SGI: Discussion

What do you use your SGI for? - Page 1

Greetings, all! I was wondering what some of you have for reasons you choose to own and/or operate a Silicon Graphics workstation or server system--instead of, or in addition to, Windows, Linux or Mac systems (all of which I currently use). Does anyone have compelling reasons for owning and using SGI hardware and OpSys software?

Neko's been tinkering around with his SGI systems for years, and I haven't seen a whole lot of reason to head down that path myself. So, why do you use SGI? Use them at work, or enamoured with the "SGI mystique", or because at one time these systems cost huge sums of money? Do they outperform similarly-priced systems based on other architectures? Is the OpSys design and implementation far superior to the other options out there?
The reason I like SGIs is that they're nice to work with.

With windows you've got to put up with being treated like a retarded 3 year old paraplegic by the OS - assuming it gets that far without crashing.

I object to the GPL - however much they might cry about it, it's *not* a free license. Freedom is absolute - if you're not free to abuse it, then it's not free. This is why I release under the BSD license. /me spray paints and anarchist logo on the wall.

So Linux is pretty doomed to start with. Then there's the huge religious cult around it - very off putting. Plus the fact that from an aesthetic point of view, it stinks. IMHO it's badly programmed and badly designed.

And then we come to my *pet* hate - Linux programmers. They come, newly converted from their previous devotion to BillG, and write their software. And release it as Unix software. Linux is *NOT* Unix. The number of hassles I get trying to port Linux software to IRIX just makes me want to kill people. "No, X is not only capable of one colour depth, so don't choose the first one on the list." Linux software tends to be full of awful assumptions, the prime of which is an assumption that GCC is a C compiler, rather than C with a little C++.


Then add in the fact that Linux is generally unpleasant to work with.

Now, to Macs. I'd love one. Unfortunately, I don't particularly want to sell my body, and that's the only way I'm going to have the huge sums of money needed to buy one any time soon. Plus my observation that it seems a bit busy, desk space wise.
With hatred against Linux aside, Silicon Graphics hardware is also built much more reliably. To get new PC hardware almost as durable and stable will cost you at least as much as a new Fuel.

Back to Linux, Linux is much better than many other unix and unix like operating systems out there (I don't consider it *that* badly programmed but it dose have design flaws, just like ALL operating systems), but IRIX, Solaris, NEXTSTEP, and etc are much better than Linux in most ways.

Depending on the distribution of linux, it isn't that bad to work with. Just stay away from Redhat or one of its clones, it's configuration system is hell... My favorite is slackware, simple and doesn’t mind you editing your startup scripts.

Gcc is bad, very bad. How is a compiler going to work well, when it's own source is a jumbled mess.

The GPL was designed to give the most freedom possible to everyone, while making sure it always stays under the control of the license. Sure it sounds good, but ends up getting in the way with its confusing legalese. It dose make sense to use the GPL for some things, just not everything.
Let me add my 2 cents with this thread.

From a professional point of view, i have to work with IRIX, because all my file and calculation servers run it. And let me say what a blessing that is. These machines run for a year straight without reboots. Stable OS, critical compilers (not gcc which swallows everything) and the only machines in the university who can pump full bandwith through fibercable or gigabit copper.
In general the SGI machines have excellent design and an OS which is custom made for these machines, thereby adding to the stablility.

Why you or anyone else should run SGI/IRIX? I don't know. Some people do it because they want to run Maya. Some people do it becuse they are fed up with redhat 8.x (i am fed up with that). Some people think it's cool to own and run such a machine (and cool it is ;) ). But lots of people run it because it is just plain simple fun:
Hey! You can point and click! What a cool gui! Wow OpenGL in hardware! What a neat GUI debugger (CVD)! How stable!

Do i run it at home? Not yet. I am happy with my 2.4 GHz win98/Linux (slackware) machine and play DiabloII and run GIMP. but an SGI machine as a fileserver? sure :)

Plus, and that is maybe my biggest reason i (still) use these machines, they are excellent in learning and understanding Unix, with good docs, good utils (xdiff should be on all unix machines)

But this is just my view... :)
If you decide you want to try out SGI hardware, it can be both an inexpensive and an expensive hobby.

