Using Blender on the Alpha

This page is dedicated to:

Kiernan Holland, Mika Saari, Richard Hartensveld, and John Walton

for their contribution to the Alpha Blender port. Kiernan provided the Alpha, sent it to Richard, Mika provided the hard drive, Richard installed a Matrox Millennium, set up the Alpha, and delivered it to Ton.

Blender for the Alpha was announced on the Blender News Server January 8, 1999.

UPDATE (28 September 1999):

A few days before SIGGRAPH 99 the Dec Alpha at NAN refused to boot. On 09 September 1999 (9-9-99) Ton submitted a note to the "News and Chat" section of the "Blender News Server" to this effect.

On 27 September 1999 Ton submitted a new note stating:

John Walton donated us his Alpha machine.. it will be here within 2 weeks.
Expect an Alpha update a few days later.

Thanks John! Hoera!

[ Ed. Note: thank you John! ~@~ ]

Which Version of ~/Alpha Should I use?

I use RedHat ~/Alpha 5.2 on my Alpha Multia VX-42 and digital Alpha XL 300 (XLT). The manual "Prerequisites" state RedHat 4.2 or 5.1 can also be used.

Where can I find out more about using ~/Alpha?

The best repository is the AlphaLinux Homepage.

Which is the least difficult ~/Alpha install?

Read the documentation on the "Workstation" install and see if it fits your needs.

Do I need to install the latest kernel?

If Blender works with your current kernel = please remember (sic) "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and leave it alone!

What else do I need to run Blender on the Alpha?

You need Mesa 3.0. I currently run Mesa-3.0-2 and the rpms, I use, are located in the (your favorite mirror)/powertools/5.2/alpha/ directory.

My F11 and F12 keys do not work with Blender, why?

Various window managers assign these keys. Look (grep) in your GNUstep/Defaults/ directory and in your .files (dot files) for F11 and F12.

For example, I use WindowMaker and in GNUstep/Ddefaults/WindowMaker it shows: RootMenuKey = F12; and WindowListKey = F11;.

Change these to: RootMenuKey = None; WindowListKey = None; and restart WindowMaker.

If these or other 'Blender assigned keys' do not work, read the documentation for your window manager, and see where it does key assigning.

Where is GNUstep or how do I find directories and files quickly?

This is the long way: log on as root - put the 5.2 cdrom in the drive - type: mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom and press enter - type: updatedb and press enter - after the program has scanned your hard drive/s and your cdrom, you will be able to use the locate command; i.e., locate GNUstep.

My computer crashed while using Blender. Can I recover my work?

Maybe! Restart Blender, press F1, go to the /tmp directory, and load the latest blend file (usually starting with a series of numbers). Sometime, take a look at all of the .blend files in the /tmp directory and see what Blender is saving.

What is the best way to learn Blender?

If you decide Blender is for you, get the manual, and be prepared to spend some time practicing the tutorials and examples provided. Blender is holy to me and I spend a minimum of four hours a day working with it (ymmv).

"Blender has a steep learning curve; but once you understand the basic structure, you will have a lot of fun and will find the program very easy to use"
(Ton Roosendaal, 1998, p.63).

Roosendaal, T. (1998). Blender V1.5 manual. Eindhoven: Not a Number.

I don't have the manual and want to learn more. What should I do?

Download all the messages from the Blender Message Archive and read them at your leisure. Visit all of the blender related sites and do every tutorial you can find. Study all of the 'blends' and do not be afraid to 'push buttons' and move things around...

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