My home machines

Linux server, thebrain

Hardware: DEC AlphaPC164 500

This system has a 500 MHz Alpha 21164 CPU, 256 megabytes main memory, and a 512KB cache. For mass storage, it has a Conner CFP540S and a TEAC CD-532S 32X SCSI CD-ROM, driven by a NCR/Symbios Logic 53C810 PCI busmaster SCSI controller; a second SCSI controller, this one a 53C825, drives a Seagate ST39121W fast/wide drive. There's also a 3-1/2 inch floppy disk.

The video board is a Diamond Stealth 3D 3000 graphics adapter with 4 MB RAM, running at 1024x768x16-bit color. The net adapter is an Intel EtherExpress Pro/100.


This system has Red Hat Linux 6.2 installed. It provides local network services for my little network (but not DNS any more, due to a nasty and exceedingly stupid breakage in IRIX 6.5.x's resolver), as well as serving the NFS-mounted system disk for NetBSD/VAX development.

User workstation, yakko

Hardware: Apple iMac G4/800 (15-inch version)

Yes, this is the one that's been described as looking like a lamp. This machine has a PowerPC G4/800 CPU, with 768 MB of RAM. Mass storage is a 60GB IDE hard disk for OS and applications, a 120 GB FireWire drive for video workspace, and an 80 GB FireWire drive for DVD workspace; a DVD-R burner is standard on this model, and gets used quite a bit. There's also a LaCie HexaMedia Drive USB SmartMedia/CompactFlash/etc reader.

The iMac G4 comes standard with a 1024x768 15-inch flat panel display (the brightest LCD I've ever seen!), with an NVidia GeForce 2 MX controller, 10/100 Ethernet, and a 56K modem (which I've never used). I also have a Canopus ADVC-100 analog to digital video converter.


I've got Mac OS X, version 10.2.6, installed. It's been pretty solid, and finally makes use of the full potential of the platform. The original purpose for buying this box was to do video archiving to DVD, so I've got Final Cut Pro 3, DVD Studio Pro 1.5, and Photoshop 7 for various parts of that job. I'm also installing other stuff from around the net, as this machine takes over functions that I used to use Windows 2000 for.

Primary laptop, wakko

Hardware: Apple PowerBook G4 (12-inch version)

This machine has every available option to go with its PowerPC G4/867 CPU: 640 MB of RAM (an Apple screwup; it should be able to take more than that), 60 GB hard disk, SuperDrive CD-RW/DVD-R burner, and AirPort Extreme wireless network card.


As with yakko, this box runs OS X (as I type this, version 10.2.6) exclusively. I've installed the same software on both systems so I can get things done at home or on the road.

User Unix box, minerva

Hardware: SGI Indigo 2

This used to be a moderately powerful system as SGIs go. It has a MIPS R4400/150 CPU and 128 MB RAM, a Seagate ST34520N 4 GB hard disk, an NEC 6Xe CD-ROM, and a very nice Sony GDM-20D11 20-inch monitor driven by the Indigo 2's XZ Extreme graphics hardware. The sound hardware drives an Altec Lansing ACS-45 powered speaker system. I also have a 3Com 3C590 EISA 10/100 Ethernet card installed.


I'm currently running IRIX 6.5.17m on this system. The 4D window manager has won me over; it's good looking, easy to deal with, and Just Works, unlike a lot of others (including OSF/CDE, which has some serious breakages in dtterm, among other things). This used to be the machine I spend most of my time sitting in front of, until the iMac took over that job by itself.

Intel laptop, marita

Hardware: Compaq Armada M300

This machine has an Intel Pentium III 500 CPU, with 192 MB of RAM. Mass storage is a 12GB IDE hard disk for Windows 2000, and a 30 GB IDE hard disk for Linux; a 24x CD-ROM, a 4x DVD, and a 32/8/8x CD-RW; and a floppy drive.

Video is provided by an S3 ViRGE/MX accelerated graphics controller and a 800x600 active matrix LCD with 64K colors. Connectivity is through a built-in 56K faxmodem, and an Intel MiniPCI Ethernet 10/100 port.


This system has a dual personality: it runs Windows 2000 Professional and Red Hat Linux 7.2.

