Silicon Graphics' IRIX and Magic Desktop return as Linux desktop

'Maxx Interactive Desktop' lets you relive the workstation wars and maybe do serious work

Those of you yearning for the experience of running a 1990s-vintage graphics workstation are about to have a good day: a developer named Eric Masson has resurrected the IRIX Interactive Desktop that shipped on Silicon Graphics Workstations and now offers it as a Linux desktop alternative.

Silicon Graphics (SGI) had a crack at the workstation business in the early 1990s, when it dominated the then-rather-limited world of computer graphics and decided it would try to parlay that experience into the CAD and desktop publishing markets. Apple's early Macintoshes led those market, but their 68xxx CPUs had obvious limits. SGI threw MIPS silicon at the problem, brought IRIX out of servers onto the desktop and cooked up a nice windowing system to match the Mac and hit the market.

SGI did okay for a while but proprietary workstations became an oddity once Windows came along and Microsoft encouraged makers of graphics-centric apps to bring their wares to Win32. SGI added a Wintel workstation line, but then had to compete with PCs-at-scale outfits like Compaq and Dell. The company kept making MIPS-powered workstation well into the 2000s, but eventually succumbed.

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

The new release is designed to run with 64-bit Fedora 25, but the effort's Facebook page features a few success stories on other Linuxes, and support for other distributions is on Masson's to-do list.

He 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” and is even offering a supported “Professional Edition”. A community edition is offered for dabblers. Sadly the Maxx Desktop's site was down at the time of writing, so we can't offer a download link or pricing. If that changes, we'll update this story. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Amazon warehouse staff granted second chance to vote for unionization

    US labor watchdog tosses previous failed result in the trash

    America's labor watchdog has given workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, another crack at voting for unionization after their first attempt failed earlier this year.

    “It is ordered that the election that commenced on February 8 is set aside, and a new election shall be conducted,” Lisa Henderson, regional director at the National Labor Relations Board, ruled [PDF] on Tuesday.

    “The National Labor Relations Board will conduct a second secret ballot election among the unit employees. Employees will vote whether they wish to be represented for purposes of collective bargaining by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.”

    Continue reading
  • It's the flu season – FluBot, that is: Surge of info-stealing Android malware detected

    And a bunch of bank-account-raiding trojans also identified

    FluBot, a family of Android malware, is circulating again via SMS messaging, according to authorities in Finland.

    The Nordic country's National Cyber Security Center (NCSC-FI) lately warned that scam messages written in Finnish are being sent in the hope that recipients will click the included link to a website that requests permission to install an application that's malicious.

    "The messages are written in Finnish," the NCSC-FI explained. "They are written without Scandinavian letters (å, ä and ö) and include, for example, the characters +, /, &, % and @ in illogical places in the text to make it more difficult for telecommunications operators to filter the messages. The theme of the text may be that the recipient has received a voicemail message or a message from their mobile operator."

    Continue reading
  • AsmREPL: Wing your way through x86-64 assembly language

    Assemblers unite

    Ruby developer and internet japester Aaron Patterson has published a REPL for 64-bit x86 assembly language, enabling interactive coding in the lowest-level language of all.

    REPL stands for "read-evaluate-print loop", and REPLs were first seen in Lisp development environments such as Lisp Machines. They allow incremental development: programmers can write code on the fly, entering expressions or blocks of code, having them evaluated – executed – immediately, and the results printed out. This was viable because of the way Lisp blurred the lines between interpreted and compiled languages; these days, they're a standard feature of most scripting languages.

    Patterson has previously offered ground-breaking developer productivity enhancements such as an analogue terminal bell and performance-enhancing firmware for the Stack Overflow keyboard. This only has Ctrl, C, and V keys for extra-easy copy-pasting, but Patterson's firmware removes the tedious need to hold control.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021