Keeping machines alive - Old school stuff

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venam
Administrators
Hello fellow nixers,
All things will die someday, this is inevitable. However it has always been a thing in software hardware development to put on a certain date when the company/entity will drop support for it, or even in some cases force users to switch to newer solutions. Sometimes it goes under the term of Long Term Support and End of Life Support, other time it goes by the name of Planned Obsolescence or Built-In Obsolescence.

And here comes the subject of this thread: I've seen a lot of machines being thrown away for no good reasons other than that it's not supported anymore and I've seen a lot of other machines being brought back to life by some sort of Unix-like OS or by fetching from somewhere a similar version of the OS maintained by some stranger on the internet. There's a lot of keeping alive both of software and of hardware, the Unix community seems like the one that keeps this to heart more than any other.

What is your opinion on the topic of long term support and keeping alive software and hardware in general.


Here's mine: I find it fascinating that you can run old school software and that it's still being actively studied and worked on. You won't have to worry about things such as a digital dark age when the format of files is lost and they can't be read anymore (well some roff stuffs are still being deciphered but still it's all text).

And as far as hardware is related there's really a flexibility of choices and how much you can calibrate the "heaviness" of what's being installed. The old machines can still run fine and be brought to life while having the latest security patches. Maybe they won't be able to run the latest browser but they're not thrown away.

While on the other side of things, there are a lot, maybe too much, fanaticism about those old softwares and their descendants. The whole backward compatibility that accumulates over time also accumulates in a persons brain.

So nixers, what do you think of the relation between Unix and supporting older machines and softwares.
jkl
Long time nixers
The more time I spend (some would say: waste) with investigating old hard- and software, the more I dislike most of the recent "progress" towards a world where everyone communicates with blinking emojis instead of actual words. A week with 2.11BSD (still maintained!) would help most people to learn to love quality again, I guess. Except youngsters who never used a real keyboard. They are lost.

Even old hardware was better. I see 80s IBM hardware sold on eBay all the time, still working almost as fine as it was when it was new. Try that with a 2018 device of your choice.
evbo
Members
As to your point about 80's hardware, companies just figured out they could sell more parts if they had to be replaced every year. If I want something quality that's going to last (like a great mechanical keyboard) then I have to go to a small, independent supplier.
oda
Registered
(17-09-2018, 06:43 AM)jkl Wrote: Even old hardware was better. I see 80s IBM hardware sold on eBay all the time, still working almost as fine as it was when it was new. Try that with a 2018 device of your choice.

Most of the early computers that survive to this day had a price commensurate with that hardiness. If you drop a comparable amount today you can still get quality hardware. Though given the complexity of modern hardware, I don't think it's reasonable to expect it to have the same lifespan as an 80s box. It just has far more things that can fail.

As far as my general opinion on keeping old hardware alive, I'll keep a machine running until fixing it is more costly than replacing it. Regarding software, though older software might be more consistent / easier to understand / etc, I try to stay current and accept the changes without complaining too much.
venam
Administrators
(21-09-2018, 09:33 PM)oda Wrote: Most of the early computers that survive to this day had a price commensurate with that hardiness. If you drop a comparable amount today you can still get quality hardware. Though given the complexity of modern hardware, I don't think it's reasonable to expect it to have the same lifespan as an 80s box. It just has far more things that can fail.

Haven't thought of that but when you put it that way it makes much more sense. You'll have to invest in a hardware that has long term support and you'll be paying for the extra to have the more robust version.
jkl
Long time nixers
Except that robust hardware is not built anymore because even the building process is expensive.
lain6141
Members
Just read this article: https://penguindreams.org/blog/i-paid-18...two-years/
These two points sum up perfectly the state of today's hardware:
* The world of tech has changed dramatically in the past decade, with non-technical consumers brought into the cycle of purchasing and replacing very high value electronics at very short intervals.
* Those who want hardware that will last are turning into a minority within a customer base that simply doesn’t care.
venam
Administrators
(12-10-2018, 12:21 PM)lain6141 Wrote: Just read this article: https://penguindreams.org/blog/i-paid-18...two-years/

This article couldn't come up at a better time. It's soon my birthday and I was thinking of getting a pair of bluetooth earphones, I'll have to take a look twice now. Maybe I'll get some basic level $30-50 ones to begin with.
Thanks for the share.
lain6141
Members
(12-10-2018, 12:46 PM)venam Wrote: It's soon my birthday and I was thinking of getting a pair of bluetooth earphones, I'll have to take a look twice now. Maybe I'll get some basic level $30-50 ones to begin with.
Thanks for the share.
Usually, I am always late, but this time I want to be the first to wish. I would like to wish you happy birthday in advance :)

I don't know why, but it's always the cheap ones that go ages for me.
jkl
Long time nixers
Cheap earphones never sound good IMO.
Steph
Long time nixers
(13-10-2018, 08:09 PM)jkl Wrote: Cheap earphones never sound good IMO.

This. Cheap headphones make music sound like its echoing out of a trash can in the middle of a sandstorm.
venam
Administrators
This talk about Voyager and this thread on lobste.rs got me back thinking about this topic.
One sentence that got me is that to never add anything that could possibly hinder the future life of a product. That goes along with a team experiment where you brainstorm what could be future issues with a software in 10 years. What sort of technical debts is the team willing to take.

Definitely, simplicity is a key component to long lasting software.
jkl
Long time nixers
Ironically, I am investigating version control systems again and I found that the POSIX standard VCS - SCCS - has quite recently received project support (so it supports multiple files at once now). Nice!

I played a bit with it and I still wonder why RCS/CVS are still considered "better". Lovely tool, really. :)
fre d die
Members
(13-10-2018, 10:21 PM)Steph Wrote:
(13-10-2018, 08:09 PM)jkl Wrote: Cheap earphones never sound good IMO.

This. Cheap headphones make music sound like its echoing out of a trash can in the middle of a sandstorm.
I have a pair of monk VE earphones, they are about £8 and the sound quality is incredible. but they are not very comfy