NT server, dot


The system is powered by an Intel Pentium III/550, with 128 megabytes main memory and 512KB cache. Mass storage consists of an IBM DORS-32160 Ultrastar ES 2.1GB SCSI hard disk for the system and apps, a Micropolis 1991AV 9GB SCSI hard disk for file storage, a Seagate ST34550W 4.3GB wide SCSI drive for video workspace, on a Diamond Fireport 40 bismastering PCI wide SCSI controller, and a Pioneer 24X SCSI CD-ROM, a Hewlett-Packard SureStore 6020i CD writer, an Iomega SCSI Zip removable disk drive, and an HP SCSI 4mm DAT tape drive, all driven by a generic Symbios 53C810 busmaster SCSI interface. There's also a 3-1/2 inch floppy disk for completeness.

The video board is an ELSA GLoria Synergy PCI with 8 MB SGRAM, connected to a Compaq V410e 15-inch monitor. I run it at 1024x768, in 24-bit color mode. Other peripherals include a D-Link 10/100 PCI Ethernet adapter and a Pinnacle Systems miroVideo DC20 video capture board.


The system runs Windows NT Server 4.0. I use Adaptec's EZ-CD Pro 2.0 for CD writing, Adobe Photoshop 5.1 for general scanning and editing, Ed Hamrick's VueSmart 4.1 for film scanning, and Adobe Premiere 5.1 for video work. I also have a wide array of other applications software loaded, most of which I don't use much.

I used to run OS/2, all the way though version 4. I wish I still could. The idea of running any form of Microsoft Windows fills me with a vague sense of nausea. Unfortunately, the dwindling support for OS/2 by hardware manufacturers, coupled with an increasing amount of software that requires Windows XCV or NT version 4 to run, forced me to change. (If you're wondering what XCV is, try decoding it as Roman numerals.) IBM had a great thing on their hands and screwed it up with a particularly inept marketing strategy.

VCC testbed system, slappy


This system is based on the DEC SMARTEngine platform, a system designed for OEMs to integrate into other products. It's got a 266 MHz Alpha 21064 with 512 MB of RAM. Mass storage is two 4 GB fast/wide SCSI drives, an 8x SCSI CD-ROM, and a DEC TLZ09 DAT drive. It also has a TULIP 10/100 Ethernet card.


This is my testbed system for the platform my company, Global MAINTECH Corporation, produces, the Virtual Command Center. It dual-boots Tru64 Unix versions 4.0D and 5.0, with the VCC software installed on both. I use this to provide consoles for mrdirector, plotz, mindy, mrskullhead, and newt, and the alternate console (via a Perle model 3i protocol converter) for pip, as well as other serial ports for temporary projects.

Testbed system, buttons


This system has an Intel Pentium III-933 CPU and 384 megabytes main memory on an Intel 810 motherboard with integrated graphics and 10/100 Ethernet. For mass storage, it has a WD 60 GB IDE drive and a 52X CD-ROM. There's also the requisite 3-1/2 inch floppy disk drive.


This system gets used as a playground. I currently have Red Hat 7.2 installed, but that's just the configuration of the moment.

Games system, hellonurse


This system has a 1 GHz Athlon CPU and 512 megabytes main memory. or mass storage, it has a Western Digital 6GB IDE hard disk and an I/O Magic 44x IDE CD-ROM. There's also the requisite 3-1/2 inch floppy disk drive. The rest of the system is an ELSA Victory Erazor video board with 4 MB VRAM and a no-name 10/100 Ethernet board.


I built this machine up after replacing dot's CPU because I got tired of games that wouldn't run, or run well, on NT. It used to run XCV++, but when Windows 2000's games support got good enough, I ditched that. It was my desktop Windows system until I got wilford, which displaced it.

Firewall, ralph

Hardware: Compaq Deskpro 2000

This system is a Pentium 166 with 24 MB of RAM and a 1.2 GB Seagate IDE hard disk. The only fancy hardware is a dual Intel EtherExpress Pro/100, so I can connect the ADSL modem to the firewall directly and still keep the internal traffic separate.


I use the built-in firewall facilities in the Linux kernel to do network address translation, firewall protection, and directing incoming traffic to different machines based on the port number. It's a SmoothWall 0.9.9 system, pretty much stock.

Mainframe emulator, baloney

Hardware: Compaq ProLiant 1850R

This system has two Pentium III 550 CPUs and 768 MB of RAM. It has four 18 GB SCSI disk drives on two SCSI buses, both attached to a Compaq SMART Array 4200 RAID controller, for best I/O performance and truly huge capacity. It has only the standard Cirrus Logic built-in video, but since I don't use that machine's console directly, it's not an issue. Ethernet is a builtin 10/100 Compaq Netelligent adapter.


