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Linux on the O2

To: linux@cthulhu.engr.sgi.com
Subject: Linux on the O2
From: cypher <cypher@vertigo.cs.indiana.edu>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 16:50:40 -0500 (EST)
Sender: owner-linux@cthulhu.engr.sgi.com
Hey,

I've been looking for some information to start working on an O2 port and
have basically gotten the response that managmement at SGI is not willing
to release hardware specs for the O2 (a mistake IMHO). Don't get me wrong
I think it's great that they allowed the Indy hardware specs to go out the
door, even if in a limitied fashion. 

(I ran into the same problem with a Nintendo, but don't you agree that the
 64 would make a great little "Network Computer"?)

I'm guessing that they're looking at this as if an Indy running Linux
won't really be that competetive with the O2s runnning IRIX, which I can
almost understand. 

I can speak from my personal experience. I working with various research
and production departments in a university that uses UNIX heavily. I can
honestly say that we have several platforms (Alpha, Sparc, and Intel) that
are running linux in production capacity. Also we have a lot of people
using linux on there workstations (the above platforms plus a slew of
others).. I think reallity is that people like Linux because they can get
it to do usefull things on so many platrforms. 

Certain organizations within the school, who run anything from O2s to
Octanes, to a Cave/Reallity Enginge, and an Origin 2000 (ok that
probably gave away who I was talking about) are considering Linux on
high-end Intel boxes as a inexpensive replacement for a $6000 dollar O2
running IRIX. I think this is partly due to the added cost of OS licenses
and various other software packages they have to pay for. It would be
ashamed if SGI lost a share of it's hardware sales (even if it is
the only in workstation market) market becasue some freeware wasn't
available to run on it. 

I realize that SGI has a vested interest in seeing IRIX succeed, and IRIX
is probably (it hurts to say this) better than Linux when running 128 (or
soon 4096) CPUs. Linux however, is great lightweight OS for workstations
especially. There's even more value added to am SGI running Linux that can
be introduced into an evironment where multiple high-preformance platform
type are desired (ie, Sparcs, Ultras, Alphas, SGIs. HPs, etc.) but a
single operating platform is needed. 

This makes perfect sense to me, but I don't know if I'm explaining
everything in the most effecient manner. I'd be _extremely_ happy to
discuss this with someone, especially people from SGI that have some sort
of influence on getting us the specs we need.

Right now I am basically in position (not officially supported by the
university of course, but there not telling me not to do it either, if you
know what I mean) where I've been given and Indy and an O2 to work on
porting Linux while on the clock. I don't know how much better it gets,
but I'm guessing not much... I won't have the hardware forever,
unfortunately, but if I can start making some sort of progress I can
possibly convince them of the need to let me keep it. 

I hope we can somehow figure out a way for SGI to help us out on this one.
;-)

---
Todd M. Shrider                         Unix Workstation Support Group
(812)855-2627                           2711 E. 10th Street
tshrider@indiana.edu                    Indiana University,
http://www.uwsg.indiana.edu/            Bloomington, IN 47408-2671


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