What the Nekonomicon is
The Nekonomicon is the resurrected collective works of a deceased website called Nekochan. Dating back to the early 2000s, Nekochan.Net was the personal website of Neko no ko, an anime and retro-computing enthusiast.
Over the next 17 years Nekochan's forums and wiki attracted a substantial following, and developed into the premiere hobbyist community for the UNIX-based workstations, servers, and supercomputers sold by Silicon Graphics Incorporated, also known as SGI. Considered by many to be ahead of their time in terms of graphics and computing power, SGI also developed its machines with a unique design aesthetic making the machines highly desirable by hobbyists and collectors as rhey became available on the secondary market. Silicon Graphics was a company that not only pioneered modern computer graphics and software, but created visually stunning hardware products from a culture of engineering excellence.
Nekochan as a community was responsible for documenting the many hardware and software peculiarities of these esoteric computers, making them accessible to hobbyists without commercial support. The Nekochan website quickly became the de facto reference guide for SGI users. Nekochan users were also responsible for creating the Nekoware repository of 3rd party software for IRIX, SGI's UNIX Operating System for its MIPS based hardware.
Unfortunately after almost two decades, Neko no ko's interest in SGI computers waned and he rarely participated in community discussions or moderation. SGI popularity had also dwindled as Silicon Graphics left behind its MIPS CPU architecture and, as a result of corporate mismanagement, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy. By 2016 the active user base had been reduced to a small fraction of what it once was.
The Nekochan site was self-hosted via a home DSL connection creating ongoing hardware maintenance and expense concerns. On May 20th, 2018, the Nekochan site abruptly disappeared from the Internet, without any notice to the remaining community members and without any attempt to provide an archival of the wealth of information that the community had accumulated. A single Twitter post by Neko no ko claimed the site was taken down to concerns with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, but it is more likely that maintaining the site and dealing with the occasional recalcitrant user simply became an unwanted burden.
However, the sun has not yet set for Silicon Graphics. Two new communities have sprung up. The Silicon Graphics User Group, a user co-operative that I have had a hand in and can highly recommend, and IRIX Network, which was started by forum user Raion a few months prior to Nekochan's untimely demise.
The Nature of Necromancy
Like all necromancy, resurrecting Nekochan in the form of The Nekonomicon only brings back a shadow of what it once was. Of the 30,844 subjects and 262,325 writings present at the last available snapshot of Nekochan, only 3,670 subjects and 45,367 writings remain in the Nekonomicon. As I improve the methods of extracting this information it is possible that this number will increase, but it is unlikely to be significant.
Without the original site database a large amount of content has been lost, most likely never to be seen again. Many of the users who used Nekochan as the nexus of the SGI ecosystem are also gone, using the event of its demise to move on from their involvement with the aging computers. Nonetheless, the Nekonomicon preserves the recovered works of Nekochan for those who would venture into the dark art of using these machines.
If you have an alternate or more complete source of Nekochan or SGI information, please post in the IRIX.cc Forums or the Nekomancy section of its Discord chat.
The Golden Key
Volumes which have a golden key next to them are not yet available in the published Nekonomicon, as the process necessary to curate this material is not yet finished. Please check back at the original source of the Nekonomicon at a later date to see if these volumes have been released.
Obtaining the Nekonomicon
In addition to being available here for browsing, the Nekonomicon is distributed as a
downloadable package that any user can keep and maintain their own copy of. Download your own copy as a
nekonomicon.tar.Z. You can expand this on your own IRIX system for
local browsing using the command:
zcat nekonomicon.tar.Z | tar -xvf -
Due to the distributed and downloadable nature of the Nekonomicon, you may find it hosted in many places,
which is encouraged. However, new and up to date copies can be found at:
Keep this in mind, as there are future books to be released containing more resurrected content from the Nekochan and SGI communities.
Curator of the Nekonomicon
You can call me Elf. I have curated this material into the Nekonomicon, but I am not its original author. I have been using computers since the early 90s and have gone through the various eras of PSTN-based communication with BBSes and dial-up modems under DOS through today's always-connected mobile world. Many of my early years were spent on VT- and X-Terminals attached in various ways to Sun Microsystems equipment. I admired SGIs at a distance, never able to afford or use one until long after their commercial relevance. I watched the Nekochan forums from a distance since the mid-2000s, but did not become a participant in the community until late-2016.
Personally, I pursue a multitude of interests such as computers, electronics (analog, digital, & embedded development), music, photography, cinematography, writing, and weapons & self-defense proficiency. I am a strong supporter of the environment, decency towards animals, the individual right to self-defense, and the ownership and societal normalization of all types of firearms and other personal weapons.
Professionally, I have spent most of my time either working on core backbone, service provider, and high-performance research networks at the senior engineer level, service provider R&D, or software architecture in distributed systems or cloud environments such as Amazon Web Services.
How the Nekonomicon was bound
Compiling the Nekonomicon was not straightforward. Ideally Neko no ko would have provided a read-only archival of the Nekochan forums or a database extraction of the raw post content. Unfortunately these materials were not available.
Production started with the use of Harator's Wayback Machine Downloader, a Ruby language tool to use the Wayback Machine API to download all content rooted under the old Nekochan site domains, including the forums, wiki, and gallery. This downloaded content consisted of a large quantity of HTML documents and images from various eras, across various document schemas, with both duplicated information and large gaps, and was not publishable or usable from an end-user perspective.
Using the Django MVC and ORM framework, as well as the BeautifulSoup HTML DOM parsing library, an ETL framework was created in Python to:
- Extract the contents of the Wayback content by parsing the documents
Transform the contents for suitability, including:
- Mapping extracted content to a new data model
- Following references to local images, for inclusion as static content
- Replacement of dead links and images with Wayback Machine references
- Load the transformed content into an SQLite database
Professionally I spend over 40 hours a week architecting large software projects and developing core foundation code in a team based, collaborative environment. This does not mean that the Nekonomicon code is a sterling example of my work, but personally, amongst my many other interests, I have no interest in or time left for collaborative software development for which I must apologize. This unfortunately means that I am not currently seeking contributions to the Nekonomicon code, but will be happy to release it to the community under a BSD-style attribution license once the original set of four volumes (Endings, Notes, Wisdom, Illustrations) are released, such that it is in its complete and intended form.
Nekonomicon and the Law
The Nekonomicon is curated from the publicly accessible archives of Nekochan from Archive.Org's Wayback Machine. The copyright of these works is assumed to reside with their original authors. Likewise it is assumed that license is granted to re-publish these works given that they were submitted for public display and archival to the Nekochan forums under its original user agreement. Incidental original artwork or original text such as the Nekonomicon cover image and navigation image are distributed under the same BSD-style attribution license as the code. Other non-original incidental artwork may have other non-attributable copyright owners.
As the Nekonomicon, at its heart, is a software package which simply extracts the material available through the Wayback Machine but does not in itself contain any other person's works. It is distributed separately from the published Nekonomicon book and allows any user to recreate the Nekonomicon in its entirety from Internet Archive material. For this reason if you take issue with the distribution of any material within, you are recommended to consult directly with the Internet Archive.