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re:installing debian/alpha

In message "installing debian/alpha", I wrote:

> I have recently purchased two AXPpci33 (21066-166MHz) boards and would like
> to run debian/alpha on them. Once the systems are up, I would be interested
> in helping with debian/alpha development.
> current obstacles:
> 1 - no boot disks. I could get a copy of Redhat if I had to, but I'd rather
>     not. I had a bad experience with a RedHat/Intel install. On the other
>     hand, I've done two debian/Intel installations without much problem.

What is the ETA of Debian/Alpha boot disks?

> 2 - some kind of memory problem. When there are SIMMs in one pair of sockets,
>     the boot ROM doesn't get past the memory size test (as indicated by the
>     diagnostic LEDs). If all four sockets are filled, it works properly.
>     I suspect that one of the SIMMs is defective. Has anyone seen anything
>     like this?

As I surmised, one of the SIMMs was defective. Replaced, problem solved.

> 3 - milo doesn't seem to initialize the video card properly.
>     Does anyone have any experience using an ATI 3D Xpression+ with linux?
>     The linux/alpha FAQ says that the DEC x86 emulator in milo should be
>     able to initialize any VGA card.

The card I had was the version with NTSC TV output. Consultation with
ATI tech support revealed that the ROM code on this card contains a loop 
which repeatedly measures some timing parameter related to the NTSC
chip. Supposedly this takes twenty or thirty seconds on a Pentium; it
runs much slower under emulation on a 166MHz 21066. The card actually
does initialize properly; it just takes fifteen minutes to do it. After
this, it runs fine.

ATI claims that the non-TV version would initialize much faster; in any
case, the TV feature will not work in an Alpha system. I also learned
that that ATI does not publish the 3D accelerator interface specs and
has no plans to release Linux drivers for it, meaning that you can only
use this card as a plain 2D Mach64. I can get that for less than the
$200 that this card cost.

I swapped the card for an S3 ViRGE. This runs fine, at least under MILO,
which is as far as I've gotten until now.

Ian Willmott
Northern Telecom
Ottawa Ontario Canada

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