Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Discuss Windows 2000, NT, XP and Windows Server 2000, 2003, SBS 2003.
Jens
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Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Jens »

Hey folks,

after having been curious about Windows NT/2000 on the Alpha-Platform for a very long time, I was recently able to acquire an AlphaServer DS20 (2x 21264 CPU with 500 MHz; 1 GB of RAM, 9 GB HDD, 8 MB Elsa Gloria Synergy Graphic) on eBay.
To show you how huge that thing is, take a look at the standard keyboard on top of the Server:

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Now that I got that thing I would like to play around with it. And to make it funnier, I have decided to include the community here in these experiments. I am sure that some of you may have some nice suggestions on what to try out and what to take a look at. You can post such suggestions in this thread and I will do my best to try/do these things as soon as possible. But please do not expect me to be active here on a daily basis as I have a lot of other things that need my attention as well.

Well, so far I was able to install Windows 2000 Workstation and Server Build 2072 on it. Right now Workstation is installed Build 2182 unfortunately did not work: During the hardware detection after the mandatory reboot following the copying of the files, the status bar at one point stopped and stayed there for more than one hour, after which I shut down the server. Also a second and third run would not help either. Any ideas what may be the cause would be appreciated.

After having installed 2072, I was delighted to see that the graphics were recognized automatically - because I certainly would not have found appropriate drivers. No need to say Windows 2000 runs super fast on that machine. See more details here:

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And now for the oddities so far. The first happened after I installed 7Zip. See the strange Symbol on the upper left?
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Then I was very surprised to see that extracting files - not just with 7Zip but also with various installers - takes VERY long. I have no clue why that may be the case. Do you? See the following example:
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Well and then I was about to try to install things. IrfanView, Firefox 3.6.28 (the last version said to work with Win2k) and Service Pack 4 all resulted in an error message like this:
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Oh and while IE (IE 5) shows Betaarchive-Site almost perfectly, you cannot say the same thing about other sites. And worst of all: I cannot get a single https-page to open (luckily that changed after I was able to install Opera 11, which sometimes performs very slowly as well.)

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By the way: Installing IE6 SP1 does not work:
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Well - that is all for now. Like I said - any ideas about what to test and look for would be appreciated. That way all of us can have fun with that old piece of technology.

Kind regards
Jens

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by computebrute »

7zip is slow for obvious reasons. One of them is that you have CPU from the stone age in that beast of a computer...
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by jimmsta »

Since it's an Alpha CPU, isn't it doing x86 softPC emulation for x86 binaries? It's no wonder that 7-zip runs slowly - it's basically running on an emulated PC on top of an archaic architecture. It's surprising that anything other than Windows and alpha binaries worked at all.
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by louisw3 »

7zip installer may be a win16....

I'm sure it's in the ftp server, but Visual C++ version 6 along with Visual Basic 6 are fantastic on the Dec Alpha, along with SQL Server 7.

The last time I had an alpha I made it into a terminal server, although demand for an Alpha NT account was surprisingly low.... But TBH NT on a non x86 platform is just Windows in that True64 is just yet another SYSV. And VMS is well a mess.

If you want something crazy there is always pathworks (DecNET) for Windows NT 4.0 and 2000, and you could join HeCNET as one of the few Windows machines on their international decnet network.
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by MSUser2013 »

louisw3 wrote:7zip installer may be a win16....
It's not since it works on 64-bit Windows. 32-bit Installers aren't a big problem, Just certain performance dependent applications. The reason why Firefox 3.6.28 and SP4 don't even launch the installer is because of the SoftPC emulation layer not being updated to support certain applications. Firefox 3.6 isn't the last version for 2000, It's actually Version 12, But that won't work either.

I wouldn't install SP4 on a 2000 Beta even if it was able to launch it, It checks the version and it expects it to be the RTM, I've also tried experimenting with slipstreaming it into the later RCs using Nlite, It fails at installation.

It would be so cool to have an Alpha, PowerPC, or even Itanium system that could run Windows, But it's extremely unlikely for me to ever come across one knowing where I live, How hard it is to ship and the likely-hood of my city even having one. :(

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by computebrute »

Well, some PPC computers back in the day could run NT4, but they are all long gone most likely.
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by user99672 »

Hey. By the time you're reading this, I'll be gone. Be a good person, but find what being a good person means to you.

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by computebrute »

Yes, these are exactly what I mean. They could run NT4, but only because of a special BIOS only those computers had. How'd you find a video of this?.

