(or: How To Turn a $175.000 High-End SGI Challenge DM Server into a Fridge)
Too much free time will make people do the weirdest things. I've always had a soft spot for obsolete computers, especially when they had once cost a small fortune and were the absolute top-of-the-line in their hey-day but are now hopelessly out-dated. It seems unfair that after only a short time of hard work the reward for their loyalty is to bring them to the junkyard.
When we move away from the boring, low-cost world of ugly WinTel PC's and look at the high-end of the computer market we come across a little computer company called Silicon Graphics Inc. Best known for their powerful workstations like the ever-so-cool Indy, they're the kind of people who don't jerk around when it comes to building a good looking machine. If you look up "Server" in SGI's dictionary it probably says:
1. Large, extremely expensive machine that goes "Ping!". Measuring at least 25 cubic feet, heavy, bulky and giving of more heat then a nuclear power plant. It's big, it's bad, it's beautiful and makes it pretty obvious what happened to this year's IT-budget.
Step 1: How to get one
It is unlikely you'll find a high-end server at a garage sale. So your best bet is to start working for the IT department of a large internet company and wait until something breaks down... well, that's what I did.
When one of our three Challenge DM servers broke down it was decided to strip the now-deceased monster, Dua it was called, of its vital organs (i.e. memory, cpu's, power supply etc.) and throw it away. So it was carried out the door and put next to the garbage containers only to be hauled back in again just three minutes later by my colleague and me.
At that moment I had a vision. A vision of a world where server and refrigerator could co-exist. The clouds broke and a beam of sunlight hit me. The angels sang and...well, you know, sort of like that scene from The Blues Brothers. "This will be my new project!", I proclaimed and took it home. That evening, an interesting situation occurred when our CEO was standing in the parking lot with a business client. As they talked they saw two guys come out of the front entrance and throw a rather expensive-looking server rather ungently in the back of a Volkswagen and drive off.