Multia Docs:

Operating Systems Available for DEC's 166mhz Alpha

RED HAT LINUX: Version 5.0 for Alpha

LINUX makes an excellent workstation and server and has an X Windows interface available. LINUX is speedy on the DEC Alpha 166 but requires a degree of computer knowledge to load and operate.

Minimum Recommended: 32MB RAM & 500MB HD

Linux/Alpha: Hot Sites - Red Hat is the home of the latest Linux technology for DEC Alpha, Intel x86, Sun SPARC and other platforms. A full Linux Distribution that supports the DEC Alpha Systems is available from Red Hat Linux Main Page or Red Hat Alpha Linux Resources, or by CD-ROM. - The Linux-Alpha "Official" web page is hosted by AzStarNet. This particular resource has many good links, and a wealth of information with which anybody can get Linux going on an Alpha. - Latest Linux kernels. - More Linux stuff - A great source for various bits: X11 servers, Quake for Linux/Alpha, MILO, as well as some other goodies. - Stephen Tweedie has various RPMs that fix known bugs. E.g., you can find a good time binary here, or a working dump program. If you run into a problem, you might want to check this out. Again, check the date and time stamp to make sure you're really looking at a current file. - Lots of software localized for Japanese and other Asian languages. - Also, Craftworks has recently joined the Linux-Alpha spree, and has an alternative distribution to use.


Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and Server

There is only one CDROM available from MicroSoft that loads any type of machine with NT 4.0. NT 4.0 is not as fast as LINUX but delivers acceptable performance especially if the recommendations in "Speed Optimization Tips" are followed. Needs lots of memory!

Minimum Recommended: 64MB RAM & 340MB HD

Windows NT Links Main URL for Microsoft - Microsoft support files, patches, drivers, and other development information - Windows NT TCP/IP applications and information - Digitals General Alpha NT page has links to NT resources dealing with the Multia - Other resources - Windows NT Home Page - Developer code samples and information in the directory /vendor/microsoft. Miscellaneous utilities as /pub/nt[cpu-type]/ and other files. Also available on CompuServe forum MSWIN32 (library 1 files: and - Shareware and free software for Windows NT. - Shareware and free software.

UseNet Newsgroups for Windows NT information


DEC UNIX requires both a license (DEC #QL-MT4 AE-6Q - $780) and media (DEC #QA-MT4 AA-H8 - $340) to run. It also needs at least 64MB of RAM, a one gigabyte hard drive and either a fast CDROM (preferably 8X) or a DEC approved CDROM to load properly. It's acceptably quick on the Multia but again requires a high degree of computer knowledge to load and operate.

Minimum Recommended: 64MB RAM & 1GB HD

DEC Unix Links - Digital Equipment Corporation - Software Home Page - Digital Unix Home Page - USENIX technical and professional association home page - UNIFORUM home page - O'Reilly & Associates home page

Newsgroups with discussions of Digital UNIX:




NET BSD is an excellent operating system used by the scientific and university communities. It is downloadable and upgradeable for free or you can purchase CDROMs for a small price. It is fast on the Multia and has features that compare with any operating system, but again requires a high degree of computer knowledge to load and operate.

Minimum Recommended: 32MB RAM & 1GB HD

NET BSD 1.2 Links

The NetBSD Project The NetBSD Project is a collective volunteer effort to produce a freely available and redistributable UNIX-like operating system. It runs on a large number of hardware platforms and is highly portable. It comes with complete source code, and is user-supported.

NetBSD/FreeBSD System Administrations Tools This page is intended as a repository for, and link site to, System Administration tools to help make life for *BSD Sysadmins everywhere easier.

Rob Windsor's NetBSD Hints and TipsNetBSD Hints and Tips "In the past, I've helped many a new user through different parts of their NetBSD experience. I've decided to HTML-ize them for easy-access (and less interaction)."

386BSD, NetBSD, and FreeBSD FAQ This Web Site is the definitive home of the *BSD FAQ. The FAQ itself is currently in 10 volumes (marked 0 through 9) and is maintained in text format.

Yahoo! - Computers and Internet:Operating Systems:Unix:BSD:NetBSD Current NETBSD Projects

Newsgroups for NET BSD 1.2

The Newsgroups in the netbsd Hierarchy:

announceAnnouncements pertaining to NetBSD. (Moderated)

miscNetBSD operating system.




