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liquiz
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 8:29 pm    Post subject: Which SGI to pickup Reply with quote

Hello one and all

Im a bit of a hardware nut and I have had linux up and running alpha servers and sparc systems. (Im in the process of actually turning the junker sparcs into something usefull)

My house is still recovering from the hurricane trifecta we had down here in Florida but once thats done Im thinking about picking up a SGI box to play with.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Ill be scrounging something off of ebay unless someone is in the Orlando area. Ideally I would like to pick up something with dual procs in it but thats driven by price.

Peace,
Liquiz


Last edited by liquiz on Wed Oct 27, 2004 11:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kumba
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Currently, the only Dual-Proc SGI system that will run linux AND have the kernel utilize one or more processors is the Origin system (Origin 200, Origin 2000, etc.). Octane also sports an option to have two processors, but linux on Octane, while still being very experimental, cannot make use of a second processor as the guy who ported Linux to Octane lacks a dual-CPU module with which to test.

Linux on Origin runs okay, but it's experimental. Not intended for someone looking for decent day-to-day stability. If that's what you're looking for, consider an Indy, Indigo2 or an O2.

If you consider an Indigo2 or O2, make sure you avoid the R10K (and R12K for O2) systems, as those are unsupported in Linux. Or an RM7000 O2, while extremely rare, it also has some issues in Linux (though these should be cleared up within the next few kernel releases).


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liquiz
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like the I have a couple of things to look for.
Depending on the costs I may shoot for the Octane and wait for the dual proc support to get that far. It does sound like there needs to be a call for someone to "loan" out the parts so we can get the dual proc up and running on the Octane.

I use the sparc systems for "stable" things and the x86 systems for long term must run things. Im looking at turning my quad ss20 into the firewall/router/web/ftp server for the house.

The SGI is just for learning, so if it does a bit of crash and burn I wont too upset :)

From the sounds of things the Octane is the newer hardware when compared to the Indy-O2-Origin, so that may be the better choice.

Peace,
Liquiz


Kumba wrote:
Currently, the only Dual-Proc SGI system that will run linux AND have the kernel utilize one or more processors is the Origin system (Origin 200, Origin 2000, etc.). Octane also sports an option to have two processors, but linux on Octane, while still being very experimental, cannot make use of a second processor as the guy who ported Linux to Octane lacks a dual-CPU module with which to test.

Linux on Origin runs okay, but it's experimental. Not intended for someone looking for decent day-to-day stability. If that's what you're looking for, consider an Indy, Indigo2 or an O2.

If you consider an Indigo2 or O2, make sure you avoid the R10K (and R12K for O2) systems, as those are unsupported in Linux. Or an RM7000 O2, while extremely rare, it also has some issues in Linux (though these should be cleared up within the next few kernel releases).


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Kumba
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm guessing your quad ss20 runs a 2.2.x kernel, as HyperSPARC support in 2.4 has been less than adequate, and 2.6 it is virtually non-existant.

As for Octane, no telling when SMP support will be available. The Octane porter lives in Poland, and cheap Octane parts don't really exist in Europe, and shipping from the US to Poland isn't exactly "friendly" to the wallet these days.

Octane itself, you might be surprised to learn, is about the same age as the O2. Both systems were developed around 1996/1997. Indy is older, however, being dated to ~1993/1994.


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liquiz
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2004 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It took me most of the day but I finally found a decent roadmap that laid out the timelines for the SGI equipment.

Shame I dont have the parts on hand, I work with someone who has to go back to Europe and he could hand carry it and ship from there.

The 2.6 kernel is still masked out for the sparc boxes but hopefully that clears up soon. I wont be doing anything exciting there untill the house work is finished. It sucks moving your computer equipment from room to room every night :) If the mask doesnt clear by the time my house is finished then Ill give it a try without the official blessings.

Peace,
Liquiz

Kumba wrote:
I'm guessing your quad ss20 runs a 2.2.x kernel, as HyperSPARC support in 2.4 has been less than adequate, and 2.6 it is virtually non-existant.

As for Octane, no telling when SMP support will be available. The Octane porter lives in Poland, and cheap Octane parts don't really exist in Europe, and shipping from the US to Poland isn't exactly "friendly" to the wallet these days.

