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Terrasoft Selling Non-Apple PPC GNU/Linux Systems 103

Posted by timothy
from the slicker-than-the-color-blue-grey dept.
cyberassasin writes: "Yellow Dog Linux is selling PowerPC G3 and G4 computers called the 'briQ' with YDL pre-installed. I believe this may be one of the first non-Apple or -IBM machines to make the G-series of processors available. More info and specs are available at the Yellow Dog site." Terrasoft Solutions is actually the company, but they now sell both Yellow Dog Linux and these sweet-looking tiny yellow boxes built by Total Impact. Let's hope they're somewhat more succesful than the 1U servers Storm Linux announced before closing up shop.
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Terrasoft Selling Non-Apple PPC GNU/Linux Systems

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does anybody think that this could be a good buyout opportunity for Apple? Apple at the moment do not have solid server type machines available and with OS X poised to also penetrate the enterprise market, I am sure that they are looking at opportunites....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ah, but is it possible to install Mac OS on these things?
  • Because they allow you to "access" apple's OS without buying their proprietary hardware.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This really isn't the first offering from non-apple/ibm manufacturers. For what it's worth, the G3 series PPC-750s have long been available as embedded VME or CPCI boards (Look for Force Computers). We've had a rack of G3s at work for two years. Mind you they weren't cheap.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    its currently running a version of debian(thats the way it came to us). I work for www.OnCoreSystems.com and a customer wanted this machine for both development and as a target machine, the machine is really quite fast, and quiet (it has one small 20mm? fan in the back of it)....also the version that we have is red...i noticed someone said they were yellow...
  • by Phroggy (441)
    I notice that the briQ is more expensive than an iBook with comparable specifications. Can someone explain to me exactly how the price/performance of the briQ makes it worth even considering seriously?

    And no, the word "Linux" on the side of the case doesn't count.

    --

  • No shit?!?! Their product is called Yellow Dog Linux. How in the name of Jesus and hot chocolate did I miss THAT? Call me a troll, but I'm waiting for Blue-Baboon-Ass Linux.


    Word!

    --
    Kir
  • by kir (583) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @05:24AM (#70763) Homepage

    I'm sorry, but... ummm... they're YELLOW!

    Not blue, or red, or hell... artic camouflage (you know... the bluish white kind) would've ROCKED.


    Word!

    --
    Kir
  • You always pay for space. All rackmount equipment is expensive. And low-volume equipement is always expensive, too. Mabye the briQ cost will come down if they have massive demand.

    -Paul Komarek
  • I guess I'm picking at nits, but "With just a little EE knowledge..." doesn't seem true. "Just a little EE knowledge" *might* be enough to design a small computer. But building products is much, much harder. Despite their "high" price for these units, a little EE knowledge won't build these things for anywhere close to their price. Nor will it be as reliable. Or tested. There's a lot of engineering involved in any product, especially a small-form-factor computer. Much of it isn't even electrical.

    I just want to give credit where credit is due.

    -Paul Komarek
  • For instance, you cannot open an iMac without violating the warranty

    That's not true. You can add RAM yourself, especially in the Indigos and newer which switched from SO-DIMMs to standard 168pin DIMMs. Yes, RAM from Apple is more expensive than most of the RAM you find from third party vendors. The same is true for every other major manufacturer out there.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @06:01AM (#70767)
    The Cube was indeed fanless.

    When the Radeon came out in September of '00 and then when people added Radeons...there was a fan on the video card, so then it had a fan.

    If you look over the xlr8yourmac and macnn archives...you will find people bitching about the "noise" from thier Cube if they had a Radeon.

    Of course one little video card fan is nothing like the 747-ish sounds that emit from some PC cases and thier 4-11 fans. My Windows 2000 box has 7 fans and my Linux box has 8. My iMac has none, my G3 tower has 1.
  • Given your needs (dual ethernet, linux support), check out http://www.tri-m.com

    That looks exactly the sort of thing I'm after. Thanks. BTW, it doesn't have to have Linux support specifically, but either that or *BSD is essential. Either way, the MZ104+ looks to be completely standard PC components (with the exception of the DiskOnChip), so any of the options will probably work just fine.

  • babies.... If they were $750 or less, I would have bought one just because they look cool.

    If they were priced low, I'd have bought one, not because they're cool, but because I have a need for a small form factor Linux box. This is the closest I've seen because unlike all the other options, it comes with (or at least, you can get one with) dual ethernet ports. That immediately makes it suitable for a home firewall. It's just that final stumbling block -- price.

