Linux: It's Not Just for Intel Anymore

A Linux port tour.
Name: Linux/Alpha

Linux/Alpha is a port of Linux V1.0 to the Digital Equipment Corp. Alpha RISC microprocessor.

  • Status:Kernel SDK

  • Supported Platforms:Linux/Alpha is primarily aimed at PC-class Alpha platforms that support ISA, VLB, and PCI devices.

  • FAQ Access:watch comp.os.linux.announce

  • FAQ Maintainer:Jim Paradis (

  • Mailing Lists:

  • Source

  • Release Coordinator:Jim Paradis (

  • Help Wanted:

    • If you have an Alpha-based PC-class system running OSF/1 (e.g. DEC 2000) you can use the same system for development and test bed. Otherwise, you will need two systems.

    • The development system can be any system that can support the Linux/Alpha cross-development tools. The cross tools have been successfully built and tested on the following systems:

      • Linux 1.1.x 386/486 (natch!)

      • DEC OSF/1 Alpha 2.0

      • DEC RISC/ULTRIX 4.2 (MIPS)

      • SunOS 4.1 (Sparc)

      • Jim Paradis, announcing the Linux/Alpha

  • Developers' Kit 20 January `95:

    • The Linux/Alpha Software Developers' Kit is the first public release of Linux operating system components for Digital's Alpha family of microprocessors.

    • The SDK is available via anonymous FTP [see above]. I STRONGLY suggest that you first download the files README and SDK_CONTENTS and read them before downloading anything else (hint: you do NOT need to download all 55Mb in that directory!)

    • The Linux/Alpha SDK is NOT a fully-functional Linux distribution. The documentation is EXTREMELY sketchy and is mainly in the form of back-of-the-envelope notes. Linux/Alpha is not self-hosting; one must cross-compile the kernel and utilities on another system using the available cross-development tools. The kernel is extremely fragile, and several important code paths have not been tested yet. Very few utilities are available; you can bring the system up to a shell prompt, but you can't do much of anything else yet. Device driver support is minimal; currently, we support console-callback device drivers, but these are EXTREMELY slow (console-callback drivers are the Alpha equivalent of BIOS drivers on Intel systems). We have ported three sample drivers so far for the DEC 2000 AXP system: keyboard, text-mode VGA, and Adaptec 1742 SCSI.

    • In other words, Linux/Alpha is currently in a state that only a kernel hacker could love. If that describes you, then by all means download the SDK and give it a try!

Name: Linux/MIPS

Linux/MIPS is a Linux port for computers equipped with Mips R4x00 processors.

  • Status:tools alpha; kernel pre-alpha

  • Supported Platforms:Deskstations Tyne and Acer PICA with R4400PC andR4600 processors. The Deskstations support the ISA bus.

  • FAQ

  • FAQ Maintainer:

  • Mailing Lists:

  • Source

  • Release Coordinator:Andreas Busse (

  • Help Wanted:Sure, you can help! If you have a Mips box, please let us know.

    • From the FAQ:

      • We have a half-way working kernel for the Deskstation boards. Console, floppy, serial and parallel I/O seem to be OK. The C library is nearly complete. We expect the first user process running soon. The kernel will be released when a user can issue shell commands, probably early in 1995.

      • Support/development tools available include cross compilers, assemblers and linkers ready to use for Linux/ix86, SunOs 4.1.3 and Solaris2.3. A Mips R2000/R3000 simulator (SPIM) for Linux/ix86 is also ready to download.

    • Andy Busse comments:

      • My part of the project is kind of project management. And, of course, it was my idea to port Linux to Mipses. From my point of view, different native endianesses is probably the most complicated part of Linux/MIPS. Most systems come up little-endian while some run big-endian only. However, I still hope that it will be possible to have user code compatibility on all supported Mips boxes.

      • Ralf Baechle ( ) is currently working on the Deskstation port:As you might have seen, the 68k port is about to be merged into Linus' kernel distribution. Since the 68k port is the most advanced of the ports, I have high hopes for the integration of Linux/68k. It will make porting for all others a lot easier.