Octane itself, you might be surprised to learn, is about the same age as the O2. Both systems were developed around 1996/1997. Indy is older, however, being dated to ~1993/1994.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi,

sorry to but in on this thread... but i'm also looking at buying an SGI to have a play around with...

i've been looking at getting an Indigo2, there's one for sale close by to me, and it's cheap.

i've never touched anything besides my PowerBook with linux before, so perhaps someone who knows a bit more can help me out?

first - is it possible to get Gentoo up and running on an Indigo2? have others sucessfully done so? and i'm a bit confused as to which handbook i should be referring to... is it the 'mips' Gentoo handbook?

also, this I2 doesn't have a CD drive. would it be easy to install Gentoo via a network? i've never network installed anything before. i did look for prices of a CD drive... but correct me if i'm wrong - they cost ~$700 for a compatible model that will work with the I2?! 8O

and about using a PC monitor... i've read that the monitor has to support 1024x768 non-interlaced, and support "sync-on-green"? would a modern LCD or CRT be able to be used with an Indigo2?

thanks for any help... :D much appreciated.
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liquiz
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howde Mugget

Here are some things that I have learned so far, some of which will also apply to you.

1. Synch on green - sgi like sun uses the goofy non-standard pc video output on their cards. So more than likely you end up having to purchase an adaptor to convert your pc style monitor to the 13w3w of the video out on your sgi. Lookup "linux for the ps2 (play station 2) and sync on green" the homepage for that has a good database/list of monitors that support SOG.

2. 13W3W - it cost me about 23$ to get an adapter that converted the SOG signal to something my standard pc monitor uses. See eBay and I think deep space cables.

3. cdrom - why you would build a system without a cdrom I just dont know, but SGI loves to do it. The scsi cdrom drive they use also requires supporting an odd boot block size or something like that. You can find used ones for about 10-15 on eBay and an external scsi enclosure for about 15-30 depending on if it comes with the cable. Dont forget you will need a scsi terminator for the enclosure as well.

4. Octane - the price on Octanes seems to have suddenly fallen and you can probably get one delivered for under 100. Make sure you get one that has a drive sled in it, seems people love to sell them without those.

5. Weight - Octanes and O2s are dense ie very heavy for their size :)

6. Octane2 vs Octane - pretty much this is just a motherboard change that allows you to go from 2gig to 8gig of ram (their are some minor changes in the parts in the case beyond the color of the skin). The Octane2 motherboard runs in the Octane.

7. Power Supply - Octanes come with 2 different power supplys, I think the one you want is the Cherokee (I think thats it, I just know its not the lucent model). This one is supposed to be able to handle a larger load and be a tad quieter.

8. CPU - This is a hell of a thing to rap your mind around. But it breaks down into two things. To go dual you have to buy a dual processor which still arent cheap. The processors come in 3 "flavors", R10k R12k and I think R14k, with speeds ranging from 195mhz on up. All 3 flavors in both the dual and single version will run on a Octane or Octane2 motherboard.

9. Video - If you can you want to try and get a system with "second edition" of the impact video cards. These are just slightly quicker than the 1st edition boards. These video boards can have memory added to them changing them from the plain SI to the MXI or I think SE to the MXE (1st edition vs 2nd edition). The memory isnt cheap to buy seperately.

Peace,
Liquiz
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Redhatter
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you're wanting a box that runs Linux easily... try an Indy. The Indigo2 will run Linux just fine too -- but IIRC the framebuffer isn't supported yet, so you'll need to wire up a serial console and use minicom or HyperTerminal to actually use the box.

I've got an R4600SC 133MHz box here, has been running Gentoo/MIPS happily for a while now. KDE 3.3 chugs a bit, but it's useable, if you're patient.

Mind you, I normally use this box over the network using XDMCP -- the 8-bit colour framebuffer on this box is alright, but not wonderful for general browsing.

As for monitors... I'm not sure what recent monitors support Sync-on-Green. There's a bit of a list here (it seems the PS2 also uses a SOG). On my Indy, I've happily used a Samsung SyncMaster 17GLsi, a SGI GDM-20D11 (well, that monitor was designed for this sort of box), a Hitachi CM753ET and a Phillips C20. All of these work just fine.

As for CD-ROM drives... any SCSI CD-ROM drive should work just fine... I use a Plextor 12x CD-ROM drive on my Indy (it's an internal drive, I have to pop the case off, and plug it into the 50pin SCSI cable). These pop up on EBay reasonably frequently, and with a little luck, you may be able to get a suitable external drive case with the 50-pin or Centronics connectors, allowing you to hook it up to the connector on the back of the machine. I'd be suprised if someone asked more than AU$100 for one -- unless it was brand new.