Also, Jens, could you perhaps post a picture of the inside of that computer?
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by hounsell »

Jens wrote:And worst of all: I cannot get a single https-page to open (luckily that changed after I was able to install Opera 11, which sometimes performs very slowly as well.)
That'll probably be thanks to the recent culling of outdated encryption ciphers from server setups. You'll need a minimum of TLS 1.0 support and AES 128-bit for HTTPS sites these days, both of which I doubt are in such an old Windows build. Opera will uses its own newer SSL/TLS lib, hence why it works.

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Jens »

Hey folks,

thanks for your input so far. Before I tell you about today's experience, I would like to respond to some points brought up:
computebrute wrote:7zip is slow for obvious reasons. One of them is that you have CPU from the stone age in that beast of a computer...
By today's standards the CPU of course is from the stone age. Nevertheless, I cannot recall unzipping archives back in the early 2000s posed any kind of trouble.
louisw3 wrote: If you want something crazy there is always pathworks (DecNET) for Windows NT 4.0 and 2000, and you could join HeCNET as one of the few Windows machines on their international decnet network.
I suppose that is out of the question. First of all I do not have a static IP. Secondly: This machine is not just huge but loud as well. There are four (!) fans installed in that thing. Considering I live in a single-room apartment, letting it run overnight is really out of the question.
computebrute wrote:Also, Jens, could you perhaps post a picture of the inside of that computer?
I will do that - probably the next weekend as I have just ordered a PCI sound-chip from Ensoniq I want to insert into that thing.
MSUser2013 wrote: It would be so cool to have an Alpha, PowerPC, or even Itanium system that could run Windows, But it's extremely unlikely for me to ever come across one knowing where I live, How hard it is to ship and the likely-hood of my city even having one. :(
Well, keep an open eye on eBay. That was where I found my Alpha. And until you find one yourself, feel free to explore Alpha@NT through me although it of course is not the same :)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So today I played around with the machine for some hours. Firstly I wanted to install a benchmarking tool. Well - after trying out about a dozen or so unsuccessfully, I finally found one that would work on my Alpha. It is called CrystalMark and seems to be a homebrew-thing: http://crystalmark.info/download/archiv ... 2004R3.zip

Alas, it does not feature a list of CPUs and their results. And Direct 3D-testing did not work either.
Strangely enough I got two very different results from the same program. I suppose at the first run (which indeed was some time apart from the second), I had some other instances running.

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Oh and I of course compared this to my laptop from 2009:

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Yeah. Alpha is stone age alright.

Then I tried to find another version of Opera that may run a little faster on that machine, as browsing REALLY is a pain in the ass. The system completely lags: A single button-press may take 10 seconds.
Unfortunately I did not find anything better. Seems that Version 11 is best, because Version 12 is slower and Version 10 does not run at all. Always gives an error message about inaccessible memory for opera.dll or something like that. Tried different Versions of 10 - the result was always the same. Very old version (older than 8) failed to load HTTPS-pages as well. Any opinions?

Oh and while I went around installing and uninstalling Opera versions one after another I found two funny things:

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Never tried it so far.

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WTF?

That is all for now. By the way: While researching, I found this interesting article: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/mag ... ntial.aspx
Now this suggests that at least internally, some Windows Server 2003 or XP64 Professional -Versions must have existed that would run on Alpha. Now if one only could only get hold of these. Unfortunately Mr Chen obviously cares about his privacy. A quick search did not bring up any contact data. Therefore I commented one of his posts in his MSDN-blog - but I think he already chose to ignore it.

There is another guy named Dave Cutler (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Cutler) who certainly would know something about all of this as well. Again, no means of contacting him.

But well - for now I have not even finished with Build 2072 :)

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by computebrute »

VERY interesting! I can't wait to see the inside!
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by louisw3 »

Oh it has !fx32 installed! which explains why you are installing some win32 x86 stuff, and why it's SLOW.

It's a post processing optimizer, not a JIT. So the first time you run something it's dreadfully slow. But after you run it, you'll see the HD go like crazy as it'll recompile that code path into alpha code.

It was awesome tech for the time, but Java and it'd JIT became the way to do these types of things. Also it meant you had an x86 installed version, and an alpha 'recompiled' version on disk so it's like installing it at least 2x more times as alpha binaries are larger, plus !fx32 kept other stuff around.

7zip through !fx32 would be insanely slow.

I'd get MSVC 6, and build a native version of p7zip, then compare the two!
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Jens »

louisw3 wrote:Oh it has !fx32 installed! which explains why you are installing some win32 x86 stuff, and why it's SLOW.
It indeed has fx!32 already installed. It runs as a Background service.

