Announcing EmuWoW Beta 1 (AXP Preview1)

Freecell & Winver

This is a guest post by CaptainWillStarblazer

Hello, everyone. This is a continuation of my previous blogpost on EmuWoW (formerly win32emu) found here, but to summarize, I’m the 18-year-old developer behind a project that allows running applications compiled for the MIPS/Alpha version of Windows NT on standard x86 PCs through emulation, but without requiring a full system emulator. Since that last post, the project has made some substantial strides.

Since then, I’ve adapted the MIPS emulator from MAME, which is both more accurate and faster than my own (writing my own was a fun exercise but to the end of running applications, borrowing an emulator was a better decision). This alone enabled WinMine to function, which can be seen below.

Winmine for MIPS!

Around the same time, another VirtuallyFun member named x86matthew entered the scene. His prior credits include a similar project, for Win16. He was inspired by the initial win32emu blog post, created his own similar project called WoWMIPS, which quickly started running a few simple apps, such as WinMine, Solitaire, and Notepad. Be sure to check out WoWMIPS – MIPS Emulator for Windows, Part 1: Introduction, and parts 2,3,4,5,6!

This had actually been what I was hoping for from the beginning; I always saw win32emu as a proof of concept for a smarter person (either myself in the future or someone else altogether) to come back later and do it better, and this is a massive undertaking for a single individual. What makes x86matthew’s WoWMIPS so incredible is its clean design. For one, there’s no thunk DLLs required. When an application tries to import a DLL, the host x86 DLL is first loaded, and then any attempts to get the address of an exported procedure from it are then redirected to an auto-generated stub of MIPS code which invokes the emulator to call the function. In other words, the thunk DLLs are generated at load time. Additionally, there’s no window procedure thunks required either. Instead, MIPS code pages are marked as non-executable, causing an access violation when Windows attempts to call them. Using an exception handler implemented via Windows XP’s Vectored Exception Handling feature, one can detect this and then invoke the emulator to execute the callback. Storing the CPU state in thread-local-storage allowed proper support for multithreading. I duplicated these design choices into EmuWoW, and the results largely speak for themselves. Unlike WoWMIPS (at time of writing), EmuWoW is still capable of loading MIPS DLLs (and will prefer to do so if possible), however.

Various MIPS Windows NT applications running

To aid the process of fixing faults in the emulator, I hacked up a quick, minimal debugger into EmuWoW. First of all, there’s a “crash screen” which will indicate the type of error and dump registers and the current instruction if there’s a fault, and a running disassembly can be printed as you go, but most crucially, there’s a limited degree of interactive debugging functionality.

The built in debugger to EmuWow

The main capabilities contained herein are dumping registers and memory to the screen, disassembling regions of memory, listing loaded modules, getting import entry points, setting breakpoints, and single-stepping, along with printing functions. It’s no gdb (especially for the lack of PDB symbol support), but it’s something.

MIPS is all well and good, however, but we can already emulate Windows NT for MIPS. MIPS is a fairly clean, simple architecture, often used for teaching, and short of weirdness like delay slots, is dead simple to emulate. And it fits the bill for what I’m trying to do here – a RISC architecture Microsoft abandoned, fixed-length 32-bit instructions, the works. However, adding support for the DEC Alpha AXP will finally get this project to where it was intended to be from the beginning, and I hope for it to eventually be able to run the Visual C++ compiler toolchain under EmuWoW. Being able to compile (and even test!) Alpha apps on readily available modern PCs will be a game-changer, and I intentionally wrote EmuWoW to be CPU-agnostic, so adding rudimentary support for the Alpha wasn’t difficult. Like with MIPS, I lifted the emulator from MAME. This admittedly did pose some challenges, due to MAME’s use of C++ features such as

  • Classes (which I had to substitute for passing pointers to structs)
  • Templates (which I had to substitute for macros)
  • Function-style casts (which I had to change into C-style casts)

There was a lot of weirdness in how Alpha function calls, but it was my misunderstanding of the calling convention, and when to consider values to be 32-bit vs 64-bit posed a modest issue, but I got it to the point where some very simple DEC Alpha programs started to run, though many of them have various issues.

Various Dec Alpha Windows NT applications running

This is the first time this has ever been possible; emulation of AXP NT programs on standard PCs has just become possible now. I’m hoping to see EmuWoW continue to evolve, and I welcome contributions, whether that be improving support for the CPUs I already have, adding support for another (such as PowerPC) or anything else. To take a look at the code, go to and to download EmuWoW and try it out for yourself, click here.

SoftWindows on OpenVMS

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

I like exploring vintage hypervisors and emulators. In the past I did a whole series on Merge, VP/IX and others. This time I wanted to take look at something a little more exotic – SoftWindows on Alpha OpenVMS. I have in fact installed it a while back but I could never get it properly licensed. I looked everywhere, asked everyone and of course no one had a license pack for this. Fortunately there are two license generators for OpenVMS, pakgen and lmfgen. But how do you find out what is the exact product code and vendor? VMS provides a license debug facility:

$ reply/enable=license
$ define/sys/exec lmf$display_opcom_message true

Then, when starting an app, you will get an opcom log message with all the required product name, vendor, etc. The rest is easy. For the lazy, here is a complete license pack for SoftWindows:

        /ISSUER=DEC -
        /PRODUCER=DEC -
        /UNITS=0 -

Here is a screenshot for your viewing pleasure!

SoftWindows on OpenVMS Alpha

The install comes with it’s own version of Windows 3.1 plus some additional tools and apps, typical for Insignia products. You can map drives to folders, ports COM and LPT, etc. There are a variety of video modes – Hercules, CGA, EGA and VGA, even 256 colors. The performance is quite decent, however the CPU is pegged at 100%, as you can see in the system monitor. There is a CPU idle detection tool, however it doesn’t seem to work very well. I suspect that perhaps this may be to do with much never OpenVMS version, than the software has been designed for. The SoftWindows has been released in 1994 and not been updated since.

