86 boxes
>> (IBM eServer X300s).

We are running Debian (mostly stable) on most of our boxes, including
two Alpha UP1500 boxes.

>FYI, This group has been virtually silent for the last 5 months. I started
>monitoring it for the same reason, but I have an XL box (NT only) and am
>more limited since LILO is no longer supported

I guess you mean MILO. Yes, I remember something like this. Also,
dealing with the ARC console and especially AlphaBIOS was so painful
that you would not want to use it. Maybe you can find an SRM console
upgrade for your box (but I remember that on one box where we tried to
switch to SRM, SRM talked only to a serial terminal, and we had to
solder a cable to talk to it and switch it back to ARC/AlphaBIOS).

- anton
--
M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be believed
an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be seen
http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html

Måns Rullgård

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Oct 19, 2008, 9:30:52 AM10/19/08
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an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at (Anton Ertl) writes:

> "Steven Underwood" <nob...@spamcop.net> writes:
>>"leec" <lee...@gmail.com> wrote in message
>>news:ac012c16-5e9c-4528...@o40g2000prn.googlegroups.com...
>>>I am in search of a current Linux distribution for an Alpha DS20,
>>> ES40, and Alphaserver 1000 with an active community. I also need to
>>> have a corresponding Linux release to run on a couple of X86 boxes
>>> (IBM eServer X300s).
>
> We are running Debian (mostly stable) on most of our boxes, including
> two Alpha UP1500 boxes.

I've used Gentoo with good success on Alpha, although my Alpha machine
hasn't been powered on for some time.

>>FYI, This group has been virtually silent for the last 5 months. I started
>>monitoring it for the same reason, but I have an XL box (NT only) and am
>>more limited since LILO is no longer supported
>
> I guess you mean MILO. Yes, I remember something like this. Also,
> dealing with the ARC console and especially AlphaBIOS was so painful
> that you would not want to use it. Maybe you can find an SRM console
> upgrade for your box (but I remember that on one box where we tried to
> switch to SRM, SRM talked only to a serial terminal, and we had to
> solder a cable to talk to it and switch it back to ARC/AlphaBIOS).

The XL should work fine with SRM, IIRC.

--
Måns Rullgård
ma...@mansr.com

juhana paavola

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Oct 19, 2008, 12:01:47 PM10/19/08
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MILO can load never kernels too, maybe not supported but before sold
out my Alpha, I used MILO to boot 2.6 series kernel on Debian. Try
googling for newer or some custom build MILO's, I didn't have luck
with distro milos.

Can't remember could XL have SRM, in Miata I used SRM for awhile but
SRM couldn't handle Adaptec 2940 SCSIs so turned back to MILO.

-juhana

Steven Underwood

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Oct 19, 2008, 2:16:58 PM10/19/08
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"Anton Ertl" <an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at> wrote in message
news:2008Oct1...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at...

>
> I guess you mean MILO. Yes, I remember something like this. Also,
> dealing with the ARC console and especially AlphaBIOS was so painful
> that you would not want to use it. Maybe you can find an SRM console
> upgrade for your box (but I remember that on one box where we tried to
> switch to SRM, SRM talked only to a serial terminal, and we had to
> solder a cable to talk to it and switch it back to ARC/AlphaBIOS).
>
> - anton
> --
> M. Anton Ertl Some things have to be seen to be
> believed
> an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at Most things have to be believed to be
> seen
> http://www.complang.tuwien.ac.at/anton/home.html


Yes MILO... and as far as I have been able to find, there is no publically
available SRM console for this machine (XL266), ARC only.

As I said. I got it working with an old version of RedHat via some
instructions I found on the web, but due to disk size, I was unable to load
a GUI and as such is not much use to me for a desktop plaything. I
currently have no need for a server.

Steven Underwood

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Oct 19, 2008, 2:34:52 PM10/19/08
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"Måns Rullgård" <ma...@mansr.com> wrote in message
news:yw1xmyh0...@thrashbarg.mansr.com...

