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Re: Alpha PWS 433a and Adaptec AHA-294X Boot Blues

On Mon, 17 May 2004, Steve Langasek wrote:

Hi Steve, 

snip ...

> > I downloaded the Beta 4 of the Debian Installer for Alpha (both the ISO
> > and the two boot floppies just to be on the safe side) and the Woody
> > floppy images.
> Where did you find d-i based boot floppies for Alpha?  (Hint: these
> don't exist, there has never been a floppy target for alpha in
> debian-installer)

Ahh ... I've just gone back the the installer web page and realised that 
attempting to use x86 floppy images on an Alpha probably won't work!

That will teach me to try and juggle too many things at once and give my
full attention to the task at hand. You would've think I would've learnt
by now ...

snip ...

> > Attempt 1 - Boot the Installer CD from the AlphaBIOS
> > No joy; the AlphaBIOS refused to budge on this; insisting that the boot
> > configuration was invalid (this was not only during the definition of the 
> > boot configuration but also when attempting the boot itself).
> > On closer examination it appears that the reason behind the boot failure 
> > is that the milo directory on the CD is empty - no linload.exe, no milo 
> > ... ?
> The sarge installer does not support MILO.  No one with a vested
> interest in seeing it work has stepped forward to maintain AlphaBIOS
> support for sarge.

Oh. I wasn't aware of that and I don't recall seeing it mentioned 
anywhere. Good to know though - that should cut off another line of 
enquiry that doesn't lead anywhere.

> > Attempt 2 - Boot the Installer Floppies from the AlphaBIOS
> > Again - no joy; the AlphaBIOS whinged about an invalid configuration when 
> > defining the boot config but I'm getting used to that. This time, when I 
> > selected my new floppy based configuration nothing happened. No activity 
> > on the floppy drive, no access light flashing, nothing.
> > Attempt 3 - Boot the Installer Floppies from the SRM
> > You've probably guessed but again, no joy. This time, the transcript 
> > looked something like this ...
> > >>> boot dva0 -flags 0
> > (boot dva0. -flags 0)
> > block 0 of dva0. is not a valid boot block
> Really, really have no idea what these are.
> I'm sorry if I missed this in an earlier message; is there a reason you
> didn't try to boot the CD from SRM?  Is your CD not recognized as a boot
> device with your particular configuration?

Believe me when I say I'd love to be able to boot from SRM, but the 
version of the SRM firmware I have (which is the latest version) doesn't 
recognise my Adaptec AHA-294X SCSI controller; hence the root cause of the 

> If so, your best bet for a direct sarge install (given the lack of MILO
> and boot floppy support) might be to use the daily netboot images 
> available from <http://people.debian.org/~vorlon/d-i/images/daily/>.

OK - sounds like a plan. So 
http://people.debian.org/~vorlon/d-i/images/daily/dest/netboot/boot.img is 
4.9 Mb, so that means a CD image. 

What I'm still unsure about is how I'd get this to boot as I can't use the 
SRM (so no "boot dka0") and MILO isn't supported (so I can't specify 
linload.exe and MILO in the AlphaBIOS).

Sorry to keep badgering you people with questions; if nothing else this is 
teaching me two key points. One I _thought_ I knew Linux. But what I 
actually knew was RedHat on an x86 platform. Moving one of my main x36 
servers onto Debian soon cured me of that assumption ... and it seems that 
getting Debian onto an Alpha is going to cure me of the assumption that I 
know hardware. None of which though, is a bad thing :-)

Thanks again for everyone's help and suggestions.


"There are two major products that came out of Berkeley; LSD and UNIX.
We don't believe this to be a coincidence."

BOFH Excuse #76: Unoptimised hard drive.

Linux, because eventually, you grow up enough to be trusted with a fork()

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