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SGI & The IMD4Linux Project?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the getting-corporate-assistance dept.

Silicon Graphics 28

thomas536 asks: "I have been following the IMD4Linux Project and am currently using their desktop. The project developer has recently had some difficulty receiving a response from SGI concerning SGI's licensing and a possible partnership between SGI and IMD4Linux. This has resulted in him posting his last letter on the project website. Can anybody in the Slashdot community help him generate a (hopefully positive) response from SGI in this matter?"

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Wow (1, Funny)

dpete4552 (310481) | more than 10 years ago | (#8322534)

That has to be the ugliest desktop I've ever seen.

past history? (4, Interesting)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 10 years ago | (#8322671)

Its actually moderately smexy in action. Not as nice as gnome 2.2 imnsho.

What's not clear from reading the article is exactly what prior relationship with sgi this guy has. It sounds like he has the source to all their code, including inventor and all that. Did he find a print-out in a dumpster and decide to start this project, then hope they'd climb on board? If so, he's lucky he's not a smoking boot right about now.

Re:past history? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8323088)

I suspect the reason they have not responded to his inquiries may be that they are readying their hordes of firebreathing lawyers. He obviously didn't have their buy-in before he started, and clearly should have pursued the licensing whatnot before getting this far. His letter sounds awfully demanding, like they owe him licensing or something, but I can think of a lot more reasons why they'd have a problem with this than why they'd want this program out there.

Re:past history? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8330572)

He's free to reimplement similar functionality and looks without a license. He just needs a copyright license to use icons and logos and a trademark license to use SGI's theme names and the project name. At least that is what I would assume. I don't have any more information about it than you do.

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8323315)

Clearly you haven't seen the other Motif desktops then. It's "the visual elegance of Microsoft Windows 3.1"

Re:Wow (1)

dpete4552 (310481) | more than 10 years ago | (#8323537)

Not by a long shot. Windows 3.1 is more elegant than what I've seen of that desktop by far. (and don't read any sarcasm into that comment because I mean that in all honesty)

Re:Wow (4, Interesting)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 10 years ago | (#8323705)

The chunky Motif widgets look perhaps just a bit dated, compared to todays mostly 'flat' widget looks, but that's just fashion really. Indigo Magic was an amazing desktop though, you have to use it to appreciate it. Especially the icon-zoom widget used in Indigo Magic's file browser - it had a thumbwheel along the side which you could roll to zoom in and out, and the vector drawn icons would smoothly zoom in and out. Also, there were neat eye-candy things thrown in for when you double-clicked on an icon - the icon would have an animated sparkle while the app started. The whole desktop was just nicely integrated, everything used SGI's Motif-extended IMD widgets. Really nice.

What you have to remember is that this desktop came into being around 94 or so. I'm not quite sure when, but I was using it in 95. It was just amazingly advanced, at least in terms of eye-candy :). Other systems were still using TWM or OpenLook. Indigo Magic Desktop still holds it own today against the likes of GNOME 2, even with the
unfashionable chunky widget look.

Agreed (2, Interesting)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 10 years ago | (#8330197)

Innovation well before it's time.

Today everyone is concerned with transparent windows and skins and other eye candy, and not features that make things like file managers easier to use.

Re:Wow (1)

Omega996 (106762) | more than 10 years ago | (#8370968)

I'll jump on the agreement bandwagon as well. The thumbwheel is one of the coolest ways to easily adjust icon size in a window. IMD also had drag and drop executed very well. It's a very useful environment, though it sometimes lacks the flash of some of the newer WMs. It is very useful, though...

youshould usetheimd5wm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8322554)

poist of firstingness is right here!

Fix the misspellings, for a start (1, Insightful)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8322605)

form -> from
seams -> seems

I don't know anything about the project, but from the information on the website it seems that it is an extension of SGI's source code. How did the author get the source code in the first place to extend? Why would he expect, other than verbal assurances from sources inside SGI, that he would be licensed to release the code.

Likewise, if he intends to release the code under the GPL, he is essentially forcing SGI to release their code under GPL because he would not be able to relicense the code otherwise.

But can someone explain what this project is all about? There is a myriad of things that seem to be going on, but it is hard to nail down what the project in its entirety is about.