  • by Svartalf (2997) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @06:06AM (#70770) Homepage
    Think small. A G4 tower takes up the space of 5 or so of these, it is only about 3 or so times faster. For a render or server farm, these make a lot more sense- I can wedge 3 or so of these into a single rack slot.
  • by stripes (3681) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @08:03AM (#70771) Homepage Journal
    darwin does *all* the talking to the hardware

    Well, except for the video, which I think is done similarly to how other Unixish systems handle X11. Handing off close to raw access to the video device to anything that asks to be the window system :-)

    Darwin does not include Apple's windowing system. So your clone will have to include video hardware that OS X's windowing system knows how to talk to, or it ain't going to be all that apple compatible...

  • Total Impact also seems to have these daughter cards [totalimpact.com] that drop into an intel PCI system. With up to 4 powerpc CPUs on a card, and multiple cards per system!!

    You could keep your intel workstation, and still run powerpc applications ... Might be an interesting environment to adapt something like MOSIX to. (Load balance between multiple cards in the same system, etc.)

    In any case, this could allow for a LOT of CPU power in one box. Neat product.

  • If you want small and low power, the G3 and G4 offerings from Apple are cheaper and get you more (more peripheral ports, CD-or-something-drive, and a built in monitor!).

    iBook (500MHz) $1299-1799
    PB G4 (400MHz-500Mhz) $2599-3499

    the iBook wins in all ways, the TiBook nearly so. See Apple Store [apple.com], and TerraSoft Store [terrasoftsolutions.com]
  • by DarkClown (7673) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @04:33AM (#70774) Homepage
    This sounds familiar [slashdot.org].
  • The very first paragraph of the page slashdot links to says that yes, this box'll run MOL.

    --

  • This is a super thing for all of us who have been waiting for a G* produced by someone other than Apple, but it has some up ups and downs. Terrasoft is selling servers which are for a niche market, not really boxes that most of us or most of anybody is probably going to put on their desk. Beyond this niche market they are at least as expensive as something you would get from Apple, without the bonus of coming with MacOS for those who would be interested in a dual boot or even a video card... I am sure they have created a high quality product but it mostly looks applicable only to servers. This is perhaps comparable to (from what I have seen) most "built-for-Linux" machines on the PC side... [insert custom Linux machine manufacturer] makes great servers, but they cost a lot more than the alternatives and may be limited in certain ways...
    Nonetheless, a step forward for the G* platform, go Terrasoft.
  • by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Saturday July 21, 2001 @05:40AM (#70777) Homepage
    What nobody seems to realise about the "public source" or "open source" (choose your term. i don't care.) release of darwin [apple.com] is that apple essentially gave up control over what hardware you run os x on.


    Think: the darwin being distributed is the same darwin running underneath the user parts of os x, and darwin does *all* the talking to the hardware. And from what i've heard, darwin/os x (because of mach, and because of some other design decisions) is designed to be as easy as possible to port. So while there's no way you could get out-of-the-box mac os working with these machines, you could just rewrite darwin to support them, slap that under os x, and as far as my understanding of the APSL is there is nothing apple can do to stop you.

    Some people seem to have done something like this to get os x to run on unsupported, old apple machines. [macnn.com]

    OK, so maybe darwin *doesn't* have much use as its own operating system compared to BSD. That doesn't mean it's not damn useful.

  • No. For that use I don't think the price would kill them. They're small, you see, so they don't take up much space. And building space is expensive. They don't put out much heat. They don't use much power.

    But they are a bit pricey for personal use.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Given your needs (dual ethernet, linux support), check out http://www.tri-m.com [tri-m.com]

    No, I don't work for them, (but I do work a stone's throw away) but I am going to be trying out a board for a custom vpn type of thing.

    Pricing is around $600, but that's Canadian.

    Just a thought.

  • I would be courious to see whether anyone can get Darwin working on those things, or any other PPC based OS for that matter.
  • Just curious, but what isn't solid about their current batch of G4s? Maybe you're suggesting that they need some rack-mountable machines?
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @04:58AM (#70782) Homepage Journal
    With all new Macs the fabled ROM has gone. All new Mac use what Apple calls the 'new-world' ROM, whereby the only thing it contains is the open firmware. The old style ROM is now in the form of an image supplied with MacOS 9.x. This was done for both cost (256Mb ROMs are costly) and with the advent of MacOS X most of the stuff on the ROM was no longer of any use.
  • Don't confuse illegality with impossibility...

    There's lots of stuff that's illlegal. Doesn't stop you doing it - the trick is not to get caught :-).

  • yellowDog Linux, it should rock. I think it is a bit pricey, that's my only problem with the machine. They need to show justifucation for the price.

