Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 2nd Oct 2002 17:49 UTC
SGI and IRIX In the '90s, before MacOSX was released, if people were to reffer to a user-friendly Unix that looked cool at the time, that would have been SGI's 64-bit operating system for the MIPS processors, the IRIX. IRIX was first released in 1987, and by 1995 was already a highly respected UNIX, the first with immense multimedia capabilities! Check out our introduction and some screenshots of IRIX.
Permalink for comment
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
oh my word...
by phil on Wed 2nd Oct 2002 19:04 UTC

just when you think it can't get any worse, it does.

The SGI desktop is of course based on a heavily modified commercial X Server

SGI's desktop apps are standard X11. SGI have their own X server, like most of the other commercial Unixes (although HP and IBM are currently migrating to XFree), which is fully compatible with X11R6. It lacks some of the goodies found with XFree, like RENDER; Sun are working on incorporating RENDER into xsun and as mentioned above, IBM and HP are moving to XFree. I don't know what SGI's position is on incorporating these extensions into their X server.

not like XFree86 and its problems with high-end monitors

XFree does not have a problem with high-end monitors in general. You just had a bad experience with your particular hardware combination; I have two 24 inch Sony monitors on this Linux workstation and I experienced none of the problems you claim to have.

Also, much like Apple Macs, the hardware in an SGI system is constrained and very predictible, so of course everything worked fine.

I think that this dual Octane at 195 Mhz is at least as fast as a PIII at 700 Mhz or so it feels like

I've got a similar Octane in my lab and all I can say is "wow, the placebo effect is stunning, isn't it?".

One of the most innovating things about the IRIX in the '90s were the vector icons it uses for its desktop and file/icon managers.

Offtopic, but I think that OSX and Windows XP are the only common OS's which don't support vector icons with the standard apps. Hell, Nautilus supports SVG (vector) icons :p

Installations just work.

Did you actually try and install anything which wasn't supplied on a CD with the system? *boggle*

while the toolkit used is the king of the Unix toolkits, Motif

Motif needs to die, and it needs to do so immediately.

SGI machines based on MIPS are mostly serving two kinds of applications: High-end movie animating (Simpsons were created with SGIs and a trackload of movies with special effects) and OpenGL applications (eg. a visual weather system, astronomy stuff, CAD/CAM and more).

Actually, this isn't strictly true anymore. SGI machines are rapidly being replaced by x86 Linux boxes in the SFX markets you mention. Where SGI still has a niche is in very high end visualisation (eg. CAVE systems) and massive NUMA installations.

Of course, SGI has tweaked their X server to fully "understand" and support OpenGL and multiple overlays, but this is something that the other Unices haven't mastered yet (with only exception this of the pretty recent MacOSX, which however is not based on X11).

I think you've confused yourself. Most of the modern X servers support the things you've mentioned above. eg. XFree supports overlays through XV. Maybe you need to explain yourself a bit better?

And this is truly a shame, because underneath this greyish ugly-ish look and pretty problematic usability, there is a huge potential. SGI needs to invest in this OS.

To what end? IRIX is very firmly tied to MIPS - this is why SGI have gone with Linux for their IA64 systems. Porting IRIX, with it's decades of code and reams of MIPS assembly simply wasn't a realistic option. SGI machines are very specialised and expensive; for what they're used for, IRIX is already plenty good enough. It isn't a desktop OS and never will be.