SGI: Discussion

Missing Silicon Graphics

Just down in the dumps and thought I would post. I miss the magic. I remember seeing an Indigo for the first time in the early 90s and then some Onyx/Challenge/Crimson systems. It was such an inspiring product line of software/hardware. I loved the exotic hardware and the case designs. Because those moments had such a strong impact on me at the time, I started on a path that has led me to build a very nice career as a Unix admin/engineer. I still use my fuel, o2, and octane on a daily basis at work. Although now I can really only use them for ssh machines to admin other systems, I still love them. I hope I can continue to use them for a long time.

I was never a really big Sun fan but have always supported them. Their older stuff was cool and they were great machines but just didn't have the polish and usability that IRIX has. Looking at CDE in Solaris makes me a bit sick to my stomach, whereas IRIX still looks good even though it is so old. The Oracle buyout has been a total pain in the ass. It took 4 months for them to ship a simple 2U system. Their support portal is the worst. One comment on the front page of their portal summed it up perfectly "This support site gives feces a bad name!". OpenSolaris is dead.... Oh well...

DEC is gone, HP-UX and AIX from IBM are so boring, I would rather use Win2k8 Server....

I won't touch on OSX server. That should be a post by itself. It could have taken over the entire Unix server/workstation market but Apple Computer dropped the computer from their name and are officially a consumer device company. I can't fault them for their choices, they are swimming in cash. I still use OSX as my main system on a daily basis and it is the best thing out there.

xBSD. Loved them, used to use Free and Net as daily machines back in the day... Sysinstall sucks. It was ok in 1998, but come on....NetBSD has a great installer. Simple, to the point. I even had my mom using FreeBSD on her laptop (window maker as her wm) in the early 2000s.

It seems like the only thing left is Linux....

Go ahead and flame me but Linux sucks in the enterprise. I do give thanks to all of the hard work and contributions so many have made to developing free software. Why does RedHat put games in an enterprise server os? I like to play with Linux but hate supporting it. I stopped using it as a desktop because it is just too much of a pain in the ass. SuSE and Ubuntu are no better.

I just miss the magic. I miss salivating over marketing material from SGI. I miss Dreaming of having a fridge sized Onyx next to my desk and a couple of brand new 21" Sony granite monitors with that logo "Silicon <cube> Graphics" at the bottom. Xsgi and 4Dwm were great, I didn't think X sucked using IRIX back in the day. I watched code rush again and it put me in this mood. SGI systems all over the place, Netscape as the browser, the internet blowing up. I miss that time period.

I have a dual socket quad core xeon/skull trail system with two video cards, 16GB of ram, chocked full of 1TB hdds, 2 24" flat panel displays in an ugly expensive (although cheaply made) and it is running windows 7. How boring is that? Will computers ever inspire me like they did when SGI was king? Will computers every be fun again?
:Tezro: :Onyx2: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Indy: :Indy: :Indy: :Indy: :Indy: :Indy: :O2: :O2: :O2: :O2: :O2: :1600SW: :1600SW: :320: :Indigo2IMP: :Indigo2: :Octane2: :Octane2: :Octane: :Fuel: :Fuel:
Stolen! :4D310: :Crimson:
I feel yah, There was a certain "Magic"
I just finish giving an Intro to UNIX and Linux course to one of our evening shift workers. Each time I give it I'm reminded of the "interesting times." I was a Sun FE and it was fun times ripping apart a sparcstation 20, Ultra2 or a 6800, along with hanging out with other FE's. Running Pov-ray on fully loaded 6500's.
Pre-Oracle Sun was nice, since Oracle took over getting stuff / cases worked from them is like playing the staring game and seeing who will blink first.

I miss the super hot air my Indigo 2 would blow over my keyboard.
400lb Sony Trinitron monitors. Loud clicking keyboards.
Linux was fun for me when I had to recompile the Kernel (6 hour process), to get all my hardware to work. It was the thrill of the hunt not so much as the actual use of it that made it fun.
I don't like Linux now, I hate working with it in large production environment, but that is just my opinion.

