Silicon Graphics rOctane
Das rubbernecken sightseenen keepen das cotten picken hands in das pockets, so relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.
From the blinkenlights

Silicon Graphics Inc. used to be a cool company. Its computers have always intrigued me whenever I had the chance to work with them. Pure mind-blowing awe when I first saw the texture-mapped tail of the F-14 that came with the flightsimulator on the VGX graphics workstations. The first job I got was programming a six-pipe Onyx2 that was later upgraded to a 12-pipe configuration. That was AFAIK the largest Onyx2 installation in Europe at the time (1999). Such a pity that we never had the chance to really exploit all that potential...

Then came a bit of trouble-some time when SGI decided to manufacture intel-based Windows NT workstations (with a unified-memory design like the O2 which is a nice idea). They also sold a Linux version based on RedHat. Unfortunately the demo-model we got was so horribly mis-configured that not even Inventor would run out-of-the-box that we never gave it second thought (especially at the price). Then some market-droid (I suppose) had the dumb-ass idea that a) the company is no longer "Silicon Graphics" but "sgi" and b) to get rid of the logo (they've reacquired that thank goodness). That also was around the time that nvidia hardware and more important drivers for Linux were stable enough to run Performer. Another mind-blowing experience to see Performer town run about as fast on a 400 MHz Pentium II as on an Onyx desktop...

One cool thing about SGI (apart from the logo) was that they from time to time offered nice hardware case 'hacks'. A friend of mine got an IndyCase at CeBIT. The Indigo espresso machine was also memorable. In 1999 they offered the 'rOctane', a HiFi system built into an Octane case. At only about DM 500.- (€ ~250) it was a real bargain considering that the JVC HiFi mini-tower cost about as much. So I got one.

For most of the time it stood in my kitchen playing radio and the odd CD. When I moved into my appartment in June 2005 one of the moving people asked me it that was a server or a HiFi. It kind of struck me. The case is easily roomy enough to host an ITX board or some kind of SBC. So it was decided.

I'll keep you posted.

The Plan

The question is: what do I want for that. Blinkenlights in general are a must. Something networked. Maybe additional audio features, maybe turn it into an alarm clock with on-line calendar or something. No additional power supply should be necessary.

The first thing that came to my mind was to activate the light bar under the hatch. On the original Octane it lit up when the system was powered on but on the 'rOctane' it's completely inactive. So part 1 of the plan is to fix some green LED behind the piece (it's clear plastic). Three looks like a good number. Of course simple on/off is rather boring so it'll be a little more dramatic.


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Last modified: Feb 11 2006
Copyright ©2005 Ulrich Hertlein