> an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at (Anton Ertl) writes:
>
> The XL should work fine with SRM, IIRC.
>
> --
> Måns Rullgård
> ma...@mansr.com

Not according to any of Digital's documentation. There is no SRM available.
If you know otherwise, please let me know where I can get it.

Måns Rullgård

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Oct 19, 2008, 2:44:55 PM10/19/08
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"Steven Underwood" <nob...@spamcop.net> writes:

> "Måns Rullgård" <ma...@mansr.com> wrote in message
> news:yw1xmyh0...@thrashbarg.mansr.com...
>> an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at (Anton Ertl) writes:
>>
>> The XL should work fine with SRM, IIRC.
>

> Not according to any of Digital's documentation. There is no SRM
> available. If you know otherwise, please let me know where I can get
> it.

Sorry, I had it confused with another machine, such as the LX164
which, although stubborn, can be coaxed into switching firmware. Or
was that the SX164? It's so hard to remember all those names and
code-names. People who pick model designators should be banned from
using the letters X and Z.

--
Måns Rullgård
ma...@mansr.com

Anton Ertl

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Oct 19, 2008, 4:24:58 PM10/19/08
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=?iso-8859-1?Q?M=E5ns_Rullg=E5rd?= <ma...@mansr.com> writes:
>Sorry, I had it confused with another machine, such as the LX164
>which, although stubborn, can be coaxed into switching firmware.

IIRC we have one 164LX where we switched the firmware to SRM and
another where we did not manage to do that.

Marc Schlensog

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Oct 19, 2008, 4:44:06 PM10/19/08
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On Sun, 19 Oct 2008 20:24:58 GMT
an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at (Anton Ertl) wrote:

> =?iso-8859-1?Q?M=E5ns_Rullg=E5rd?= <ma...@mansr.com> writes:
> >Sorry, I had it confused with another machine, such as the LX164
> >which, although stubborn, can be coaxed into switching firmware.
>
> IIRC we have one 164LX where we switched the firmware to SRM and
> another where we did not manage to do that.

LX and SX both shouldn't be problematic. What *is* problematic (or
rather: impossible), though, is the UX.

YMVV

Steven Hirsch

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Oct 19, 2008, 5:39:55 PM10/19/08
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juhana paavola wrote:
> On 2008-10-18, Steven Underwood <nob...@spamcop.net> wrote:
>> "leec" <lee...@gmail.com> wrote in message
>> news:ac012c16-5e9c-4528...@o40g2000prn.googlegroups.com...
>>> I am in search of a current Linux distribution for an Alpha DS20,
>>> ES40, and Alphaserver 1000 with an active community. I also need to
>>> have a corresponding Linux release to run on a couple of X86 boxes
>>> (IBM eServer X300s).
>>
>> FYI, This group has been virtually silent for the last 5 months. I started
>> monitoring it for the same reason, but I have an XL box (NT only) and am
>> more limited since LILO is no longer supported and I have 0 Linux
>> experience. I have gotten an old version of RedHat booted on it, but it is
>> not a usable environment at the moment (need bigger disks for that).
>>
>
> MILO can load never kernels too, maybe not supported but before sold
> out my Alpha, I used MILO to boot 2.6 series kernel on Debian. Try
> googling for newer or some custom build MILO's, I didn't have luck
> with distro milos.

Something in the back of my mind says that either Milo or the kernel needs to
be set correctly in terms of the memory model. And that magic setting may not
be the default. Wish I could remember more specifics, but since I gave away
my Multia all the boxen have used SRM.

Måns Rullgård

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Oct 19, 2008, 6:01:49 PM10/19/08
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Marc Schlensog <fish...@web.de> writes:

> On Sun, 19 Oct 2008 20:24:58 GMT
> an...@mips.complang.tuwien.ac.at (Anton Ertl) wrote:
>
>> =?iso-8859-1?Q?M=E5ns_Rullg=E5rd?= <ma...@mansr.com> writes:
>> >Sorry, I had it confused with another machine, such as the LX164
>> >which, although stubborn, can be coaxed into switching firmware.
>>
>> IIRC we have one 164LX where we switched the firmware to SRM and
>> another where we did not manage to do that.
>
> LX and SX both shouldn't be problematic.