You can get started with a cheap Indy, which can be had for very cheap (I got 2 r5k Indys for $30 recently) expect to pay around $60 for a good looking model. There have been new in box r4400 200MHz Indys on ebay for around $200 if you want one in perfect condition (with factory Irix install, camera, mouse, and keyboard). But you will need atleast Irix media and a monitor. Irix will be hard to find, unless you want to go looking on ebay, where Irix 6.2 (fine for this machine) will be had for about $35-80 depending on extras. A monitor will probably need a special adaptor, and will need to be Sync on Green (you can get around that, but can cause more problems than nessicary). You can then use standard PS/2 keyboards and mice.

However, if you are doing more than experimenting or 2d graphics. you will want a more expensive machine which can easily eat your whole paycheck. I would reccomend an Octane for 3d or an O2 for video if you are very serious and willing to part with $300-13000.
I guess I'll toss my opinion in here...

I've used just about every OS there is. OS/2 being the exception, but figure most BSD's, various distros of linux, Windows from 3.0 thru XP, BeOS, QNX... Mac OSX is one other exception which I'm unhappy about, but I haven't yet gotten the cash to pick up a PPC to try it out on, because form what I've seen it may replace some of my other machines.

Unfortunately, every one of those (with perhaps the exception of BeOS) left me feeling like it wasn't quite right. I dislike window's design, which leands me towards wanting a more unix-type (best way I can differentiate) OS. Linux is a pain in configuring often, between different distros, packages being setup to work properly with 1 but not others, and other general faults. To be honest, my unhappiness with Linux started back when there was the whole libc5 vs. glibc (aka libc6) problem happened between distros. The BSD's are somewhat better in my opinion, but still felt lacking, none of them could keep me using them. BeOS I love the most, and it is in my opinion the closest thing to a "perfect" OS I've ever used...except for its lack of hardware 3d support, which is essential with my work.

Then I got my O2... To be honest I've dreamed of owning one of these since I first read of them some many years ago (what, 6 or so?). Finally picked one up 3 months ago... Is it more powerful than my dual celeron Linux machine, or my 1.13ghz Laptop running XP? No way. Yet I still use it more than any of my other 4 machines here combined. I just, feels good. The hardware is stable, the OS is fairly stable, and I have things just working. Maybe part of my problem with other 'nix-type OS's (linux, *bsd) is that there's no standard interface, so I found myself constantly fighting and reconfiguring trying to find one I like. With Irix, I just use what I have been given, and it works well enough for me to not want to change it, and lets me focus on just getting things done.

To sum it up, no it's not faster than a PC you could build for the same amount of money, but the general design is just so much better, in my opinion, that it makes up for it. And, it allows me to do whatever I need to do with it. I can get 99% of my work done on it and that's good enough for me.
I'll add a chip to the pile.

Ever since I got started with unix on a solaris station, I thought "wouldn't it be cool to just collect and learn operating systems?" and I now have window98/2000, variations of linux, BSD, OS/2, IRIX, and I'm saving up for a solaris station. Amungst all I own, the SGI is my favorite (note that I don't own a Mac yet).

I have NEVER had a problem on my SGI. My linux box is always going down, sometimes freezing up. The x86 it's based on is clumsy and sloppy at best.

I only reboot my SGI for hardware upgrades, and those are far between. Installing new hardware on Linux is a pain in the arse, but upgrading something like a graphics option on my Indigo 2 is completely transparent.

The MIPS CPUs are a solid foundation for a solid OS.

If I could play DVDs on my SGI, it would be the only box I ever needed.
- Jim
:Indigo: :Indigo: :Indy: :Indy: <- signed by The Screensavers :) :Indigo2IMP: (230L) (230L) :540: :1600SW: :1600SW: <- touchscreen :PI: :Octane2:
Babble time for me as well,

