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I’m just curious to see which old machines you use regularly, either in an office, like the Commodore which powers an auto shop, or at home, as George R R Martin’s DOS computer with WordStar

Why do you keep using it? Which are the benefits? Why don’t you use an emulator and retire it?


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    I have a Panasonic KX-t1456BE answer machine, bought in 1986, still going strong. It cost over £70 back then and has worked continuously (except for main power failures) since then.

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      I’m still using a Sun Ultra 60 (dual 450Mhz, 2GiB RAM, 2x73GiB 10K RPM SCSI) running NetBSD as a Samba 3.x primary domain controller and LDAP server at home. I’ve migrated all of the other services to other machines but the Samba migration is taking longer than expected, mostly because I’m trying to automate the domain controller setup of the new systems using Ansible… Rather sadly, it’s the last SPARC machine I have running (I used to have about half a dozen of them, all in production roles - DNS, mail, etc), but once it’s decommissioned I’ll be bringing up a 280R or v440 (need to check power consumption!) running OpenBSD as a shell server in my DMZ.

      Once I have some time and my rack properly installed in the garage I plan on bringing a few older systems back online (albeit not as “production” systems). SPARCstation 20 (one of my favourite ever machines) and a MicroVAX 3100 in particular.

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        I have a Sun Ultra 45 sitting next to me, dual 1.6GHz UltraSPARC IIIi, 16GB RAM, 2x73GiB 10K RPM SCSI, but I don’t have any use for it anymore. I wish non-x86 workstations were still a thing. The Talos workstation is now trying to secure money on Crowd Supply, but it appears it won’t succeed. The fact that it literally costs as much as a car probably has something to do with it.

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          I’ve been looking for decently priced Ultra 45 on eBay but they go for silly money, particularly the dual CPU models (annoyingly the single and dual CPU models have different motherboards, which is very unusual for Sun). I’d love a quiet Sun system I can run in the house - even an Ultra 60 (a workstation) is relatively loud compared to a modern whisper quiet x86 server.

          I used non-x86 systems as workstations for a good few years at home (Sun Ultra1/170E with Solaris 9, SGI R10K O2 with IRIX 6.5, Sun Ultra 5/360 with NetBSD, Sun Ultra 10/333 with NetBSD, G4/500 PowerMac with OS X 10.4) but switched to x86 in 2007 as fast RISC systems (particularly workstations) are just not easy to come by. Not to mention that we’re not exactly swamped for choice, particularly these days. Heck, what is the fastest RISC workstation these days - maybe a 10 year old dual G5 Mac? I haven’t looked that closely, but I think they finally have decent free OS support (OpenBSD/macppc is only 32-bit though but FreeBSD/ppc has a 64-bit port).

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        I figure you’ll like this article where the first entry should surprise the heck out of you:


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          I have a vintage early 2015 Macbook Pro, you know the ones that still had the Esc key. Tremendous machine.

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            The company I work for (a meat processing and packaging equipment OEM) recently decommissioned our aging MRP system, GrowthPower, which was written in BusinessBasic and ran only on the HP 3000. I’m pretty sure the machine we used was one of the later (late 80s, early 90s) PA-RISC based 3000s, but I’m not sure. The machine was tucked in a room that I didn’t really have access to, but I could look in and see the amber phosphor terminal that connected to it.

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              Oh, how could I forget? I also have an HP 16700A, which is a PA-RISC based logic analyzer. It runs HP-UX, I’m not sure of its year of manufacture, but it says 1996 in the boot messages. I just compiled vim 74 on it so I’d have a familiar text editor. It worked perfectly. Amazing job, vim devs.

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              I have an old router and a Soekris 4501.

              Moving tens of megabits per second was common twenty years ago and still is today; I retired the router a week or two ago after (much?) more than a decade of service. A decade of not having to reconfigure… I love that.

              The 4501 (partly by chance, partly by design) is a marvellous time server. Accurate and reliable time keeping requires the NTP server to have a good model of the hardware it’s running on, and the Soekris boxes have very simple, easily comprehensible hardware, and a correspondingly simple bios. And then some luck with the choice of… I think it was the main crystal.

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                Curious what routing performance did you get out of your Soekris net4501? Did you do NAT too? I have a Soekris net6501 that I use a file server, but it’s way too slow for that, so I was thinking of repurposing it as a router. But I am not sure it can manage 250+50 Mbps.

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                  I’m not using that net4501 as a router. The 6501 should route 300Mbps easily unless your idea of a router is something whose main job is something other than routing packets.

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                    Good to know, if it’s good enough I will probably buy another 6501 to do a CARP configuration under OpenBSD.

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                  You didn’t say what kind of old router you had that lasted a decade without reconfiguration. I don’t mess with enough routers to know whether that’s normal. Was the uptime similarly good?

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                    It’s reasonably normal. Good routers are built for longevity. Router manufacturers don’t squeeze the last MHz out of the CPU clock, they choose long lifetime, AKA low probability of breaking while deployed a long way away from the closest pair of hands.

                    In this case a Mikrotik. I have a Ciso that may be approaching the same age, but I don’t use that for production any more.

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                      Makes sense. Still appreciate the mention of Mikrotik since I hadn’t heard of them. Surprising given the financials and market share they have. I’m putting them on the list of companies to try to talk into doing a secure, open-source router. The low cost of living there could help with the labor side of such a project.

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                  Well, it’s not a machine, but I have two Samsung 213T monitors from 2003. They were my primary displays until about 2010, now my primary display is a 5k iMac, but I still use them. They are PVA (or MVA?), not IPS, which is hard to find these days, 4:3, which is also hard to find these days, have great contrast (don’t just believe the specs, they have actual better contrast that most displays these days, certainly better than the iMac) and work just fine when hardware calibrated to a D50 white point.

                  To be fair, now that high DPI displays are a thing, I will probably want to replace them soon. For me, high DPI displays are the most important innovation in computing in the last 20 years. It changed everything for me.

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                    Hardly retro, but I run an Eee PC 701 from 2008 for various low-performance tasks (primarily as a IPv6 tunnel endpoint).

                    Also the only 32-bit x86 machine in my flat.