There are some necessary "inadequacies" involved with the Multia. Which is not to say that the system is necessarily a bad deal; these are merely issues to consider and overcome as needed.
This machine is, for typical purposes, about as powerful as a 100MHz Pentium-based system. In other words, not stupendously powerful, but not a performance dog. Expecting exceedingly high performance out of the machine would be unreasonable.
Milage may, of course, vary. The 256K of cache leads to a bottleneck in efficiently accessing memory. As a result, memory intensive processing can be quite slow. Running GCC is a very good example of such a process. The UDB is not a good platform for doing heavy compilation of code. If the resulting application is FP-intensive, and critical code and data can fit in the cache, performance can be excellent.
In retrospect, definitely not. Alpha binaries are somewhat larger than Intel binaries, and the 325MB of effective space gets eaten up fast.
Note that the power supply is not intended to support having more than one disk drive. Digital engineers regularly mention on the Red Hat/AXP mailing list that you should not try to install a second hard drive internally.
I got an $80 S3V video card with 4MB RAM (86C325); unfortunately the current XFree86 X servers (3.3.1) seems to have some problems running with this card; the machine tends to hang.
I have had much better success with a Diamond Stealth Video 3200 with 2MB of RAM and an S3 968 chipset. This, and other cards with the same chipset, are the only ones of which I am aware that can be successfully used with the UDB/Multia.
I got a very nice (used) 15" SVGA monitor recently for about $200.
Now available as part of the InfoMagic Linux Developer's package for $25 (or less, discounted)
A SCSI CD-ROM is the ideal answer; I got a Sony 2X unit for $70. NFS is apparently also acceptable.
<email@example.com>reports that it may be a problem to make the PCMCIA slots useful.
I have a hard time caring. Many of the common applications of PCMCIA (networking, floppy support, SCSI support, sound) represent things that the UDB has onboard already. Others (internal modem, RAM expansion, IDE support, crypto applications) are things I don't care to bother with.
It may be problematic to get larger PCI cards to fit. The Matrox Millennium graphics card is a notable example.