How do you install and run this thing? There is a full installation guide, however since this is just a PCSI file, you can simply use product install:

$ unzip
$ product install *

To start it you cast these magic spells:

$ @sys$sysroot:[sysmgr]softwin$
$ softwin

Since SoftWindows is essentially SoftPC you can run pure DOS mode. I will do a follow up on this and explore some DOS games.

You can find all the files on

From a hindsight, it’s ironic how roles have reversed in 30 years. Back then MS-DOS / Windows was a toy OS, running on a toy “personal” computer, emulated in a little window on a “real” computer like DEC Alpha. In modern times you run OpenVMS as a guest VM on a Windows PC.

Have fun with virtualization!

Windows NT 3.1 on DEC Alpha AXP

(this is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

As I was preparing the Windows NT RISC exhibit for VCF west, I realized that I’m missing a rather important piece of the history. While I will be showing the potentially last DEC Alpha Windows build ever – AXP64 2210, I don’t have anything earlier than NT 3.51. It would be nice to showcase the very first RTM version – NT 3.1. From time perspective, NT did not get popular until the version 3.5 and later. Windows NT 3.1 would be considered rare even on a 386, let alone on a RISC CPU! So what RISC hardware does Windows NT 3.1 run on?


Not many! The HCL published on gunkies has a few more systems, but nothing that I have. The early MIPS based systems are all but unobtanium as of today. This is probably a good time to mention a little known port of Windows NT 3.1 to the DECstation 5000. However these builds are not found even on earliest NT betas. Not to mention lack of ARC firmware for this machine.

The Alphas were looking a little more reachable. The DEC 2000 Model 300 and DECpc AXP 150 are one and the same machine, packaged in a server and workstation cases. Code-named Jensen, DEC designed and marketed these specifically around Windows NT. Unlike prior Alphas, this model used a lot of “PC” components for increased compatibility and lower cost. Eventually paved way for the more well known DEC Multia. The Jensen has been seen floating here and there and many people have these.

I was able to get a loaner from Chris Satterfield aka Compgeke for the VCF. Having a working specimen at hand, I started looking at part numbers of various components. In an amazing streak of luck, in practically zero time I was able to find, buy and assemble a complete DECpc AXP 150 from spare parts on eBay! Without a case, but nevertheless. Also big thanks to Christopher Rivett for help with some fine details!

Franken Jensen built from spare parts off eBay.
Jensen running at VCF West 2023, with fans installed


  • Motherboard + CPU – DEC 70-29685-01
  • GPU – DEC/Compaq Qvision 1024/E (1024×768) – 126654-001
  • GPU – (Optional) Number 9 High Res (1280×1024) – 30-41800-01
  • HBA – Adaptec AHA-1742A EISA – 467806-00
  • NIC – DEC DE422-S EISA – 5021102-01
  • RAM – 4x 16MB, FPM, 60ns, 72-Pin, 12-Chip, True Parity SIMM
  • PSU – DEC/HP 30-37197-02, however a standard AT PSU may be OK

If you going to build one yourself, beware of overheating. Jensen runs rather hot and needs good cooling. Not only for the CPU. There is a section of the motherboard just under the EISA cards that runs incredibly hot. See the picture, where I have installed a large Noctua fan.

OS Install

There are many Windows NT 3.1 CDROMs floating around. I purchased a DEC branded, shrink-wrapped CD on eBay to use as a prop along with the machine. You can download the iso image here.

Installation of Windows NT 3.1 on DECpc AXP 150 is pretty straightforward and not that much different from the later versions. However as a prerequisite you will need the ECU floppy disk to configure the EISA slot assignments, card and jumper settings. After that you will have to go through various setup screens in ARC BIOS to configure system settings. Then you run arcinst to create a system partition and setupldr to install the OS. The rest of it is pretty uneventful. This is somewhat expected, as this was pretty much the only one and supported hardware combination, so must have been well tested. The only curious part is that the NT OS Kernel does not display any text during normal boot. Later versions of NT will display the build number and MP or UP kernel variant and dots indicating subsystem load progress. This is rather odd because I expected more text mode stuff from older NT version, but who knows.

Jensen NT 3.1 Boot Menu
Windows NT 3.1 on DEC Alpha AXP, DECpc 150 aka Jensen

Service Pack Saga

If you are even vaguely familiar with installing Windows NT at all, you will know that the very first thing you have to perform after installation, is to apply a service pack. NT 3.1 did have service packs, up to SP3. The problem is that, as you may very well expect, non-x86 editions were nowhere to be found in 2023. The only thing I could come up with was, which had a German AXP and MIPS SP3, but no English! [It since has been updated…]. I had to do some real detective work to track down an US-English AXP SP3 version. I spent a few days going through various random CDs and ftp site mirrors of that era, with little luck. Eventually I stumbled on this README file, stating:

Due to space constraints on the Windows NT Service Packs for
International Versions CD, the USA Service Pack version 3 is located on
the Additional Windows NT Service Packs, Windows 3.11 versions, SDKs,
and DDKs CD in the NTSRVPC3\USA directory.

Bingo! After a few hits and missed I spotted this particular CDROM here: – Now the OS is finally “servicepacked” 🙂


My general impression of NT 3.1 on DEC Alpha is pretty awesome. If you can overlook the age and some obvious shortcomings, the OS is pretty stable, solid and even snappy for such old hardware. An OS itself without apps is not much. While overall Alpha NT application outlook is pretty scanty I was able to find a several very interesting gems!

Most importantly, thanks to Chris, a DEC Windows NT Developers CD-ROM!

The disk has an incredible amount of demo, freeware, public domain and shareware applications as well as DEC marketing material.

Windows NT Developers CD for DEC Alpha NT 3.1

You can get a lot of DEC proprietary software like C++, Fortran, PATHWORKS, DECtalk, as well as X servers, etc.

However I was particularly interested in some 3rd party commercial apps.

For example there is an early version of DMC Calamus Desktop Publishing.

DMC Calamus desktop publishing on Windows NT 3.1 DEC Alpha AXP

Also a demo version of a vintage, text-mode SlickEdit, way before it was replaced by the Visual SlickEdit known today.