Troubleshooting a DEC Multia 166mhz

This is designed to help you help us troubleshoot problems that you maybe having.


Video problems

Problem: you power up your Multia and you get no signal on your monitor

check the light on the power button.

Does it light up? If not, check to see if power is securely connected to the machine.
Does it light up briefly and go off? Check the power connectors to the board. Make sure that the power cables are in the correct position- they are keyed to fit into the right slot. The cable with the two greenish leads goes toward the front of the machine and the cable with two thin red and black leads goes toward the back.
Does it stay on? Check your monitor connection. If this does not solve the problem, check the LED on the back of the Multia next to the ethernet port- the one that looks like a phone connector. Turn the machine on and wait about 30 seconds. At this point you should be getting a flash code. The LED will flash about once a second, up to fourteen times, finishing with a long on and long off. The code starts over at this point. Count the number of flashes.
If you are getting between 10-14 flashes, odds are that there is a problem with the memory. Try reseating the SIMMS, trying different slots or different memory. Memory must be in matching pairs, i.e. same manufacturer, same chip count and same speed. It should be at least 70ns. Slower memory is a problem, faster memory is not. Either Bank A or Bank B can be used for one pair and the other bank can be empty. It is easier to test one pair of memory at a time. If this does not solve the problem, or the flash count you get is below 10, please give us a call.

Problem: The Multia screen displays a distorted image when started up.

This is normal for most non-multisync monitors. The console on startup is the SRM console, used for booting DEC Unix.If your display does not seem to sync correctly, type ARC <return>This should bring you into the ARC console. If you want to force the Multia to sync, you can set the jumpers on the board to your monitor's settings:





vert. refresh

Pixel Freq



































































SCSI Problems

Problem: Display Hardware Configuration in the ARC menu fails to display devices connected to the multia.

The first step is to simplify the SCSI chain as much as possible. Using one drive or cd-rom greatly reduces the numbers of variables to work with. Begin with no termination on the chain. The majority of these types of problems are a result of double termination on the chain. Make sure that you have removed any terminating jumpers from the drive that you're using.Reboot your Multia and check the second page of the Display Hardware Configuration menu. You should see the drive listed now. If not, check your cables. Additionally, try terminating the chain with only this device.If the drive is still not showing up, check the internal SCSI cable that connects the external port on the Multia. Check for possible fraying or a loose connection with the daughter card in the PCI slot.
IDE Drives on the Multia
There is a 44 pin connector near the floppy connector, with which you can connect a 2.5" IDE Drive. The 44 pin format was specifically designed to power 2.5" drives. There is no additional power cable necessary.

Sound and WindowsNT

Problem: configuration of the Multia's sound card doesn't seem to work.

Make sure that you've configured the sound corectly:

Enter the Multimedia control panel in the WinNT control panels folder. Select Devices at the top, then click add go to the bottom of the list and select Windows Sound System. You want the DMA at 3, the Port at 530, and the Interrupt at 9.

Ethernet and WindowsNT

The default driver that WindowsNT selects for the Multia does not support 10 base-2 or Coax type ethernet. You will need to select another driver.

In the control pannels folder, select network . When you select the network adapter, you need to select from the list of bindings. Select DEC Multia's ethernet controller.
If the Multia is still unable to see the network, from the ARC menu, go to the Supplementary Menu, go to the Setup the System. Here select Switch to OpenVMS or DEC Unix. In this menu Select OSF or DEC Unix and power the machine on and off. This will bring you into the SRM. When you get to the >>> prompt, type show device. This will display a list of devices on the PCI bus. If you have SCSI devices attached, you'll see them.
In the list of devices look for an ewka. If you don't see this device, give us a call, otherwise, the problem is a configuration problem. Type arc to return you to the ARC menu.

Disk mounting problems with RedHat 5.0

Problem: after installation, loading Linux fails due to mount problem with disk.

The root of this problem (pun intended) seems to lie with the way in which Disk Druid partitions the disk. The easiest solution seems to be a repartitioning with Fdisk and reinstalling.

"NVRAM" Problem

Even though WinNT operates, you may get the "NVRAM" error message. To solve this problem:

1) Enter the Supplementary Menu from the Boot Menu. Go into the Setup System menu, then to Manage Boot Selection menu.

2) Choose Verify Boot Selections. It will ask about three or four boot selections. Delete the boot selections each time.

