Subject: Re: Any experince with this alpha?
To: John C. Hayward <>
From: The Terminator rAT <>
List: port-alpha
Date: 08/26/1996 11:49:00
"John C. Hayward" writes:
 >    It looks like DEC is dumping some alphas and various vendors are selling
 > these systems.  Does anyone have experince with the following system:

Yes.  I have one running at home.  It is the third machine (XAOS-III) to
come through my place in about three months.  The first two fried within 2
weeks of booting them (one flat died, the other's console displays
fireworks and dies...)

On the other hand, we have several of them floating around here at NAS,
and nobody else seems to have any problems with them.  (Must be my
"golden"  touch ;^)

They seem to run a bit hot (sometimes painful to the touch) but seem to 
be well engineered to get rid of the heat.  I suspect my microwave over 
heat-related problems for the death of my two machines...

And, NetBSD/alpha runs quite well.  I have found a few odd bugs (dump /
restore currently don't work, for instance) but for the most part it's 
very stable and happy.  Good job, Chris!

 > In particular does X run well on this machine (I guess the video is built 

Yes.  1280x1024/256 looks very nice.  The X server (at least the one
supplied by Chris Demetriou) is slow on memcpy operations (window moves,
image update, etc) but very snappy otherwise.

AFAIK, it is completely unoptimized for the hardware and does everything
via memcpy calls. 

In short: There is room for improvement, but it works well, and is (more
or less) comfortably usable.

 > into the mother board).  Also it appears that there is built in SCSI for
 > the hard drive but I cannot tell.

Yes.  I have a 2G disk connected to the outboard, as well as the little 
340 disk inside.  They coexist peacefully.

 > Is 24MB enough space for a alpha (I know it is a RISC processor and has

It will run, but (esp. since there are no shared libraries on the Alpha
(yet)) it will get eaten pretty darn quick.  I built a copy of Mosaic that
was 18MB.  I stripped it down to only a tiny 12MB but it crashes...

I have 48MB in my machine, and NetBSD seems to run just fine with that.

 > Does the current alpha port of NetBSD support PCMCIA cards - I would need to 

I don't know about either of these -- it's on a lan at my house.

 > I can get this system (without monitor) for $800 which seems like a good
 > bang for the buck.  

Yes.  It makes a good little workstation (especially compared to PC-class
machines of similar power (586/90-ish I think).  They are also very small,
which was a big win with my S.O., who doesn't find old computer hardware 
to be very decorative...  ;^)  In fact, she described it as "cute"...  ;^)

Be sure to order it with the SRM console (although the ARC firmware has an
option to switch to the SRM firmware -- only took me three weeks to
discover that one) and if you order it from Computer Guys, get the free
RedHat Linux frisbee.  ;^)


O----O   A Concise Guide To Some Common Objects Seen From Very, Very Far Away :
 \oO/       Motorcycle  Cheeseburger  Zen Buddhist  Fred's Bar And Grill
==\/==           .            .             .                 .