SRM Firmware Howto

v0.8.1, 14 February 2004

This document describes how to boot Linux/Alpha using the SRM console, which is the console firmware also used to boot HP Tru64 Unix (also known as Digital Unix and OSF/1) and OpenVMS.

About this manual

Who should read this manual

You should read this manual if you are installing Linux on a new Alpha system that can only boot from the SRM console, or if you are installing Linux on an older Alpha system that can use the SRM console and wish to use SRM to boot your Linux installation.

Because SRM is the only way to boot Linux on modern Alpha systems, and because it provides the proper operating environment for Unix and Unix-like operating systems (such as Linux), it is the recommended way of booting Linux on Alpha when available.

Sometimes, it is preferable to use the ARC, ARCSBIOS, or AlphaBIOS console, such as if you have a machine for which SRM is not available, if you wish to dual-boot with Windows NT without switching consoles, or if you have hardware that is not supported by SRM. On these machines, you will typically use MILO to boot Linux. For more information, refer to the MILO Howto, available from


Throughout this manual, we will use the following conventions for commands to be entered by the user:

SRM console commands will be shown with the characteristic SRM '>>>' prompt, like this: [1]
>>> boot dva0 -fi linux.gz -fl "root=/dev/fd0 load_ramdisk=1"

Unix commands will be shown with the '#' command prompt if they are to be run as root, or '$' if they are to be run by a normal user, like this:
# swriteboot -f3 /dev/sda /boot/bootlx

Aboot commands will be shown with the 'aboot>' command prompt, like this:
aboot> b 6/boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/hda6



On multiprocessor machines, you will see 'P00>>' instead, or possibly some other number depending on which processor SRM is running.