BTW: Why do so many programs not work at all? Is that due to the old windows Version? Most things I tried should run on Win2k. Like IrfanView for example. Or may the Lack of SP4 be the problem?
louisw3 wrote:Also it meant you had an x86 installed version, and an alpha 'recompiled' version on disk so it's like installing it at least 2x more times as alpha binaries are larger, plus !fx32 kept other stuff around.
Where are the different binaries stored physically? Or are the original versions on the Disk only temporarily?

I could indeed notice that running something for the First time really is more time consuming.
louisw3 wrote: I'd get MSVC 6, and build a native version of p7zip, then compare the two!
I have never done anything like that. Could you describe the necessary steps in short?

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by computebrute »

It only now dawns to me now how slow this system really is... my computer has this score
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Knuckx »

MSUser2013 wrote:It would be so cool to have an Alpha, PowerPC, or even Itanium system that could run Windows, But it's extremely unlikely for me to ever come across one knowing where I live, How hard it is to ship and the likely-hood of my city even having one. :(
I have an Itanium that can run Windows, amongst other OSes; it's a HP Integrity rx2620, with dual Itanium 2 1600 (1.6GHz Madison) CPUs and 16GB RAM. Its currently configured as a quad boot: Windows Server 2008 R2 for Itanium-Based Systems, OpenVMS V8.4, HP-UX 11i v3, and Debian Linux 7.

Windows on Itanium has many of the issues of Windows on Alpha, such as slow x86 execution, and very few drivers beyond those on the OS media. A few programs have native IA64 Windows builds, like older builds of 7-Zip (which runs really well), Java, and some of the SysInternals tools like Process Explorer (which tends to crash, and feels very untested).

Earlier Itaniums (pre-Montecito), mine included, actually have an onboard x86 execution pipeline, meaning they can execute 32bit PC code without emulation! Perfomance of this feature is pretty poor. Windows 2003 SP1 and newer doesn't use it though, instead using an x86 emulator provided by Intel, called IA-32 EL, which also doesn't have amazing performance.

I have never tried using an older version of Windows than Server 2008, as older builds could not boot the installer from a USB-DVD drive on this hardware; however I now have the proper internal DVD-ROM drive, and will see about trying to run some beta IA64 builds, and posting screenshots.
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Jens »

I already got my soundcard today. And guess what - I just inserted it and it worked right out of the box. No drivers to install, it just wored. On my home pc I firstly had this experience with Windows 7 - Windows 2000 never detected my hardware all by itself itself. I guess it is my luck that the Alpha was such a special system probably with almost no alternative hardware.

As promised to computebrute before, this is the interior of the AlphaServer:

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Front with open HDD-hatch.

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View from the top.

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From the right side. This is the energy compartment with the ac adaptor at the right bottom. On the top left side there is the DVD-Drive.

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From the left side - photographed from the bottom with a view upwards. You can clearly see the two CPU modules with their cooling system.

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One removed CPU-module.

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View from the left with a removed CPU-module.

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by computebrute »

Quite nice inside the case. Did you configure the computer to utilize the full potential of 2 CPU's?
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by red-ray »

I develop SIV (http://rh-software.com/) and would be interested to hear how well it runs on your RC1 Alpha system. The release only has the SIV32X.exe x32 image, but you can use it to download the native SIV32A.exe AXP image which runs far faster (Menu->File->Download->SIV32A add-on). I have only tested it on my DEC MiataGL system.

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Does anyone know where I can get RC2 Build 2128 from please? I think it's in the FTP area, but don't have access.

Looking at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/mag ... ntial.aspx I recall this was a AXP-64 version of Windows 2000 that was used by Microsoft before Itanium CPUs were available. The W2K DDKs seem to have some of the AXP-64 support files, though I never really tried to use them.
Knuckx wrote:few programs have native IA64 Windows builds
My SIV (http://rh-software.com/) utility has the native SIV64I.exe IA-64 executable.

It runs OK on my HP zx6000 (all of XP-64 to 2008R2) so I suspect it should run OK on your system.
Last edited by red-ray on Fri Oct 02, 2015 11:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Jens »

red-ray wrote:I develop SIV (http://rh-software.com/) and would be interested to hear how well it runs on your RC1 Alpha system.
Hey red-ray,

thanks for bringing your program to my attention. It works very well on my machine:
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red-ray wrote:Does anyone know where I can get RC2 Build 2128 from please? I think it's in the FTP area, but don't have access.
See PM.
red-ray wrote:Looking at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/mag ... ntial.aspx I recall this was a AXP-64 version of Windows 2000 that was used by Microsoft before Itanium CPUs were available. The W2K DDKs seem to have some of the AXP-64 support files, though I never really tried to use them.
What about these W2K DDK AXP-64 support files? What can one do with them?

