Most of the problems installing on the AlphaStation 200 seem to
be SCSI related (I'm blaming the ncr53c8xx controller!). The
right kernel should solve your problem. The ZLXp-E2 card is
not supported under X and sometimes leaves artifacts on the console
(this might not be true anymore). I threw this together pretty
quickly, but I hope it helps! I originally wrote this for
RedHat 5.0 (I've retested it for 5.2) , but it should also work
for other versions and distributions and, heck, other Alphas (just
make sure you get your machine's files, kernels,
milos, etc.). Distributions that support the Alpha are: Redhat,
BEFORE YOU CAN START THE INSTALL, you need to...
||Update your firmware to the latest ARC console.
(I gave up on SRM.)
Firmware file: ftp://ftp.digital.com/pub/DEC/Alpha/firmware/v6.x/alpha200/as200_v6_X.exe
(where x is the lastest.)
Some background: ftp://ftp.digital.com/pub/DEC/Alpha/firmware/readmes/alpha200.html
DOS utility: mkboot.exe
for writing the firmware image to disk.
Summary: You need to put the firmware image on a disk
the SRM console can read:
- Get as200_vX.exe file and mkboot.exe
- Rename as200_vX.exe to fwupdate.exe
- Use mkboot.exe to put the image on a floppy:
- Boot your Alpha.
- Set os_type variable to NT (might not be necessary)
set os_type NT
- Insert the floppy you just created
- Load the floppy:
>>> boot dva0
- You should get to a menu system. Choose "Update"
then choose "Update ARC ROM"
- Answer yes, etc., then exit utility.
- Shutdown and restart (cold boot).
- You should be at the ARC console (a menu driven console).
||Create a "MILO" disk.
i.e. Make a DOS formated floppy with the following two files
on it: linload.exe and milo.
v1.5 or the one that came with your distro. This file
doesn't seem to change. (Don't forget to rename it.)
Choose your milo!
- worked for RH 5.0
Stylee - worked for Redhat 5.2 (Solved an "out of
memory" problem for me).
- You might want to try the milo that came with your distro
(unless it's Redhat, then you're probably wasting your
NOTE: David Miller say there's
milo-avanti that corrects the E2 cursor problem (see
below). You might want to check it out.
Create a "KERNEL" disk.
i.e. Get a decent kernel. Rawrite or dd it onto a floppy.
I had better luck with Debian's Alpha kernels than Redhat's
(and I use Redhat).
Redhat: probably on your CD /Redhat/alpha/images/avant.img**
(I used a debian kernel for RH5.0)
(I used the avanti image on the RH5.2 cd and it worked fine
NOTE: milo and the kernel have to
be from the same kernel version (or so I have read - although
in practice this doesn't seem to be so...mmm...).
* Slink might be something else now (like stable).
Look around the site.
**avanti-s.img are supposedly for the SRM console
(if you're so inclined).
||Create a "RAMDISK" disk. i.e. This
is the actual installation disk.
- Get a ramdisk image
Debians are called root.bin (same directory as the kernel).
Redhats are called ramdisk.img (same directory as the
- dd or rawrite it onto a floppy
||BEGIN THE INSTALLATION! (You should have three
floppies: MILO, KERNEL, RAMDISK.)
||Boot the MILO disk from the ARC console.
- Boot into the ARC console.
- Insert MILO disk.
- In ARC console choose "Supplementary menu..."
then "Set up the system..." then "Manage
boot selection menu..." then "Add a boot
selection..." then "New system partition"
then "Floppy Disk" (you'll change this
later to make it boot directly from the HD).
- Change the following (there's more, but these are the
- Go back two screens (with <esc>) and save changes.
- Choose your selection (the one you just modified) from
the boot menu. You should be on your way!
Note 1: After eveything is
installed and you want to boot from the hard drive and not
the floppy, you'll use OSLOADOPTIONS to add your boot string.
See RedHat manual.
Note 2: If you're unfortunate to have
a ZLXp-E2 or 3 card, you're screen may be "funky." Wait
til the floppy has not activity and then continue - the screen
should clear up later (watch your typing!).
||Boot the kernel.
- You should be at the MILO prompt.
- Insert the KERNEL disk.
- At the prompt type:
boot floppy:vmlinux.gz "rw root=/dev/fd0 load_ramdisk=1
- Cross your fingers.
||Start the Installation!
- Insert your RAMDISK when prompted.
- Follow the instructions of your particular installation.
- Leave a 2MB DOS partition for MILO (or
you won't be able to boot from the HD).
Note: I had better luck using
the Debian partitioner. If you have trouble with Redhat
(i.e. it hangs when partitioning, making files sytems, formating,
or while installing packages) partition and make file systems
with Debian, then quit the install, and use RedHat next time
and do not remake the file systems!
||Install MILO (so you can boot directly from
- Your installation should be finished and everything should
- Copy the milo and linloader.exe files from your MILO
floppy to your 2MB DOS partition.
- Add a new boot selection in the ARC console (see "Boot
MILO disk from ARC console" above).
- This time choose appropriate"SCSI Bus..."
- Enter milo and linloader.exe like above.
- In OSLOADOPTIONS you need to put the boot string for
the kernel (the partition where your kernel is (i.e. NOT
milo)). Mine looks like this:
boot sda2:vmlinux.gz root=/dev/sda2
||GETTING BACK TO SRM FROM ARC
Okay, so you want to get back to the SRM console (maybe you
want to try installing Linux from SRM???). You can
NOT use the same firmware disk you used to get to the ARC
console. You must make a new one:
- Get a DOS formatted floppy
- Rename as200_v6_X.exe to fwupdate.exe
- Copy fwupdate.exe to the floppy
- Boot your Alpha
- From Boot Menu choose "Supplementary menu..."
- Insert your floppy.
- From "Supplementary menu" choose "Update
- Program will load then choose "Update"
- Then choose "Update SRM ROM"
- Answer yes, etc., then exit utility
- Do a cold boot and you should be back at the SRM console.
- ZLXp-E2/3 graphic cards are not supported under X =(
The E2 seems to work in console mode, although
I get a "funky" cursor. If someone
can get the ZLXp-E2 card to work properly in the
console (or even better - under X), please
let me know! Note: Tim
Rowley did a patch
XF86_TGA that I haven't had time to try. Also,
see "Create MILO disk" above. Give 'em
- If you get a green/garbled screen when trying to install,
it's the E2 graphics card.
- The AlphaStation 200 is in the Avanti family. (I've
had better luck with Avanti images than AS200 images.)
- Some of the files listed above will probably have changed.
Try the newer ones.
- I bought my Alpha at www.onsale.com.
I've also seen them at www.webauction.com.
Last Update: April 1999