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Before you start to install Red Hat Linux on an Alpha, you will need a basic understanding of the SRM console, what it does, and the information it can provide.
SRM is a UNIX-like firmware console used by many Alpha systems to boot into an operating system. When the system is booted, the SRM console is displayed as a blue screen with a prompt. The prompt looks like P00>>> (the 00 indicates the primary processor). On multi-processor machines, the prompt could be P01>>>, P02>>>, etc.
We recommend that you upgrade your SRM firmware to the most recent version available. Use the show version command at the SRM console prompt to see what version of SRM you are running. For more information about SRM firmware upgrades, see the following URL:
Additional information on the SRM console can be found at the SRM Firmware HOWTO at the following URL:
The SRM console provides important system information which you will need to use when installing Red Hat Linux and when administering your Alpha.
To see information about system devices that SRM recognizes, use the following command:
The show device command will display a list of devices. You can alternatively use the shorthand show dev or a command such as show dev dk, which will only display SRM-recognized devices that begin with dk (in other words, all SCSI disk drives).
SRM does not identify devices the same way as Red Hat Linux. As an example of SRM's device-naming syntax, the output provided after a show device on a Compaq AlphaServer ES40 will look similar to the following:
The following list provides explanations for the most common SRM device names:
Examples of other SRM device names include mka0, the first SCSI tape device, and pka0, a SCSI host adapter for the first SCSI bus.
Before you begin the installation process, look at the list provided in response to show device on your Alpha's SRM console. Write down how SRM refers to the devices in Table 3-1.
Table 3-1. SRM Device Names for your System
In this document, we have used the SRM device name dka0 to refer to the hard drive and dqa0 to refer to the CD-ROM drive.
You must choose one of these devices from which to boot Red Hat Linux, during the installation process and every time you wish to boot your machine, unless you set up your SRM boot parameters to boot automatically.
Certain SRM system parameters designate information needed to boot an operating system. These parameters include the device from which SRM will boot, which kernel to use, and what filesystem it will use as the root filesystem.
To see the boot parameters recognized by SRM, use the following command:
For example, the output provided for a show boot* on the SRM console might look like the following:
The bootdef_dev parameter specifies the device from which SRM will try to boot. In this example, SRM will boot from dka0, which is the first SCSI hard drive.
The boot_file parameter sets the partition, location, and name of the kernel file from which SRM will boot. In this example, boot_file is set to boot from the vmlinuz kernel, which is located in the /boot directory on the third partition of the hard drive. The boot_file variable is equivalent to the -file value for boot on the SRM command line.
The boot_osflags parameter can specify which filesystem will be used as the root filesystem. Note that if this parameter is used, it requires Red Hat Linux (instead of SRM) device naming conventions. The boot_osflags variable is equivalent to the -flags value for boot on the SRM command line.
You can use the set command to change the boot parameters. After you have finished the installation, you will need to set these variables to the right values, if you want your Alpha to automatically boot Red Hat Linux. Setting the boot parameters to automatically boot Red Hat Linux is covered in the section called Setting SRM Boot Variables in Chapter 4.
To set a boot parameter, use the following command:
When you are setting a value for an SRM console parameter, integer values and single word string values do not have to be in quotes; however, since multiple word string values need to be quoted, it is recommended that you enclose all string values in quotes.
To clear an SRM console variable, use the following command:
In the above command, variable is the name of the SRM console parameter, and the empty quotes ("") denote a blank value. Some integer values cannot be cleared, but can be set to 0. Also note that some SRM console variables are integer in value, but Boolean in nature.
The SRM console can provide more information about your Alpha. Use the following command:
Note the video card on your system. The video card information will be helpful to you if the Red Hat Linux installation program has any trouble probing your video card.
Your Alpha system will probably be able to boot the Red Hat Linux installation program directly from the Red Hat Linux CD 1. If your Alpha can not boot the installation program from the CD-ROM (or if you want to perform a hard drive, NFS image, FTP, or HTTP installation) you will need to boot from a diskette. See the section called Booting the Installation Program from a Diskette for more information on booting from a diskette.
Red Hat Linux CD 1 has a valid aboot block, so many modern Alphas which use SRM and aboot can boot directly from the Red Hat Linux CD 1 shipped in the boxed set. The command to boot from an IDE CD-ROM drive looks like the following:
If the previous command is problematic for your system, the format for the full command is as follows:
Please note that in the above command, we have used dqa0 (SRM) and /dev/hda (Linux) to refer to an IDE CD-ROM device. Your system may be set up differently, so the command may need to be changed. For example, if your Alpha uses a SCSI CD-ROM device, you might use a command like the following:
If you would like to perform a text mode installation instead of a GUI installation, you will need to add the text flag to the flags at the end of the full boot command. For example, if you wanted to use the previous boot command to boot a text mode installation, you would use the following command:
If you want to run the installation program at 640x480 resolution instead of the default 800x600 resolution, you can boot in lowres mode with the following command:
If you want to run the installation program without using frame buffer, you can boot in nofb mode with the following command:
If you are having problems detecting your hardware in the installation program, try using the noprobe mode. Instead of trying to autodetect your hardware, it will ask you a series of questions about your hardware. You can boot in noprobe mode with the following command:
See the section called SRM Device Names for more information on how SRM refers to system devices.
If your Alpha will not boot the Red Hat Linux installation program directly from Red Hat Linux CD 1, you will need to boot from a diskette. If you want to perform a hard drive, NFS image, FTP, or HTTP installation, you will need to boot from a diskette.
You must create a boot image file diskette from the boot image file on CD 1: images/generic.img. You will also need a RAM disk image made from images/ramdisk.img, also on CD 1. Instructions for creating disk images are located in Appendix D. Remember to label the diskettes appropriately.
Put the boot image diskette into your floppy drive. If you are going to load the installation program from the CD-ROM drive, you will need to put CD 1 into the CD-ROM drive. Use the following command to boot the Red Hat Linux installation program:
This command assumes that the aboot bootloader file is on the diskette and that the boot parameters on the diskette are all correct. If you are booting from the diskette provided with Red Hat Linux, this boot command will work.
If for some reason you need the long version of the command to boot from a diskette, it looks like the following:
In the previous command, you will need to modify the parameters to match the location of the kernel file on your diskette and the location of the root filesystem.
After you have booted from the floppy, you will be prompted to take out the boot image diskette and insert the RAM disk diskette with the following message:
Insert the RAM disk diskette and press
If you are not using the Red Hat Linux CD, the installation program will start in text mode. You will need to choose a few basic options for your system and then you will need to select which installation method you would like to use. See the section called Selecting an Installation Method in Chapter 4 for more information on different installation methods.
If you are using the CD-ROM to load the installation program, follow the instructions contained in Chapter 4 to install Red Hat Linux.
The text, lowres, nofb, and noprobe modes described in the section called Booting the Installation Program from the CD-ROM also work when booting from a diskette.
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