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AlphaServer 2100

mpatoray

Experienced Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
76
Location
New Middletown Ohio
Hello All,

I have a DEC AlphaServer that has been being used as a table/printer stand for about a year now... i would like to put it to useful work, there is no OS on the the hard drives.

I know it should be able to run True64 UNIX or VMS. I would be open to running either OS on this system.

Does anyone have suggestions on where to start?

Thanks,

Matt
 

gslick

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2010
Messages
2,112
Location
Seattle, WA
OpenVMS is probably the easier way to go. You can get hobbyist licenses for free and getting copies of the 8.4 installation media shouldn't be too difficult. I have an original CD media set.
 

lowen

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
1,509
Location
Western North Carolina, USA
Depending upon which CPU cards are in the 2100 you have you can run an older Linux or NetBSD pretty well. Linux kernel 2.2 supports full SMP on the Sable platform, but if you only have one CPU there is more choice. NetBSD is single-CPU.

You can run Windows NT for Alpha (or, if you can find it, the Alpha Windows 2000 beta) with a firmware change. But to get the vintage feel a hobbyist OpenVMS license is probably the way to go.

I think I still have some of the support files for the AS2100 (Sable) system here, since I have an AS2100. I even have one of the EISA RAID cards available.

For its day the system I have would have been a beast; there was no PC system in 1996 where you could get four 275Hz 64-bit CPU's with 1GB of RAM of which I'm aware....
 

amadama

Experienced Member
Joined
May 27, 2010
Messages
286
Location
Long Island, NY
Agree with everyone above.
Join Connect: (it's free)
http://www.connect-community.org/

Then request OpenVMS hobbyist license paks (might as well get for VAX, Alpha and Itanium):
http://plato.ccsscorp.com/hobbyist_registration.php3

After you get your license paks respond to that email to request the FTP location and credentials for the installation media (7.3 for VAX and 8.4 for Alpha and Itanium).
You will need to renew the hobbyist licenses yearly.

You may also want to get Personal Alpha emulator (to build an OpenVMS Galaxy cluster!):
http://www.stromasys.ch/downloads/

PM me if you need any Tru64 information.
Good luck and have fun!
 

KC9UDX

Space Commander
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
Messages
7,468
Location
Lutenblag
For its day the system I have would have been a beast; there was no PC system in 1996 where you could get four 275Hz 64-bit CPU's with 1GB of RAM of which I'm aware....

It wasn't really a PC though. :D

The closest thing I was aware of at the time was the Ultra 1, which I had use of and thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I ended up owning it eventually, and last year gave it away for free.
 

mpatoray

Experienced Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
76
Location
New Middletown Ohio
I have registered to get the VAX, Alpha and Itanium versions of VMS.

I do have a total of 3 AlphaServer 2100's and an AlphaStation that I can not remember the model number of at the moment. So things could get interesting :)

The first AlphaServer is the one mentioned at the beginning of this thread and attempts to boot. the other 2 are in unknown but complete condition.

The Alpha Station is a bare bones box, I believe it has ram but no Hard drive or CDROM drive, and has no frame buffer.

The one thing about the AlphaServer 2100 is that the hard drives in the removable caddies are very loud, are there any other 50 pin SCSI drives that can be used that might not sound like a bunch of jet engines? Or can I get this thing to boot off off an external 68 pin SCSI hard drive?

Thanks,

Matt
 

lowen

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2014
Messages
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Location
Western North Carolina, USA
It wasn't really a PC though. :D

Actually, it was built on many PC technologies, including EISA and PCI. It is as much a PC as IBM's S/390 Integrated Server (and the PC Server 500 of similar size) system was..... :) And when you see it running Windows 2000 (I actually do have the CD with the last Win2000 beta for Alpha) you would swear it was a PC.

The closest thing I was aware of at the time was the Ultra 1, which I had use of and thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I ended up owning it eventually, and last year gave it away for free.