Re:Fix the misspellings, for a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8322714)

The address is from Montreal so it's possible he isn't that great at english.

Quebec, what a country!

Re:Fix the misspellings, for a start (1)

Gyler St. James (637482) | more than 10 years ago | (#8323390)

You should read the site carefully (although even I had some difficulty with this due to misspellings). He has re-created the SGI desktop interface and applications. He is *not* taking SGI code. He should be commended for taking the old 5Dwm environment and trying to create one that will work on Linux. I do agree with you though that he definitely needs someone to help him with writing his project goals in clear and precise English, or at least do it in his native language.

BTW, your comment seems to be a very typicaly slashdot reponse, I'm sorry to say.

Someone please mod this from Insightful to Funny. :D

Re:Fix the misspellings, for a start (3, Informative)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 10 years ago | (#8323795)

I don't know anything about the project, but from the information on the website it seems that it is an extension of SGI's source code. How did the author get the source code in the first place to extend?

He didnt, AFAICT, it's a clone of SGI's Indigo Magic Desktop, including the window manager, 4Dwm (hence why his site is 5Dwm) and the widgets SGI added, as well as some of the apps. Read the information on the front page of the site a bit more carefully:

IMD4Linux is the IRIX Interactive Desktop rebuilt from scratch on Linux using today's technologies and SGI's Interactive Desktop as guideline.

The legal issues are presumably due to the use of SGI trademarks, which is hinted at in the letter, the bit where he says:

I changed the project name from 'Indigo Magic Desktop for Linux' to 'IMD4Linux'

However, it's hard to tell for sure as the site doesnt seem to have more in the way of detail on the SGI legal/whatever issues bar that letter of his. It does appear to be his source though.

Fix the Smart Quotes (TM) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8330603)

He obviously used Microsoft Word or Outlook to write the message because it is infested with MS proprietary quotation marks. Yes, I'm serious. Microsoft put curly quotes and some other symbols in the reserved range of the ISO-8859 and Unicode character sets. Non-MS-Windows computers display them in different interesting ways. Netscape on Linux shows them as question marks which makes his letter look even more horrible.

Motif? (2, Insightful)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#8322833)

Hasn't SGI been extremely negative about Motif clones? I recall the olden days when Lesstif was vital (but rarely operable) but now a Motif clone just seems like an anacronism.

Missed the site. (0, Offtopic)

g4sy (694060) | more than 10 years ago | (#8323327)

I was just thinking about looking at that project a couple of hours ago, and now it's gone and gotten slashdotted.

GPL? (2, Interesting)

g4sy (694060) | more than 10 years ago | (#8323385)

From following some of what this guy has posted on his site before, i recall him working on Open Inventor. Is all the code referred to not currently GPL'd, including IMD, or does he just want to GPL IMD alone?

What a great project... (4, Interesting)

Gyler St. James (637482) | more than 10 years ago | (#8323431)

I love the project's goal: to take SGI's well known desktop environment and re-create it to run on Linux. I'm not surprised that SGI hasn't done this before themselves or has given him any "blessings" that he's looking for. 4Dwm/5Dwm is old and kind of antiquated as a desktop, but still remains fast and stable. I have several SGI Indys, Octanes, and Indigos that I still run to this day, if only for nostalgia. I really like those Indys as they make great web servers. On the other hand, the desktop interface is antiquated and you can find most of the features in other WMs (such as Enlightenment). Either way, I don't think SGI will sue him for releasing his code. I'm afraid SGI might not even be around in 10 years for anyone to even care. Has anyone even seen the cost of buying Irix CDs? Although they still update the OS, who would buy them except for people like me who remember what it was like to work with these machines in their hayday?

Re:What a great project... (1)

Oen_Seneg (673357) | more than 10 years ago | (#8324961)

With the release of 6.5.23, there is no kernel for the Indys or Indigo/Indigo 2s and a few other older machines - paerhaps in a few moinths time we could petition SGI to release more hardware docs to the open source OS teams (Debian-Mips, Netbsd/sgimips) working on porting their os's to the older hardware - then IMD4Linux would actually have a use in emulating the desktop on a maintained OS for the classic SGIs.

SGI engineers actually told me about 5dwm (2, Informative)

abdulla (523920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8325027)

When I did work experience at SGI, I really liked the way 4dwm worked, so I asked some engineers there how I could get this running at home, and they actually told me to try 5dwm. I know that's no endorsement by them, but it shows that they do know about the project.

