[rescue] Interest in sun4m? Rescuing systems in Portland, OR

Skeezics Boondoggle skeezics at q7.com
Fri Jun 9 03:15:13 CDT 2006


Sorry for the length... but I need your input.

There's a local outfit here in Portland called Free Geek that does a ton 
of re-use and recycling of discarded computers.  It's almost all PC stuff, 
with some Mac stuff; most of it is pretty generic.  Their deal is that 
folks can volunteer n hours learning how to test, clean, inventory and 
disassemble and reassemble machines, pulling out all the working/useful 
stuff, and recycling the rest -- and then build their own machine, put 
Linux or another free OS on it, and take it home for free.  They teach 
classes, run a small thrift store, contribute to open source projects, and 
do lots of cool stuff.  It's chaotic and crazy and kind of a zoo, but 
they're great folks and it's a wonderful way to keep machines out of the 
landfills and bridge the "digital divide"...

My interest, of course, is picking out the diamonds in the rough.  They 
have collected over the last 6 months at least 75-100 Suns and probably 
25+ SGIs, as well as some other oddball machines.  Usually they can spot 
the classic old micros - really old Ataris, Apples, Commodores, etc. - and 
they have folks who are interested in those boxes.  I go to help identify 
the Unix stuff - I found a Tek 6130 today that nobody had a clue about. 
:-)  Old H19 and ADM3a terminals, a Maxtor XT1140 (people want a GRAND for 
those on Ebay these days!!??!), a Sun 4/670MP motherboard, all sorts of 
nifty old stuff.

Problem is, they're expecting to get deluged with 1200 more PCs a month as 
a local hospital starts dumping their old machines and upgrading - and the 
place is already packed to the rafters.  My concern is that if we can't 
find homes for the Sun/SGI stuff, much of it is going to end up in the 
recycle room, to be broken down and sold for scrap or recycled.

I'd like to gauge possible interest from Rescuers for sun4m kit - mostly 
SS4's, 5's and 20's - since that'll probably be the hardest to move out. 
There are also piles of U5's, 10's, a handful of U1's and U2's, and 
(sadly) some U60 carcasses that had been picked over pretty thoroughly. 
There are lots of internal CDROM drives, some external SCSI enclosures, a 
fair number of (big!) monitors, plenty of Type5 kbds/mice.  A random IPX, 
Classic, SS2, or U30 might be in the mix; a small number of misc. Sbus or 
Mbus modules are available.

Almost all the machines are quite clean inside, and the cases are 
generally in good shape but with old stickers and/or property tags that 
need some cleaning up.  Almost every box has at least 64-128MB or more - 
not great, but some have more.  (We try to "even out" the RAM when we find 
a box that's packed full - one of the U2's had 2x 400Mhz CPUs and 2GB of 
RAM!)  Some have 2-9GB drives, but most are diskless.  We have been 
methodically testing and inventorying each box, booting it diskless and 
gathering up machine info using some snazzy "expect" scripts over the 
serial console - we'll summarize and post an inventory soon.

And we haven't even started in on the SGIs, which are mostly Indigos, 
Indigo2s, Indys, or other desktops of that vintage.

I have volunteered to help coordinate placing these machines in good 
homes, and have shipping experience if folks outside the PNW are 
interested.  Of course, we're pushing hard to find local takers who'll 
come pick up the items, especially the monitors... but if push comes to 
shove and they have to purge all this kit to make room for the influx of 
PCs, my friends and I will attempt to locate storage and work space so 
that we can keep all this great gear out of the recycle stream.

Are any Rescuers still interested in sun4m gear?  (A 4/5/10/20 is the 
perfect box for NeXTstep/Openstep!)  Anyone still collecting up older SGI 
kit?  Are even U5/10 vintage machines starting to fall below the threshold 
for most of you?

** Please email me off-list if you have any interest. **

I will report back to the FreeGeek folks if there are willing takers.  At 
least if they know I can help place n machines, they may not be so quick 
to just toss 'em.

These guys are non-profit, almost all their labor is volunteers, and they 
will probably recycle the stuff before they put it on Ebay - Ebay is just 
too time consuming and difficult to coordinate on any scale.  So that 
means these machines will be very competitively priced (just enough to 
cover packing materials and shipping - I'll donate my time and labor to 
get them out).  Shel -- I may try to snag a dual-CPU Ultra 2 for you if I 
can, if you'd find that a suitable upgrade from your Classic to replace 
the dying Challenge. :-)

Thanks guys,

-- Chris

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