Operating System Junkie

I've talked about the computers in the Lab-O-Ratory before. Today, the laboratory is really, really noisy -- more so than usual. I'm always working on something and I'm coming to realize that I'm pretty much a hopeless operating system junkie.

The photo is from a few months ago. The SparcStation 20 on the top of that photo used to be my OpenBSD 4.1 DMZ box until the hard drive died. I shelved it for a while and replaced it with a fresh install of OpenBSD 4.4 on one of the noisy 1U rackmount cluster servers from the startup I worked at in early '06. That 1U now sits in the SS20's old spot on top of the Sun Ultra 5 (which happens to be one of my primary workstations, running Solaris 10)

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me a pile of old SCA-80 hard drives -- 4GB, 9GB stuff that was going to get landfilled. I put some of them in the SS20 again, and decided to try NetBSD. I used this for the SSH Reverse Tunneling article. It's now on the top of the lower stack, below the FON and Jornada and on top of the beige low-profile server.

That's an IBM RS/6000 Model 250 -- 80 MHz (yes, really) with 256MB of RAM and a 36GB SCSI hard drive. Initially made to run IBM's AIX 3.x operating system, it still runs AIX 5.1 quite well as long as you keep the GUI from trying to start. After AIX 5.1, IBM dropped all support for Micro-Channel Architecture. Still, having AIX 5 to tinker with is beneficial to me. I have to deal with AIX (as well as Linux and Solaris) at my real job. Don't forget all the cool freeware that's been ported to AIX and Solaris!

The Dell PowerEdge server below it was going to be an AMP (Apache/MySQL/PHP) server for a client of mine who never ended up needing it. It gets re-purposed whenever I need a reasonably powerful machine or one with a lot of storage to test something on. I just installed FreeBSD 7 on it last night. This one's even more noisy than the 1U cluster server.

My wife bought a 4U rackmount case from Frogman back in the day, and it was originally built up as a telnet MUD server. Now, it's kind of the communal Windows 2000 test box. It's the HiR OpenArena server for the time being.

Then, there's the Dell Optiplex mini-tower out of frame that's still running BackTrack -- although after Mubix wrote about it, I plan on downloading Sumo very soon!

With so many of my own little projects going on and utilizing all these boxes, I'm currently running all of this in my apartment's second-bedroom-turned-laboratory:
  • OpenBSD 4.4 / x86
  • Solaris 10 / ultrasparc
  • jLime Linux (Mongo) / arm
  • Openwrt Linux 7.09 / mips
  • NetBSD 4.0.1 / sparc
  • AIX 5.1 / ppc
  • FreeBSD 7.0 / x86
  • Backtrack Linux 3 / x86
  • Windows 2000 SP4 / x86
That's not even considering that my wife's laptop is running Vista, and I'm running Mac OS Leopard on my own. I'm no stranger to lesser-known OS's either. I've written about OpenSolaris before. I used to run BeOS as my main platform at work. I've used Plan 9 before (in the late 90s) and I even helped a little bit with the now-defunct V2OS project in 2001.

What's next? I think I need to mix it up with ReactOS (Windows clone) or Haiku (BeOS clone) or perhaps try Plan 9 again...

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