Monday, October 17, 2011
Rainbow Dash Pulls a Kevin Flynn
The thing that you are staring at right now is the monitor for a Sun Microsystems SPARCstation 2 workstation. It's a 21 year old machine owned by a brony answering to the moniker of Hoagiebot, which he recently displayed at a vintage computer convention in Illinois. You may be wondering what this has to do with ponies. You may be wondering why you should care about what is for all intents and purposes a very (very!) old computer with a Rainbow Dash wallpaper. Well, this machine is older than some of you reading this. Actually, it's older than a lot of you reading this, if I remember my polls correctly. So it functions a heck of a lot differently than any computer you're used to handling - long story short, it is a heck of an accomplishment to have taken these wallpapers and convinced this SPARCstation to display them. And it is awesome. Come on, every so often we're allowed to geek out about this kind of thing!
Below the break, find enclosed some other images and a technical explanation of what went into this as written by the man himself. Enjoy!
As much as I wish that I could say that changing the CDE backdrops on the SPARCstation 2 took only "10-seconds flat," it actually turned out to be a significant challenge and took two hours of work that involved converting the images to the correct resolution and palette-size to display properly on a Sun TurboGX 8-bit frame buffer, converting the images to the now rarely used ".pm" (X PictMap) image format so that they could be used with the X Window System and the CDE, setting up a Network File System share on a Linux server that the SPARCStation 2 could mount to so that the image files could be copied over, and then changing the necessary file-permissions and configuration files to make the images appear as the new backdrops for the "vcfmw" user account-- on a machine has 32MB of RAM, 2.1GB of hard drive capacity, and 1MB of video memory. It was an educational experience to say the least!
In case your readers are interested, here are the specifications for the Rainbow Dash-enhanced Sun SPARCstation 2:
Model: Sun Microsystems SPARCstation 2 (4/75)
Development Codename: Calvin
Release Year: 1990
Original List Price: $14,995
Platform Family: sun4c
Microprocessor: LSI Logic SPARC IU L64811GC-40S, 40MHz, unified 64KB L1 cache, SPARCv7 architecture
Graphics: Sun Microsystems TurboGX 8-bit Frambuffer, 1MB of dedicated video RAM
Hard Disk: Seagate ST32430N Hawk, 5400RPM, Fast SCSI-2, 2.1GB capacity
Operating System: Sun Solaris 7 Entire Software Group