SlickEdit 2.3 on Windows NT 3.1 DEC Alpha AXP

There also is WinDev editior, which is quite superior to Notepad and has some code editing goodies and shortcuts to SDK tools, making it something of a simple IDE.

WinDev 1.56 on Windows NT 3.1 DEC Alpha AXP

Another big source is Windows NT Application Sampler CDROM, (also from Smithsonian).

One of the coolest thing found there is a graphical text editor called WinEdit. It has a ton of features and even syntax highlighting! It has since became my default to go editor / IDE on this system!

WinEdit 3.0E on Windows NT 3.1 DEC Alpha AXP

There of course is a Windows NT SDK with the M (MEP) editor.

Windows NT 3.1 SDK with M / MEP Editor on DEC Alpha AXP

There also are quite few public domain apps and games, ports of GNU software, Micro Emacs, Kermit, etc.

Update: CICA NT Shareware Collection has some interesting apps under the /alpha directory.

High Resolution GPU

One of things that was troubling me for some time was rather low resolution of the default QVision graphics card. The maximum being only 1024×768 is just not acceptable. Talking to several Jensen’s owners, no one even heard about anything better. However looking at the Windows setup options, I curiously noticed that the system does support one 1280×1024 video card – Number 9 GXE.

I simply assumed that such card would simply be unobtanium in 2023. However, digging through some old catalogs and spare part listings, I managed to find a DEC part number, which is 30-41800-01. Armed with this, I was able to find it via DEC spare part reseller that I often use. They had it in stock listed as “HIGH RES EISA 1280 x 1024 GRAPHICS”. The price wasn’t too bad either, at least compared to the whole endeavor. A few days later I received this:

After installation of the S3 driver (must be the Service Pack 3 version!) I was finally able to get 1280×1024 from the poor thing!

With this I should have a more cozy environment to compile and port even more apps 🙂

In future I want to try the Advanced Server edition as well as some early Betas with Alpha support.

Joining NT 4 to a SAMBA Domain Controller

or the Unbridled rage of living on the trailing edge.

I hosted a Porting Party last where where I setup my Dec Alpha as a terminal server allowing people from all over the world to connect in and cross compile software for the 64bit version of Windows for the Dec Alpha. While many problems were overcome, and many more remain, I have to say the most annoying thing was joining a domain hosted by a SAMBA server.

In my mind, I though the easiest way to get files in & out of the Alpha was not to use something like IIS/FTP where it would probably lead to end-less issues with text/binary/active/passive modes, but rather I should rent a VPS, install the OS default SAMBA and just map drives. The benefit of the VPS is that it has a public address, so no NAT is required. The VPS had an option for either CentOS (no) or Debian 10. I went with the Debian, and did an in place upgrade to 11, then 12. Nothing special.

I’d never actually used SAMBA as a domain controller before, but I thought this would be a fun experiment. So the idea is then that the VPS running SAMBA is the Domain Controller, and my Alpha joins it as a member server. Everyone else can use Windows or any SAMBA client and map drives, and then copy files to the VPS, and then copy back and forth from the Alpha to the VPS. This part worked fine.

What didn’t work was SAMBA version 4.

I had come up with this config, based on the fragments of the default config, and and hints from

    netbios name = PDC
    passdb backend = tdbsam
    server max protocol = NT1
    username map = /usr/local/samba/etc/
    workgroup = ALPHAPARTY
    server string = Samba Server
    security = user
    hosts allow =, <<<peoples networks...>>>
    load printers = yes
    log file = /usr/local/samba/var/log.%m
    max log size = 50
    passdb backend = tdbsam
    local master = yes
    os level = 33
    domain master = yes
    preferred master = yes
    domain logons = yes
    wins support = yes
    dns proxy = no
    add user script = /usr/sbin/useradd %u
    add group script = /usr/sbin/groupadd %g
    add machine script = /usr/sbin/adduser -n -g machines -c Machine -d /dev/null -s /bin/false %u
    delete user script = /usr/sbin/userdel %u
    delete user from group script = /usr/sbin/deluser %u %g
    delete group script = /usr/sbin/groupdel %g
    comment = Home Directories
    browseable = no
    writable = yes
    comment = All Printers
    path = /usr/spool/samba
    browseable = no
    guest ok = no
    writable = no
    printable = yes
    comment = share for everyone
    path = /public
    public = yes
    writable = yes
    printable = no
    creaet mask = 0777

I had endless issues with the machine account not being either created correctly or not being authenticated. I tried manually creating it, to no avail. No matter what I tried it didn’t work.

Working with NT 4.0 must be depreciated or something but no matter what I tried IT JUST DIDN’T WORK.

Feeling outraged, I purged the old Samba, downloaded the source code to 3.6.25, built that, and using the same configuration I had tried to put together, it just worked.

Dec Alpha joining the SMB Domain

Adding users was somewhat straight forward:

useradd -M -s /bin/bash neozeed
passwd neozeed
/usr/local/samba/bin/smbpasswd -a neozeed
/usr/local/samba/bin/smbpasswd -e neozeed
mkdir /home/neozeed
chown neozeed /home/neozeed/

Creating both a Linux user & directory, and the SAMBA credentials. On the terminal server, all that remains was assigning a local home directory & profile directories, as you really don’t want those over the WAN.

I have no idea if this is a warning to others, or whatever the larger issue is.

Porting Party II

At any rate I’ll be running another porting party this coming weekend. I can host cross compiling fine, but we need people with the 64bit Whistler beta installed to test. The best way to get details is over on discord. Lately the IRC bridge is down more than it’s up, and I can’t effectively send out passwords & get your network block to allow access to the RDP, since I’m not going to open up worldwide access to a Windows NT 4.0 SP5 machine.

Porting Party II

So for anyone interested in porting their C/C++ to either the 32bit Alpha Windows, or 64bit Alpha Windows come join us on discord!

I’ll fire up the Alpha on Friday afternoon GMT and expect the event to run all weekend!

AXP64 2210 Installation Media Reconstruction

Yes, Neko is ALPHA64 Powered!