Linux is never going to get much larger: It's found a fairly decent market share in the server/web arena, but Linux has almost zero commercial software support. POS systems, accounting packages, office applications, etc. The platform is just to fragmented, to many variations between distributions, and when a company is spending thousands of dollars (maybe hundreds of thousands!) or even fifty bucks on a piece of software thier going to expect the thing to at least run right off the bat. With Linux, you can never really guarantee that; it's a support nightmare (check out ). Since I feel that 'Lintel' pretty much blows, I wanted a hardware architecture supported by a commercial Unix OS, and sgi fits the bill just perfect. :) some of the hardware does have a few small defects (light bar for Octane), but for the most part it's awesome, and Irix sports a nice unified interface, is fast and super stable. I picked up my Octane with a 20' sony monitor, mouse and keyboard for under $425.00 with shipping. Add a famous light bar replacement, and you've got happy computing here.
hm. lots of linux-haters here. i like linux. i like OpenBSD better, but i like linux. i run slack on my dekstop, openbsd on my filserver, and irix on the indy i have to play with.

irix. hm. its security worries me. it comes with absolutely everything enabled by default, and sshd and /dev/random were FINALLY added in 19m. yich. i'm also fairly certain sgi is one of the most regular posters to the bugtraq mailing list - usually announcing a new flaw in IRIX ... that said, using it's not too bad... their filesystem layout annoys me to no end (look at openbsd for a good example of how it should be done) ... 4dwm is ugly, but really functional. i like the little utilities that come with it ... i like watching tv on my indy :] it's nice to use, but nightmarish for a systems administrator. /end rant... im tired, it shows in my writing :]

and further proof that i'm tired - i love the hardware. period. the system goes down when i tell it to, not when it feels like it. hell, even the indy that runs debian is more solid than an x86 running linux. i will grant sgi that - their hardware seriously kicks ass.
Linux isn't the best alternative out there, but it has the applications and exposure. I want to play my games as made by Loki (formerly) and not just hope they'll make a miracle port of games like Quake 3 to IRIX.

Ever hear the phrase "When you're hanging by your finger nails, you don't go waving your arms."? Well, it only goes to say that when Microsoft's many competitors bicker amung themselves about who's the coolest, it really helps them out.
- Jim
:Indigo: :Indigo: :Indy: :Indy: <- signed by The Screensavers :) :Indigo2IMP: (230L) (230L) :540: :1600SW: :1600SW: <- touchscreen :PI: :Octane2:
Now, I definately wouldn't say that I'm a linux hater...
Just like I wouldn't say that any Linux distribution is by default more secure than my Irix install. Most Linux distros ALSO ship with a LOT of unneccessary daemons running. It's up to the person that admin's the machine to make sure it's secure.

SSH was available for Irix for a while now, and just because it didn't SHIP with the OS doesn't mean it's not there. And, if you'll watch those Bugtraq posts, you'll notice most of the bugs they post are involving old versions of the OS. I've seen only 1 so far that affects my machine, and even then it doesn't because I'm not running sendmail. (And note, that sendmail flaw effects every OS, so you can't call that an Irix bug).

Why does the filesystem layout annoy you? I mean, ya it's different from OpenBSD/Linux, but that doesn't make it any's a matter of training, and you were simply "trained" to be used to the layout BSD uses.

Really the rest of your comments are just opinions (4dwm is ugly, etc) that some will agree with, and some will disagree with. One thing I'll say about 4dwm is, it works, and I haven't felt the need to spend hours upon hours tweaking it. And plus, if you don't like it, run KDE, or Blackbox(fluxbox?), or WindowMaker, or whatever, noone's forcing you to use 4dwm, it's just the default.
IRIX is the most solid OS I've ever used. Had I money for a Fuel station, it would be my main system easily. The only bad part of Linux is that there are so many distros out there that there is no standard way to install software. IRIX's tardist format is beautifull. Sure, Linux has RPMS, but it handles dependancy issues horridly. You have Debian Packages, but they're native to a single distrobution.

Linux is what I learned on. My unix with training wheels. I think it has come a long way. It has a way to go, and it will get bigger wheather we want it to or not. And no matter what a rape we may think of it, SGI will continue its port of linux to MIPS hardware. I think it would a neat novelty to have an Indy running Linux.

4Dwm is like home to me. It doesn't have a start menu, switching between windows isn't exaclty like Windows and Mac users are used to, and the graphics are must unimpressive. Oh well. I don't like graphically intensive display managers when I want to devote my resources to a graphics application. I use a pretty KDE 3.1 theme on my linux station because its main use is web surfing and email and I like pretty pictures. I rarely use a desktop background on my SGI.

