PA-RISC – Back to the Future (Again..)

As part of my quest to test Linux on more obscure/historical hardware, and given that the theme was ‘HP’ after my perilous foray into the world of Linux on IA64, I have now acquired (eBay!) an ‘inexpensive’ PA-RISC system – HP 9000/785 C3700 – after upgrading from an older C3000, and adding some more up-to-date IO cards..

HP C3700

The system shows its age, by only having 10/100 (DEC!) Ethernet built-in, and USB1.1 connectors for just a mouse and keyboard, and has mixed PCI/PCIX card slots – and a floppy drive!.   Fortunately, there are inexpensive HP PCIX Gigabit Ethernet cards available, and I installed one of these (NC7771), together with a ‘proper’ USB2 card (Belkin). I also beefed up the memory to 4GB, but this may well have been overkill, as I later discovered…

There are two Distros available for PA-RISC, and after my struggles with Gentoo on the IA64 system, I decided (from over 20 years with Red Hat / Fedora!) on the lesser-of-two-evils, and installed Debian. The ‘standard’ Debian release was quite ancient – with a 3.16 Kernel – but fortunately there is an up-to-date ‘development’ version available, with Kernel 4.17 etc…    This may be ‘interesting’ for my IA64 project as well, as it appears that Debian have started to produce a similarly up-to-date version for IA64 as well, after many years!

My goal for this project, as usual, is to be able to use this as another more ‘interesting’ testing platform for the latest kernel versions, for the least expense!

More on my tribulations with the actual Linux installation, and configuration, in a later article…

Robert Gadsdon. August 8, 2018.


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