OpenBSD/alpha runs on a large set of the alpha computers manufactured by Digital (then Compaq, now Hewlett-Packard).
A mailing list dedicated to the OpenBSD/alpha port is available at
To join the OpenBSD/alpha mailing list, send a message body of "subscribe
alpha" to email@example.com.
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The OpenBSD/alpha port was started in the summer of 1996 by using code from the NetBSD/alpha port which was started by Chris Demetriou in 1994. After the original OpenBSD port, some copyright issues prevented OpenBSD from tracking the NetBSD code. Regardless, work on the alpha port continued and many fixes were made. Meanwhile, NetBSD continued to make improvements to the alpha port which we were unfortunately unable to use. Over time, because of a lack of programmer resources and the inability to use NetBSD code, hardware and software support became very outdated. This caused the 2.5 and 2.6 releases of alpha to have few kernel enhancements. As a result of its becoming so stale, there was no OpenBSD/alpha port included in the 2.7 and 2.8 releases.
Shortly after OpenBSD 2.8 was released, there was a great deal of interest in bringing the port up to date. This, coupled with the fact that NetBSD changed the license on its alpha code so that there were no longer copyright issues led to an effort to bring the alpha port back up. (For details on why we were not able to keep tracking the NetBSD code, check our policy page.)
Nathan Binkert, Art Grabowski, Niklas Hallqvist and Eric Jackson, with the help of a few others, eventually brought the port into good shape again, and starting with the 2.9 release OpenBSD/alpha is a supported OpenBSD port again.
Currently, all the hardware listed in the supported hardware section below boots multi-user, and supports enough of the on-board devices to be generally usable, unless specified otherwise. A large set of PCI cards also work reliably, while ISA devices support has limitations.
X11 server support is currently broken on alpha.
To the best of our knowledge, the following hardware is supported, but there might be occasional breakage on some models. Since there are many models and combinations that have not been tested, we would appreciate very much if you told us about things that work and do not work. To help us keep track of what hardware people use, please mail your dmesg to firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are things that do not work, please file a bug report using sendbug(1).
The latest supported OpenBSD/alpha release is OpenBSD 6.1. Here are the OpenBSD/alpha 6.1 installation instructions.
Snapshots are made available from time to time, in this location as well as in a few mirrors. Here are the OpenBSD/alpha snapshot installation instructions as well.
There are several installation media provided:
The CD ISO provides an El Torito 2.88MB floppy image
that contains drivers for the most popular devices found in alpha
This also includes minimal USB support (storage devices, keyboard and
some Ethernet adapters).
For the latest list of drivers available on this image, please take a look at the RAMDISKBIG kernel configuration file.
This 1.44MB floppy image supports the following alpha hardware:
It contains support for the on-board devices found on these machines,
however due to lack of space there are only a few other drivers.
In particular, this floppy lacks cdrom support and will not
allow installation from cdrom media.
For the latest list of drivers available on this image, please take a look at the RAMDISK kernel configuration file.