3) Exit to the System Setup Menu. Select the Supplementary Menu and then select Save Changes. The message should be gone now.

Windows NT 4.0 Installation Guide

1) To install Windows NT 4.0 on a Multia, you must first be in the Arc console menu. If you're still in the Multia SRM console (a text console), type "arc" at the >>> prompt.

2) Put the WinNT 4.0 CD in the CDROM drive. In the Arc menu, select "Run Program".

3) At this prompt, type cd:\alpha\arcinst.exe. This will bring up a partition screen.

4) First create a 10mb partition. After formatting, create a second partition. Use the rest of the disk space for this partition.

5) Exit arcinst and go to Install WinNT from CDROM in the supplementary menu. This installation is self explanatory. Place the install on the D: partition.

6) After this install is complete, the machine will restart and boot to setup. Setup is also rather self explanatory, except for a few things.

When you select the network adapter, you need to select from the list of bindings. Select DEC Multia's ethernet controller. This will ensure proper networking.

7) After you complete this install you can initiate the sound driver by entering the Multimedia control panel in the WinNT control panels folder.

Select Devices at the top, then click add go to the bottom of the list and select "Windows Sound System". You want the DMA at 3, the Port at 530, and the Interrupt at 9.

8) Once you restart you should get a start up sound. From here you should be ready to operate!

Speed Optimization Tips for Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

1) Have enough memory. We recommend a minimum of 32mb. In this case bigger is better.

2) Make sure virtual memory is turned on.

3) Workstation needs enough hard drive space to swap files ie: try to have at least double physical memory in swap space.

4) Workstation runs faster on defragmented disks.

5) Download the third Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack from and install it. Do not install the fourth Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack until further notice. If you plan to fax, also download the MS Fax Pack.

6) Download the latest FX!32 from and install it. This application allows you to run Windows and DOS apps on your machine. It also optimizes your programs to run on the Alpha AXP processor.

Setup Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and LINUX 4.2 as a Dual Boot System

1) Install Linux as you would normally, though you need to make the first partition larger than 1440K. Opting for 10mb is probably a good idea

2) Install Windows NT on the extended partitions.

3) Through the ARC console, you'll have the dual boot option.


Red Hat 5.0 Installation Guide (DEC Multia 166mhz)

1) You need the following:

1) Red Hat 5.0 Linux Alpha CD-ROM
2) 3 blank floppies
3) PC w/DOS (or something that will allow you to make these diskettes) with a CD-ROM drive
4) SCSI CDROM Drive for Multia

2) Creating the Boot and Root Floppies

1) Insert the Red Hat CD into a DOS-based PC system and access the CD.
2) Use rawrite.exe (in \dosutils on your Red Hat CD) to copy the images on the CD to your disks
3) Making the boot floppy: use rawrite.exe to write \images\noname.img> from your CD-ROM to your disk (probably A:). A PC will be unable to read this floppy image now. This is now your BOOT floppy.
4) Insert a new floppy. Again, use rawrite to copy \images\ramdisk from your CD-ROM to your floppy. This is now your ROOT (or RAM disk)floppy.
5) Insert a new floppy. Again, use rawrite.exe to copy \milo\images\noname.img to your floppy. This is your milo disk.

3) Creating the Boot Selection

1) Connect the CD-ROM and turn on the power to the system. It will take as long as 30 seconds before displaying anything on the screen -- don't let that throw you.
A scrambled screen may come up, followed by a blue screen. If the machine stops in the scrambled screen (leaving something that resembles a >>> prompt), type arc. This will take you to the arc menu. Otherwise, you should find yourself at a blue screen where you should see Initializing messages. You may also see a screen that says Warning: the firmware has found a problem. This is normal; don't panic.
2) When you see the boot menu and the countdown timer, press an arrow key to stop it.
It's also possible that you'll see Error: Device error, press any key to continue. Press any key.
3) You're now at the Boot menu. SelectSupplementary Menu, with the arrow keys, then press enter. Now select Display Hardware Configuration to verify that the machine can see the CD-ROM and hard drive. This information is on the second screen.
4) Back at the Supplementary menu, select Set Up the System..., then Manage Boot Selection menu..., then Delete a Boot Selection... .
Delete any and all existing boot selections.
5) From the Boot selections menu, select Add a Boot Selection...
6) When prompted to select a system partition, select New System Partition, then select Floppy disk.
7) At Enter Floppy Drive Number
8) At Enter the Osloader Directory and Name:..., delete the existing text and enter linload.exe
9) You will see a message that asks: Is the operating system in the same partition as the osloader?, select Yes
10) At the dialog that says: Enter the Operating System Root Directory, delete all characters from the default response, and enter milo
11) The machine will next ask: Enter a Name for this Boot Selection, here delete the existing answer and type: floppy milo.
12) At the prompt: Do You Want to Initialize the Debugger at Boot Time, select no.
13) Go down to Setup Menu and press Enter
14) Go down to Supplementary Menu, and save changes, then press Enter.

