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The IRIX interactive desktop is making a comeback

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June 5, 2017

A developer named Eric Masson has apparently 'resurrected' the IRIX interactive desktop that shipped on Silicon Graphics (SGI) Workstations in the mid-90s and now offers it as a Linux desktop alternative.

Silicon Graphics had a crack at the workstation business in the early 1990s when it dominated the then-rather-limited world of computer graphics.

The high-end computer workstation maker then decided it would try to parlay that experience into the CAD and desktop publishing markets.

Apple's early Macintoshes then led those markets but their 68xxx CPUs had obvious limitations. SGI threw MIPS silicon at the technical issue, then brought IRIX out of servers onto the desktop and managed to build a nice windowing system to match the Mac and then went into production.

For a while, SGI did okay but proprietary workstations then became an odd element once Windows came along and Microsoft encouraged makers of graphics-centric apps to bring their wares to Windows 32.

SGI then added a Win-Tel workstation line, but then had to compete with PCs-at-scale outfits like Compaq and Dell. The company kept making MIPS-powered workstations well into the 2000s, but eventually stopped.

Masson has tried to bring back some of that heritage in the form of the Max Interactive Desktop, which aims to offer an evolution of SGI’s IRIX Interactive Desktop, in his words.

SGI's new release is designed to run with 64-bit Linux Fedora 25 but it looks like it has a few success stories on other Linux implementations as well and it also supports other distributions as well.

Just to reassure the IT community, Masson isn't doing this just for the sake of nostalgia. He's created an SDK built on Eclipse, promises CPU affinity, low memory foot-print, modern GUI and Enterprise class reliability

Masson is even offering a supported Professional Edition. A community edition is offered for those who like to make a few test drives at first.

Source: Eric Masson.


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