Having said that... netbooting on these boxes is a breeze:

1. Install the required packages
Code:
emerge dhcp tftp-hpa


2. Set up DHCPd -- You'll need to define a 'host' block something like this:
Code:
host indy {
  hardware ethernet 08:00:69:08:db:77;
  next-server 192.168.10.254;
  filename "/gentoo-r4k.img";
  fixed-address 192.168.10.192; # <-- DON'T FORGET THIS!
}


Note the fixed-address is manditory for bootp to work.

3. Set up some of the kernel options in /proc:
Code:
echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_no_pmtu_disc
echo "2048 32767" > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_local_port_range


4. Configure tftp-hpa. I have the following in my /etc/conf.d/in.tftpd:
Code:
# Config file for /etc/init.d/in.tftpd
# Remove the -l if you use [x]inetd

INTFTPD_PATH="/home/tftpboot/"
INTFTPD_OPTS="-l -v -s ${INTFTPD_PATH}"


5. Place the netboot image in /home/tftpboot (or whereever you set INTFTPD_PATH to).

6. Fire up the SGI box, go to the PROM monitor, and run:
Code:
> unsetenv netaddr
> unsetenv dlserver
> bootp(): root=/dev/ram0


... and you should be away...

Hope this helps.
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Anset
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

liquiz wrote:

1. Synch on green - sgi like sun uses the goofy non-standard pc video output on their cards. So more than likely you end up having to purchase an adaptor to convert your pc style monitor to the 13w3w of the video out on your sgi. Lookup "linux for the ps2 (play station 2) and sync on green" the homepage for that has a good database/list of monitors that support SOG.


afaik, apple used to use 13w3 too.

Quote:

3. cdrom - why you would build a system without a cdrom I just dont know, but SGI loves to do it.

Believe it or not; Customer demand...

Quote:

6. Octane2 vs Octane - pretty much this is just a motherboard change that allows you to go from 2gig to 8gig of ram (their are some minor changes in the parts in the case beyond the color of the skin). The Octane2 motherboard runs in the Octane.


Nope. The big diff is the gfx. Octane1 has the older impact gfx called SE, SSI, MXE the octane 2 has the newer Odysee gfx called V10 or V12 gfx.

Since Impact is basically the same as is used in the old Indigo2, that should run gentoo, I would be surprised if the odysee gfx runs on gentoo (don't know).

To be able to use the new gfx, the octanes motherboard, frontplane and power supply needed to be upgraded too. And yes, that new motherboard then suported the newer cpu's. But that not related to octane2. You can have a new motherboard, with new cpu;s in an octane 1. it's changing the gfx that makes it an octane2
Quote:

7. Power Supply - Octanes come with 2 different power supplys, I think the one you want is the Cherokee (I think thats it, I just know its not the lucent model). This one is supposed to be able to handle a larger load and be a tad quieter.


They are both noisy. Don;t put them in your bedroom if you want to sleep :). The newer gfx needed more power, hence a new ps. If you have an octane1, woth SE, etc... gfx, you don't need the new ps. Of course it does not hurt to have it (except it'll up your electricity bill a tad).

Quote:

8. CPU - This is a hell of a thing to rap your mind around. But it breaks down into two things. To go dual you have to buy a dual processor which still arent cheap. The processors come in 3 "flavors", R10k R12k and I think R14k, with speeds ranging from 195mhz on up. All 3 flavors in both the dual and single version will run on a Octane or Octane2 motherboard.


Keep in mind that a dual cpu is a single "thing". You cannot upgrade from a one cpu machine to a two cpu machine by adding a cpu. YOu have to junk the existing cpu and replace it with a 2 cpu module.
Quote:

9. Video - If you can you want to try and get a system with "second edition" of the impact video cards. These are just slightly quicker than the 1st edition boards. These video boards can have memory added to them changing them from the plain SI to the MXI or I think SE to the MXE (1st edition vs 2nd edition). The memory isnt cheap to buy seperately.


Biggest difference between those boards is texture memory. I don;t know but I would be surprised if this is used by the gentoo kernels (again, I do not know).