4) Loading Milo

1) Now it gets exciting! Put the milo floppy in the floppy drive, and select Boot menu, then Boot floppy milo. You'll see some load messages, and the floppy will chug for a while. Then you'll see the MILO> prompt.
2) Insert the BOOT floppy, and type:
boot fd0:vmlinux.gz root=/dev/fd0 load_ramdisk=1
You'll see some scsi messages go by, and quite possibly a machine check message or two. If you have a termination problem with your scsi chain the machine will freeze at the scsi0 : 1host. Otherwise you should see a series of hash marks (###), and a bunch more messages.
Then you'll see:
VFS: Insert ROOT floppy to be loaded into ramdisk and press ENTER
3) At this time, remove the boot floppy and insert the root floppy. Press ENTER.

5) Installing

At this point, the true installation begins. Version 5.0 of Redhat has a much improved installation interface, and the majority of it is not complicated. This document covers only the major points of the installation.
1) At the Monitor menu, select the type of monitor with the tab key and press return. Press return to leave the Registration menu.
2) At the Installation Method menu, choose Local CD-ROM, and place Red Hat 5.0 in your CD-ROM drive. You also have the option to install from a NFS volume or a hard disk.
3) At the CD-ROM type menu, choose SCSI
4) At the Upgrade or Install menu, choose Install
5) Partition Menu. Here you'll need to partition your disks. You now have the choice of Fdisk or Disk Druid. We are currently recommending to use Fdisk because of problems that Disk Druid seems to be responsible for. While it maybe easier to use, it does not seem to partition in a manner that Linux is happy with.
When you partition, you need to make at least three partitions, one small (1-10mb) to hold boot files, the root partition (the largest of the partitions) and a swap partition (a good bet is at least the physical size of your RAM).
With Disk Druid, you'll need to make sure that you note what device you set your root partition to. By default, the root becomes sda1. This will change step 7.1 to boot sda1:vmlinux.gz as well as many other parts of the installation. Please take note of where you put your partitions. Additionally, you need to identify the mount point for the root partition as / Also, you need make sure that you select the correct type for the partition. The root partition is Linux Native, the Swap partition is Linux Swap and the small boot partition is DOS<16m
Alternatively, you can use Fdisk to make the partitions. You need to enter in the cylinders, sectors and heads of your hard disk. If you do not know the cylinders,sectors, and heads you can do the following to force fdisk to format your drive correctly.
First: Delete any existing partitions (don't worry about empty type warnings):
Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-4): 4
Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-4): 3
Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-4): 2
Command (m for help): d
Partition number (1-4): 1
6) A. Now you need to set the heads, cylinders, and sectors of your drive. First, type x to enter the expert menu. The values shown here can be used if you do not know the values for your drive- if you use them, :
c 2112
h 16
s 63
If you used the correct values for your drive, skip down to 6.B Now, type r to return to the partitioning menu. Here you need to create one partition that fills the entire space.
Command (m for help): n
Command action /e extended /p primary partition: p
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-2112): 1
Last cylinder or +size ...: 2112
Command (m for help): w
Now you will return to the Disk Partitioning screen. You will need to reenter fdisk to edit the partition map of the drive. When you renter, the heads, cylinders, and sectors will be set correctly. Then you can delete the partition you made and create three new ones.
6) B. Creating the partitions. Now you need to partition the drive. You may want to create more than 3 partitions, depending on you needs. Your values for the cylinder sizes will be much different than the ones here.
Command action /e extended /p primary partition: p
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-324): 1
Last cylinder or +size ...: +1440K(This is to allow for enough space for Milo and linload. If you're only running one operating system on this drive, then you don't need any more space than this.)
Command (m for help): t
Partition number (1-4): 1
Hex code (type L to list codes): 4
Changed system type of partition 1 to 4 (DOS 16-bit <32M)
Command (m for help): n
Command action /e extended /p primary partition: p
Partition number (1-4): 2
First cylinder (4-324): 4
Last cylinder or +size ...: +300m
Command (m for help): n
Command action /e extended /p primary partition: p
Partition number (1-4): 3
First cylinder (292-324): 292
Last cylinder or +size ...: 324
Command (m for help): t
Partition number (1-4): 3
Hex code (type L to list codes): 82
Changed system type of partition 2 to 82 (Linux swap)
Command (m for help): w
7) Back at the Disk Partitioning screen, select Done(unless you want to format more disks).
8) You will go through two screens, the first of which is the Swap Space screen. You can check for bad blocks if you so desire.
9) Package selection. The installer will suggest some packages, generally this will suffice for a Depending on what you need, you may not want to install different software. If you're installing on disk larger than 600mb, install everything, otherwise you might want to sort through the files and choose what you want.
13) Select OK. The installation procedure will now format the SCSI disk and install the packages that you've selected. This might take about half an hour. If the screen goes black (which it will), hit space bar to bring it back.