    My YDL2 box is solid as a rock.
  • Check out this PPC rack mount hack. http://imac.pointinspace.com/ [pointinspace.com]. By taking a used/older iMac MB and fitting it into a 1U rackmount, you can end up in the sub $1000 range. And since the iMac MBs are pretty small you might be able to double them up. Maybe update the processor http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/ [xlr8yourmac.com] if needed.

    What to do with the monitor and case is up to you...

  • The title says "GNU/Linux". The text of the announcement says "Yellow Dog Linux". Which is it? Debian or YDL?
  • I've looked all over my Slackware box, CD and installed documentation. I've even perused the Slackware web page. I cannot find any reference whatsoever to something called "Slackware GNU/Linux". Patrick Volkerding created Slackware, and he is the one that gets to name it.
  • Yellow Dog Linux (it's official name) is most certainly not The GNU System. It can't be, as a completed GNU System has not yet been shipped.

    Most certainly it is not The GNU System with merely a different kernel. Go buy the Deluxe GNU distribution, pop in the linux kernel, and it won't work. (To be fair, it won't work with Hurd either). Take any given Linux distro and merely replace the kernel with Hurd and it won't work.

    Merriam Webster's dictionary defines "operating system" as "software that controls the operation of a computer and directs the processing of programs". That sounds like a kernel to me. But I'll be generous and allow a certain amount of infrastructure as well. But it still doesn't cover bash (you can use a dozen other shells instead), glibc, emacs or gcc. It would cover ld, init and the file system, none of which on my system come from GNU.
  • My company creates very large and very expensive embedded devices. We recently shipped two new products.

    The first product (call it Alpha) was designed and created by us, but manufactured by Fujistu. Should this product be called "Alpha" or "Fujistu/Alpha"?

    The second product (call it Beta) was designed, created and assembled by us. But every board was built by Solectron. Should this product be called "Beta", or "Solectron/Beta"? Or should it be called "Xylinx/Solectron/Beta"?

    If I build a new house from parts purchased as Lowe's, I do not call my new home "Lowe's Manor". Likewise, if Patrick Volkerding created an operating system where the parts came from GNU, he does not have to call the finished product "GNU/Linux". Indeed, only a fraction of the parts he used came from GNU anyway.

    To quote Linus, "Your midwife doesn't select the name of your babies."
  • However, RMS created gcc.

    So? Gcc is used to build OpenBSD. Should we now call that GNU/OpenBSD? It is also used to build the OS that we use at work for embedded systems. Should we call it GNU/LynxOS? Or what about GNU/Macintosh OS X?

    You do not name a system after the tool chain. That is so silly that even RMS dismisses it. Next thing you know you'll want me to name my doghouse "Stanley" after the brand of hammer I used.

    Talks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

    The GNU System has not yet been shipped. It is incomplete. So far, I have not heard it talk or quack, so I have no reference with which to compare it to Slackware's talk and quack. Which, by the way is extremely similar to the talk and quack of Solaris, IRIX, BSD and every other Unix and Unix-like system.
  • They keep talking about processing power, so I think they mean render farms and cluter computing are the intended uses.
  • but have you considered some of the firewall boxes made by linksys and netgear? the linksys boxes cost between 140 and 200 (USD). the 200$ one has wireless capability.

    i've setup ipmasq and messed around with the trinityos firewall script. i've also played with the premade linksys firewall. if you need some service that the prebuilt boxes cannot provide i can understand. if you are wanting to use linux just to "use" linux i really think you should look into something prepackaged. they are inexpensive with respect to money and time.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • The ROM is gone, but I think the OS still checks something on the board before booting. That said, i'd love to know if someone can get the MacOS booting on a chrp machine.

    ----
  • With a starting price of $1649.00, why not get an imac which comes with a monitor, faster processor, and viseo card? I guess if you really need to rack mount these babies....

    Rackmount? It looks like you could use a few Briqs to build a cluster in an ordinary mid-tower or full-tower case...use an ordinary x86 system as a front end to half-a-dozen or so of these. Try doing that with the same number of iMacs (or even the guts of those iMacs).

    Then again, a bunch of rackmount cases would let you combine several of these. Imagine a Beowulf cluster...of Beowulf clusters.

  • With a starting price of $1649.00, why not get an imac which comes with a monitor, faster processor, and viseo card? I guess if you really need to rack mount these babies...

    Want rack mount? We got a Cobalt Qube I and it was both lower power and lower price - three or four years ago. There's a rack-mountable version available. Ran linux, too.

    It used a MIPS then. Just looked at their web site here [cobalt.com]. They've been acquired by Sun and are up to their fourth generation.