I also don't use KDE on my SGI because I can't figure out how to get more than 8-bit color support, but umm.... that's beside the point....
- Jim
:Indigo: :Indigo: :Indy: :Indy: <- signed by The Screensavers :) :Indigo2IMP: (230L) (230L) :540: :1600SW: :1600SW: <- touchscreen :PI: :Octane2:
APPLE MACS ARE JUST CRAP -OSX is great if your 7 years old and need to look at big colourful icons.

I use SGI's because they are just so stable, especially when rendering in maya. My sgi O2 r12k is fairly fast at most 3d tasks. My WindowsNT machine is about equal in speed for ££££££ less - but it is not as stable.

I do most of my modeling on the o2, but I network render with a SGI octane (running si graphics - so its not too good at texture mapping)

SGI's are very expensive but you should try renting one. I hired an SGI fuel for 2 weeks. Well worth it (too hire - not buy)
sgi_ohtwo wrote: APPLE MACS ARE JUST CRAP -OSX is great if your 7 years old and need to look at big colourful icons.

Yeah ... that's what I do all day ... look at big colorful icons. :roll:

Thanks for the insight.
Twitter: @neko_no_ko
IRIX Release 4.0.5 IP12 Version 06151813 System V
Copyright 1987-1992 Silicon Graphics, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Ok, guess I'll add my $0.02:

The number one thing I like about SGI systems is the responsiveness of the OS. This comes from the need to have low latency when dealing with real-time video. That combined with the solid hardware, and a solid OS makes them a joy to work on. Compared the my Sun workstations (Ultra10, SS20's and SS5) the SGI's are much more responsive (and can run ssh much faster). Unfortunatly Mac's can't compare with the SGI and SUN workstations as far as stablitity since they no longer use ECC RAM and SCSI drives. IRIX is also quite light compared to modern OS's, 6.5 has uses arround 55MB on my Indy much less than XP, W2k or OS X. IRIX is also quite full featured, includes features like hot-swap SCSI and PCI support (I've used the hot-swap SCSI on my Indy and Indigo2) and a number of services included with the base OS. On top of that many SGI systems are ture 64-bit workstations, something only avaliable form SUN, SGI and HP (on the PA-RISC and Alpha workstations and servers) and PC's and Mac's are still shooting for (sometime next fall...yah whatever didn't you say that 3 years ago). I've tried using my Ultra 10 (300Mhz, 512MB) as a workstation, but I've found that even my Indy ([email protected], 192MB) if much more responsive and pleasent to work on. Oh, did I mention real 24-bit audio, not like the "creative" labs Adigity2+Platnium/Super/overdrive/whatever/this_card_cost_more_than_your_CPU_and_has_buggy_drivers :)
skywriter wrote:
well, it's not like i would ever recommend you anyway.

Sheesh, chill out dude!

What IS it with people on these forums these days? This is why I don't post here much now, the simplest use of a word and someone
goes freak-out. So I mention a term you either don't know or aren't familiar with, so what? Who cares? Move on already...

guardian452 wrote:
Would all the knowledgeable engineers you know wear tweed jackets and likely be more qualified to operate a toaster than a computer?

Most likely ... Not to hurt your feelings, Sky, but you are kind of an old fart, your "engineers" were never that good anyway, not like these whip-sharp young kids that grew up with computers ...

skys_engineers.jpg [ 24.21 KiB | Viewed 413 times ]

mapesdhs wrote:
... the simplest use of a word ...

I believe Sky has a problem with the English language. He mistakenly believes it should be used to accurately describe a situation. In the case you refer to, "undervolt" is obviously wrong. If it were under the voltage at which the cpu operates, then the cpu would not function. "Undervolt" is neither a noun nor a verb. Using it any other way than describing a failure to function is incorrect.

But what the heck, we live in the world of NewSpeak so why not ? When "democracies" really mean "puppet governments run by friendly dictators who willingly take our bribes to distribute to their friends and families", what the heck difference does the inaccurate use of a technical term matter ?

Unless, of course, you were referring to ...

Look ! in the sky !
It's a bird !
It's a plane !

no, it's .... Undervolt !!
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hamei writes:
> ... your "engineers" were never that good anyway, not like these whip-sharp young kids that grew up with computers ...

