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 Post subject: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:07 pm 
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So I've seen a lot of talk about IRIX being a great OS around Nekochan. Since I've never personally used IRIX, and have not read very much about it, I'll just ask you guys about it.

What made IRIX a good operating system? Some additional information in terms of comparison to Solaris, Linux, Windows, etc. is good, too.

I look forward to the responses to this topic, hah.


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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:31 pm 
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Probably just due to it's age but it's quite lean, my single CPU Octane2 boots up to a mere 44 or 45 processes, something you can't say about any of the BSD's, Linux, MacOS or Solaris anymore.

But I think what we enjoy the most is the Indigo Magic desktop:

http://techpubs.sgi.com/library/dynaweb_docs/0530/SGI_Developer/books/UI_Glines/sgi_html/ch01.html

Back in the day it's compilers were second to none. Sadly that's not really true anymore, as you can find out from any of the guys working to port Blender or Firefox over... :cry:

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Last edited by vishnu on Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Nuke wrote:
So I've seen a lot of talk about IRIX being a great OS around Nekochan. Since I've never personally used IRIX, and have not read very much about it, I'll just ask you guys about it.

What made IRIX a good operating system? Some additional information in terms of comparison to Solaris, Linux, Windows, etc. is good, too.

I look forward to the responses to this topic, hah.



Login to cray-cyber.org using the guest password ( http://www.cray-cyber.org/access/obtain_guestpwd.php )
Connect to the Origin 2000 ( http://www.cray-cyber.org/systems/o2000.php ) with the guest account.
type "uname -aR" ... there you have now used a an IRIX machine.

I have used UNIX in the workplace since about 1988 and Windows since about 1991, DOS before that... IRIX..? I just like it. I have spaceballs, stereographics 3D shutter glasses, wacom tablets, Software like Maya and LightWave, etc. I like the hardware, MIPS assembler, hypercube CrayLink, ccNUMA, etc. It jsut seems elegant and very well designed as a complete package. STL originaled at SGI, OpenGL was called IRISGL before SGI Opened it to other platforms, the history of the company and what they achieved in the glory days... The first time I had access to an MIPS 8 processor machine was days when 80486 and Pentiums were still around.

I like Tru64 (aka Digital UNIX and OSF/1) and Solaris as well. Most Windows develoeprs I stumble across are inexperienced and less educated, understnad little of what is going on beyond what MSFT has trained them with, not to stay there isn't a few good ones out there.. But as everyman and his dog is a Windows IT expert the average tends to pretty low.

Compared with all the toys and stuff you get on Linux these days (1) IRIX is not very exciting unless you have a certain bent... You want power, performance and the ability to build stuff and use libraries you download, stick with Linux and build a cluster of high end LinTel machines and/or learn CUDA.

R.

1. Modern compilers, software packages and libraries that build without major porting efforts.

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:55 pm 
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(Yeah, I figured it's quite far from up-to-date, due to age.)

I knew about OpenGL originally being from IRIX, yeah. I figured that everything else is way better than IRIX just due to the upkeep difference. I was thinking more in terms of the older Windows/Linux/Solaris stuff. Sorry for not mentioning that, lol.

But yeah, that seems pretty awesome for back in the 90s, lol.


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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:20 pm 
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IRIX had a distinct advantage over those other OS's; it no longer suffers from "feature creep" ... :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:50 pm 
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vishnu wrote:
Back in the day it's compilers were second to none. Sadly that's not really true anymore, as you can find out from any of the guys working to port Blender or Firefox over... :cry:


It's not the compiler, it's the crappy code

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:17 pm 
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Nuke wrote:
What made IRIX a good operating system? Some additional information in terms of comparison to Solaris, Linux, Windows, etc. is good, too.

There are a couple of reasons why I have enjoyed IRIX.

Through the 90s and early 2000s, IRIX had the most polished, sophisticated desktop environment of any UNIX. By far. I think this partly explains why it became so popular in the graphics/animation/cinema/design/life sciences industries. There were enough Mac-like influences that creative people (who were not necessarily computer scientists or engineers) could use IRIX to perform mission critical tasks for which Macs or PCs weren't quite ready for prime time; week-long renderings or computations, for example. (It might be interesting to think about how IRIX influenced Apple and vice/versa, but in another thread, I think.) While it certainly lacks some more recent desktop developments, I find that even today, IRIX has the best balance between GUI features and **NOT** getting in the way with over-hyped GUI distractions and fancy bells and whistles. It was a GUI environment that allowed you to focus on the reason why you were using the machine, instead of trying to figure out why a GUI widget that worked yesterday wasn't working today.