Unfortunately, during this amazing period, the Dec Alpha I had acquired specifically for this research had died. However, I was able to find an amazing group of people to not only go through with this research but take it upon themselves to provide an amazing working ISO image release! Needless to say, this is beyond my knowledge, and this is obviously a guest post


In ~1997, Microsoft started work on a project dedicated to porting Windows NT to use 64-bit addressing on 64-bit machines. Before this, Windows NT used the 32-bit mode or ABI of 64-bit machines. This effort was internally referred to as “Sundown”, otherwise referred to as “Win64”. The ports consisted of not only to the Itanium/IA-64 architecture (which later shipped as Windows XP 64-Bit Edition) but also to the 64-bit DEC Alpha architecture.

Compaq dropped support for Windows on Alpha in mid-1999, and Microsoft stopped the development of 32-bit Windows NT for Alpha soon afterwards, with Windows 2000 build 2128 (RC2) being the last build. Due to a lack of physical IA-64 hardware and the slowness of the simulator, Microsoft continued to work on the AXP64 port of Windows till mid-2000, to help fix general issues related to 64-bit addressing. You can read more about this project here.

In May 2023, a disk image containing an installation of an AXP64 build of Windows XP (Whistler) build 2210 was discovered by a guest reader of this site, and a team (amarioguy, neozeed, pivotman319, starfrost and Tenox) was later assembled to help make this release possible.

Why Repack To ISO

When I saw the news about this build, I asked my friends why didn’t neozeed or Tenox share the full disk image, they told me that the disk image contained PII (Personally Identifiable Data) and neeozeed would like to have them removed first. I have some experience with cleaning up Windows builds, so I joined their Discord server and offered to help, then I got sent a full sector dump of that disk. I scanned the build 2210 partition with a file recovery tool that I stole from a data recovery shop when I worked there, and to my amazement, quite a few files in the deleted \$WIN_NT.~LS directory (a place for holding temporary setup files) survived (more importantly, setupdd.sys, txtsetup.sif, setupldr and the hiv*.inf files). Since all the files required for a clean install from ISO/CD are there, this build can be repacked into an ISO which is guaranteed to contain no personal information!


The first thing I did was I recovered all of the files in the deleted \$WIN_NT.~LS directory, but since the integrity of files recovered from NTFS and FAT partitions cannot be guaranteed, I checked every single one of them. Most of those files were Microsoft Cabinet (CAB) archives, so I wrote a tool called CabChk to verify that 1) they are valid CAB archives, 2) there is only one file per archive, 3) the name of the compressed file is the same as the name of the archive and 4) the compressed file extracts fine. This helped me to verify most of those 4600 files, but I had to verify the remaining 300 or so files by hand because they’re not CAB archives and that task alone took days to complete. After verifying all the recovered files, it turned out that 85% of them survived while the remaining 15% didn’t.


A lot of those overwritten files are actually in the Windows directory (NT64) of that 2210 install, so I copied them out and recompressed the appropriate ones. I set my computer to the time zone Microsoft used and compressed them with the Cabinet Tool (CABARC) parameters Microsoft used. Microsoft used UTC-8 and the following CABARC parameters:

CABARC -m LZX:21 N [output_cab] [input_file]

After repacking and copying over the files, the number of missing files went from about 650 all the way down to roughly 30 :).

Missing User Mode Setup Stub

Unfortunately, usetup.exe was one of those 30 or so files. It doesn’t do much as it’s a stub, but nonetheless without it, text mode setup won’t start. My original idea was to decompile I386 build 2211’s usetup.exe (as it has only about 20 functions) and recompile it for AXP64 with the toolchain discovered earlier on, but I had to wait for someone to cross compile it on an Alpha for me. While I was waiting, I searched that partition for substrings in the I386 usetup.exe and I got a match!

It’s compressed, but since LZNT1 is a simple and weak-ish compression algorithm, you can sort of recognise the original data. I cobbled together an LZNT1 decompressor and decompressed that 32 KiB chunk, and indeed it’s the AXP64 usetup.exe!

E:\Projects\LZNTTool>LZNTTool -d "E:\Whistler 2210 AXP64 Recovery\usetup_compressed_0.bin" "E:\Whistler 2210 AXP64 Recovery\usetup_0.bin"
Decompression successful.

E:\Projects\LZNTTool>wsl hexdump -C -v -s 0x600 -n 0x200 "../../Whistler 2210 AXP64 Recovery/usetup_0.bin"

I then searched for strings expected to be in the second 32 KiB chunk and then the third chunk and so on, until I got all of them recovered. After decompressing all of the 5 chunks, I concatenated them together into one single executable and yay, we now have the original AXP64 usetup.exe!

E:\Projects\PEChkSum>PEChkSum "E:\Whistler 2210 AXP64 Recovery\usetup.exe"
Expected checksum is: 0x00035E4E
Actual checksum is: 0x00035E4E

"E:\Whistler 2210 AXP64 Recovery\usetup.exe" is valid.

Broken Driver Cabinet

pivotman319 pointed out to me that some files in were dead, and indeed, Setup did not work with that broken cabinet:

Crash to the NT firmware Monitor

There were 2 copies of on that disk, sadly the deleted one in $WIN_NT.~LS got overwritten and the one in \NT64\Driver Cache\axp64… well, 68 errors 😢:

Looking at the broken files, I noticed a pattern – all of them came from 3 blocks – 5, 36 and 37. What on Earth are “blocks”? Well, let’s talk about how CAB archives work first.

Files in CAB archives are stored in blocks, where each block stores 1 or more files. When files are added to a CAB archive, they are all concatenated together into one big file. The concatenated big file is then split into multiple sub-blocks (with default size of 0x8000 bytes) and each of them gets compressed and then concatenated together to form the compressed block. So, for small corruptions (bit-rots and etc.), theoretically only 0x8000 bytes are lost and the rest should still be recoverable, but tools like 7-Zip will refuse to extract anything beyond the point of corruption.

Now looking at the corruption in, 2 of the 3 blocks can be fully recovered because we have all of those files in uncompressed form. Block 5 contains mostly printer-related files that are arch- and build-independent, so they can all be borrowed from build 2211 i386. Block 37 has only 1 broken file (win32k.sys) which exists on the hard drive (in system32). To fix these blocks, I simply took the uncompressed files, compressed them and replaced the broken blocks with the newly created ones.

