SGI and IRIX Archive

The rise and fall of Silicon Graphics

Clark founded Silicon Graphics Inc on the 9th of November in 1981, and he left Stanford early in 1982 to pursue building the company full time with just $25000 in funding (around $85000 in 2024) from a friend and the contents of his own accounts. Accompanying Clark in this adventure were Kurt Akeley, Dave Brown, Tom Davis, Mark Grossman, Marc Hannah, Herb Kuta, Rocky Rhodes, and Abbey Silverstone. While SGI knew they would deal in computers outfitted with a powerful GPU, they did not know precisely what else those computers should feature. As a result, Clark asked potential customers what they’d like to see in a workstation. While at least one potential customer was interested in VMS, NASA’s new Advanced Supercomputing division was very interested in UNIX and they were willing to pay. The division’s director at the time spoke with Clark, and (verbally) committed to purchasing at least eighteen workstations in their first order. ↫ Bradford Morgan White SGI machines are by far the most sought-after and most expensive of the retro UNIX workstation market today, with machines still netting thousands of euros, even for damaged or less than ideal examples. IRIX is probably also the dead UNIX with the most active fanbase, still releasing software and updates to this very day. An SGI machine is high on my list, and writing an article about using IRIX today is something I’ve been wanting to do for decades. Sadly, the odds of finding one that’s both affordable and shippable to the Arctic part of Sweden – especially now that OSNews is my full-time job and I’m dependent on Patreons and donations – are very, very slim.

IRIX community proposes to reverse-engineer the last 32 bit IRIX kernel

The IRIX Network, the primary community for SGI and IRIX enthousiasts, has announced a fundraising effort to reverse-engineer the last 32 bit version of the IRIX kernel. IRIX-32, so named for its basis on kernel and APIs of the last 32-bit compatible IRIX (5.3) is a proposed reverse engineering project to be conducted by a team of developers in the US and the EU. Purpose: We will reverse engineer the version 5.3 kernel with future goal of producing a fully open source reference implementation. This is the first major step and the delivery will be documentation and reference material to enable effective emulation and driver development for IRIX. This is huge. If they can do this, they will save the operating system from an inevitable demise. I’m of course 100% behind this, and the total costs of 8500 dollars – 6500 from the fundraiser, 1000 as a donation from the IRIX Network itself, and 1000 from a few companies still using IRIX – is definitely realistic in the sense that they should be able to meet their goal. It’s not a lot of money, and it’s not meant as fair compensation for the work delivered – the teams of developers involved know this and aren’t asking for such either. The thread so far is a great read. They haven’t selected a fundraising platform yet, but I am definitely throwing money their way once they do.

Love: install IRIX from IRIX, Linux, or Windows

I just finished my new project, it is called love. It allows installation of IRIX from IRIX, LINUX or WINDOWS. The reason for its existence is that IRIX installations are difficult, even for experienced users. New users almost always struggle with IRIX installations which can be demotivating and frustrating. My goal is to make this task easy, fast and accessible. This is absolutely amazing, and it works very well. This will make life for retro SGI users a lot easier.

Linux 5.5 to add support for SGI Octane I, Octane II workstations

The Linux 5.5 kernel due out as stable in early 2020 will finally have mainline support for the MIPS-powered SGI Octane and Octane II workstations that originally ran with SGI’s IRIX operating system about two decades ago. There have been out-of-tree patches for running Linux on the SGI Octane MIPS-based systems while Linux 5.5 is set to finally have this support mainlined for these two decade old workstations should you still be running the hardware and looking for something else besides IRIX or support in other platforms like OpenBSD. Mind you, these workstations were already succeeded by the SGI Octane III a decade ago with Intel x86. Better late than never.

Meet the community keeping obsolete supercomputers alive

Nearly 30 years after Silicon Graphics ruled the high-performance computing roost, its supercomputers have found themselves a new home with a small community full of enthusiasts - some of whom weren’t even alive during the company's heyday.

SGI machines are definitely on my list of platforms to sink my teeth into in the future. I don't think I'll be focusing on these more eccentric supercomputer-type workstations, but they are fascinating nonetheless. I'm very glad there's an active community of people keeping these machines working.

MaXX Desktop Indy 1.1 released

A new version of the MaXX Desktop hasbeen released. We linked to the project almost two months ago, but the short of it is that it is a continuation of and intends to bring the IRIX desktop to Linux. New features in this release include new xterm-330 with support for UTF-8 characters, SGI color schemes for GTK applications, a new console, new configuration files, SGI demos, as well as other small fixes.

And I'll keep putting these in the otherwise entirely useless and defunct SGI database category.