I'm a Mac OS X user, been one since end of 2001. There is Magic there but we need to work on the community of Mac "UNIX" users. Apple do supplies us with the right tools, hardware, OS, and developing platform even X11 to help get some of the magic back, but we need to do it as a Mac UNIX group of users. Nekochan is a good example, here were have software ports along with a tight community. As IRIX become less usable us Mac users can start shifting towards OS X more, porting some of those IRIX apps over. The historic core of UNIX was the community and what they created as a group, this seems missing the Mac OS X world right now.

I so wish that MaXXDesktop was on OS X x11 instead on linux.

Something that helping me feel the magic again is graphical stuff (same reason why I dig IRIX), stuff like, R, and even the built-in stuff that Xcode has, all the Core frameworks. But there don't seem to be a solid community out there that actually help to keep me motivated.
5/11/11 12:58:19 AM gfxCardStatus[268] AMD Radeon HD 6750M in use. Bummer! Less battery life for you.
5/11/11 12:58:20 AM gfxCardStatus[268] Intel HD Graphics 3000 in use. Sweet deal! More battery life.
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Think of the irony, Windows won the desktop, UNIX won the phone.
Land of the Long White Cloud and no Software Patents.
Also UNIX won the tablet.
The Portable OS owns the Portable market.
5/11/11 12:58:19 AM gfxCardStatus[268] AMD Radeon HD 6750M in use. Bummer! Less battery life for you.
5/11/11 12:58:20 AM gfxCardStatus[268] Intel HD Graphics 3000 in use. Sweet deal! More battery life.
MacBook Pro 17inch 2011
Mac Mini 2010
And of course the Professional market was won by the DEC Professional computers.

Oh, wait... ;)
Then? :IRIS3130: ... Now? :O3x02L: :A3504L: - :A3502L: :1600SW: +MLA :Fuel: :Octane2: :Octane: :Indigo2IMP: ... Other: DEC :BA213: :BA123: Sun , DG AViiON , NeXT :Cube:
Completely understand and can relate to what you said... SGI *was*, somehow, oddly inspirational. There was something about their systems and their image which went beyond polygon numbers and SPEC benchmarks. I posted the story behind my own introduction to SGI ( viewtopic.php?f=3&t=16724795&hilit=iris+indigo+reborn ) and I think you'll probably find many people here that feel the same way you do. I have a lot of trouble coming to grips with the fact that the SGI workstation line will never grow, there won't even be another IRIX release, when support ends for the Fuel in a couple of years, there probably won't ever even be a patch released, and slowly, any mention of these amazing machines will be erased from Depressing, to say the least.

Also, I don't know if there will be another computer company - an honest to goodness *computer* company - that will be as inspirational as SGI or NeXT. Some of the greatest software work ever was done on these machines specifically because they *were* inspirational. Mosaic was developed on SGI systems and the very first web server was built on NeXT. Berners-Lee even said he did it because the shiny new NeXT inspired him to start coding. The value of inspiration cannot be underestimated...

Meanwhile the future for UNIX continues to look incredibly bleak. Oracle has consumed Sun and I think that situation will continue to get worse. Ultimately, the SPARC line - which really is what makes Sun unique - will go away. I just feel that coming... IBM is doing well with POWER, but then again, as you said, IBM is not particularly exciting or inspirational. At the heart of it, I think the problem is that the lowest-common denominator (the PC architecture) has come so far along that no task/application that's worth addressing today is beyond its capabilities. Ultimately, SGI had a good 2 decade run because they could do something the PC just simply couldn't. Ditto for Sun. In a very specific way (i.e. dev environment) for NeXT too. Now, all that's changed. In fact, the irony is that today you can probably do stuff on PCs (GPGPU computing) that you can't do on a POWER AIX workstation! Sad but true. The workstation companies couldn't keep up and now we're all left reading about odd looking commoditized gaming systems in Maximum PC and CPU magazine where once we had glorious (and truly unique) Unix systems grace the cover of BYTE.
:Octane2: :O2: :O2: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Fuel: :Indy: :Indy: :Indy: :Indigo2: :Indigo2IMP:
Apple could have done it, but they tried to break into the commercial market without having the commercial-grade support to back it up.

I think you're shortchanging AIX. The IBM mindset is very different from most "UNIX mindsets", and the interface was/is pretty ugly, but technically AIX is a very strong system. It was the first where you could adjust almost any system parameter without rebooting, and JFS is still pretty good. The rest of the OS is solid and pretty secure. Of course, I really haven't played around with anything beyond about 5.1, as the new hardware is so expensive.

