B22 Installation Choices

Once you have gathered your hardware data and selected your Linux distribution, choose your installation method. Alpha systems vary more than typical PC systems (having been engineered to be used as everything from basic display terminals to supercomputers), so you should evaluate your hardware and choose the booting method you will use with your Linux distribution. Otherwise, you may find that you cannot complete the installation as you expected, or that Linux will be difficult to boot without rebuilding the installation.

If you add a CD-ROM drive to your system to install Linux, check your hardware documentation and Linux package documentation to make sure that the CD-ROM will be recognized natively in the BIOS or that SRM will support that drive. Most standard SCSI CD-ROM and IDE drives connected to an onboard controller are recognized and supported by SRM. But IDE CD-ROMs attached to add-in PCI IDE controllers will most likely not be seen by SRM.

Although network installation of Linux (storing the files on one machine and downloading them over the network to the machine where you want Linux to run) is possible, major distributions have had persistent problems supporting this capability. We are not going to describe the technique. We assume you are installing Linux on a stand-alone Alpha system. You can configure it for network use later.

Configuring and setting booting behavior on some older Alpha systems requires changing jumper settings on the motherboard or changing system data stored in nonvolatile RAM, or both. You may need to change jumper settings initially for installation and again afterward to configure the system.

Even a routine AlphaLinux installation procedure is more complex than a Linux installation on the usual Intel PC. While the Intel PC provides the system hardware interface in the onboard BIOS, Alpha systems require that the system bootstrap itself by defining and loading a firmware interface before loading the operating system. The various ways this is done are the subject of the following section.

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