And after fixing block 37:

I then ran my CabScan tool on the fixed CAB and as expected, there is only one bad sub-block left:

E:\Projects\CabScan>CabScan "E:\Whistler 2210 AXP64 Recovery\driver (fix).cab"
Offset 0x0253FD75:
    Expected checksum is 0x568C0AC3
    Checksum is 0x1CEBB9DE
    Original size is 0x00008000
    Compressed size is 0x00003862

Detected 1 bad sub-block(s) in 1 bad block(s).

So, what can we say about the corruption?

  1. Size: 4 bytes
  2. Location: Last 4 bytes of a 0x2000 section
  3. Pattern: Starts with 00 F0 (possibly the result of a buggy NTFS driver)

Knowing these, I immediately located the 4 corrupted bytes in block 36:

So how did I recover those 4 bytes, did I brute force them? Nope, I used the checksum to calculate them! Here is the checksum algorithm Microsoft used for CAB archives:

CAB checksum algorithm

And as you can see, it’s very simple, so it took me almost no time to work out the 4 missing bytes (4A ED 16 71) from the checksum 0x568C0AC3! With block 36 fixed, as expected, all files are now good!

Buggy Setup Loader

I thought I got everything necessary recovered and fixed, so I packaged up the files and sent them to G-Nug85 to test… and it didn’t work:

It failed to find A321064.PAL in the [SourceDisksFiles] section of txtsetup.sif. Well, this is an AXP64 build and A321064.PAL is a 32-bit PALcode image… why would it be there? Needless to say, copying that file to the disc image didn’t help. I have literally spent days on this stupid issue and who would have expected this:

E:\Whistler 2210 AXP64 Recovery>wsl strings -t x SETUPLDR | wsl grep -i '.pal'
  91f68 A321064.PAL

The culprit of the problem was they hard coded the name “A321064.PAL”… in the setup loader executable… how stupid!

We can tell from this that Microsoft has never made ISOs or discs for AXP64 builds, otherwise they would’ve found and fixed this bug. Well, maybe they did eventually try installing AXP64 builds from disc, because it’s fixed by the time of Windows XP SP1, but that’s long after this build:

#if defined(_AXP64_)

Oh well, I replaced the hard coded “A321064.PAL” with “a121165.p64” and what do you know, it’s working!

Finishing Touches

That install went smoothly, but one error did pop up during second stage setup:

A missing driver – big deal, hey? We actually have the build 2209 AXP64 version of this driver, so I injected it to the ISO and Setup happily accepted it.

I’ve also copied the Arc Installation Program (ARCINST) from Windows 2000 build 2128 AXP32 to the AXP64 directory of the ISO, because it is required for disk partitioning if you don’t have AlphaBIOS (and yes, it works because it’s not a Windows executable).

Supported Machines

Microsoft compiled several HALs for this build, but not all of them are listed in txtsetup.sif, the following machines are supported by default:

  • Digital Personal Workstation A-Series
  • Digital AlphaServer 4×00 5/xxx Family
  • Digital AlphaServer/AlphaStation 1200 5/xxx Family
  • Digital Alpha 21264/Tsunami Uniprocessor
  • Digital Alpha 21264/Tsunami Multiprocessor

The following machines may be supported if you replace textsetup.sif with a modified version:

  • Digital Alpha EB164
  • Digital Alpha PC164SX
  • Digital Alpha XL 300/366 Family
  • Digital AlphaPC 164LX
  • Digital AlphaServer 1000 5/xxx Family
  • Digital AlphaServer 1000a 5/xxx Family
  • AlphaServer 800 5/xxx (Corelle)
  • AlphaStation 600A 5/500 (Alcor Primo)

We have only tested this build on the Digital Personal Workstation A-Series, AlphaServer DS10 and the AlphaServer 800, so there is no guarantee that the other HALs work (though they should).

Also, since this is a checked build, it does run slower than a retail build, and by default it will expect you to have a kernel debugger attached. Be sure to add the /NODEBUG flag to the bootloader to improve performance. I had noticed the SDL spite test demo going from 60fps to 70fps on my Alpha Personal Workstation 500a before it had died.

For Preservation

As I have said earlier on, Microsoft has never made ISOs/discs for AXP64 builds, so please don’t preserve the ISO file (eg: don’t upload it to BetaArchive). I know BA prefer ISOs over folder dumps, so let me tell you this mrpijey, the ISO is a franken-build with a patched Setup Loader and files from 2128, 2209 and 2211. We have a folder dump of the original files from the \NTDev network share with original high-precision timestamps just for preservation, so please for the sake of preservation, use this. Also don’t even think about creating an ISO out of the folder dump, you’ll end up with a non-existent thing that doesn’t work.


ISO for Installation:
Whistler 2210 axp64 installable

Folder Dump for Preservation:

Modified TXTSETUP.SIF For Other Machines:

Special Thanks

  • to the person who sent us the disk image
  • to Microsoft for not wiping that disk before throwing it away
  • to pivotman319 for verifying recovered files and finding missing files
  • to Tenox for testing
  • to G-Nug85 for testing and providing photos used in this post
  • to Furball for testing
  • to lbdm for testing
  • to myself… I guess?

Special Offer – Windows 2000 RC2 AXP32 Full ISO

The ISO on BetaArchive is the same as the ISO on WinWorld, which was originally named usa_2128_axpfre_win2000.pro_beta3_cairo.iso… hmm, that doesn’t sound very ‘Microsoft’!