I have an SX that I switched. The process itself was simple. The
trouble was finding versions of SRM and the flashing tool that would
fit on the same floppy.

Still not as hard as bypassing the SRM password on a Miata...

--
Måns Rullgård
ma...@mansr.com

DEMAINE Benoit-Pierre

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Oct 19, 2008, 8:43:18 PM10/19/08
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I will resume what I know: i have an AS1200 and an AS4100 that can boot
Debian, and Gentoo. The boot loader is not Lilo (Steve, where did you
have this idea ?), but Milo.

Booting an alpha was been painfull for me, because my hardware trigerred
many bugs, known and not known. Even booting the installation materials
was difficult.

Both distributions have bugs and various problems. Both are weakly
maintained for Alpha. But both can run fine, if you take enough time.

The key for Linux is: upgrade your SRM to the latest available one,
check compatibility list, bug list. As example, latest Milo requires
SRM5 (when my Alphas were provided with SRM4), and, my SCSI chipset
trigered a bug in the corresponding driver on SMP kernels (bug occured
on all kernels with SMP enabled, whenever the driver is loaded, whether
the HW is in or not - bug been fixed for this driver early 2007; bug was
driver specific, and common with other arch).

I have a Debian with 2.6.21 (not so old). Debian changed their philosphy
those last years: the tronk is no more common: package introdcution and
stabilisation will no longer be common for all arch (old idea, but took
time to realise); this will help live arch (x86* and PPC; but since
Apple is now using x86, PPC may also leave this pool as well), and let
deprecated arch have "slower life" (less release per year).

Gentoo also have by essence different package list per arch.

Thus, it will be impossible, if that was your aim, to have an Alpha with
exactly the same packages and versions than an x86. You can in the best
case, "try" to have the same distro; not the same taste.

In any case, there are many ressources, and still active help rooms
(webforums, IRC, NNTP ...)

Good luck.

--
>o_/ DEMAINE Benoit-Pierre (aka DoubleHP) http://benoit.demaine.info/
If computing were an exact science, IT engineers would not have work \_o<

"So all that's left, Is the proof that love's not only blind but deaf."
(FAKE TALES OF SAN FRANCISCO, Arctic Monkeys)

DEMAINE Benoit-Pierre

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Oct 19, 2008, 8:45:56 PM10/19/08
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Steven Underwood wrote:
> As I said. I got it working with an old version of RedHat via some
> instructions I found on the web, but due to disk size, I was unable to
> load a GUI and as such is not much use to me for a desktop plaything. I
> currently have no need for a server.

GUI on Alpha is a problem; it will depend on many factors. It will be
machine specific.

It mostly depends on the PCI chipset, the memory topology, PCI revision
(1.0, 1.2, or 2.0), and the video chipset.

Some machines support FrameBuffer. Not mines.

I could start X on my machines; but it was garbagefull :) Useless.

Sylvain Robitaille

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Oct 19, 2008, 10:06:09 PM10/19/08
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leec wrote:

> I am in search of a current Linux distribution for an Alpha DS20,
> ES40, and Alphaserver 1000 with an active community. I also need to
> have a corresponding Linux release to run on a couple of X86 boxes
> (IBM eServer X300s).

This isn't the answer you're looking for, I'm afraid, but I'm bringing it
up in case it's still somehow interesting to you, or more to the point,
it inspires you to look into doing something like this of your own ...

About 4 years ago I started working on a port of Slackware Linux for Alpha
systems. I'd realized that there were about to be a lot of perfectly good
Alpha systems with sysadmins looking to keep a current OS running on them.
I'd made a fair bit of progress, and had a self-hosting system busily
compiling and testing various packages, but unfortunately, between the
electrical requirements of my AlphaServer-2100, and the amount of noise
produced by its cooling fans, I've had to leave the project stalled for
the past three years or so.