Even those of us who grew up in the 80s home-computer boom (who no doubt thought of themselves for many years
as being tech savvy) are now pretty much old-timers & out of date compared to current trends.

> ... If it were under the voltage at which the cpu operates, then the cpu would not function. "Undervolt" is neither a noun nor a verb. Using it any other
> way than describing a failure to function is incorrect.

Wrong. :D Modern PC CPUs don't have a fixed voltage at which they operate. Surely you know this? At stock settings
there's a baseline VID value which shows up as whatever setting in CPU-Z, but even that is derived from a range of
possible values for each chip type (varies slightly for each individual CPU). In normal practice the actual voltage a chip
receives is constantly changing. If the system is idle, numerous functions shut down and the voltage drops. On relevant
i3/i5/i7 CPUs, if one or more cores are active then Turbo increases the clock and increases the voltage to match. Watch
the details in Core Temp and it's plain to see. AMD now has an equivalent though less effective mechanism. Your
description assumes there's some fixed voltage for a CPU and that's just not true these days at all.

And then there's Vdroop, which causes Vcore to fluctuate under load anyway, especially when a load halts.

Undervolting, as those who use the term would say, is deliberately forcing the BIOS Vcore to be lower than normal in
order to achieve power consumption below that possible with the supplied C-State mechanism (or equivalent function
in AMD chips). Plus, quite often, the BIOS is too generous with the voltage supplied even for default settings. Many
users find they can reduce Vcore somewhat and still operate with default settings, again reducing power consumption,
also referred to as undervolting. One can sometimes do the same for the RAM. Depends on the mbd as to how flexible
one can be - some don't have a particularly wide BIOS range for Vcore/Bclk. Enthusiast boards are obviously better.

My i7 870 has a VID range of 0.65 to 1.4V. At stock settings, the Vcore varies between about 0.9V for the chip running
at 1.1GHz up to about 1.35V for the Max Turbo setting of 3.6GHz. I have it set to 1.41V in the BIOS for 4.27GHz (no
Turbo or C-States) which shows up as 1.36V in CPU-Z, but this changes under load because of vdroop. It'll be a lot
more complex for my 875K which allows one to individually control each Turbo setting for 1, 2 or 4 cores active (ie. no
C-States, but Turbo active); when it's all setup, the Vcore will vary much more than the 870 depending on load. Ditto I
suspect for my 990X, though I've not examined it yet.

> But what the heck, we live in the world of NewSpeak so why not ? ...

People invent or adopt terms all the time, eg. where did "modding" come from?

> When "democracies" really mean "puppet governments run by friendly dictators who willingly take our bribes to distribute

Or just blame the voters, half of whom don't bother voting, while those that do choose for person X because they like their
smile, or that's how their parents have always voted, or some other dumb reason. :\ A true democracy makes decisions
based on rationale and reason; very few nations operate this way. Poor old Epicuras...

> no, it's .... Undervolt !!

Sounds about right given some of the oc'ing rows I've seen on forums. :)

Sorry, I never 'grew up' in the 80's, I was already a working adult. I grew up working in hi-tech engineering, we never had the need for the childish slags words you folks use. To me it's basically a denigration of the profession I've spend my life on. Sorry if I'm a downer, but I suppose you kids would never understand how crappy it makes me feel to have my kind of work trivialized in the end.

Oh well, everything is commoditized in the end even intelligence.


DECUS Member 368596
>mfw you people think that most kids these days are tech savvy when most kids I know IRL are terrible with computers. time...I was arguing over if an iPhone is better than a two years ago...

He said that his iPhone is actually so good that if it were immobile then it would still be better than my PC.

I lol'd hard.

But yeah, I'd say there are quite a few more kids who are good with computers these days. But I'd say that most/all people here are still better than the overwhelming majority of the people my age. Like, most of us can work with a computer, troubleshoot, etc...but programming is a whole different thing. Heck, one time I recruited a guy who was in college for computer science that was 19, and he whined all day about doing his programs in C++ instead of Visual Basic. That guy is still being an idiot and annoying me, and I got rid of him months ago. I'm pretty sure he was faking it, though. That, an extremely rare case, or general failing college. In any case, he never got paid, so he doesn't matter. //feels like I've gone off topic in an already looking-derailed topic.