Re:SGI engineers actually told me about 5dwm (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8335161)

I really liked NEWS, now I want PDF extensions in X11.

Perhaps I am missing something (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#8325192)

Perhaps I am missing something. One of the first things I did when I upgraded the disk in my Indy was to put Gnome on it, because in my opinion 4DWM is a lousy environment.

Perhaps somebody could enlighten me (no pun intended) about what makes 4DWM so great?

Re:Perhaps I am missing something (4, Interesting)

OiBoy (22100) | more than 10 years ago | (#8327253)

4Dwm isn't really the great part, it's not all that different from mwm, it's the other things that make up the IMD (fm, toolchest, etc)

Things I really like about IMD:

1. Drop pockets (I just think this is a slick way to handle drag and drop)
2. The shelf (I can associate a different shelf with any directory, which has icons for the applications I am likely to use with the files in that directory)
3. The toolchest (why should a menu have to take up the entire width of my screen?)
4. The file selection dialog (being able to click on part of a path and have the file browser jump to that part of the filesystem is nice)
5. The scroll wheel for scaling. (Okay, nautilus has the zoom buttons, but the scroll wheel just feels nicer to me)
6. tagging (This lets me assign an icon to a specific file rather than everything that matches that mime-type)
7. /hosts (I have a ton of NFS shares on my network, being able to just go to /hosts/hostname/sharename rather than creating a mount point, mounting, get what I need, unmount, is very nice. This is more an IRIX thing than an IMD thing, but whatever)
8. Open directory as different user (ie, I want to grab some files from root's home directory, I can just open a filemanager window as root rather then using xterm+su/sudo/etc)
9. Better remote X user awareness (I can have a desktop configuration for when I log into X locally or from machine y or machine z, etc, etc with no special configuration required, it just works)
10. CPU Eater! (if you don't know what I'm talking about, get on an SGI that has demos.sw.* installed and check out your background options)

Re:Perhaps I am missing something (1)

Bingo Foo (179380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8334837)

Before I saw your post, I almost posted something lamenting that there is still no desktop today that implements drop pockets and the shelf. Mac OS X comes closest to rounding out your list, though. I have on several occasions over the last few years filed feature requests in both KDE and OS X for an IMD-like shelf.

If it's just the icons you like... (2, Interesting)

OiBoy (22100) | more than 10 years ago | (#8327008)

Okay, blatant plug, since I wrote this, but if you like the IMD's scalable icons you can have them under Gnome.

I created a Gnome SVG icon set of almost all of the SGI icons: .bz2.

Additionally, if you would rather generate your own .svg icons from the IRIX .fti icons, I wrote a perl script to do just that:

You can see a screenshot here:

I actually improved on the originals a little. fti icons have a very limited color palette, and simulate other colors using dithering, the generated svg files use the actual color that was trying to be achieved. Additionally, fti icons have a color called 'shadow' that is generally used for drop-shadows. The generated svg files apply a 50% alpha to the 'shadow' color for a little extra eye candy. Gnome also antialiases svg icons, whereas IRIX does not (unless you have an Octane or newer and are running at least IRIX 6.5.22, this is a recent addition)

We don't need a clone of it (1)

invisik (227250) | more than 10 years ago | (#8327344)

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge SGI fan from way back. Indigo Magic was a great environment in it's time and if you forget everything you know about any other environment it holds up well on its own. However, there are many usability issues that have been addressed in other UI's that haven't been (and my guess probably never will) in Indigo Magic.

Seems to me we should borrow the good things from it and incorporate it into KDE and Gnome. The sparkle thing on app start up is cool, do that. The simplicity of the Toolchest is great, do that. The zoom thumbwheel is cool, do that. Icons, ok.

I'm just saying we've come a long way, baby, and to want to use Indigo Magic as it is would be a good-sized step back.


Know this guy (1)

TheTomcat (53158) | more than 10 years ago | (#8365535)

I used to work with Eric Masson (he was the new "architect").

He was always battling it out with SGI on one level or another.. sad, really, since it doesn't actually COMPETE with any of their products (if you buy an SGI, you're not doing it because you like their widgets.)

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