On July 14th 2009, Charles McCluski, owner of Westfield Scientific Computing, internet Linux and OS/2 guru, cooking fanatic, avid Sam Adams Cream Stout lover and most of all a dear friend, passed away.
Without ever complaining and while keeping up his joyful spirit and love for long and deep conversations on life, the universe and everything, he battled a stomach cancer that caused him a tremendous lot of pain. Only a few people knew this, and no one really knew how bad a condition he was in until he suddenly went silent. Only 59 years old and a lot, lot younger in spirit still, he had lost the fight.
We miss you, Charles - we miss your dry wit, your extraordinary beef stews, your cheeky joking about "the girlies" and the "gronk" that could mean just about anything, but we always knew what.
Rest in peace.
Last week, I decided to pick up a pet project I started once but never got around to finish succesfully; building my own OpenVMS cluster. OpenVMS is one of the oldest operating systems that is still actively developed; it was originally created as VMS by Digital Equipment Corp (DEC, in short), which was bought by Compaq, which was bought by Hewlett-Packard. While most people know Linux and its UNIX roots, this system is a totally different cup of tea.
Three different architectures of machines can run VMS: the oldest being VAX, which was replaced by Alpha, which was in turn replaced by Itanium (the HP Integrity line of machines). Getting that kind of hardware for home use is not impossible, but would be both costly to purchase and hurting your power bill - and they're not exactly quiet either. Emulation is the way to go. Hence, a new goal: getting an emulated VMS cluster up and running. In this article we'll create two VMS machines and prepare them for clustering.
Over the years, there have been a good number of decent RISC workstations: DEC, IBM, SGI, Sun and HP all had their time. Nowadays there's hardly any left - pretty much all of the large UNIX manufacturers' workstations have been discontinued. I still have mine though, and I like them too much to let go already.
Open source software offers a way to get decent, modern applications on an older machine: if you have the source, you can build it. But building every bit of software from source, tracking down dependencies, takes a lot of effort and time... or does it? Here's where pkgsrc comes into play. New quest unlocked: turn HPUX 11.11 in a desktop that is usable for day-to-day tasks.
A while back I did an article on a catch-all solution for streaming content to the Playstation 3 using MediaTomb and a big transcoding script. It served me well: every movie I had - be it avi, mkv, mp4, dvd iso, RealMedia, ... was properly handled. I didn't care for HD content, mainly because my TV was a plain old CRT tube and couldn't tell the difference between a 720x480 mpeg2 and a 1080p h.264 movie anyway.
Last month I did get me a HDTV finally, and my original transcoding script wasn't ready for it.
I'm not a developer, but I like Trac. I like its wiki syntax, and the way you can create a simple, effective ticketing system without a billion options you'll never use anyway. I like how you can disable whole chunks of the system - like the code repository subsystem, which I don't have a use for. It's easy to modify (it's python, after all) and has a billion plugins available.
What we were looking for was a system that does wiki, ticketing, has a way to set ACLs on both, and supports LDAP.
So, you've finally got an SGI of your own. You kind of like the system, you want to contribute something to the IRIX community in general and more specifically to the community that helped you making your first steps in the IRIX world: Nekochan. You're okay with building apps from source, and you don't care about having to tweak a bit here and there to get stuff to run properly.
Well, IRIX packages - tardists - don't grow on trees. It all boils down to a number of SGI enthousiasts who build software on their machines in their free time, and package it up for the rest of the community to enjoy. Now, compiling an application on IRIX isn't that painful (yes, there are exceptions of course... OpenOffice, anyone?) but getting a decent tardist from it is a totally different cup of tea.