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What is Debian GNU/Linux like on an Alpha?

Good day all,

I am presently running Debian on my Celeron home computer, but would
like to experiment with a 21164 based Alpha workstation.  Any advice
from the Debian Alpha community would be much appreciated.

Packages:  Having researched Paul Slootman's Alpha/i386 diffs page (
http://auric.debian.org/~paul/alpha/diff/ ), it seems that the stable
potato release of Alpha had roughly 116 fewer packages than the i396
release.  This seems pretty good overall.  Does Debian Alpha usually
keep up with the i386 packages this well?  Are there any major packages
missing from the Alpha distro?

Compiling:  My understanding is that the compiler released by Digital
for use with Linux does a much better job of compiling than the standard
GCC compiler - resulting in much faster code.  Are the binaries compiled
for the Debian Alpha distribution made using the Digital compiler, or GCC?

Desktop practicality: Since this would be a home computer, the Debian
Alpha system would mostly be used for web browsing, email, word
processing, playing CDs, etc.  No game playing though.  While I know
that Alphas are superb scientific and engineering workstations, how well
do they manage in this sort of home user role?

Many thanks,


Luke Seubert

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