If you're expecting to be flamed for criticizing Linux then you probably need to find another forum. Linux has strengths, but it also has a number of deficiencies that we're well aware of.

SGI had a unique opportunity that will probably not happen again in computing hardware. They were doing flashy stuff that no one else was doing (bar E&S and some IBM stuff, but see point #2), and they were doing it with a very gonzo marketing department backing them up.
"Brakes??? What Brakes???"

:Indigo: :Octane: :Indigo2: :Indigo2IMP: :Indy: :PI: :O3x0: :ChallengeL: :O2000R: (single-CM)
Linux, Linux... the big Unix clone :D . For sure most of you remember the Unix HaterĀ“s Handbook ( ). I think that, somehow, Linux still has some big drawbacks, no matter the distribution. Sometimes I just feel like the authors of the book when I find stupid bugs everywhere. The only distribution I really trust is Debian stable (plus some other exceptions), but you know that you are always using old versions of the applications :/.
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I deal with Windows boxes as my daily duty and have accepted that I live in a Windows world, Server 2008 along with Windows 7 are actually good OSes, and Microsoft's support (corporate/enterprise) seems to be good. I do feel a little abandoned by Apple and the way they're heading with their software and hardware, but I don't blame them or begrudge them their success by any means.

I started out on a Mac when Apple was a faux pa in computer fashion and have now ended up with Windows (and liking it, scary I know :roll: ) as everyone else seems to be migrating to Apple iDevices -- I had some Unix in-between of course ;)

I do wish I had been older, rich, or had a rich family during the heyday of the SGI, Sun, etc so I could have supported or owned those caliber machines when they were at their apex (I think I would have had a blast) but at the time I only remember seeing them in magazines and on TV specials.

Oh well, back to the now.
"EV-ERY-ONE!" --Stansfield
It must be that time of the month.... :D
"Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a
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The Unix vendors lost because they tried to do it all themselves, their own microprocessors, their own graphics chips, their own bus architectures, their own operating systems and so on. Jim Clark rang the warning bell in 1993 but the fat cats on SGI's board wouldn't listen. The commodity specialists Microsoft, Intel, ATI, etc., were catching up to the workstation market and would soon run right over them and disappear past the horizon. And that's pretty much what happened...
Temporarily lost at sea...
World domination! Or something...

:Tezro: :Octane2:
vishnu wrote: Jim Clark rang the warning bell in 1993 but the fat cats on SGI's board wouldn't listen.

Re. Jim Clark's views at the time, is there any recommended reading you can point us to? I've read The New New Thing and Netscape Time and both those have some references to Clark's SGI days, but if there is something beyond this that you've seen/read, please do share.
:Octane2: :O2: :O2: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Indigo: :Fuel: :Indy: :Indy: :Indy: :Indigo2: :Indigo2IMP:

Its just such a pity that Sgi didn't continue providing 'affordable' workstation solutions. Imagine if you could buy
a workstation powered by a modern MIPS R2xK and PCIE graphics options ... -sighs- Maybe IRIX would have gone
the same route as Apple... -shrugs-

MAYA, nut-
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Ryan Fox wrote:

Its just such a pity that Sgi didn't continue providing 'affordable' workstation solutions. Imagine if you could buy
a workstation powered by a modern MIPS R2xK and PCIE graphics options ... -sighs- Maybe IRIX would have gone
the same route as Apple... -shrugs-

Didn't work then, wouldn't work now. It didn't even work for DIGITAL, and their boxes could even run Windows.

On introduction the MIPS Magnum was faster and slightly cheaper than a high-end Pentium, and the Indigo and Indy were both competitive with PCs of the closest to equivalent speed. People still bought PCs instead - for one thing neither SGI nor DEC had anything for the low-end/ midrange PC user, but my guess is that that wouldn't have changed things. For one thing there's software, and UNIX software was always priced higher than PC.
"Brakes??? What Brakes???"

:Indigo: :Octane: :Indigo2: :Indigo2IMP: :Indy: :PI: :O3x0: :ChallengeL: :O2000R: (single-CM)
opcode wrote: It seems like the only thing left is Linux....

if you're having thoughts like that... the game is over.

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