MaXX Interactive Desktop brings IRIX desktop to Linux

The MaXX Interactive Desktop a.k.a. The MaXX Desktop is the continuation of the implementation released many years back. So don't be mistaken, there is only one implementation of the SGI Desktop on Linux.

Our goal is to bring to the masses this great user experience which focus on performance, stability and productivity. The MaXX Desktop is available in two versions, the free Community Edition (CE) which provides basic SGI Desktop experience and the commercially available Professional Edition (PE) that comes with support, CPU and GPU specific optimizations and a full SGI Desktop experience. The MaXX Desktop PE is excellent for SGI customers using both IRIX and Linux platforms or for power users using pro applications.

The first release was released a few days ago. And yes, I used the SGI database category for this news item. Try and stop me.

SGI screen fonts converted for OS X

In 2003 I used PfaEdit, now FontForge, to convert screen to a TrueType font so it'd work on OS X, and I have used it as my standard bitmapped font since. I would have made the conversions public earlier, but I was concerned about whether this would be a licensing violation. It turns out the SGI fonts were released under a MIT license a few months after I initially converted them back in 2003, but I didn’t notice until today. So, here are the fonts for you to download.

The SGI font is classic. So memorable.

Rackable Free to Pick Up SGI

Niche server maker Rackable Systems said this morning that the U.S. bankruptcy court in New York handling the Chapter 11 proceedings for supercomputer maker Silicon Graphics has approved Rackable's acquisition of most of the assets of SGI. Under the deal that was announced on April 1, the same day that SGI filed for bankruptcy protection, Rackable said it would be shelling out $25m to acquire most of the assets of SGI as well as assuming "certain liabilities" that were not specified. In the announcement today, that figure has risen to $42.5m in cash. The liabilities that Rackable is assuming have not been detailed.

Rackable Systems Buys Bankrupt SGI

Silicon Graphics Inc., the perma-struggling workstation-turned-server-maker, filed for bankruptcy protection today, and was immediately bought by Rackable Systems. Rackable has signed to take on all of SGI's liabilities. The deal is expected to complete in 60 days. The combined company will target the hyper-competitive market for x86 boxes for cluster and high performance computing, internet and cloud services. "This combination gives us the potential for significant operational synergies, a strong balance sheet, and positions the combined company for long-term growth and profitability," said Rackable CEO Mark Barrenechea.

SGI To Emerge From Bankruptcy Cocoon

SGI is ready to become emergent all over again. A judge has okayed the company's reorganization plan, paving the way for it to come out of bankruptcy protection in October. The 'new' SGI will be a trimmed down version of its former self with just 1600 staff. In addition, it will have a new board of directors to complement new CEO Dennis McKenna. With so much newness on its side, SGI expects to reach profitability in fiscal 2007.

SGI To Drop MIPS, Irix, Moves to Itanium, Linux

German technology website reports that SGI will completely abandon its MIPS processor architecture, including its operating system Irix, in favour of Linux-powered Itanium workstations. SGI used MIPS and Irix in its products for almost 20 years, and with this switch to Intel, yet another major (historically speaking, that is) company abandons its architecture for the more common Intel one.

SGI To Emerge From Bankruptcy Cocoon in September

SGI hopes to emerge as a leaner, meaner organisation by the end of the third quarter. The hardware maker this week filed an amended reorganisation plan that calls for it to finish off bankruptcy proceedings by September. If all goes as expected, SGI will trim its total debt down to USD 70m from USD 345m. Some of the debt will be removed in exchange for the privilege of investing more money in SGI 2.0.

Microsoft Man’s Shadow Over Bankrupt SGI

Got $18m to spare? That's the market capitalization of one of Silicon Valley's most glamorous companies this morning, after Silicon Graphics Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The size of SGI's debt - at $664m it's twice the value of its assets - is enough to deter all but the most determined bargain hunter. Apart from a ragbag of trademarks - such as OpenGL - what growth has SGI left to offer?

Silicon Graphics Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Silicon Graphics Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The press release sugarcoats: "Silicon Graphics today announced that it has reached an agreement with all of its Senior Secured bank lenders and with holders of a significant amount of its Senior Secured debt on the terms of a reorganization plan that will reduce its debt by approximately $250 million, greatly simplifying its capital structure." El Reg, The Inq, and the WSJ have more.

SGI Moving to Mysterious Altism Line

SGI is not very willing to communicate about any strategic changes it is plannign to make in their product line up. "Thankfully, we happen to know a couple of SGI's largest customers - the kind of folks who actually receive information from the graphics beast. In order to help out the rest of you poor, informationless sods, we're going to don SGI's marketing cap for the moment and get out the good word to customers large and small. Here's where SGI is heading according to the insiders."