    It's an Intel- compatable processor (at 300 or 450 MHz), still running Lunix. Power is up to a bit more than the briQ but that includes the power supply, which the briQ's ratings do not. Upgrades to SCSI, PCI jacks, and built-in RAID 1 available.

    Low-end prices are $1,149 for the slower model (300 MHz) of Qube (450 available), $1,499 for the (450 MHz) rack mount. Note that this includes cabinet and power supply.

    So it looks to me like the briQ's in the ballpark, but you're paying $150 extra AND losing the rack mount box and power supply to get a G-series machine and a serial port, and a "standard" rather than "custom" (and server-tuned) linux distribution (since Yellow Dog also sells the distribution bare).

    I presume they're playing into approximately the same space, since they've named it briQ, which I take as a reference to the Qube. But the Cobalt machines are being pushed as (preconfigured) enterprise servers (email, web, web cache), while the briQ looks like a building block for both this and for clusters.

    Maybe with two players in the same market segment we'll see some price competition in a bit.
  • The idea behind these things is that they are very small (fits in a 1/2 height 5.25" drivebay, so either 1/2 or 1/3 U). The Raq is still 1U from the looks of it.

    Yep. 1U, 12 1/2" deep. (Their first generation had an option for two complete systems in 1U but they seem to have abandoned that.)

    No argument that there are advantages to using a disk form factor, especially for something that is intended for some form of clustering (per-customer servers, crunch farms, etc.) I've liked that stunt ever since the "big board" came out.

    (In case you're not familiar with it, it was a CP/M motherboard the form factor of the circuit board on an 8" disk drive. Piggy-back it, mount the drive in a stock rack, plug in monitor, keyboard, and/or serial cable, and you had a complete machine-tool control system that fit in a disk-drive bay.)
  • do you know anything about the rumored SiliconFruit product?

    Sorry to say, I'm not familiar with that project.

    As an Ex-Amiga user/coder, I keep a pretty close eye on the affairs involving the Amiga.

    I would like to say I have some faith that things look good for the future Amiga, but I can't honestly say that. The truth is, I firmly believe the ideas are sound and the product is solid, but the market isn't there (I don't think) and general public interest just isn't strong enough.

    Fact is -- when I think about it -- everything I want from the Amiga, most Amiga users today have gone out of their way to move away from (in the way of stupid Workbench upgrades that clutter the desktop and take up resources).

    I've sort of found a home with BSD for now, and I'm about to start working on some projects of my own.

    Whether or not I develope the projects on the Amiga, or on BSD will depend not only on the ability of Amiga Inc. to make good on the truckload of promises, but also in public interest of the Amiga platform it's self.

    Only time will tell.


    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @10:25AM (#70798) Homepage
    This is a super thing for all of us who have been waiting for a G* produced by someone other than Apple, but it has some up ups and downs.

    That wait is over anyway.

    There's the EyeTech A1, which will more than Likely get around to running Linux even if the new AmigaDos 4.0 fails to arive, but from what it looks like, FINALLY Amiga Inc. isn't just talking shit.

    First, as you can see there is a picture [eyetech.co.uk] of a new Amiga motherboard which is PowerPC based, and it fits in an ATX case [eyetech.co.uk].
    Then, for everyone who thinks it's vaporware (it might be, you know...), there is the rather convincing FAQ from Eyetech which discusses in depth [eyetech.co.uk] the ZICO STANDARD [amiga.com] from Amiga INC. for use with AmigaDOS 4.0.

    A lot of people may not have any faith in a belated Amiga Ressurection...

    ...but I've got you all beat. I have no faith left in the computer industry! So beat that! HA!

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • To my knowledge, the G-series of chips has never needed a fan mounted directly on the processor. In dual (or more) processor configs there is often a fan that leads to the CPUs' heat sink (one mamouth one), so that gets close, but it is not like what is needed for the Intel/AMD processors.
  • I talked with the YDL people at MacWorld this week. They do have one fan that sucks air in a U shape around the case. They're working on a new design that they hope to have done soon that runs on convection cooling and doesn't need a fan. It's interesting to note that Total Impact had some sort of psedo-deal with LinuxPPC announced in January, but they've switched to YDL I hope it works for them.
  • In order to enhance the feel, response, and desktop usability of the GUI interface, in Windows NT 4 Microsoft removed what memory protection there used to be by allowing the graphics system privileged access to the hardware. This was a departure from Windows NT 3.51 and the result is that now application programs with programming flaws in them can lock up the server, whereas before under NT 3.51, they could only crash the graphics system, while leaving the rest of the server intact. I mean, why would anyone want their GUI not on a desktop monitor?
  • Beowulf cluster of these!!!

