Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sun 8th Feb 2004 00:13 UTC
SGI and IRIX As of February 4, 2004 IRIX 6.5.23 is releasing with all new systems shipping from SGI worldwide manufacturing centers. The IRIX 6.5.23 release continues the focus on stability, reliability, security and compatibility required in the IRIX 6.5.xx quarterly release process.
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by Anonymous on Sun 8th Feb 2004 01:45 UTC

It always has made me laugh when software/hardware firms state:

The IRIX 6.5.23 release continues the focus on stability, reliability, security and compatibility required in the IRIX® 6.5.xx quarterly release process.

As if they were focusing to develop an unstable, insecure and incompatibile product.

Irix stalled?
by CaptainPinko on Sun 8th Feb 2004 01:49 UTC

Aren't SGI just maintaining Irix and only doing point releases while the shift their focus from Irix on MIPS to Linux on Itanium?

PS- what does Irix stand for?

And still no sign of a hobbyist program...
by Anonymous on Sun 8th Feb 2004 01:49 UTC unless you have $600 to spend on an OS, who cares.

by Anonymous on Sun 8th Feb 2004 02:42 UTC


IRIX comes free with a SGI computer and for transportcosts you can sometimes get an overlay. You gotta name your serial number (MAC address) if you want to use that option.

RE: Funny
by Anonymous on Sun 8th Feb 2004 03:21 UTC

IRIX isn't the most secure by default because it is configured as if the machine is behind a secure network. It's a pain to lock down. My other problem with IRIX is that it install process is kind of like Gentoo's(in that it's text based) but a tad bit worse if you have software conflicts. Then you have to choose the option like 1a 2c 3b 4a 5c etc.

Hi guys
by Dextor on Sun 8th Feb 2004 03:48 UTC

I am working in Enginering Firms my friends work on CAD design software. All of them Use Sgi workstation with IRIX OS and IDEAS as the main software for CAD. Well the entire package per workstation cost 50% more than a PC with the same configurations. But my colleagues feedback about the
Workstation is good. They say that the system is design to handle extreme graphics, nothing else and it does performance this job thousand time better than the PC or Mac. From This i conclude that the SGI are taskspecific to handle hi rendering graphic which is required by Engineering and Motion Picture Animation Firms. If you see the graphic rendering of this workstation you will definitely say that it is ahead of PC even WindowsXP

by PantherPPC on Sun 8th Feb 2004 04:05 UTC

SGI makes computers that are not and should not be compared to PCs. They are not the same thing.

by Dextor on Sun 8th Feb 2004 04:15 UTC

I compare SGi to PC with respect to Graphic Performance not the entire system. If u have not read then read it again.

by PantherPPC on Sun 8th Feb 2004 05:15 UTC

Dextor, I agree with what you were saying, I was refering to the comment above yours about security and install issues.

SGI gambles on Itanium. Bad move
by blah on Sun 8th Feb 2004 05:57 UTC

Just when SGI is starting to pull back from th brink of death they bet on Itanium. BZZZT

v Re: SGI gambles on Itanium. Bad move
by Anonymous on Sun 8th Feb 2004 06:43 UTC
IRIX 6.5.19 overlays are freely downloadable
by Anonymous on Sun 8th Feb 2004 10:00 UTC

If you have an older IRIX system you can upgrade to 6.5.19 by downloading the overlay CDs from SGI's website.

6.5.23 probably wont be free for some time, though they may make the 'maintenance stream' free.

I have an SGI O2 here, and in terms of CPU power it is absolutely slaughtered by any modern PC.

However, it still feels extremely snappy, has great quality audio/video I/O, rock solid OpenGL and IRIX's desktop, while looking somewhat archaic next to GNOME 2 (Motif really, really shows its age next to a good GTK theme), performs well and is very usable for a UNIX.

SGI workstations have a style and a 'charm' if one can really apply that to a computer, unlike any others in the world, I lament that they don't build them like this any more.

Re: Funny (Irix install issues & security)
by Joe User on Sun 8th Feb 2004 10:00 UTC

I will agree on security. You do need to lock IRIX down a bit before putting it on the net. (It's not hard though)

As for the installation issues, I do not agree.

If you don't like the command line installer, use the GUI one. (Much better in many cases.)

The conflicts are an interesting thing. When you are first faced with this system, it is annoying and tedious. However, using it with some greater experience (and a few tips from comp.sys.sgi.admin) makes for an experience that is hard to match elsewhere. Just a coupla things you can do with the SGI installer:

- You can take a disk intended for one type of SGI machine, and put it into another one, then with a couple of commands (literally) have the system evaluate the software present, update/change/modify files that are system specific, and bring the OS current, bootable and ready to run on the new machine. This happens without loss of application settings. So, take a disk from an Octane, run through the Software Manager and boot on Indy, for example.

- All of those conflicts are thought out and tested well beyond the level of many other installation systems. If you work through the conflicts, then press the 'go' button, the system you end up *will* work, every time.