Yep, definitely not original. Even worse, SETUP.EXE is broken/truncated:

The fact that the AXP32 2128 ISO we’ve had for over a decade is both unoriginal and incomplete is truly shocking! Well, I have something to offer – an at least complete Windows 2000 build 2128 AXP32 ISO from my private collection:

The SETUP.EXE in this ISO is good and complete! The CDIMAGE parameters used to build this image matches what was used to build ISOs of AXP32 builds from the same era and the disc label (W2PAS_EN) is much more sensible than “Cairo_2128”. The only thing that doesn’t make sense is the timestamp – 1999-09-23 12:00:00. Microsoft used 1999-09-10 as the timestamp for all other copies of build 2128, so I’m not sure why this one is different. It’s worth noting that all files from the incomplete ISO also have the strange 1999-09-23 timestamp, so I guess it’s not a coincidence ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Download: 2000 build 2128 DEC Alpha

Windows 2000 64-bit for Alpha AXP

(this is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka tenox)

Hinted by friends on Discord, Neozeed recently “discovered” a Win64 compiler for AXP64 / ALPHA64. It came as part of Windows Platform SDK from 1999. Microsoft wanted developers to test-compile their code to see if it’s “64bit ready”, well ahead of the 64bit hardware even being available. However, this was just a cross-compiler and there was no way of running any of the binaries. That is until Itanium eventually came out, after infamously long delays. The Win64 project for AXP64 and IA64 was code name “Sundown”.

Trying the compiler, just for fun, I built Alpha64 version of Aclock – with zero hopes of ever being able to run it. There are some known surviving machines with AXP64 stored at Microsoft Archives. In fact I saw one with my own eyes, last time I visited there some 10 years ago:

DEC Alpha with AXP64 Windows at Microsoft Archives.
DEC Alpha with AXP64 Windows codename “Sundown”, at Microsoft Archives, 2014

The machine in picture above was featured in a blog post by Raymond Chen, which is a must read. It will give you background info on the whole Alpha 64bit situation. Sadly, 64-bit Alpha AXP Windows was never released outside of Redmond.

And that would be the end of the story… if not for one generous reader, who contacted Neozeed after his previous post, and shared a disk image… containing non other but a 64bit build of Windows 2000 for Alpha AXP! The reader got it from a lot of random hard disks, bought from an e-waste, years ago and completely forgot about it until they saw the blog post!

The image was previously installed on Digital Personal Workstation. Having a PWS500 with ZuluSCSI handy, I was able to slap the image on an SD card and boot it up:

Windows 2000 Alpha64 Splash Screen

The system BSOD shortly after. Turns out, this is a checked (debug) build and requires a permanently attached kernel debugger to even boot up. Initially WinDbg and kd.exe refused to work, as the target CPU did not match the host (the exact error code is: KD Version has unknown processor architecture). After some deliberation and help from friends, I learned that alphakd.exe can be run on x86 machine to cross debug an Alpha target. Most importantly it works with AXP64!

Another problem was that the system came up with “Found New Hardware” wizard and there was no functioning keyboard and mouse to click through it. Yes, I tried safe mode, VGA mode, etc., but nothing worked. The system was completely stuck on this dialog:

Fortunately, the network card worked. Neozeed and I built and hacked in to the registry an rlogin daemon. Finally solved the PNP fuckup by remotely executing a VBScript that clicked through 20+ “found new hardware” and “install unsigned driver” dialogs. Eventually, a PCI to ISA bridge was found and keyboard and mouse came up!

Aclock running on 64bit Windows on Alpha AXP

Unfortunately there are no identifying marks that would definitely prove that this is a 64bit Alpha AXP build. The only way to tell is because there is no WOW, even for AXP32. You can’t run 32bit Alpha binaries. It will only run executables produced with the ALPHA64 compiler. This also means in practice there is no self hosted, native compiler. You have to cross compile on 32bit NT4 or 2KRC.

For sake of search engines the build number is 2210, the full string: 2210.main.000302-1934.

Update I have copied and ran a x86 `winmsd.exe` from Windows NT 4.0 and this came out:

How is it possible to run x86 binary? Because of Fx!32.

Update: So what else is in the image?

First of all, everyone is asking about Pinball… Yes, it’s there, but it won’t start:

In addition, I can’t open the event details. Maybe one day we can debug it with NTSD.

Other than that, it has some basic stuff, the every other Windows would have. Internet Explorer 5.5, agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 5.0). Sadly msinfo32 doesn’t work, unable to connect to a service.

The image, similar to other private builds, comes with Internal Developer Workstation (IDW). It’s a set of developer tools, that most of (but not all) were released in Platform SDK and/or Windows Resource Kit.

There are a bunch of unix like utilities, cp, mv, ls, kill, etc.:

build.exe version 4.03.2209

It can build for AXP32 and IA64:

There also are two famous text editors, Microsoft Editor aka MEP / Z and Stevie, VI clone:

Lastly, lets explore 64bit Alpha AXP gaming scene! While Pinball doesn’t work, IDW comes with an impressive amount of games. Microsoft engineers must have been busy playing these while waiting for builds to complete…

64-bit gaming on Alpha AXP

We have 4 different card games, FreeCell, Solitaire, Gold and Cruel. Also Taipei game, TicTactics, Reversi, Minesweeper and Snake.

AXP64 NT also has fully working OpenGL Screensavers:

If you want to see this live in action. We going to be exhibiting on VCF West 2023 in August, alongside other NT RISC machines. Come and see us!

OpenBSD 7.3 on the es40 Dec Alpha emulator!

Yes OpenBSD 7.3 Alpha boots, and installs! And it’s incredibly slow. But it’s running!

For those impatient just download it here: OpenBSD73_Alpha_es40.7z

The root password is: password

I had es40 built this from gdwnldsKSC but I amputated the pcap based networking code. I just wanted a smooth compile. The install took over an hour, as there is ssh keys to generate, and re-ordering and re-linking involved. All of which I disabled in the above image. The root password is password.

Since people never read this, the password for root is password.

One weird thing is that OpenBSD will crash on an assert if you are using the VGA console, so a serial console is a must. After it boots, as you can see the VGA console works fine.

The games work just fine as well. I didn’t bother installing the compilers as it took forever to decompress the base file, and I figured if you wanted it, you could install it. Also since I amputated the networking, there is no X11.

For those of you who want to play with virtual Dec Alpha stuff this one is pretty simple enough.

