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Revision as of 13:30, 12 December 2014 by Gareth (talk | contribs) (SCSI hard disk emulator for retro computing)
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This website is about the port of Linux to the Alpha architecture. Linux is available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.


[10 Dec 2014] New website launched

The website is intended to provide resources for Alpha processor operating systems; in particular Linux on Alpha. The content is under development, but there are plans to include content formerly hosted at

There are many good reasons for keeping Alpha content available, whether or not the Alpha architecture is a primary platform for running Linux nowadays:

  • Alpha hardware is still run by real organisations doing real work. It is still supported hardware for users running OpenVMS.
  • We wouldn't throw away data about our favourite 8-bit home microcomputers, even though they are now used only by hobbyists, so why should we throw away information about Alpha?
  • Retro computing - it's a bit like owning a classic car but is cheaper (normally) and takes up less space!

You can still view the old site using The last copy of the site was on 10 Sep 2014. I hope to make copies of the downloadable content. If you contributed content for in the past then you are very welcome to resubmit it to this site!

The Future of Alpha

SCSI hard disk emulator for retro computing

As Alpha is effectively retro computing, it joins many other older computers that require increasingly rare SCSI hard disks. The SCSI2SD card connects to a 50-pin SCSI bus and emulates a hard disk using storage on an SD memory card.

This has been tested by the author on a Compaq XP-1000 Professional Workstation. The SCSI2SD card is seen as a bootable device in the SRM, which enables it to be used to load the Debian Linux kernel. The kernel can then load the rest of the OS from any other device in the machine that it has a driver for, in this case an IDE disk attached to a Promise IDE controller in a PCI slot. By only using it to load the kernel this avoids questions on whether the SD card has sufficient performance for a regular filesystem.

Buy one

  • ICC in the UK have Alpha hardware available for sale (as of October 2014).

Alpha Emulators

  • EmuVM - available free for non-commercial use. (Not tested by the author.)

Active Linux distributions

These are the distributions that still list Alpha as a supported architecture. This is not a complete list.

Distribution Support status
Gentoo Linux Supported as of 10 Nov 2014.

Debian Linux

"The Alpha port is no longer officially supported in the Debian stable release. The last release with official Alpha support was Debian 5.0 "lenny". [1]

However, the online package files for this release are still hosted online. If you try to download the Alpha port from the normal Debian mirrors, you will not find it. To download it go to the Debian Archive site.

Debian packages can still be downloaded and installed from within apt-get by adding the following to /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny main contrib non-free
deb lenny/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny/updates main contrib non-free

Also install the signing keys:

apt-get install debian-archive-keyring

An example of a package directory is:

Discontinued Linux distributions

Distribution Support status
Debian Not supported. Last supported version was 5.0. However, the online package files are still hosted by Debian.
Redhat Not supported.

Other Alpha operating systems

There are many other operating systems for the Alpha architecture, some actively maintained and some no longer supported.

See the List of operating systems for Alpha.

Alpha History

Alpha: The History in Facts and Comments


In its day, Alpha-powered supercomputers were some of the most powerful in the world. For example:


  • Thanks to ICC in the UK for selling me a good-as-new Compaq XP1000 Professional Workstation (October 2014). Check them out if you want to buy Alpha hardware.
  • Internet Archive for keeping copies of the old website.