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Warning: those guides are mostly obsolete, please have a look at the new documentation.


Digital Alphaserver SRM console
We're using a Digital Alphaserver 800 5/500 for this guide, with SRM firmware version,
V5.8-16 Jul 24 2000 09:43:28
To get to the SRM >>> prompt, use ^C during machine's startup (SRM process), or ^P (program mode) at boot loader’s or operating system's startup,
Note. DEC was renamed 'Digital', so this is a 'Digital' Alphaserver 800 5/500.
Note. Alphaserver 800 was introduced @1997-10-27 (
Note. January 26, 1998, Digital is sold to Compaq
Note. it seems you can configure Compaq Smart Array controllers from the SRM console ( But we're not in that case, we've got a Mylex card (see and apparently no RAID controller on-board.
Firmware update
See your current SRM firmware and AlphaBIOS versions,
show version
show pal
note. pal means Alpha Privileged Architecture Library code
You can boot this ISO (burn it to a CDrom) directly from the SRM console,
boot dka400
note. change dka400 accordingly
SRM console usage
Note. you can use abbreviated commands, for example 'b -fl' instead of 'boot -flags'
See your hardware configuration,
show cpu
show memory
show config | more
show device
Test everything,
test the memory on a single processor system,
test the memory on a multiprocessor system,
note. to stop the diagnostics,
note. to show the diagnostics' progress in real time,
while true; show_status; sleep 1; done
Switch to AlphaBIOS (ARC) on VGA and PS/2,
set os_type nt
set console graphics
Switch back to SRM console,
CMOS setup
F6 - advanced
console selection: UNIX Console (SRM)
console selection: OpenVMS Console (SRM)
and reset the box with the reset button (third one). You can then switch back to serial console,
set console serial
SRM boot options
When the box isn't ready for production and while installing an operating system, I recommend to hardcode these settings into the NVRAM,
cat > nvram
10 set boot_reset off
20 set auto_action halt
another way to do it,
edit nvram
10 set boot_reset off
20 set auto_action halt
and check,
cat nvram
note. you can also 'ls -l nvram' but the output is misleading, 0 and 0 in the last cols doesn't mean the file is empty
To boot OpenVMS,
set os_type openvms
set boot_osflags 0,0
boot immediately with,
boot -flags 0,0 dka0
note. change 'dka0' accordingly
To boot NetBSD,
set os_type unix
set boot_osflags a
boot immediately with,
boot -flags a dka0
note. change 'dka0' accordingly
To boot Linux,
set os_type unix
set boot_file 3/boot/vmlinuz-2.2.17-4
set boot_osflags root=/dev/sda3
note change boot_file accordingly
note change boot_osflags accordingly
Once the operating systems are installed and the disks definitely in place, eventually configure autoboot,
set auto_action boot
set boot_dev dka0
set bootdef_dev dka0
note. change 'dka0' accordingly
note. eventually unconfigure 'auto_action' from the nvram (see above)
note. check everything's fine with 'show boot*' and 'show auto*'
Note. on earlier SRM versions, one could use that to restore some default variables e.g.,
set -default <var>
it now seems to be simply done when setting up the variable with no argument e.g.,
set <var>
In 'graphics' console mode, configure the keyboard
set kbd_hardware_type LK411
set language 36
and check for your current layout!
(type qwerty or azerty...)
show kbd_hardware_type
show language
show language_name
note. 'LK411' for OpenVMS keyboard layout
note. 'PCXAL' for PC keyboard layout
note. even with a PC keyboard, we experienced better results with the OpenVMS keyboard layout.
note. '36' for US encoding
note. '3c' for french encoding
note. '50' for japanese encoding
Note. also worth interesting,
Note. on more advanced alpha boxes, one might be able to use these types of SRM commands,
create -nv srm_boot on
migrate (Migrate one or all CPUs from one soft partition to another)
power off
Network boot
It's possible to boot the box from the network, using e.g. NetBSD.
AlphaServer 800 system
AlphaServer 800 Technical Resources
AlphaServer Firmware - AlphaServer 800 and Digital Server 3300 Systems
(old link: http: //
FTP repository
Alpha documentation and literature
hp AlphaServer ES47/ES80/GS1280 - SRM Console Reference
Linux on alpha
(FR) [HOWTO] Gentoo sur alphaserver 800
(FR) Installation Debian Linux Alpha sur Serveur Compaq DS20
Other links
Alphaserver 800

(obsolete, see the new doc)