What makes a good machine?
#1
What makes a good machine?
The title of the topic says it all:

What makes a good machine (computer!) in your eyes? What features are a must have and why? And what machine(s) do you consider (a) good machine(s)?

For me the following things come to my mind right now:
  • supports serial console down to the firmware level
    Because I want to be able to control it remotely without the need for a glass console, so actually a net console would also be OK for me. A combination of both, e.g. like Sun ALOM would be even better.
  • netboots out of the box
    Because I want to be able to use my machines diskless (no on-disk FS support needed in boot loader (avoids a lot of possible problems!), no need for old disk or disc or floppy disk or tape drives and respective media)
  • remote control (power on, power off, reset and such things)
    Because I don't want to manually control my machines but via software, especially if they're installed far away from my lab. I also consider "automatic power on after power loss" or the existence of a real power switch that can activate the machine a sort of remote control.

A few examples for good machines in my eyes:
  • SGI Origin 200
  • SGI Octane(2)
  • Sun Enterprise 3500 and similar
  • Sun SunFire V240 and similar
  • HP c8000
  • HP rp3440 and similar
  • HP AlphaServer DS25 and similar

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johnnym
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08-09-2018, 10:06 PM
#2
Re: What makes a good machine?
For me, it depends on the context.

As far as a daily driver goes, it must be compact, silent, powerful and energy efficient and must not run MicroSoft Windows. (It must just work when I power it up!)

Form a hobbyest point of view, it must be interesting in terms of it's architecture and absolutely must be graphics capable, with the most interesting graphical hardware possible. (The only non-graphical machines that interest me are the original Cray machines that Seymour Cray designed.)

It must also have lots interesting period specific software available for its original operating system. (This is unfortunately where digital and SUN fall flat in my opinion, even tough their hardware is interesting.)

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Irinikus
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08-10-2018, 01:43 PM
#3
Re: What makes a good machine?
Irinikus post_id=2167 time=1533908580 user_id=62 Wrote:As far as a daily driver goes, it must be compact, silent, powerful and energy efficient and must not run MicroSoft Windows. (It must just work when I power it up!)

As a daily driver Windows is actually the best choice for a operating system. There is largest selection of software available for it and also generally has the best versions of them. Direct 3D will run rings around OpenGL, for example with my mid-level Nvidia gaming card Metasequoia rotates same model over 300 FPS on screen that OpenGL only manages about 10-15 FPS. Direct3D option also has more features and looks better on screen. Windows is not really my favourite operating system but it will not matter, when is only used to run the software I need. Personally I like the user interface of RISC OS and it has lots of great software, but there are also some things that are not really possible or practical with it.

Generally speaking I am having lot more fun nowdays with old 8-bit systems than with the more modern and powerful systems. Sometimes less is more and limitations also make computers more interesting and fun to use. So what makes a good machine? For me it will be the fun factor and otherwise machine is only as good as the software it has available.
theinonen
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08-11-2018, 10:05 AM
#4
Re: What makes a good machine?
For me, it has to be a system running an OS that I feel in control of, and that I can depend on. Having a decent software library is also very important. IRIX for me doesn't make the cut as a daily driver due to lack of software and the age of the associated hardware - my SGIs are just for hobby use. I'm currently happy with my main PC - Ryzen 7 1700X system running Windows 7. It's quiet, fast, energy efficient and as it doesn't run Windows 10, I have full control over when updates are installed, when to reboot it, etc.

I do run Linux on my NUC, and for all the positives of it, there's still a lot of irritating niggles even for a modern and well-supported distro (currently running Ubuntu LTS on it).

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Trippynet
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08-11-2018, 12:54 PM
#5
Re: What makes a good machine?
Trippynet post_id=2215 time=1533992048 user_id=67 Wrote:IRIX for me doesn't make the cut as a daily driver due to lack of software and the age of the associated hardware

For me it really just comes down to us not having a recent browser, if we could address that I would be perfectly fine with running IRIX as a primary desktop OS again for most stuff
gijoe77
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08-12-2018, 04:23 AM
#6
Re: What makes a good machine?
Trippynet post_id=2215 time=1533992048 user_id=67 Wrote:IRIX for me doesn't make the cut as a daily driver due to lack of software and the age of the associated hardware

I agree. Unfortunately, the only UNIX systems, I can think of, that fit the bill for daily driver use are the newer Sun workstations. As long as they can run Solaris 10, they wouldn't be too bad.

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thunderbird32
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08-23-2018, 06:14 PM
#7
Re: What makes a good machine?
theinonen post_id=2200 time=1533981955 user_id=314 Wrote:As a daily driver Windows is actually the best choice for a operating system.

Really? At home I have MacOS, Windows 10, and Linux, and Windows (plus FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi) and I have to say that Windows gets by far the least amount of usage. I had to use Windows for some programming projects a few months back and it kind irritated me every time I sat down to use it. And I actually think that Windows 10 is a better OS than most MS releases of the last few years. (My favorite version of Windows is still NT4.) I suppose I might think differently if I were a gamer, but for web/office stuff, I'd much rather be on a Mac or even Ubuntu. And I'm not just speaking out of dislike for MS - they're in many ways a much better company than they used to be, and probably better corporate citizens than Apple at this point.
matyas
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08-23-2018, 09:05 PM
#8
Re: What makes a good machine?
I mostly just run those few software that I need at full screen, so the operating system at the background does not really make a huge difference.

Not really a fan of current Windows design choices but as long it stays out of the way, it will do just fine for that purpose. I agree, that for toying around and playing with actual operating system, there are much better and more fun options than Windows.
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08-24-2018, 03:20 PM


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