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FWD: Linux/Alpha status report

------- Forwarded Message

Linux/Alpha: New Years' Message

I sent this message out shortly after New Years', only to find that
nearly nobody received it. 8-(  I discovered that the mailing list
wasn't working, but I've been so busy lately pulling together the SDK
that I haven't had time to attend to it.  For today I'm going to run the
mailing list by hand while I try to install majordomo... that should
clear things up (crossing fingers, knocking on wood, putting the black
cat out for the day... 8-) )

Anyhow: this message contains the status as of the first week in January.
I'll send out another message announcing the availability and location of the
software developers' kit.

Have fun!

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Well, folks, Christmas has come and gone, and I suppose some of you are
wondering about the Linux/Alpha developers' kit that I promised would
be under your tree.   Unfortunately, this Santa only has a couple of
elves working with him, and this beast is a LITTLE bit more complicated
than a toy train 8-)

Seriously, though: we've been held up by two things.  The first is that
I sent a pre-release copy of the kit over to another group within Digital,
and their attempts to use it pointed up some problems that needed to be
corrected.  The second is that there were a few additional features that
I felt would be necessary in order to make this a truly USEFUL developers'
kit.  These included sample device drivers and a kernel debugger.

The sample device drivers we're offering with the first release of the
kit are all for the "Jensen" (DEC 2000 AXP) system.  These include a
text-only VGA driver, a keyboard driver, and an Adaptec 1740 SCSI driver.
Porting these drivers forced us to implement and debug the routines
necessary to access EISA/ISA I/O space from the Alpha processor.

The kernel debugger is "gdb" run from a remote system, communicating over
a serial line to the system under test.  One may now do source-level
debugging of a running kernel.

Finally, I decided that it would be a great service to offer pre-compiled
versions of the cross-development tools for those people with no need
or desire to build them from scratch.  Building the tools can use up
250-300Mb of disk space, whereas the pre-compiled versions require "only"
15-30Mb of disk space (depending on which platform you're running on).

Some of you have written asking if you're indeed on the mailing list
because you haven't received any articles.  That's because there's
been no traffic on the list until now 8-)  I've been working like mad
to get the developers' kit shipshape, and nobody else has had much to
say.  I hope to correct the situation by providing more frequent, informal
progress reports that I hope will stimulate discussion.

One item to note (and I'm sure this will simulate LOTS of discussion...):
currently Linux/Alpha ONLY runs on systems that currently support OSF/1.
This is because Linux/Alpha requires the OSF PALcode and the so-called
"SRM" console (as opposed to the ARC console used by NT).  Those of you
who have bought AXPpci motherboards will probably not be able to run
Linux/Alpha yet... we're currently working with the group that developed
motherboards in the AXPpci family to remedy this situation.  Of course, 
you MIGHT be able to convince the rep who sold you the AXPpci motherboard
to "loan" you a copy of the SRM console firmware so you can get up and
running; I know of at least one person who's been able to do this so far...

- --
Jim Paradis (paradis at        "It's not procrastination, 
Digital Equipment Corporation		       it's my new Just-In-Time 
(508)952-4047				       Workload Management System!"

------- End of Forwarded Message

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