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.
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I've been using IRIX since 1992 and currently run a variety
of systems from Indy/Indigo2/o2,to Onyx2/Origin/Octane/etc.

My take on these things would be:

Stability/Reliability:

- the first poster must be smoking something. I've not
yet been able to make my R4K/250 Indigo2 crash, and
sometimes I've tried just for the hell of it. ;) Run
100 applications at once? No problem. No errors. Not
a single crash since I bought it in May 1997. The
Origin200 server I run at work has never had an error
of any kind, and I've been running it for 3 years. By
contrast, I've seen $15000 NT servers fail 5 times
in the 1st hour of use. And don't even get me started
on issues such as PC viri, etc.

GUI:

- if it works, don't fix it. I like it. And many tasks
are faster with command line actions, especially for
those who customise with aliases, good xterm layout,
etc. People forget that moving a mouse takes time,
and many actions are impossible with a GUI anyway,
eg. doing multiple tasks where the output of one
action is piped as the input for another.

OS: *real* plug & play. With only a few exceptions, the
OS already includes drivers for just about anything one
can add on, from upgrade options to 3rd-party hardware
such as CDROMs, disks, DAT drives, etc. Most of the
time, one can change the internal hw of an SGI without
having to do any sw changes at all. And what other OS
is there that scales to 1024 CPUs? There are features
in IRIX that other OSs can only dream of. The work that
goes into it to support high-end features (such as
supporting 40GB/sec disk bandwidth on an Onyx2 Group
Station for Defense Imaging) filters down to the desktop
to create one of the most reliable OSs there is. Far
better than Windows.

Software Manager:

- brilliant, no probs. Learn how to use it. Use
Selections files to save hassle when installing stuff.
Never any damage caused by multiple actions, precise
management of files, use as a source of info such as
file locations/sizes, access to release notes, etc.

Speed:

- Just shows what a decent OS and top-down hardware
design can do. Oh, and btw, NO pc can do what my
ancient R5K/200 O2 can do, namely handle an 800MB
texture data set in real-time, or spin a 16000x16000
res image in real-time, or capture/playback/edit
full-size/rate video right out the box. And of course
there's the advanced features on some models: 48bit
colour, guaranteed pixel fill rates, real-time
determinism, etc. Not possible on PCs.

Costs:

- 2nd-hand market and good SGI 2nd-user dealers mean
that costs are not an issue, and even SGI is offering
very good deals now on its remanufactured line. Out
there in Ebay-land, there are real bargains to be had,
and even from company sellers a basic 195/SI Octane is
only $300 to $400. Heck, I sell basic Indys for $80.
My fastest system is an Octane R12K/300MHz (2MB L2) MXI.
For general responsivness and speed, it blows the latest
P4 systems I run at work away completely.

Another example: I helped sell a 24-CPU R10K/195 Onyx
RE rack system for $6750. Mega bargains are out there.

So there ya go. SGI rules IMO, no contest. But then I'm
probably very biased. ;)

For those new to IRIX and SGIs, here are some handy
references. First my SGI index page, which is one of
the biggest/best [so people tell me] and a mirror of it
on SGI's US employee server is coming soon for those who
find the link the Europe a bit slow:

http://www.futuretech.vuurwerk.nl/sgi.html

and for those learning IRIX, my UNIX Administration Course,
which focuses on IRIX:

http://www.futuretech.vuurwerk.nl/admin/

See the main index for links to everything else, eg.
benchmarks, buyers guides, original brochures, etc.

Cheers! ;)

Ian.

SGI/NT Admin, Centre for Virtual Environments,
University of Salford, Salford, UK. mapesdhs@yahoo.com