[rescue] [geeks] Last Call - Ultra 5/10 parts

Carl R. Friend crfriend at rcn.com
Tue Mar 11 07:42:35 CDT 2014

    On Mon, 10 Mar 2014, Mouse wrote:

>> The list was built on the "rescue" conceit.  The idea that we could
>> take dumpstered systems and make them useful again is pretty empty in
>> 2014.
> It is?  I do it regularly.  I snag machines on their way out and put
> them to work doing useful things.

    I'd not call it "conceit" (unless the OP meant "concept") at all;
what I would call it is a desire to not see still-usable and useful
machines needlessly end up in landfills.  Far from "conceit", I'd call
that mindful environmental stewardship.

    Personally, I am a big fan of actively working "elder iron", and
do a fair bit of real work on it.  I do Solaris packaging for the
Icinga project on Netra T1 105s, and one of the front-line servers
I have at home is a Netra NFS (an Enterprise 150, rebadged, which in
point of fact is an Ultra-1 motherboard).  I find that new newer
machines tend to discourage thoughtful programming because they allow
one to iterate in tight little loops to sort out errors; elder systems
encourage thought because doing a build represents a meaningful
investment of time.

>> The Oracle deal has killed patch availability, killed opensolaris,
>> and slowly strangled the hobbyist scene.
> Only for Suns.

    The Oracle deal was a didaster for the hobbyist scene, and also
for Sun/Solaris itself as lots of companies simply started jettissioning
Sun gear due to the exhorbitant contract costs that Oracle wants to
extort from users.  The overall loss of computing "biodiversity" from
that was huge and now we effectively have an Intel monoculture and
we're one multiple-OS virus from bricking 99% of the computing
infrastructure in the US.

>> At this point we are all historians.  There's no "rescue" for SPARCs,
>> only roles in zoo exhibits.
> Oh?  So the uses I'm making of my SPARCs don't count, or what?

    I would have two things to say to the OP here, one of which would
be, "And just what, precisely, is wrong with being an historian?" and
the second would be, "There are still a lot of those systems running
in the wild, perhaps passionately kept alive by historians, perhaps
not -- but, they *are* out there, and when the Intel monoculture gets
bricked by an enemy, the SPARCs, the POWER-based machines, MIPS gear,
and other non-Intel, non-Linux, and non-Widows stuff will still run
very happily, thank-you-very-much."

> [...]  But, sometimes, I feel as though I should just walk
> out on the ice floe; the world no longer wants people like me.

    That'd be a bit rash.  Sure, we're increasingly occupying an
environmental niche, and there are fewer of us every year, but I
think it's important to keep the flame alive and to not blindly
follow the lemmings.


| Carl Richard Friend (UNIX Sysadmin)            | West Boylston       |
| Minicomputer Collector / Enthusiast            | Massachusetts, USA  |
| mailto:crfriend at rcn.com                        +---------------------+
| http://users.rcn.com/crfriend/museum           | ICBM: 42:22N 71:47W |

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