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Re: 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.

Smart move.

>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?

They do a pretty good job.  There will always be some packages that
i386 that alpha does not and vice versa.  

>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

Compaq's FORTRAN and C compiler definitely create faster code;
particularly code that extensively uses floating-point operations.
But, for average use, gcc-compiled is just fine.  I don't know for
sure, but I would speculate that the Debian-supplied binaries are 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?

Should do fine.  However, you will not see a great deal of speed
increase over an i386 until you use it for crunching numbers; lots of

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