The boards cannot be "upgraded" . The SE is a half size board, the sse and mxe full size boards. The MXE has more space for texmem. that's about it.

Basically sgi gfx is verry funky stuff. The regular X11 drivers can't realy use them. Basically, you get an x window on them, but as far as I know, you can;t realy get any real performance out of them. Remember that those computers run IRIX, buid by us to make sure they can use every bit of power... Thise irix drivers are a pretty closely guarded secret, so don't expect to get a lot of power over X11...

The only reason to take an sgi box would be the verry fast system bus and parallellization in them. That linux can and does handle propperly. SO get cpu's, but don't go spending money on fancy gfx board that won't be propperly used under linux anyway.

just my 2.5 cents.

Anset.
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Anset
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Redhatter wrote:
If you're wanting a box that runs Linux easily... try an Indy. The Indigo2 will run Linux just fine too -- but IIRC the framebuffer isn't supported yet, so you'll need to wire up a serial console and use minicom or HyperTerminal to actually use the box.


If the rumors bout O2 are true, go for one of them. They are a lot faster and easier to get parts for... (Also, ot has apci slot you might be able to use)

Anyway, if octane runs gentoo, O2 should not be a problem.

Anset.
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liquiz
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2004 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe that the Octane and the Octane 2 will use the newer V series graphics cards. But since we are talking linux here I believe there is only support for the impact series.

The O2 is an older machine thus a bit better supported but it doesnt have as much grunt power as the Octane can have.

Keep in mind a tricked out O2 probably is pretty quick when compared to a stripped down Octane.

Its probably sound advice to spend your money on the Motherboard, the ram and the CPU. That should actually be in order of preferance which is CPU closely followed by the ram with the motherboard being something to try and fit in. If your planning on tricking out your system than the Octane 2 motherboard will let you go to 8 gig of ram.

As an afterthought getting the newer power supply should be something you try for, since it allows for a bit more expansion than the older model.

Peace,
Liquiz
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2004 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

O2 vs. Octane is an interesting thing. First off, Stan, the guy behind the linux port to Octane, is amazing, having brought Octane up to a very usable state within a matter of months. I personally put Octane as the better system over O2, but there are some issues.

For starters, O2 has a slower scsi speed than Octane. O2's internal scsi will run at about ~3MB/sec, while Octane will do 12MB/sec. Downside, is Octane can only run one disk under linux atm. There's a bug in the qlogicisp.c driver that makes for rather nasty kernel panics if you try to use a second disk. The future is in the qla1280.c driver, which can run the Qlogic-1080 chips the Octane uses, but this driver needs more hacking to "see" the 1080 chips and initialize/use them.

Octane cannot access PCI outside of the onboard PCI bridge for the scsi system. Those with a PCI Card cage are stuck for now until Stan gets time to resume work and setup probing code for PCI Cardcages. O2's PCI is flaky/experimental at best. I have successfully tested an ALi USB-2.0 card in my O2, and surprisingly, get faster disk access on a USB flash drive via the USB 2.0 card than the onboard scsi. Other PCI cards are untested, and this includes Video cards.

Octane framebuffer support is unknown to me personally, as I always use serial, but it should work and work well for console-level stuff. No X support on Octane yet. O2 OTOH, can do Console, and X support via te generic fbdev X driver. Geoman, our resident X d00d on mips, and recent daddy, even has gotten Gnome and KDE to run on O2 under XOrg.

Octanes weigh more (54lbs) vs. O2 (~15lbs?), suck more power (745watt (Cherokee) vs. 150watt (O2)), Are more fragile to mess with (Octane mainboard has "Compression Connectors", which are EXTREMELY fragile), and according to the SGI manual, requires a minimum of two people to move, although depending on strength, one person can move it (DO USE two people if you plan on lifting an Octane up high).

But the plusses of Octane are its active development. There's been some recent work for O2 put into CVS, but it's support is still generally the same. Octane, OTOH, may have SMP support soon, once Stan finishes his Master's Thesis up, and maybe even an X driver in the future..

All-in-all, it's your choice what to get. If you go O2, stay away from R10000 and R12000 models, they don't run linux yet (same problem as Indigo2/R10000 [IP28]). If you go Octane, make sure you understand that we (that being, the Gentoo/MIPS Team) considers Octane to be an experimental machine, and as such, should not be tackled by those not familiar with Linux/Gentoo.


--Kumba
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