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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.

News

[10 Dec 2014] New alphalinux.net website launched

The AlphaLinux.net 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 www.alphalinux.org.

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 alphalinux.org site using archive.org. 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 alphalinux.org 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 avoid 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 http://archive.debian.org/debian lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian lenny main contrib non-free
deb http://archive.debian.org/debian-security lenny/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://archive.debian.org/debian-security lenny/updates main contrib non-free

Also install the signing keys:

apt-get install debian-archive-keyring

An example of a package directory is: http://archive.debian.org/debian/pool/main/l/lxdoom/

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.

Non-Linux operating systems for Alpha

This list is incomplete.

Name Support status
FreeBSD No longer supported.
NetBSD Supported as of version 6.1.5, 22 Sep 2014.
OpenBSD Supported as of version 5.6, released on 1 Nov 2014.
OpenVMS Supported. You can get hobbyist licenses for it. The OpenVMS operating system has now been relaunched under its own company: VMS Software Inc.
Tru64 (formerly Digital UNIX) No longer supported. End of standard support was 31 Dec 2012. [2]
UNICOS/mk (Cray supercomputers) Unknown. (Mentioned for interest because the Alpha architecture was used in the Cray T3E supercomputer.)
Windows NT 4.0 No longer supported.
Windows 2000 RC? No longer supported.

Alpha History

Alpha: The History in Facts and Comments

Supercomputers

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

Credits

  • 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 alphalinux.org website.

Disclaimer

Your use of any information or data on this website or linked to by it is entirely at your own risk. There are no guarantees that the information provided here is correct. Files available to download may not have been verified as being correct, virus-free, or suitable for your purposes.

Some content may be copyrighted by other people or organisations. A lack of copyright or legal information on this website should not be taken to imply that no such copyright exists. Anyone using or downloading content from this website or linked to by it should first ensure that they are legally allowed to use that content, and that they accept any license terms.

References

  1. Debian -- Alpha Port http://www.debian.org/ports/alpha/
  2. "HP Tru64 UNIX Alpha Lifecycle Chart" http://www.hp.com/softwarereleases/releases-media2/notices/HP_Tru64_UNIX_Alpha_Lifecycle_Chart.pdf