I have my eye on a DS10 at work, that I'd like to take home and revive
this project with. Unfortunately, my hopes for getting that system
aren't particularly high ... If I can, of course I'll revive this with
whatever version of Slackware is current at the time ...

--
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Sylvain Robitaille s...@alcor.concordia.ca

Network and Systems analyst Concordia University
Instructional & Information Technology Montreal, Quebec, Canada
----------------------------------------------------------------------

leec

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Oct 20, 2008, 2:16:36 PM10/20/08
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On Oct 19, 7:06 pm, Sylvain Robitaille <s...@alcor.concordia.ca>
wrote:

Sylvain et al,

Thanks for the good replies.

Working on a port of Slackware etc for Alpha sounds like a lot of fun,
but thats not the end-goal of this project and I just can't get
distracted by that. Wish I could say "Yes!", but there are only 24-
hours in a day.

My conclusions are that 1) Debian is the way to go for Linux on Alpha,
and 2) not realistic to expect to have the same distribution on both
the Alpha and X86 boxes. That's OK, especially since I'm having
problems with Debian recognizing the NICs on the IBM x300 x86 boxes. :-
( I don't have the time to fool with it so its Fedora for the x86
servers. Debian on the Alphas.

Thanks again to everyone that posted a note. Feel free to contribute
any other thoughts...

Regards,

Lee C.

Anton Ertl

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Oct 20, 2008, 4:25:23 PM10/20/08
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leec <lee...@gmail.com> writes:
>My conclusions are that 1) Debian is the way to go for Linux on Alpha,
>and 2) not realistic to expect to have the same distribution on both
>the Alpha and X86 boxes.

With Debian it is. Sure, for a few packages you may not get an Alpha
version or only with a different version, but the two installations
will certainly be much closer than if you go with Debian on one box
and Fedora on the other one.

>That's OK, especially since I'm having
>problems with Debian recognizing the NICs on the IBM x300 x86 boxes. :-
>( I don't have the time to fool with it so its Fedora for the x86
>servers.

You could use the Fedora kernel with a Debian userland, but it's
probably enough if you use the appropriate NIC driver with a Debian
kernel. Or, alternatively, just put (e.g.) e1000 cards in the x300
boxes and use the e1000 driver.

If you want to save time, it's a good idea to use as few different
distributions as possible.

Steven Hirsch

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Oct 20, 2008, 6:55:21 PM10/20/08
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Anton Ertl wrote:

> You could use the Fedora kernel with a Debian userland, but it's
> probably enough if you use the appropriate NIC driver with a Debian
> kernel. Or, alternatively, just put (e.g.) e1000 cards in the x300
> boxes and use the e1000 driver.
>
> If you want to save time, it's a good idea to use as few different
> distributions as possible.

Does anyone know what ever happened to AlphaCore? Last I heard, it had been
accepted into the Fedora project.

DrSlinky

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Oct 26, 2008, 11:00:25 PM10/26/08
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CentOS has a current Alpha port I believe.

matt...@gmail.com

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Nov 1, 2008, 4:38:13 PM11/1/08
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Mike Barnes, the guy behind AlphaCore stopped working on it to the
point that he didn't even bother renewing the domain alphacore.info.

Current Alpha/Fedora port stuff is at http://buildsys.zero42.at
maintained by Oliver Falk and Jay Estabrook.

Jay said the ISO on the site is out of date, so he's working on
updating it.

Oliver Falk hangs out in #alpha on Freenode if you've got questions
about Fedora/Alpha.

matt...@gmail.com

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Nov 1, 2008, 4:44:03 PM11/1/08
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Used too. It's out of date and abandoned.

Really, as far as Alpha Linux distros go, it's between Gentoo and
Debian. I happen to choose Gentoo.

Also, everyone should join and contribute to the AlphaLinux.org Wiki.
http://alphalinux.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

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