I have a couple of Ultra 1's in the basement.... but the closest thing to the AS2100 in Sun-land would have been the Enterprise 450-based Ultra 450 (Sun called it 'Enterprise' if it was meant to be a headless server, and 'Ultra' for the workstations with graphics.....; the 450 could have up to four UltraSPARC II processors (450MHz is the top end I remember, but it might have only been 400MHz) and up to 4GB of RAM). The AS2100 is physically about the same size as the 450.

The Ultra 1 was single-processor, as far as I recall, with the Ultra 2 having two UPA processor slots (my U1's are both fixed-configuration boxen, with the CPU soldered-in and not in the UPA slots used in some of the later Ultras).

The AS2100 with the right OS is not a bad machine, but a single-CPU AlphaPC 164LX or even 164SX would be faster for Linux (but as I recall you can't run OpenVMS on the AlphaPC boards). I actually have one of each in my collection...... and ran an old Red Hat for Alpha on the 164LX several years back. Relative to most of what we call 'vintage' here these are absolutely screaming machines.
 

lowen

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...The one thing about the AlphaServer 2100 is that the hard drives in the removable caddies are very loud, are there any other 50 pin SCSI drives that can be used that might not sound like a bunch of jet engines? Or can I get this thing to boot off off an external 68 pin SCSI hard drive?t

With the right, supported by SRM, SCSI card you can boot off of any SCSI drive, yes. As I recall, certain Symbios chips were supported for booting from SRM, at least with Linux. Those StorageWorks drive 'blocks' are fun, aren't they? For OpenVMS you may have to have an officially supported drive with a real DEC model, like an RZ28, RZ29, RZ1DD or similar.

I will look in the docs I still have and see which specific chips were supported. I was booting Debian and later a Stage I Gentoo off the StorageWorks array at one point, but that's been several years ago.
 

mpatoray

Experienced Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
76
Location
New Middletown Ohio
I did all the registration and have the links, I will download VMS tonight when I get home from work.

The question now becomes, is there an install guide for VMS on the AS-2100? I have never touched VMS before.
 

lowen

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Joined
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Messages
1,509
Location
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...
The question now becomes, is there an install guide for VMS on the AS-2100? I have never touched VMS before.

The infamous Orange/Gray Wall.

Anyway, HP has a nice docs site: http://h71000.www7.hp.com/doc/index.html?jumpid=/go/openvms/doc

This is a lot of documentation, by the way, which is the reason it got its nickname.

There are a number of simpler install guides out there, most of which are geared to running OpenVMS on a SIMH VAX instance. But VMS is VMS, for the most part, and the HP docs are thorough.

Also, the docs should be on your CD; but it is not in ISO format. You'll need to set up an ODS2 reader workstation; it has been a while, but I set up a Tiny Core Linux VM and installed an ODS2 package on it to be able to retrieve data from a VAXstation 4000/96's drives; it can be done. I'll look for that info a bit later.....

Now, your AS2100, since it's 250MHz, is actually EV5 and thus is faster than the 275MHz CPU's in the one I have here. I'm not sure what I have for the 4/275 is directly applicable to the 5/250 CPU or not.
 
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mpatoray

Experienced Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
76
Location
New Middletown Ohio
I have gotten VMS 8.4 installed in the system. There was some head scratching that ended up being caused by the console being set for serial and not for video, as I am using the VGA video card and my IBM Model M PS/2 keyboard. But that was easily fixed with the "set Console" command.
 

mpatoray

Experienced Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
76
Location
New Middletown Ohio
Hello,

I have gotten Open VMS 8.4 installed. I am using the "Video" terminal with the EISA VGA card installed.

When I load VMS now, hit starts fin and then after checking the 2 ethernet cards, I get "Out of Range 27.9 kHz/62Hz" on my LG LCD and on my Sony PS-400 Trinitron I get Out of range with no listing.

How do I cane these settings to be compatible with my monitor?
 

mpatoray

Experienced Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
76
Location
New Middletown Ohio
Got everything up and running, using my Wyse model 55 terminal as console right now. Now to start getting my head around VMS ans trying to install some software (Is there a short primer somewhere) , along with getting the settings changed for use with my VGA monitors, then getting DECnet set up.
 
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