- Packages can be selected via wild cards. For example, you are wanting to install a new OS, but don't want any dev tools. (Sounds crazy, but it happens all the time for people just wanting to run applications.) So, you load a few disks containing the run time environment, deselect *dev, then resolve a few remaining conflicts. These are largely involving systems not appropriate for the target hardware. (Like Sgi Meeting for a server with no GFX engine on board.)

I am guessing you setup an installation from scratch. Instead of working through all the issues in text mode, install a basic run-time only system, boot, then spit 'n polish with the nicer GUI tools.

Those options are pretty nice actually. You get choices that make quite a bit of sense:

Installation of distrbution {whatever} is not compatable with subsystem X.

1a Do not install whatever.

1b Install whatever, but also remove subsystem X

1c Install whatever, but also upgrade subsystem X

To me, these kinds of well thought out choices really matter when I am interested in maintaining a stable system environment. All of these things get worked out in advance of actually hosing something up, which is far better than partial installations and such.

Other UNIXes, Linux and BSD have similar systems, but not as well polished as the SGI one is. (The exception being the Debian package management, and BSD ports tree.)

The downside of this is that it rarely helps with application installation issues, unless the app has been packaged with that goal in mind. (few are) This is where BSD really shines.

One other nice thing. The installation system does keep checkpoints. You can be in the middle of a big installation or change and literally pull the power plug. When you next start the installation tools, they will prompt you with the choice to start over, or continue installations in progress. Same thing with exit commands and such that are part of the process.

Give it another go, it helps you more than it hurts....

Re: Hi Guys (I-deas on SGI)
by Joe User on Sun 8th Feb 2004 10:10 UTC

This is a sweet CAD combination. SGI IRIX machines can handle large models very well indeed. (I like this software, too bad EDS is mixing it with UG... 'nother topic.)

I have setup a few SGI systems in a slightly different way. Run the IRIX machine multi-user. Put I-deas and the Team Data on it. Users can connect with just about any X window system enabled machine and get good performance. All administration of the complex data management tools are in one place --the SGI. Admins that do this with PC machines running Exceed X window server software cut down their administration time by quite a bit. Share the user home directories with SAMBA and it makes a nice environment that anyone can easily make use of. Cost per user is low as well. (This does not work well for very large models because the network speed limits the display redraw time however.)

This can be done with other UNIXes as well, but IRIX has a very good memory manager and scheduler. These things combined with a nice little thing called vswap combine to provide very good multi-user performance, even under heavy load. Vswap is virtual swap. Often, an application will request a large chunk of memory, but not actually use it. Vswap allows IRIX to allocate the memory, but not actually commit system resources to it, unless they are really needed. In multi-user situations, like the one I described above, the system performance remains high right up to the point where user data actually exceeds physical RAM memory. --Very nice for CAD. Put 8GB or so RAM in the machine, configure a like amount of real swap, and a few GB of virtual swap and memory wasteful CAD packages run very nicely.

Re: O2
by Joe User on Sun 8th Feb 2004 10:13 UTC

--My favorite machine. The CPU is a bit slow these days, but the machine handles very well. Memory on those is UMA, which limits the CPU speed. However, if you are interested in working with live video, or very large texture models (like, say 600Mb texture ones !!!) the O2 does this stuff right in hardware without missing a beat.

Cool form factor as well.

Eugenia -- Thanks for covering IRIX
by Joe User on Sun 8th Feb 2004 10:15 UTC

I appreciate it. IRIX is a sweet OS that more people should have the chance to experience. Thanks again for keeping it in the news.

For what it does, it's perfect
by Fritz on Sun 8th Feb 2004 11:44 UTC

Personally I believe SGI should continue to support and upgrade IRIX and MIPS. To be honest, the new Tezro with its 4 CPUs is fast enough to be compared to a modern PC in terms of Workstation power. To to be computational jobs, you should not be using the desktop workstation anyway. Use an x86 cluster. My PC with a GeForce2 MX is a polygon catapult. How many 100,000s of polygons can you edit and rotate at 25fps til all you see is a white blob?

IRIX is extremely responsive under heavy load, and as a workstation sufficiently secure.

I love my Indy, and one day I will love my Tezro. :-)

by dubhthach on Sun 8th Feb 2004 14:30 UTC

Well i only got 6.5.17 running on my dual 250 Octane (1gb ram) I'll prolly upgrade to 6.5.19 seen that it's available now for free download.
A great community site for IRIX users is

Or an Onyx.

Irix is not pretty
Irix is not easy
But my old Origins do not go down and they run sweet

to bad I don't work there anymore, but the Origins do.

Sorry but IRIX is too old
by Daniel Biehle on Sun 8th Feb 2004 16:36 UTC

Hello, (sorry for my bad english)

I'm sorry Dextor, but I am unix admin of more than twenty sgi machines and several servers too (o200/o2000,o300/o3000) and I have to say that graphic workstations (octane2 and fuel) really sucks compared to *current* best PC configuration.
Some biosciences applications are running on a Linuxbox (Sybyl from Tripos and Cerius2 from Accelrys, which need stereo graphics and low latency to move molecules properly) and they have nothing to do with the IRIX version.
SGI machines and IRIX OS may have been a robust and powerful combinaison 5 years ago, but now, it is not anymore and I must admit that I'm not happy with that.
But I can't lie and say SGI Workstations are very suitable for my bio-users need, that's not true at all. Moreover, SGI machines are too expensive !
Expensive, less powerful, applications running on other platforms : hum...why the hell still buying SGI(tm) ?