This machine is used as a virtual IBM System/370 development environment. On top of a stock Red Hat 6.2, I've installed the Hercules System/370 emulator, and am currently running OS/360 MVT, MVS 3.8J, and VM/370 r6 on that. This is the system I did most of the development for the OS/360 on Hercules page on, and the system I do ongiong Hercules maintenance on.

Mainframe, mrdirector

Hardware: IBM RS/6000 7009-C10 with P/390 Micro Channel board

This system has an 80 MHz PowerPC CPU and 128 MB of RAM for RS/6000, and the P/390 board is an IBM ESA/390-compatible CPU which has its own 128 MB of RAM. Three SCSI hard disks, of 4, 4, and 36 GB capacities. It has no video at all; the console is a port on the Virtual Command Center system, slappy. There are two Ethernet boards installed, one for AIX, one for the OS running on the P/390 (which needs its own).


I have AIX 4.3.2 installed on this box. The P/390 host software emulates mainframe devices using AIX facilities. I use this system to see how a real IBM box behaves, then use that knowledge to make Hercules work the same way.

Experimental systems

All of these systems are run as experimental boxes, and are subject to reconfiguration at a moment's notice.

mindy: DECstation 5000/25, NetBSD

This box uses the MIPS R3000 CPU. It was the development system for software that wound up on elmyra when I ran that system fulltime as an IRC server.

plotz: DEC VAX 4000/105A, VMS 7.2

This is a VAX-architecture system. I keep it around to play with VMS, which is licensed under the OpenVMS Hobbyist License program.

newt: HP9000 712/60, HP/UX 10.20

This came along fairly cheap, and I needed to learn about HP/UX for my professional enrichment. (Yeah, okkay, it's a fancy excuse for getting another box to play with.)

pip: IBM AS/400 9402/170-2159, OS/400 4.3

This replaced an older box. It was cheaper to buy a new system that came with an OS/400 license than it was to buy just the OS license for the older box. I use it as a learning platform, and as a testbed for writing VCC scripts.

colin: Netpliance i-opener, Red Hat Linux 7.2

I grabbed one of these when everyone else was. It's got Red Hat 7.2 installed on a 6 GB hard disk mounted inside. Nothing to write home about, but usable as an all-in-one for the living room.

rita: Power Mac 7600-132, MacOS 8.1

I got this machine in a trade. It runs MacOS 8.1, and will get upgraded to 9.1 (the last version officially supported) when I can find a copy. It's the box in the finished area of the basement.

mrskullhead: Custom Z-80, CP/M 2.2

This is the first computer I ever owned. I started building it in 1977, and actively used it until 1986. It's built on an IMSAI 8080 chassis and motherboard (though I don't have a front panel for it), and has an Ithaca Audio 2 MHz Z-80 processor, a Tarbell single-density disk controller, a TEI serial/parallel I/O board, and 60 KB of 2102-based static RAM. (That's 480 devices. I'm not sure there are many microcomputer systems still running with more.) Two 8 inch Shugart SA-801R floppy drives complete the system.

Other hardware

My network also contains a few devices for specific purposes. In general, I believe in offloading work to dedicated hardware when it would otherwise get in the way of a real computer getting things done.

An Intel NetPort Express XL print server, runt, drives an Epson Stylus Color 640. The box works well when configured for the lpr print protocol, with spooling handled by dot.

Miscellaneous comments

It should be obvious by now that I'm a firm believer in SCSI. There are two reasons behind this: 1) It just works. Wanna add another disk? Just plug it in and tell the OS about it. No drive parameters to mess with, no master/slave incompatibilities, no messing around. 2) Performance. SCSI beats the pants off of IDE, even the latest and greatest Ultra 33 DMA, for a simple reason: The CPU can tell the drive what it wants and then go on and do something else. This is essential for a multitasking OS such as NT or Linux. Basically, I won't build a system on an IDE mass storage base. The biggest irritant about yakko (the Armada) is that, when the IDE disk is being heavily used, response time for the rest of the system goes to pot.

I've pulled Cat 5 cable to every room in the house except for the bathroom and the dining room. Every room has two outlets, one phone and one network. There are 10/100 switches in the attic and basement to provide backbone connectivity, and dedicated switches in the office and server room. I've got high-speed connectivity throughout the house.

In case you're wondering, all of the computers are named after characters from Animaniacs, with each one's name chosen for some attribute the computer and the character share in common.

Jay Maynard,

Last updated 16 May 2003