There was also an emphasis on system bandwidth. The hardware and software were closely integrated, and IRIX systems could often complete tasks more quickly than systems with faster CPUs since the entire system was so well optimized. This was particularly noticeable on large systems performing large tasks, like multi-CPU Challenges and Origins. In those cases, things like memory bandwidth, disk I/O, and scheduling the work of individual CPUs sometimes have more impact on performance than raw CPU speed, and IRIX was able to manage all of that extremely well.

This leads me into an area where SGI machines were a bit surprising, given their image as graphics workstations: database operations and general enterprise computing. In the mid-90s and late-90s, if you needed to run a large Oracle or Sybase database, or if you needed to run a complex, dynamic website, IRIX was often the platform of choice. I worked for a very large company that used just about every platform you could imagine, and when we did serious pilot projects for some major initiatives, IRIX came out on top several times for performance, scalability, cost of ownership, and ease of management. On those occasions, the competition included Solaris, AIX and HP-UX.

From an admin standpoint, IRIX machines were very easy to administer. Again, the IRIX advantage was particularly clear for large systems; there was no real equivalent to SGI's Performance Co-Pilot suite of tools on other platforms as recently as probably eight years ago; even more basic tools, like gr_osview, were miles ahead of the competition when they came out.

As a biologist who had some big computational problems, IRIX came along at exactly the right time to take my career in directions I couldn't have imagined. It's been a great ride!


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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:54 am 
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Josehill, your post was greatly informational, so thanks.

I think I'll make a "Curious about MIPS." topic, too. That might also prove interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:02 pm 
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It is just strong and stable like a 10 ton rock.

I've seen Unix administrator for more than 12 years and unix developer for another 5 years. I've worked with Solaris, Aix, HP/Ux, Linux, Irix and *BSD. And yes, along this time I've never seen Irix crash, until now that I'm developing irix drivers in my free time.

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:45 pm 
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Like Apple SGI focused the hardware and the software together to a purpose. For many years SGI machines were able to do things that very few other groups were able to do (IBM had some graphics stuff going in their research center, and E&S did quite a bit of graphics stuff). On top of that hardware SGI built software with an eye to usefulness and functionality. IRIS GL and later OpenGL provided a usable, simple interface to the hardware that transparently dealt with hardware differences. It didn't matter from a programming standpoint whether you were on Entry LG1 or a RealityEngine. There even were a number of intermediate toolkits (such as Inventor), and a pretty good multimedia library setup - possibly a first for UNIX.

IRIX also came out strong in multiprocessing. While the original APIs were proprietary they were there and better developed than almost anyone else in the UNIX universe. SGI also tweaked other parts of the O/S for performance or functionality - EFS works better than the other widely used options, SysV FS and 4.2BSD FFS.

The UI is also generally well designed and reasonably rational and complete, and came with a good set of graphical administration tools. In addition, SGI changed it very little over the years, so someone familiar with how IMD works on Indy IRIX 5.1.1 would be generally comfortable in IRIX 6.5.30, and even going the other way back to IRIX 4.0.5 or even 3.x doesn't have too many changes. Contrast this with Windows XP -> Windows 7.

Oh, yes. There's also ElectroPaint.

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:54 pm 
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BSDero wrote:
... along this time I've never seen Irix crash ...

Try typing a url into the location window in your file manager. About the third site you visit will crash the system. Or use the file manager to view an ftp site a few times. Or you can play a couple sound files with soundplayer, then hit one that won't play. Abort that song, it will lock up the entire system to where you have to telnet in to kill the process. There's something I occasionally do with network directories that totally locks up the desktop as well.

There are several things that will crash Irix. Not as many as Windows but still, more than we would like. Unix is not really "rock solid" ... unless your rock is on the San Andreas fault.


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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:34 pm 
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hamei wrote:
it will lock up the entire system to where you have to telnet in to kill the process.


If you can telnet in then the entire system is not locked up.

Any X11 application that does an XGrabServer and then never releases can do the same thing. Not platform specific at all, any X app that does not handle all conditions gracefully can do this.

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 10:41 pm 
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To add to the discussion.

in the Past I work at a stock trading firm that used a bunch of SGI Origin for trading. This function required something serious, this firm also use Sun, IBM, HP-UX and endless amount of Linux servers but IRIX was the one driving the trading system based on mathematical models at the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:26 pm 
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porter wrote:
If you can telnet in then the entire system is not locked up.

From the point of view of the user, it is :) I don't know of too many offices where people can go over to their neighbor and ask, "Hey, Joe ! Mind if I use your computer a sec ? I have to telnet over to my desktop and kill a process."


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 Post subject: Re: Curious about IRIX.
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 11:31 pm 
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There's a reason SGI's biggest customers of Origin2000 servers were pornsites back in the day...

I've been an admin for years for a CAE department at my old job where they used Octanes and Origins to compute military vehicle chassie designs. They were always rock steady, had a predictable compute time and were very fast UI for the applications.

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