    Oh, I guess that's the idea

  • Don't you know anything?

    Yellow == performance

    Just look at all the rice boys out there with their hondas adding yellow highlights..
    All you need is a racing stripe and a spoiler (always seems to work on hondas.. Nothing like downforce on the backwheels of a front wheel drive car) and you'll get even more performance!


    --

  • It's so you can set it up to be a rack mounted server.

    Get server, put video card in, install os, remove card, put back together, rack mount.. SSH to it from then on.


    --

  • Looks like there are at least a couple of fans in the uncovered box here [terrasoftsolutions.com]
  • Think small. A G4 tower takes up the space of 5 or so of these, it is only about 3 or so times faster. For a render or server farm, these make a lot more sense

    Yeah, but they're priced similarly to iBooks and PowerBooks. The 400MHz G4 is $2499, same as a 400MHz PowerBook, and the PowerBook is pretty dang small too. You could have a render farm of PowerBooks for the same price if you could figure out how to rack mount them.
    --

  • I like the noise, it keeps me sane.

    Ryan Earl
    Student of Computer Science
    University of Texas
  • The only good points about it are low power consumption/heat production, it looks cool, and its compactness. As for price/performance, you would smack that all around with a Athlon cluster that cost the same price.

    It better have some badass compilers that will vectorize code for AltiVec included.

    Still, having a little 16-node cluster sitting beside your desk would be neat.

    Ryan Earl
    Student of Computer Science
    University of Texas
  • Yeah, Terra Soft distributions, Yellow Dog and Black Lab, both target users who want custom apps that can take advantage of the AltiVec engine - a good chunk of their market is people who have clusters of Mac doing rendering and scientific applications, according to this article [101com.com] at Enterprise Linux [enterpriselinuxmag.com]. I'm pretty sure they're targeting these machines at academic users who want big vector processing clusters out of the box.
  • Imagine an AppleTalk network of these...

    Sorry. It had to be said.

    woof.

    All your BASIC are belong to us -- Gates & Co.

  • Presumably, though, a company could ship a computer with their own installer hack package along with a shrinkwrapped copy of OS X. That would probably be legal -- it's just a question of whether Apple would fulfill the orders.

    /Brian
  • But the problem is finding ATX PPC mobos. This thingy is a step in the right direction, but it's not versatile enough for the price...

    /Brian
  • That would be a great product, though -- rack-mounted Darwin server, anyone?

    But why use NT as a Mac server? Linux will run on the same hardware for much cheaper, and Netatalk is not that hard to get (though I've noticed that RedHat no longer supports it for reasons unknown). (And trust me on this -- support issues for netatalk are nonexistent -- it's pretty much plug'n'go. Not like, say, Samba or Apache.)

    /Brian
  • This looks quite similar to the Ross SPARCplug from yesteryear:

    http://www.dm-int.com/sparcplug.htm [dm-int.com]

    Neat little gizmo that many of our engineers had several years back. Though, I'll probably buy a BriQ as soon as someone ports Darwin to it.

    Sig? What Sig?
  • Imagine the hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 that would be saved if people destroyed their pentiums and replaced then with G4's.

    :)

    Think of the Environment
    Think Different
  • Ok, I should have been more specific in my post. What I meant was, can these processors operate without a CPU fan. Most of the noise in my current computer comes from the CPU fan, so eliminating that noise is what I'm most interested in.
  • by Kryptonomic (161792) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @04:46AM (#70817) Homepage
    Do they come with cooling fans?

    After having to put up with a noise polluting AMD Duron PC for a few years, I've been looking for a decent computer that would not have any cooling fans and would come in a sturdy enough case to silence the power source and hard drive noise. Noise levels should preferably be at around 30 dB and below when operating (the PC I'm using screams at 62 dB).

  • But, single system users, OTOH, would presumably fetch a better deal insofar as hardware pricing goes: for instance, a lot of cash can be saved using "PC" RAM over Apple's ridiculously overpriced RAM (PC100 or 133 RAM and Apple's RAM are basically identical-- costs aside)
    If the RAM is identical, why wouldn't Apple owners just buy PC RAM and put it in their machines? Are they stupid or something?
  • by Robokos (171328) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @04:37AM (#70819)
    With a starting price of $1649.00, why not get an imac which comes with a monitor, faster processor, and viseo card? I guess if you really need to rack mount these babies.... If they were $750 or less, I would have bought one just because they look cool. I toulg be cool to have another G4 computer in my current dual processor G4. Oh well...
  • The G3/G4 processors have a much smaller power consumption than the PIII/P4 or Athlon/Duron cores. I believe that the G4 cube at one point was sold without any fans at all. Thus, I would guess that this would be much quieter than your current system.