I'm neither a pc/linux extremist nor a SGI one. I'm just objective.

Re:Daniel Biehle
by Dextor on Sun 8th Feb 2004 18:32 UTC

I think you are not at all objective but simply driven by the current computer PC system that is massively used. For you information i am a total Windows User. Though i work in Engineering Firm. I have 99% Windows centric environment with the latest technology PC and Microsoft can give. The 1% counts for Non- Windows User especially working on Sgi Workstation. As for your information The maximum no. of Problem encounter is with PC's and Windows based system. I am heavy user of Microsoft Office. I use it to created sophisticated Macros in Excel and Access. Many time my system shows error reporting message while working,the PC's problems are another issue.As my dept. resides close to CAD room. I have close contact with
my Engineer Friends. I had never seen a single problem with Irix nor with Sgi. Even if i am in 99% Windows centric world, the 1% is responsible for new products to arrive in the market place driving the rest of our firms business. I dont know about you guys, but for us it just works.

Thanks Eugenia - I can always trust you for all of my "breaking" Irix and BeOS news.

People complain about IRIX too much...
by ZoontF on Mon 9th Feb 2004 02:17 UTC

1) Never question why another person uses a system if that person seems content or even happy with the system. Each OS offers a different mental approach to using the computer - what is right for one person may just not work well for another person.

2) The raw CPU speed of an SGI workstation is irrelevant in most cases because the entire raison d'etre for an SGI workstation (not server) is to display OpenGL "stuff" quickly and efficiently and stably. Yeah, Mozilla runs slow on my Indigo2, but then I open up Blender and Smoke my Quad Xeon trying to run Blender.

3) Windows/Linux machines with modern hardware accelerated 3d Graphics (I.e. a Radeon perhaps) can outperform a number of "older" SGIs in pure polygon and line-drawing counts and such. They can even outperform some of the newer SGI machines. I would be suprised if there were a contest in which the top of the line ATI graphics option were stuck in a PC and pitted against whatever the top of the line SGI workstation is, if the ATI would outperform the SGI system in pure 3d graphics twirling and such. I'd have see it to believe it. One is a system built by dozens of manufacturers not honed to a single purpose, but thanks to ATI quite capable in graphics work. The other is a system built from the ground up to serve the one purpose of graphics work. If the ATI system did win, I would then do a 3d graphics stress test and see which one failed first.

4) As for "Charm" of an SGI... long before there was "case modding", SGI was building in Blue, Purple, Teal, ... Crimson, and finishing with Granite Speckles. I have seen some great case mods, but none of those cases come anywhere near the style of the SGIs from the 90's. Thank god Apple picked up on the trend so everone could have a computer that looked good. I assume, however, that Apple's trend in hardware design came from NeXT.

5) SGIs are expensive. So are sports cars. Don't wanna pay a lot for a sports car? Buy a kia. Home users don't buy sports car computers. They won't have room to transport the kids and groceries, so-to-speak.

I would be suprised if there were a contest in which the top of the line ATI graphics option were stuck in a PC and pitted against whatever the top of the line SGI workstation is, if the ATI would outperform the SGI system in pure 3d graphics twirling and such. I'd have see it to believe it.

It's somewhat a moot point since SGI uses ATI now for there graphics engine.

RE: Moot point ati GFX
by Joe User on Tue 10th Feb 2004 07:43 UTC

An ATI GFX engine in a PC will be slower than one in an SGI workstation. Why?

System bandwidth. The SGI system design combined with the IRIX scheduler make for some impressive interactive GFX performance.

Now if you want to talk price / performance, the PC wins hands down. So, what is the SGI advantage, what do people pay for?

SGI machines are all about I/O. Even older machines can handle sustained loads to memory, disk and GFX all at the same time and remain interactive. A PC is just not built to do this. Not to knock win32, but honestly it just does not have the finely tuned scheduler to perform as an SGI machine does. If it did, it also cannot handle large datasets well either. This looks to change with longhorn, but for now, IRIX has the upper hand, if you are planning on working with large amounts of data.

The ATI move is a good one for SGI. They can cut their costs, while making creative use of the ATI GFX engines. These are not going to be ATI cards like those we see for a PC however. They will combine them with nifty things like hardware compositing capabilities to create high resolution high bandwidth displays. Again, SGI is about I/O.

Raw CPU performance has not been their strength since the mid 90's. Handling *large* datasets remains one of their strengths today because of their focus on I/O. Real time visualization is a I/O dependant process, as is simulation. Another area they perform well in happens to be media streaming.

A typical SGI buyer has a specific problem in mind. If their problem matches the SGI system design goals, buying the machine is a no-brainer really. Very few people buy SGI machines for use as general purpose computers, though older ones make very nice home workstations / web servers / development stations, etc...

Compute on these is slow by todays standards, but in their areas of strength, they tend to punch well above their weight.