By the way folks - I now often encounter bluescreens when booting up (about half-way through the loading process according to the splashscreen). And I encountered a strange string in the error log that suggests, there had been a Alpha Build 2063. Does anyone know, what may cause the bluescreens - the new PCI sound chip? But then again: Why does it work normally after a reboot?!

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See: Build 2063!
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by red-ray »

Jens wrote:
red-ray wrote:Looking at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/mag ... ntial.aspx I recall this was a AXP-64 version of Windows 2000 that was used by Microsoft before Itanium CPUs were available. The W2K DDKs seem to have some of the AXP-64 support files, though I never really tried to use them.
What about these W2K DDK AXP-64 support files? What can one do with them?
You could use them to build a native 64-bit programs, for SIV SIV64A.exe + SIVA64.sys, but as the 64-bit Windows 2000 AXP is not around there is no point. I mentioned them to show how close Microsoft were to releasing a 64-bit W2K AXP. All the Alpha AXP support was removed from the Windows XP/2003 DDKs and SDKs.

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Knuckx »

red-ray wrote:My SIV (http://rh-software.com/) utility has the native SIV64I.exe IA-64 executable.

It runs OK on my HP zx6000 (all of XP-64 to 2008R2) so I suspect it should run OK on your system.
It does, quite well. In fact, it will be sticking around, as its the only program I have found that will give full detailed monitoring info on this system. Most tools show nothing as they do not have an ia64 driver. Thanks!
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

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Knuckx wrote:Most tools show nothing as they do not have an ia64 driver.
Thank you for the screen shot and SIV reported much as I hoped. Does Menu->File->Save Local work OK? I am wondering why one of the disks does not have a temperature, what does Menu->Devices->SMART Drives report?

I think AIDA64, CPUZ and HWiNFO have an IA64 drivers, but don't know of any others with an IA64 executable.

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Knuckx »

red-ray wrote:Thank you for the screen shot and SIV reported much as I hoped. Does Menu->File->Save Local work OK? I am wondering why one of the disks does not have a temperature, what does Menu->Devices->SMART Drives report?

I think AIDA64, CPUZ and HWiNFO have an IA64 drivers, but don't know of any others with an IA64 executable.
Save local appears to work correctly, writing out a almost 1MB txt file and a 128KB dmi file. The disk with no temperature is a SanDisk USB memory stick (so no SMART support), that contains a Debian 7 ia64 install, mainly used for partition management. The other three disks are all 73GB SCSI HDDs, and have the running Windows install, HP OpenVMS, and HP-UX on them respectively.

I have used CPU-Z before, and a large chunk of the of the fields are blank. I take my statement of no driver back; it does load a driver, "cpuz138_ia64.sys", according to the Driver Control feature in SIV. Here's the CPU-Z Validate I did a while back: http://valid.canardpc.com/b5l5hp .

Do you have OpenVMS on your HP zx6000? It's freely available to hobbyists from HP themselves.
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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by red-ray »

Knuckx wrote:Save local appears to work correctly, writing out a almost 1MB txt file and a 128KB dmi file. The disk with no temperature is a SanDisk USB memory stick (so no SMART support).

Do you have OpenVMS on your HP zx6000? It's freely available to hobbyists from HP themselves.
Thank you for running the test. I have just checked the SIV code and suspect I can improve what gets reported for the rx2620 as SIV only had rx2600 support. Would you like to test a 5.04 :beta: ?

I guess the SanDisk USB memory stick must be a fixed rather than removable device which is why SIV tries to report it.

I keep pondering if I should install OpenVMS, but don't know what I would use it for if I did. As I also have a AXP + VAX I wonder if I could have all 3 in the same cluster 8-) . I used to have a AXP + VAX cluster about 12 years ago but that was before VMS ran on Itanium.

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Re: Exploring Windows 2000 on Alpha together with YOU

Post by Knuckx »

red-ray wrote:Thank you for running the test. I have just checked the SIV code and suspect I can improve what gets reported for the rx2620 as SIV only had rx2600 support. Would you like to test a 5.04 :beta: ?
Sure, though I think we better move this conversation to PM's before we get really off topic. PM Sent :)
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