    -------
  • Of COURSE I can't have YELLOW! It doesn't match my carpet or my curtains!!!!!!!

  • Well I suppose given that its based on the smae stuff in a MAC, its not surprising that its insanely over priced.
  • Reminds me of the Pathfinder that someone installed a powerbook and a touch screen in. The form-factor seems perfect for an automotive installation...just add a display in the dash and presto...an overpriced car stereo.

    I do think Terrasoft makes a nice linux distro though.

    E.K.

  • I have a duron 600 oced to 800 with this fan [coolermaster.com] and no A/C running at 38 db according to my 70 dollar decibel meter [buytronics.com]....

    I bought the decibel meter to position some new speakers but it works pretty well for the computer as well. I used to run 2 out of my 3 computers in the closet with this usb switch [usb-shop.com] but it was getting too hot in there so I had to take them all out for the summer or keep the door off the hinges (gf said no). To make a long story short someone recommended that fan after hearing the one that I originally bought going at 60db+ and it has been going ever since....

  • Thanks for the info. I've been keeping half an eye on this linux/ppc thing for ages. I'm pretty strict about building my own computers and this Apple ROM thing has been lurking around every corner as I investigated the ppc platform. It's good to know it's going away.

    Why you are modded off topic is beyond me.

  • Thanks! That's +5 Holy Grail in my book.

    I was looking for a ppc mobo a few months ago, came across the EyeTech site and considered it vapor (or vapour, since it's British). But the after following your link, I see that a lot of progress appears to have been made, and that's really encouraging.

    Since you seem to be informed on this issue, do you know anything about the rumored SiliconFruit product? Their site seems to be down. For those who don't know, the project was to make a sort of "slocket" to fit a ppc into a standard BX slot 1 motherboard (along with BIOS patch). With all modesty, this was my idea. I quickly realized, however, that my complete ignorance of electronic engineering would doom the notion to an early grave. I'd love an update from someone who follows this with a sharper eye than mine.

  • I don't think so.

    You can buy lots of different ppc sbcs from lots of different suppliers. It looks like all they've added here is a tin box, yellow paint and almost-all-in-one packaging. With just a little EE knowledge, you could build the same thing yourself.

    Apple might want to duplicate the effort to get a server machine, but I think the words "Apple" and "server" are so far apart in the average IT buyer's mind that selling it would be a pretty steep hill to climb.

  • This is hardly the first small PPC server to come out. Terrasoft used to make a rackmounted box called iDitarod that came in a little wheeled rack with G3 or G4 (can't remember) chips in it. It came with Yellow Dog installed and it was yellow, too. But, each box was about 3x the size of this one.

    Also, before they were bought by Sun, the Cobalt Qube ran on a PowerPC chip and came with Gnu/Linux installed. Now it contains (I think) a Duron and a Sunified version of Linux, it's still small (7." cubed), blue and cute, though.
  • OpenBSD is x86-specific. :)

    You should be able to run netBSD on 'em though.

  • What's more, iMacs are designed to run hot.

    If it's been on for an hour or two, you can cook eggs on the top of mine.

    Well, not quite. But hot enough that, if more stupid people bought from Apple, there'd be a warning label there somewhere. (You know, like the "Warning: Coffee is Hot" stickers. :)

  • Yellow Dog.

    Silly boy. Red Hat is GNU/Linux. Debian is GNU/Linux. Slackware is GNU/Linux. Yellow Dog is GNU/Linux.

    A pattern.

  • This is so very true.

    However, RMS created gcc. Linus created the Linux kernel. These things are in Slackware, and consequently...

    Talks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Even if you want to call it Slackware. :)

  • I don't think these are really marketed as servers either. It looks more like they are targeted for use as computation farms.
  • by daniel_isaacs (249732) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @06:52AM (#70834) Homepage
    Exactly. A nice 2U like a Dell 2550 [dell.com] would be awesome. Something that meets Data Center Standards. Right now any server room with Macs in it need to dedicate more space per capita than the NT side. It's generally a nicer fit to install an NT server and Use Services for Macintosh as a File/Print server. If I could stick something that looked like a Dell or CQ in my manager's face, I'd have a signed PO by the end of the day.
  • I've noticed folks taking about benchmarks and purchase costs and so forth, asking "are these things are expensive?" or "how fast is it?" Trying to justify these systems (or any other system) without considering ALL costs, including operational costs, is pointless. For instance, if I were an ISP, I'd definitely want to consider how much electricity my servers consume. That includes calculating what it would cost to cool a server room full of them. After all, I run a business and have to pay for air conditioning, too. My point: If the power saving is large enough, speed may not be the most important consideration. It fact, an ISP might get better performance AND operate more profitably by installing 1,200 of these rather than buying 1,000 "less expensive" x86-based units. It is possible to go broke saving money. --Richard
  • seeing as how these boxes are made by a linux company who is trying to make linux a more dominant OS by providing cool hardware, I doubt they want to enourage running the macos exclusively. Mac-on-linux is fine; users are still running linux. But I doubt we'll see YellowDog shipping a mac-os-only installation anytime soon.

