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C.5. Preparing for Installation of Linux Alpha

We can now return to the steps we listed earlier to get Linux running. You must also decide how you want your Alpha to boot after Linux is installed and configured; Alpha systems support a number of alternatives.

C.5.2. IDE/ATAPI Drive Support

Some Alpha systems, especially those intended for use as network servers, do not support IDE or ATAPI drives.[7] We recommend a fast SCSI drive as a basic system element, whether installed internally or attached externally. However, if your system has a free PCI slot, add a current PCIbus ATAPI/EIDE controller card supported by Linux so that you can also use a cheaper EIDE hard disk or fast CD-ROM drive. See the next section for more details on firmware limitations.

[7]Early Alpha systems provided 10 mbps SCSI-2, and some of the latest Alpha system boards provide "fast and wide" 40 mbps SCSI-3. The very earliest (Jensen) provided an Adaptec 1740 ISA bus controller, but most SCSI controllers are integral NCR 810 family controllers that were considered high-performance controllers when adopted.

C.5.4. Updated Firmware

Your system firmware (ARC, AlphaBIOS, or SRM) should be up to date. In many cases, it won't matter whether it is an older version. But generally, we recommend updating your firmware before installing Linux. In the case of AlphaBIOS software, updating is expected and necessary.

Follow your hardware manual's directions for upgrading firmware. You can get firmware upgrades from http://ftp.digital.com/pub/DEC/Alpha/firmware/.

Some users advise you not to update firmware unless you know you need to do so. In other words, you can upgrade firmware if Linux fails to install properly on your system. Indeed, some Linux installations require some systems to be "downgraded" to an earlier firmware version to succeed.

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