At the P00>>> prompt type in

boot dka0

And in no time it’ll boot up (takes about 2-3 minutes)

And for those of you who are into these things:

OpenVMS PALcode V1.98-104, Tru64 UNIX PALcode V1.92-105

starting console on CPU 0
initialized idle PCB
initializing semaphores
initializing heap
initial heap 240c0
memory low limit = 1b0000 heap = 240c0, 17fc0
initializing driver structures
initializing idle process PID
initializing file system
initializing hardware
initializing timer data structures
lowering IPL
CPU 0 speed is 1000 MHz
create dead_eater
create poll
create timer
create powerup
access NVRAM
Memory size 512 MB
testing memory
probe I/O subsystem
probing hose 1, PCI
probing hose 0, PCI
probing PCI-to-ISA bridge, bus 1
bus 0, slot 1 -- pka -- NCR 53C810
bus 0, slot 2 -- vga -- Cirrus CL-GD5434
bus 0, slot 4 -- ewa -- DE500-BA Network Controller
starting drivers
entering idle loop
initializing keyboard
*** system serial number not set. use set sys_serial_num command.
Partition 0, Memory base: 000000000, size: 020000000
initializing GCT/FRU at 1c8000
Initializing pka ewa
Memory Testing and Configuration Status
  Array       Size       Base Address    Intlv Mode
---------  ----------  ----------------  ----------
    0        512Mb     0000000000000000    4-Way

     512 MB of System Memory
Testing the System
Testing the Disks (read only)
Testing the Network
AlphaServer ES40 Console V7.2-1, built on Jun  9 2006 at 15:36:48
P00>>>boot dka0
(boot dka0. -flags 0)
block 0 of dka0. is a valid boot block
reading 15 blocks from dka0.
bootstrap code read in
base = 200000, image_start = 0, image_bytes = 1e00(7680)
initializing HWRPB at 2000
initializing page table at 1ff56000
initializing machine state
setting affinity to the primary CPU
jumping to bootstrap code

OpenBSD/Alpha Primary Boot
VMS PAL rev: 0x4006800010162
OSF PAL rev: 0x400690002015c
Switch to OSF PAL code succeeded.
>> OpenBSD/alpha BOOT 2.0
booting disk:/bsd: 8562592+683208 [326169+106+499752+320686]=0x9e9790
Unrecognized boot flag '0'.
[ using 1147688 bytes of bsd ELF symbol table ]
Copyright (c) 1982, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1993
        The Regents of the University of California.  All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 1995-2023 OpenBSD. All rights reserved.

OpenBSD 7.3-current (GENERIC) #133: Wed May  3 12:45:27 MDT 2023
    [email protected]:/usr/src/sys/arch/alpha/compile/GENERIC
AlphaServer ES40, 1000MHz
8192 byte page size, 1 processor.
real mem = 536870912 (512MB)
rsvd mem = 2801664 (2MB)
avail mem = 514916352 (491MB)
random: good seed from bootblocks
mainbus0 at root
cpu0 at mainbus0: ID 0 (primary), 21264C-6 (pass 4.0)
cpu0: architecture extensions: 305<PAT,MVI,CIX,BWX>
tsc0 at mainbus0: 21272 Chipset, Cchip rev 0
tsc0: 8 Dchips, 2 memory buses of 16 bytes
tsc0: arrays present: 512MB, 0MB, 0MB, 0MB, Dchip 0 rev 1
tsp0 at tsc0 hose 0
pci0 at tsp0 bus 0
siop0 at pci0 dev 1 function 0 "Symbios Logic 53c810" rev 0x01: dec 6600 irq 8
scsibus0 at siop0: 8 targets, initiator 7
sd0 at scsibus0 targ 0 lun 0: <DEC, RZ58 (C) DEC, 2000> serial.DEC_RZ58_(C)_DECSRL0000
sd0: 2048MB, 512 bytes/sector, 4194304 sectors
vga0 at pci0 dev 2 function 0 "Cirrus Logic CL-GD5434-8" rev 0x02
wsdisplay0 at vga0 mux 1
wsdisplay0: screen 0-5 added (80x25, vt100 emulation)
dc0 at pci0 dev 4 function 0 "DEC 21142/3" rev 0x30: dec 6600 irq 20, address 08:00:2b:e5:40:00
ukphy0 at dc0 phy 0: Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface, rev. 0: OUI 0x000000, model 0x0000
sio0 at pci0 dev 7 function 0 "Acer Labs M1533 ISA" rev 0xc3
isa0 at sio0
isadma0 at isa0
com0 at isa0 port 0x3f8/8 irq 4: ns16450, no fifo
com0: console
pckbc0 at isa0 port 0x60/5 irq 1 irq 12
pckbd0 at pckbc0 (kbd slot)
wskbd0 at pckbd0 mux 1
wskbd0: connecting to wsdisplay0
pms0 at pckbc0 (aux slot)
wsmouse0 at pms0 mux 0
pcppi0 at isa0 port 0x61
spkr0 at pcppi0
lpt0 at isa0 port 0x3bc/4 irq 7
mcclock0 at isa0 port 0x70/2: mc146818 or compatible
tsp1 at tsc0 hose 1
pci1 at tsp1 bus 0
tsciic0 at tsc0
iic0 at tsciic0
vscsi0 at root
scsibus1 at vscsi0: 256 targets
softraid0 at root
scsibus2 at softraid0: 256 targets
siop0: target 0 now using 8 bit async xfers
root on sd0a (d4f7f3ff7ccee1b1.a) swap on sd0b dump on sd0b
WARNING: / was not properly unmounted
Automatic boot in progress: starting file system checks.
/dev/sd0a (d4f7f3ff7ccee1b1.a): 11877 files, 188223 used, 792736 free (232 frags, 99063 blocks, 0.0% fragmentation)
/dev/sd0a (d4f7f3ff7ccee1b1.a): MARKING FILE SYSTEM CLEAN
pf enabled
starting network
/etc/rc[498]: read: -p: no coprocess

starting early daemons: syslogd pflogd ntpd.
starting RPC daemons:.
savecore: no core dump
checking quotas: done.
clearing /tmp
kern.securelevel: 0 -> 1
creating runtime link editor directory cache.
preserving editor files.
starting network daemons: smtpd sndiod.
starting local daemons: cron.
Wed May 10 04:54:32 MDT 2023
reorder_kernel: failed -- see /usr/share/relink/kernel/GENERIC/relink.log

OpenBSD/alpha ( (tty00)


And there we go!