    ___
  • I own an old "power computing" 603e mac clone, and I'd love to see more mac clones. The mac market during the clone era was everything people wanted it to be, direverse and competitive.

    Still, while I suppose another company could try and resell briQ's with a macos-loading linux booter, i think it would suck for them that their entire success hinged on apple AND YDL delivering them product - and it would certainly not benefit either of those companies much.

    It could happen though.

    ___
  • by pdiaz (262591)
    I guess they are oriented to High Performance Computing. From the website: The briQ is a small footprint, single board, PowerPC Linux network appliance computer that can be used alone or within a cluster. The same form-factor as a CD-ROM drive, the briQ provides an advanced, energy efficient and affordable networking solution for high performance computing. The briQ requires less power and produces less heat than any other network appliance computer in its class at just 20-40 watts per node.

    I agree, too much $$$ when for the same price you can affor 2 or even 3 beowulf nodes

  • I'm sorry, but... ummm... they're YELLOW! Not blue, or red, or hell... artic camouflage (you know... the bluish white kind) would've ROCKED.

    Dude, their product is called Yellow Dog Linux. Not Blue Dog Linux, Red Dog Linux, or Artic Camoflage Dog Linux.

    Personally I like the look and the color, but damn that is expensive. You can pick up a G4 Cube for about $1K and it can run MacOS 9, Yellow Dog Linux, and MacOS X.

    Mister Black
  • yeah, could be that too... therefore they are competitors to other Linux farms on x86... (i rmemebr that article on slashdot about what happened to SGI and so on, but can't find the link anymore...)
  • I mean: am i wrong or those boxes are intended to be servers ? No video card pre-installed, small size, relatively high price, kinda "rackable": they're servers, aimed at competing with IBM servers (well... small servers...).
    They're not competitors to Apple's desktop Macs. They're not aimed at desktop use... or am i completely missing the point ?
  • This computer is obviously aimed at industrial computing because it has an overall capability of expansion and is not limited like the iBook.
    I notice that it has a dual PCI bus. Something only found on a few machine types and always associated with high reliable speed.
    I also see that the missing keyboard and monitor can be fitted on the secondary board inside the casing. This is clearly a feature that hints that this unit will do well in massive parallel setups - no excess luggage. The possibilty of having more network adapters and the fact that you can fit a secondary network adapter on that second board means that you here have a product being totally free to engage in any custom provided network interface. I would like to see firewire on that board as inter processor connect.
    Maybe I am to simple, but I don't see how I can shell an iBook to get at that. And even if I did so, then I still would have to come up with a well designed enclosure that makes sense.
    I think it is a pretty nifty little buggar.
  • I would be shocked if Darwin doesn't run on this machine. Folks have been working hard to decouple Darwin and the Apple hardware. The form factor for the enclosure is the real story. The only other real player there is RLX [rlxtechnologies.com], with their transmeta-based 24-blade 3U systems. While the RLX systems are denser, the Crusoe processors aren't as well-suited to high-power computations as the G4.
  • Bad form to reply to yourself, but, I meant to say: "Give it a nice, graphical installer..." ;)

    Back to your regularly scheduled program...

    BRx.
  • Well, I wasn't suggesting so much that Yellow Dog would do it, but that someone else _could_ do it, and easily... the prices for these briQ nodes are OK if you're trying to conserve rackspace (i.e. a renderfarm type environment.)...

    But, single system users, OTOH, would presumably fetch a better deal insofar as hardware pricing goes: for instance, a lot of cash can be saved using "PC" RAM over Apple's ridiculously overpriced RAM (PC100 or 133 RAM and Apple's RAM are basically identical-- costs aside)... also, you could make individual choices regarding hard drives, video cards, sound cards, etc.

    A reasonably priced clone product would also, of course, challenge Apple to lower its prices... or offer more enticing value-adds.

    Insofar as the MacOS goes, either the hardware manufacturer could ship a shrinkwrapped OS from Apple (as a parent post contemplated) or have the end consumer purchase a copy of the OS independently... a bit more hassle, but, people might be willing to do it if the price is right.

