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Re: Linux/MIPS -- DECstation

Subject: Re: Linux/MIPS -- DECstation
From: (Paul Antoine)
Date: Wed, 7 May 1997 07:52:10 +1000 (EST)
Cc: (Linux MIPS mailing list)
In-reply-to: <> from "Jeff Mahoney" at May 6, 97 10:39:56 am
Organization: Softway Pty Ltd
Hi Jeff,

> Hi. I was wondering if you might be able to answer a few questions for me,
> regarding Linux/DECstation?


> 1) What sort of binary compatibility will be supported?

Whatever we can manage - clearly we will work towards Ultrix binary compat.
however one of the reasons for moving away from Ultrix is to have dynamic
libraries as they're so much smaller... so I imagine you'd only want Ultrix
compat. for programs you can't recompile such as commercial binaries.

> 2) What drivers are currently in progress?

The basic ones for the moment, as we've not even got a complete boot of Linux 
yet! Though I think we're close... and we do appear to be making much better 
progress now that we have more kernel hackers on board.

The drivers we ultimately support are determined by the availability of
appropriate documentation as much as what hardware people have on which to
test.  We've been pestering DEC, and working on other avenues of 
documentation such as source code for machines for which we have nothing.

> I ask because our student group as many DECstations in use, using ULTRIX. 
> Being that we're a student group, we're looking to find a free OS to run 
> on these machines.

You'd be surprised how many commercial organisations want to run a free OS
with dynamic libraries... :-)

> Currently, I've been working on getting NetBSD/pmax up on them, but
> there is a problem with our using it: It doesn't support the PMAG-[DE] 
> PXG 3-D dual-turbochannel card. We use these cards in almost all our 
> machines (that aren't servers).

Ahhh... this could be a problem.  As far as I know, I have *no* documentation
whatsoever on them!  I'll have a poke around...

> If you need a testing opportunity, we have the following equipment:
> DECstation 5000/{120,125,133,200,240}
> PMAZB-AA Dual SCSI bus controller
> DEFZA FDDI Interface (CDDI)
> DEC LANCE Ethernet Interface (Expansion module, in addition to internal)
> PrestoServe NVRAM
> Framebuffers:
> PMAGB-B (67 MHz) (1024x864)
> PMAGB-B (199 MHz) (1280x1024)
> PMAG-C (1280x1024)
> PMAG-[DE] (1280x1024) Dual TurboChannel, Gobs of memory

This is a fairly impressive range of hardware.  It'd be good to be able to
support it all.  Does the University have a relationship with DEC that
you could use to get some documentation?  The kind of thing we need is
a hardware functional specification for each device.  We have them for:

        PMAZ...? Basic SCSI controller
        Basic expansion board ethernet controller

Similarities between these and other boards, and the fact that the 
TurboChannel helps to identify and describe their basic traits will help 
us support more than these.

> If there's anything I can do to help your efforts, I'll see what I can do.

Well, as you're in the US, and close to DEC's HQ in Nashua you in a better 
position to get documentation out of the folks at DEC.  Both the NetBSD and 
Mach operating system source code mentions documents we've never seen... 
they're the ones we need, in addition to those for your FDDI, NVRAM, Dual 
SCSI, 3D Graphics etc. cards.

Does this help?

Paul M. Antoine,                                        Net:
Softway Pty Ltd                                         WWW:
PO Box 305, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012, Australia       Tel: +61 2 9698 2322
Level 2, 79 Myrtle St, Chippendale, NSW 2008, Australia Fax: +61 2 9699 9174

"It is the lack of acceptance of diversity which threatens to 
 destroy society, NOT the free expression of it." - Me.

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