6) Configuration

If you wish to configure the machine to your a particular set of specifications, then read the following section. These are merely suggestions - you'll need to select the options specific to your machine.
1) Mouse: usually PS/2
2) Graphics Adapter: Unspecified Card
3) Chipset: TGA
4) RAMDac: None
5) Monitor: Generic multisync is a good bet
6) Network: (set this to your network specifications, ignore it if no network)
7) Time Zone: (whatever time zone you're in). Check the Arc Console option if you wish for time to be set through Arc console.
8) Password: Don't lose this! Otherwise you'll need to reinstall.
9) Reinsert boot disk. This will copy the kernel to your disk.
10) Install complete!

7) Reboot

The machine will now cycle back to the milo prompt through the arc menu. You will get a "Error: Failed to load kernel" message. Don't panic.
1) At the milo prompt type: boot sda2:vmlinux.gz This maybe different for your configuration, depending on how you set up your partitions.
The machine will now start loading linux. Various programs will load and the machine will pause on the sendmail startup. Don't panic.
Red Hat Linux release 5.0 (Hurricane)
Kernel 2.0.30 on an alpha
2) Login with: root
3) The password is the one you entered at the password prompt.
4) At this point, insert the MILO floppy and type
dd if=/dev/fd0 of=/dev/sda1 bs=10240 and press enter.
This places the milo and linload files on the dos partition that was created earlier. You must make sure that you have set the target partitions correctly: if your DOS partition is sda6, make sure that you target sda6 and not sda1.You should see the floppy read for a while then it will read:
144+0 records in
144+0 records out
5) Type shutdown -h now
Wait for the ‘The system has halted’ message, then power your machine off and on.

8) Autoboot setup

Once again, you'll get the "Inconsistent bla bla" screen again, and then you'll be at the boot menu.
1) Select Supplementary menu
2) Select Set up the system
3) Select Manage boot selection
4) Select Add a boot selection
5) Select SCSI Bus 0 Hard Disk 0 Partition 1 (occasionally, this will not be present. If this is the case, select New system partition. Here select the SCSI Bus 0...)
6) Enter the osloader directory. Delete existing text and type:linload.exe
7) For "Is the operating system in the same partition as the osloader?" select Yes
8) Enter the operating system root directory. Delete existing text and enter: milo
9) Enter name for boot selection: this is your choice, though most commonly Linux is used.
10) Enter No for "Do you want to initialize the debugger at boot time?"
11) Select Change boot selection
12) Select the boot selection you created: Linux
13) Use the up arrow key until the line reads: OSLOADOPTIONS
14) Replace the text with: boot sda2:vmlinux.gz Hit return, then esc.
15) Select Setup menu
16) Select Autoboot
17) At "Should the machine autoboot?" Press enter to select yes.
18) Set an appropriate delay for the machine to boot. Selecting 0 may make it more difficult to solve any problems that may occur. 5 is a good bet.
19) Select Supplementary menu, save changes
20) Hit esc till you arrive at the arc menu.
21) Select Boot Linux.

9) X-Windows Installation and Configuration

For 4.2, you should use XConfigurator to configure your system. Select the TGA graphics adapter from the list, and you should be ready to go. However, if you do have problems with fonts you may need to issue the following commands:
cd /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts
gunzip */*.gz
compress */*.pcf
mkfontdir *