    BRx.
  • Well, I'm sure Mac owners who want *more* RAM buy PC RAM. However, in some systems this isn't an option. For instance, you cannot open an iMac without violating the warranty... you'd need to pay an Apple tech. to put the RAM in for you... I don't know if they're restrictive about what manufacturers they're allowed to install but I could see Apple doing that ;)

    In any case, Apple ships computers using their own (branded) RAM... it would be cost effective to build a machine from scratch using regular PC components... you can benefit from things like the highly competitive market for memory right now, among other things.

    BRx.
  • by bacchusrx (317059) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @04:49AM (#70847)
    One of the biggest barriers to entry to becoming a "Mac user" tends to be the high cost of a decent system. You can get an iMac for pretty cheap, as far as things go, but, for the same price you can get a significantly more customized (& probably faster) Intel-based system.

    The closed hardware platform has always let Mac users sleep easy in that all Mac hardware always has 100% plug-n-play support... but, still, there are those of us who'd like to *build* a Mac... or get a Mac with the specs of a G4 tower for significantly less...

    Anyways, the site linked-to above and noticed they mentioned these briQ's are capable of Mac-on-Linux...(obviously...) but then it hit me: why not develop some superbly lightweight Linux distro that was basically just a bootloader for MacOS 8.6 (hopefully OS X eventually) -- you could avoid the annoying proprietary ROM issue, by using a software ROM legitimately from the 8.6 CD (which you buy legitimately.)

    Give it a nice, graphical interface... Enter the consumer priced Mac clone...

    BRx.
  • by SumDeusExMachina (318037) on Saturday July 21, 2001 @05:27AM (#70848) Homepage
    Wow, and I thought Apple was the one doing the huge markups on overrated hardware. Apparently, they aren't alone. The lowest end of these machines (400Mhz G3) will set you back a whopping $1649 (and they don't even have video cards). That's in the neighborhood of the price of a low-end G4 tower system.

    Granted, the TerraSoft boxes are the size of a CD-ROM drive, but that is still a ridiculous price for outdated, overrated hardware.

  • Are the specs of the clusters (ram, hd) per node or for the whole system? If they are per node with the 4-node cluster, you should have:

    - 2000 MHz cpu power
    - 120 GB hd space
    - 2048 MB RAM
    for 15000 $.

    What does a comparable ix86-box cost? Can a dual-1.3 GHz / 2GB / 4x30 GB RAID compare with this for cluster-based apps? If so, It could be made for less than 7000$.

    The idea is really cool, but it's just too expensive. I hope that enough creeps are crazy enough to buy them, so another company will make ix86-based briqs for much less money. Maybe this will open a market for extensible pc's. If the load is too high, you just (hot)plug another node in it, maybe even a G4-node for graphics-apps, a P4-node for number-crunching and so on. As far as I can remember, a british company (Acorn?) tried to make such a system in the early 90's.
    ---
  • nice idea, but most of the newer powerbooks won't run with the clamshell closed, because they need to convect cool through the keyboard. they can sleep ok with the top down though.
  • These systems undoubtably have fans due to their arcitecture. The iMacs have heat sinks that are designed to convect heat throught the machine. These are designed to be packed together and therefore cannot use the same principals. Please refrain from comparing PPC processors to AMDs or x86s as far as heat. You could cook an egg on a P3. You can light a cigarette with a P4.

    ----
    It kinda feels like you're being kicked in the head.
    What?
  • There's a piece of software called Mac-on-Linux [maconlinux.org] which allows you to boot the Mac OS from Linux. I don't think it uses a physical ROM, just the ROM software that comes with the system. Now, in theory, these YDL boxes could run the Mac OS. This is included in the Yellow Dog Linux distribution.

    I'm curious to know if anyone has tried to operate Mac-on-Linux on one of these boxes, and if they have, what kind of speeds they're getting.



    --
  • I saw themm at Mac world expo they are definatly cool but when I asked about the price $1600 I thought they were just a bit to pricey. BUt they are awsome they even sell them in a cool rack i think there were about 6 or 8 of them in the rack it was the size of a standard pc case with a switch built in but the rack price $28,000 was a bit out of my range :-( My idea was a web hosying company with a wall full of these you rent them as colocated servers but again the price would kill that plan. Can't someone come up with a cheap G4 motherboard?
    I also picked up yellow dog linux 2.0 3 cd set for $25 at their booth



  • A G4 tower takes up the space of 5 or so of these.

    Dude, the thing is 2"x6"x9". You can fit at least 15 of them in the space of a G4 Tower.

  • Imagine how much more would be saved if people stopped using anything that consumed electricity. Buying a G4 from Apple is just not an option.

Whoever dies with the most toys wins.

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