vishnu wrote:As far as SGI is concerned, we at nekochan are naught but a merry little ban of renegades, hence Irix knows nothing of nekoware.
That's curious. Has SGI made any comments in regards to this community?
Sure. Among other things, they linked to Nekochan on a few of their official webpages on a few occasions, and they included http://freeware.nekochan.net
on their list of official freeware mirrors. SGI staff sometimes posted here, too.
At the same time, SGI made it clear that they were very protective of their trademarks and copyrights, which some folks interpreted as being hostile to the community. I don't hold the latter against SGI, as their policies, while sometimes perhaps overly strict, generally were within the bounds of what organizations are expected to do to maintain defensible rights over intellectual property.
Regarding things like "sources.list" and a range of available repositories, it's worth putting IRIX in historical context. IRIX 6.5 came out right around the time that debian's APT system was first released. At the time, if you were running a commercial UNIX system, probably almost all of the software you ran was commercial software, so no need for a repository. If you did run open source software, chances are it was limited to httpd (eventually Apache), Perl, the gcc toolchain, and maybe Emacs.
You also probably built those from source, rather than installing them from binaries. Since you didn't use a gazillion open source tools with a gazillion dependencies you just went out to the project ftp sites for the individual tools you wanted and manually downloaded what you needed. Also, many institutional networks weren't up to the task of downloading gigabytes -- or even hundreds of megabytes -- of data at a time. If you tried to download a full BSD distribution, including a ports repository, you might even expect a visit from an unhappy network administrator. In fact, if you wanted to experiment with Linux, BSD, or a large set of GNU tools, you may have been more likely to order a shrink-wrapped CD-ROM or to go to the bookstore and buy a book with a bundled CD-ROM then you were to download everything from the 'Net! That actually was practical because the rate of version change was significantly slower than it is today, and the security environment wasn't quite as ruthless as it is today. Sorry to sound like an old man, but it was a simpler time.
Anyway, because of all of the above, there really wasn't any pressure on the commercial UNIX providers to support third party repositories. In fact, for awhile, I think SGI was the only company that tried to maintain an open source binary repository (freeware.sgi.com) and offer open source CD-ROMS with their OS distributions. (I think SUN probably was next, around Solaris 8, IIRC.) As far as community supported repositories, most commercial UNIX platforms would've been lucky to have just ONE reasonably complete and well maintained external repository. SGI had/has Nekochan (and a couple of smaller repositories managed by individuals), SUN had/has Sunfreeware/Unixpackages, and the others generally had much less well maintained bits and pieces. The market was putting much more pressure on the commercial UNIX providers to boost large system scalability and performance (i.e. hardware and kernel) than it was to support open source tools. Unfortunately, by the time open source tools gathered widespread traction beyond academia and the Linux package/repository management tools really matured, the commercial UNIX market was changing quickly, and none of the companies saw much value in building external repository support.
SGI's inst/swmgr system was pretty advanced for its time. Unfortunately, that time is frozen around 1998.