Porting Linux to the DEC Alpha: The Kernel and Shell
Despite our great progress, much work remains to be done on Linux/Alpha:
As mentioned above, we need to deploy some sort of BIOS-emulation facility so that we can execute the proprietary initialization code on some expansion cards. While initial code exists and works, it does not support the real-mode 32-bit instructions that are used in the BIOSes of some cards.
We need to tackle the great unsolved problem of floating-point exception handling. Programs that are floating-point intensive are not likely to work until this is done.
We need to write a character-cell driver and an X server for the TGA graphics adapter that is provided with Multia and several other Digital Alpha systems.
We desperately need shared libraries! As of this writing, the statically-linked executables in Linux/Alpha are rather large (around 200Kb for a typical utility, several megabytes for the X server). Shared libraries will decrease both disk space requirements and virtual-memory usage.
We need to work on compiler optimizations. The Alpha support in gcc does very good optimizations in some places, not so good in others. In addition, the compiler does not yet take advantage of Alpha's multiple-instruction issue feature. This feature allows more than one instruction to be issued per clock cycle, but only certain combinations are allowed. By carefully rearranging the instructions in the executable, one can take advantage of this feature and achieve significant performance improvements.
All in all, we are excited about the future. Linux/Alpha, even in its relatively primitive state, feels like a real Linux system. Addressing the above areas can only make it better!
Jim Paradis works as a Principal Software Engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation as a member of the Alpha Migration Tools group. Ever since a mainframe system administrator yelled at him in college, he's wanted to have a multiuser, multitasking operating system on his own desktop system. To this end, he has tried nearly every UNIX variant ever produced for PCs, including PCNX, System V, Minix, BSD, and Linux. Needless to say, he likes Linux the best. Jim currently lives in Worcester, Massachusetts with his wife, eleven cats, and a house forever under renovation. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on the WWW at www.iii.net/users/jrp.html
|PostgreSQL, the NoSQL Database||Jan 29, 2015|
|HPC Cluster Grant Accepting Applications!||Jan 28, 2015|
|Sharing Admin Privileges for Many Hosts Securely||Jan 28, 2015|
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform||Jan 23, 2015|
|Designing with Linux||Jan 22, 2015|
|Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch||Jan 21, 2015|
- PostgreSQL, the NoSQL Database
- Sharing Admin Privileges for Many Hosts Securely
- HPC Cluster Grant Accepting Applications!
- Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next
- Ideal Backups with zbackup
- Designing with Linux
- Non-Linux FOSS: Animation Made Easy
- Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch
- January 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: Security
- Slow System? iotop Is Your Friend
Editorial Advisory Panel
Thank you to our 2014 Editorial Advisors!
- Jeff Parent
- Brad Baillio
- Nick Baronian
- Steve Case
- Chadalavada Kalyana
- Caleb Cullen
- Keir Davis
- Michael Eager
- Nick Faltys
- Dennis Frey
- Philip Jacob
- Jay Kruizenga
- Steve Marquez
- Dave McAllister
- Craig Oda
- Mike Roberts
- Chris Stark
- Patrick Swartz
- David Lynch
- Alicia Gibb
- Thomas Quinlan
- Carson McDonald
- Kristen Shoemaker
- Charnell Luchich
- James Walker
- Victor Gregorio
- Hari Boukis
- Brian Conner
- David Lane