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Xray Lab Manager, Sysop
MacroMolecular Structure Group, Duke University, Durham NC, 27710
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Subject: Group purchase of DEC UDB Unix Box for $750
The UDB (Universal Desktop Box) is a compact, no software,
no licence general purpose unix box from DEC (complete specs/info
at http://www.digital.com:80/.i/info/udb/). This box belongs
to the same family as the Multia (same thing with software)
and was originally available with various sizes of cache, harddisks,
CPU speed and memory.
DEC liquidated the last 8000 of these Jul 1 and they
are now available on the surplus market. A local store Computer
Outlet (Durham, NC, 919-361-9878, fax 919-544-0794, contact person
Eric Westrom) is willing to do a group purchase of these machines
at $750 ea. If 200 units are bought, the price will be about $600.
We at Duke are currently using 8 of these running
pvm3 to do parallel processing. At a price of $750
you can use these as a cheap home computer, as a gateway,
www server or print server.
The computer is small (about the size of a telephone
book for a town of 100,000 people), single board, and uses IBMPC
style peripherals and connectors.
The version available for the group purchas has:
166 MHz 21066 Alpha chip (approx equal to 100MHz Pentium for integer,
better for floating point)
PCI bus, one slot (small, we're using that slot for a 100Mbit ether card)
64 bit bus (approx, there are parity and other lines)
24M memory std (72pin 70nsec SIMMS, four slots)
expandable to 256M with 64M chips.
340M internal scsi disk (2.5"),
1.44M floppy drive
room for 2nd disk (3.5") if PCI slot not used
on board: graphics accelarator (1280x1024, 2M VRAM) VGA connector,
scsi II controller and scsiII external connector,
parallel and serial ports,
PS/2 keyboard connector,
10Mbit ethercard (twisted pair, AUI and BNC ports).
2 PCMCIA slots
You will need to supply a mouse, keyboard and monitor.
Memory upgrades will be available at current prices
(which are running about $85 for parity 8M SIMMS, $65 for non-parity,
for $16M SIMMS, $135/$125).
The machine runs Craftwork Linux (we're using v2.1AXP,
with Linux kernel 1.3.89, which we have upgraded to 2.0.x. Craftwork
is expecting to release v2.2AXP Sept 1, with Linux kernel v2.0.x,
projected price of $95 or you can download it from their website
for free.) Linux AXP is a fully functional Unix,
with compilers, X, networking, appletalk, apache WWW server, Mosaic,
DNS name services. For further details of the Craftwork Linux AXP see
Linux uses GNU and other freely available developement tools,
which are readily available from the net, eg gcc (includes
objective C), gnu fortran.
The machine originally was supplied with Windows NT
installed, but the state of the disks in the surplus machines
(NT, or unformatted) is unknown. Presumably there is/was support
at DEC for NT, but I don't know how to get it. It is my understanding
that the Windows NT CDROM has the OS for Alpha. Because the architecture
of the CPU is not Intel, Windows NT programs compiled for Intel
will not run on this machine. You'll need NT binaries compiled for this
chip or you'll need the sources and will have to compile them yourself.
The UDB has a 1 year warrantee from DEC, however
_NO_ manuals are available. I have a copy of the manual and will attempt
to make it available, probably for a copying fee. For a starter look
on the webpage (address below).
I am putting out this announcement because we at Duke are
going to buy some of these machines and would like to get a good price.
I have dealt with Computer Outlet for about a year, and
have found them helpful, reliable and with good prices, so I send
them my business when I can. In posting this offer I accept no
responsibility for the usefullness or suitability of the machines
for any purpose whatever. The specs I have posted here to the best
of my knowledge are correct, but again I accept no responsibility
for them - please check with Computer Outlet, DEC and Crafwork to
You will be responsible for installing the operating system.
If anyone wishes, the Craftwork Linux AXP operating system will
be installed for $50 before shipping to the level that the
system boots, recognises all its hardware and is capable of
connecting to the network via thinwire. You will need to
configure the machine beyond this level using the Craftwork CD.
These machines will be shipped following shipment of the machines
without the installed OS. You shouldn't experience any more than
the usual problems getting the UDB up from zero than with any
other machine, so it's quite reasonable to attempt to do this yourself.
After the purchase, I will give free phone help (as my time permits)
to anyone trying to get the system up.
If anyone is interested please e-mail me, giving
contact info (name, organisation, ph#, email, number of computers)
Progress on the group purchase (including names and number of computers
requested) will be posted on http://www.xray.duke.edu/udb/.
On Sep 15 (or there abouts), I will post a notice on this
web site as to whether the number of orders is slowing down or
not and the projected date for sending your money to the Computer
Outlet. Qualified organisations can send a PO. Otherwise
a 50% deposit is required, with the remainder paid COD.
I'm happy to talk about our experiences with these machines
by phone/email or talk about technical issues. All monies and issues
regarding the details of the purchase will be handled through Computer
Outlet, (contact person Eric Westrom) who will be responsible for
delivering a working machine.
Please reply with
memory upgrades (Mb) :
Please note these prices my best estimate at the moment. A final binding
price will be posted on the UDB web page at the time for sending
in the orders. If there's enough interest (200 units) the price
will be about $600.
Sysadmin, Xray Group
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC, 27710