OpenBSD/alpha ( (tty00)

login: root
Last login: Tue May  9 12:00:11 on tty00
OpenBSD 7.3-current (GENERIC) #133: Wed May  3 12:45:27 MDT 2023

Welcome to OpenBSD: The proactively secure Unix-like operating system.

Please use the sendbug(1) utility to report bugs in the system.
Before reporting a bug, please try to reproduce it with the latest
version of the code.  With bug reports, please try to ensure that
enough information to reproduce the problem is enclosed, and if a
known fix for it exists, include that as well.

You have new mail.

Did I mention that the root password is password?

Hiding in plain sight: The 64bit Dec Alpha C compiler

Of all the Microsoft Windows NT versions, the few of the rare ones include:

  • The i860 version, the original N-Ten that put the NT in NT.
  • The DEC 5000/MIPS version
  • The Clipper version
  • The SPARC/LE version
  • The HP9000/HPPA version
  • The AXP64/ALPHA64 port, the first 64bit version of 2000

Sadly, I don’t have any leads on any of the above. But while I was looking for the first public Win64 compiler that I could remember, it was just the frontend to the Itanium compiler, not letting you actually compile anything. Anyways I was able to find these two downloads:

And both of them have the same Win64 SDK, which includes this quick note in the readme:

Platform SDK support for Win64(tm)

This release of the Platform SDK will allow you to test-compile your
code for Win64. It supports the new 64-bit data types and pre-beta
releases of an IA64 compiler and an ALPHA64 compiler and linker.

1999 Platform SDK

It’s the same thing on both discs from what I remember.

Installing the SDK is certainly a product of it’s time, with a seemingly incredible amount of products to support.

I haven’t tested yet, but I have to wonder how integrated all the tools are into Visual C++. Stay tuned?!

Also there was still POSIX support. Windows 2000 was the last to support all the subsystems.

And of course, the star of the attraction, the 64 bit Test Compiler. There is an incredible amount of products and options to select, It must have been absolute chaos at Microsoft in the late 90s!

If you are on an intel based system, the 64bit compiler will be the top half of the Itanium compiler. It lacks the C2.DLL so it will not emit any assembly or object files. There is no linker libraries either, so for all intents and purposes it’s useless.

However, if you were to install this super preliminary SDK on a Dec Alpha you would instead discover a version 13 build of Microsoft C/C++

Microsoft (R) & Digital (TM) Alpha C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 13.00.8499
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1984-1999.
Copyright (C) Digital Equipment Corporation 1992-1999.
Copyright (C) Compaq Computer Corporation 1998-1999.
All rights reserved.

The Visual C++ 6.0 on the Dec Alpha however is a version 12 compiler. So this is a big surprise for AlphaNT users!

And added to version 13 are these flags:

  /Ap32 enable P32 model
  /Ap64 enable P64 model (default)

That’s right! It turns out that the AXP64 compiler set has been hiding in plain sight for DECADES. I know that it’s so unlikely that we’d ever see any public release of a 64bit version of Windows for the Alpha, but oddly enough the compiler, headers and libraries are all there. YES You can make full EXE’s for AXP64/Alpha64. Of course with no OS, so it’s not like you can run them.

The compilers have been tested on NT 4.0 Terminal Server & 2000 RC2.

For anyone wondering here is how I ran it to compile then link a 64bit exe:

C:\proj>cl /c /Ap64 mt.c /Fomt64.obj
Microsoft (R) & Digital (TM) Alpha C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 13.00.8499
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1984-1999.
Copyright (C) Digital Equipment Corporation 1992-1999.
Copyright (C) Compaq Computer Corporation 1998-1999.
All rights reserved.


C:\proj>link mt64.obj /MACHINE:ALPHA64
Microsoft (R) Incremental Linker Version 6.20.8528
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1992-1999. All rights reserved

There is no point sharing the EXE as I mentioned above, there is nothing to run it on. But for the heck of it, here is uuencode compiled into assembly in both 32bit & 64bit mode.

I can’t imagine why, but for people who want to take them apart you can download the tools here.

Sadly as of today, there is no way to test. There is one surviving machine with Windows 2003 AXP64, outlined in an article by Raymond Chen. Its a great read about how Alpha64 NT port came to be. The machine is still sitting in Microsoft Archives. Hopefully one day someone can dig it out.

That said there is also version 13 compilers for both Itanium & AMD64. Although we can do stuff with the AMD64 port which I will try to write into something a bit more.. sane.

I found this a few weeks ago, and thanks to @tenox for giving me Alpha access to play a little with this hidden gem. It’s still crazy we’ve all had Alpha64 tool access the entire time.

When 0 is greater than 1.0

I came across this fun thing debugging a QuakeWorld client on a RISC machine. I think something is failing as I’m using terminal server. For some reason width is being passed as 0. Not sure why I didn’t debug it enough to care, so I setup a quick block to only evaluate the Fov if the calculated x was greater than 1.0

And Microsoft C did not disappoint.

I think it may have been some incremental linking issue? I’m not sure I purged the build directory and re-ran make and didn’t experience the crash again. I had to get the screenshot or even I wouldn’t believe it.

In the end I got it running:

Of course among the eagle eyed you may notice this is version 13.00.8499 of the compiler. But the last compiler for the Dec Alpha / Windows NT was version 12…

More on that later!

Ready to run OpenVMS VM – Student Kit from VSI

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

I was recently registering a new OpenVMS Community License. In the process I learned that there is a ready to run, pre-installed and pre-configured VM with OpenVMS 8.4. Completely free for non-commercial purposes. You don’t even need to register or leave your details (WOW). Just download and run! Thank you VSI!

The student kit runs only on Windows as contains FreeAXP emulator. However it’s super easy to download, install and run.

VSI OpenVMS Student Kit

I’m hoping that in near future once x86 OpenVMS port is ready there will be images for x64 hypervisors like VMware, VirtualBox, Hyper-v and QEMU/KVM hopefully.