What OS to run?

HP/DEC/Compaq workstations/servers and operating systems (HP-UX, Tru64, OpenVMS, NonStop, etc.)
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Cauldronborn
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What OS to run?

Unread postby Cauldronborn » Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:09 am

I've recently aquired a big ol monstrosity of a Alphaserver. Not sure what model but its big and square (not as big but roughly Crimson shaped) that is supposed to have dual procs in it. It boots to some kind of prom but after that I'm lost. My question is what are my OS options and what are the Pro/Con's of each. I understand it will run Tru64 but possible licencing issues? Also NT but I'd like to forgo that. Anyone know how the linux or Open/Net/Free BSD support is for these? The guy I got it from was a BSD developer with multiple Alpha machines so there is hope there.
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Unread postby Alver » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:07 pm

Never considered OpenVMS? It's not unix related and doesn't feel the slightest bit like any other OS out there... but it's very, very interesting to mess around with. And you can get free hobbyist licenses for it too, so it's 100% legal.
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Unread postby porter » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:07 pm

I happily ran NetBSD 3.0 on my AlphaStation 400 (identical to AlphaServer 400, avanti). Now I have switched to a legal Tru64 5.1, Technology Enthusiast License.

Tru64 is hungry for licenses, you have to feed them in to enable normally standard subsystems.

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Unread postby theinonen » Wed Feb 21, 2007 3:16 pm

Linux is generally well supported on alphas.

I have Debian installed on my Alphaserver 4100 and it works very well.

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Unread postby regan_russell » Wed Feb 21, 2007 5:56 pm

theinonen wrote:Linux is generally well supported on alphas.

I have Debian installed on my Alphaserver 4100 and it works very well.


It is a little known fact the Alphas running Linux can run OSF/1 binaries by copying the link loader and a whole bunch of share objects across.. I did when I had my personal Alpha in my office and one of the universities Alpha on the same subnet. I could run one or two apps with it. Not exactly legal in the licensing terms. But DEC didn't seem too concerned about it.

I run Tru64 now and work with VMS from time to time so its all good.

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Unread postby ipaddict » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:14 pm

regan_russell wrote:It is a little known fact the Alphas running Linux can run OSF/1 binaries by copying the link loader and a whole bunch of share objects across.


FreeBSD ships with an OSF/1 ABI layer that is designed for this sort of thing, as well. BSD is also generally well supported on the Alpha.

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Unread postby jan-jaap » Thu Feb 22, 2007 2:18 am

ipaddict wrote:FreeBSD ships with an OSF/1 ABI layer that is designed for this sort of thing, as well. BSD is also generally well supported on the Alpha.

FreeBSD is dropping the Alpha at the next major release.
Linux has it's own problems as well: ever since the change from XFree to Xorg, Debian has been broken on many popular ATI cards on the Alpha. It was fixed only recently, after being broken the best part of 2006. There just aren't that many people interested in Alpha anymore...
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Unread postby ipaddict » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:33 am

jan-jaap wrote:
ipaddict wrote:FreeBSD ships with an OSF/1 ABI layer that is designed for this sort of thing, as well. BSD is also generally well supported on the Alpha.

FreeBSD is dropping the Alpha at the next major release.


That doesn't change it's current status, and certainly doesn't prevent one from running a well-supported release well into the future. There are plenty of 4.11 boxen still serving their users well.

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Unread postby porter » Thu Feb 22, 2007 12:14 pm

jan-jaap wrote:FreeBSD is dropping the Alpha at the next major release.


NetBSD uses the number of architectures it runs on as a discriminator and as a badge of honour!

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Unread postby Cauldronborn » Thu Feb 22, 2007 12:17 pm

Well I thought about VMS but don't know what I'd do with it and just one more funky OS to learn. Since I doubt I can get Tru64 running on it I'm torn between some version of BSD and Linux (probably Debian but now not so sure). Anyone know which has the most current support for these?
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Re: What OS to run?

Unread postby foetz » Thu Feb 22, 2007 2:42 pm

Cauldronborn wrote:I've recently aquired a big ol monstrosity of a Alphaserver. Not sure what model but its big and square (not as big but roughly Crimson shaped) that is supposed to have dual procs in it. It boots to some kind of prom but after that I'm lost. My question is what are my OS options and what are the Pro/Con's of each. I understand it will run Tru64 but possible licencing issues? Also NT but I'd like to forgo that. Anyone know how the linux or Open/Net/Free BSD support is for these? The guy I got it from was a BSD developer with multiple Alpha machines so there is hope there.


no question, if there is one always use the dedicated unix which would be tru64 here.

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R-ten-K
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Unread postby R-ten-K » Thu Feb 22, 2007 3:04 pm

Cauldronborn wrote:Well I thought about VMS but don't know what I'd do with it and just one more funky OS to learn. Since I doubt I can get Tru64 running on it I'm torn between some version of BSD and Linux (probably Debian but now not so sure). Anyone know which has the most current support for these?


Since you provided little in terms of identifying the actual machine model you have, there is not a sure way of knowing what OS will be a good fit.

Both, CentOS and Debian should support most low and medium alpha systems. There is a Gentoo branch that builds using the Compaq C compiler, which is far better than gcc for AXP.

NetBSD also runs like a charm.
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theinonen
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Unread postby theinonen » Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:44 am

Not knowing the exact model of the alphaserver I think that safest choice would be linux. It has support for more systems than BSD.

For a video card I recommend Elsa gloria synergy or some other Permedia based card. (Works great with linux or FreeBSD)

NetBSD is nice if your model is supported. X11 is supported only by few TGA cards.

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Ebbi
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Unread postby Ebbi » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:05 pm

Is there a sticker somewhere on the case, where you can read something like a model or product number?

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R-ten-K
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Unread postby R-ten-K » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:11 pm

Ebbi wrote:Is there a sticker somewhere on the case, where you can read something like a model or product number?


There should be a alphastation or alphaserver moniquer somewhere, is it DEC or Compaq branded?

Google is your friend too in these cases. depending on the srm version, you should be able to use "show config" to get the machine model and configuration info from the srm prompt.
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