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FWD: Linux/Alpha SDK announcement

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		Linux/Alpha Developers' Kit Now Available!

ANNOUNCING: The Linux/Alpha Software Developers' Kit!  The Linux/Alpha SDK
is the first public release of Linux operating system components for 
Digital's Alpha family of microprocessors.

The SDK is available via anonymous FTP at:

I STRONGLY suggest that you first download the files README and SDK_CONTENTS
and read them before downloading anything else (hint: you do NOT need
to download all 55Mb in that directory!)

I must emphasize that the Linux/Alpha SDK is NOT a fully-functional
Linux distribution.  The documentation is EXTREMELY sketchy, and is
mainly in the form of back-of-the-envelope notes.  Linux/Alpha is not
self-hosting; one must cross-compile the kernel and utilities on
another system using the available cross-development tools.  The kernel
is extremely fragile, and several important code paths (e.g.
paging-out) have not been tested yet.  Very few utilities are
available; you can bring the system up to a shell prompt, but you can't
do much of anything else yet ("ls" and a few other utilities work, but
there's no editor yet, f'rinstance).  Device driver support is minimal;
currently, we support console-callback device drivers on all supported
platforms, but these are EXTREMELY slow (console-callback drivers are
the Alpha equivalent of BIOS drivers on Intel systems).  We have ported
three sample drivers so far for the DEC 2000 AXP system (also known as
"Jensen"; this is the EISA-based Alpha PC): keyboard, text-mode VGA,
and Adaptec 1742 SCSI.

In other words, Linux/Alpha is currently in a state that only a kernel
hacker could love.  If that describes you, then by all means download
the SDK and give it a try!

System requirements: Because Linux/Alpha is not yet self-hosting, you need
to have both a development system, and a testbed system available to you.  
The development system is where you compile and build the Linux/Alpha
components and load them onto the testbed system.  The testbed system is
the Alpha-based system on which you actually run Linux/Alpha.

If you have an Alpha-based PC-class system running OSF/1 (e.g. DEC 2000)
then you can use the same system for development and testbed.  Otherwise
you will need two systems.  You also need two systems if you are going to
use gdb on the running kernel.

The development system can be any system that can support the Linux/Alpha
cross-development tools.  I have successfully built and tested the cross
tools on the following systems:

	Linux 1.1.x 386/486 (natch!)
	DEC OSF/1 Alpha 2.0
	SunOS 4.1 (Sparc)

I have pre-built binaries of the cross-development tools for the above
systems available in the Linux/Alpha FTP area.  If you would like to
try your hand at building the cross-tools for a different architecture,
I have also included the cross-tools sources in the FTP area.  Note that
you MUST build the cross tools with gcc or with some other compiler that
understands 64-bit data types.

The testbed system must be an Alpha-based system with the "SRM Console"
firmware.  This is the firmware used for running DEC OSF/1 or OpenVMS.
If your system currently runs Windows NT, you may need a firmware swap
before you can boot Linux/Alpha.  Note that this is not a permanent
requirement: we're busily working on eliminating the dependence on SRM
console firmware.  If your situation does not allow you to use SRM
console, sit tight:  you'll be able to use a future version of Linux/Alpha.

Currently you need a dedicated SCSI device to boot Linux/Alpha from.
Note that a free partition is NOT sufficient!  The console callback
drivers currently have no concept of disk partitioning, and it's not
worthwhile for us to add it if we're only going to eliminate the
drivers anyway.  be large; you can fit the kernel, shell, and one
utility of your choice onto a 1.44Mb floppy, although booting this will
be excruciatingly slow.  Any disk larger than 20Mb will be plenty for
now, and used SCSI devices of less than 100Mb are real cheap these days

As I said earlier, the documentation is extremely sketchy.  I suspect
you'll have LOTS of questions.  Fire away!  I'll copy all replies to
the mailing list so everybody can benefit from the same information.
Your feedback will drive the docuemntation process.

Anyhow, many thanks for your patience.  I think it will be well rewarded!

		The Linux/Alpha development team:
		Andy Riebs (manager)		riebs at
		Jim Paradis (technical lead)	paradis at
		Jay Estabrook (device drivers)	jestabro at
		David Rusling (boot & PCI)	rusling at
		Brian Nelson (utilities)	nelson at
		Charlie Greenman (documentation) greenman at

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

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