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Re: Re: The State of Alpha Linux

On 8 Jan 2009, at 4:32 pm, Matt Turner wrote:

I attribute this to sellers who try to hit the lottery. That is, they hope that a corporate server with no back up fails and someone with
    access to the company's expense account spends 7000 GBP (as I was
    recently quoted for an ES47) to get a replacement immediately.

I can attest to that - we just got rid of a cluster of 8 ES40s to a research outfit that (for whatever reason) still hasn't made any effort to move off the platform. Of course, such people are running Tru64 or VMS; it's child's play to move services on Linux on Alpha to some other architecture.

That's why AlphaServer resale values are good - lots of Tru64 and VMS customers who don't want to move to Itanium. Tru64 customers (such as we were) are doubly hit - not only do they not have their architecture any more, but of course they don't have their OS either, and if you've made heavy use of Tru64-specific features, such as TruCluster or AdvFS, then you're not in a happy place. TruCluster in particular is hard to replace - HA features for Linux do not work in the same way, or provide the same features, and porting applications to, say, heartbeat, is not trivial in the least.

We bit the bullet and began migrating to Linux on x86 about 6 years ago, pretty much as soon as the HP/Compaq merger happened. The writing was on the wall. But I suspect a lot of customers drank the HP Koolade and believed them when they said that AdvFS and TruCluster would be ported to HP-UX.

That is edifying. I've noticed that in large organizations, there is often a philosophy: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This could also mean that if it ain't broke, break it, but that's another matter. At my recent job at a phone company, it was not terribly long ago that we got rid of the last vestiges of OS/2 (I mean in one organization; for all I know it may still be deployed elsewhere). Anyway, I can definitely see that while it can be a reasonable philosophy at times, it can ultimately be more bother than it's worth. If Tru64 is the reason why Alpha hardware on ebay is sometimes so pricey (though, I bet you'll see that listings with high opening bids get relisted over and over for months on end), then I would expect that PA-RISC hardware would sell for much less; HP-UX runs on Itanium.

Anyway, as has been mentioned, just because some sellers expect a fortune for Alpha hardware doesn't mean you can't get good deals if you are patient. I got my XP1000 for $300 about three years ago.

As others have mentioned, it's quite adequate for my purposes, serving media files; the Silicon Image SATA controller works fine, I get excellent NFS performance from it. I don't expect to transcode movies with it; I have another computer for that. I kind of like having a piece of history which is actually useful to me. But, I guess I wouldn't be heartbroken if the Alpha port comes to an end. It works now, so if it ain't broke... I may be using it for a while. Now if I could just get it to boot from compact flash... I like the zip drive idea someone mentioned though... I have an old MO drive, maybe I'll try that. All of my old SCSI disks sound sort of like jet engines.

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