- This is our oldest shell server. Originally, Eskimo North started as a single
line computer bulletin board system in 1982. It grew into a Unix TimeShare
service in 1985, initially using the Xenix operating system. That system maxed
out with 4MB of RAM, an 8Mhz 68000, 2 70MB ST-506 type hard drives, and 11 serial
ports connected to modems for dial-up lines.
When we outgrew that system, I
purchased a used Sun 3/180 (16Mhz 68020 16MB of RAM, 2 575MB Super Eagles, 48
serial ports) system to replace it. When we connected to the Internet in 1992 and
began offering Internet services, this server became eskimo.com. Over time I
upgraded it to a Sun 3/280 (25 Mhz 68020), then a Sun 4/280 (40 Mhz Sparc), then a
Sun 4/670MP (4 x 40 Mhz Sparc), and eventually an SS-10 with Ross RTK-125
Hypersparc CPU's (2 x 125 Mhz Sparc), and that is what it remains today for so
long as the hardware holds up. I'm attempting to get Qemu to emulate Sparc-32
hardware and run SunOS so that I can keep the legacy applications going for
This machine has a bunch of old BSD games like Rogue,
Hack, Adventure, Trek, Phantasia, and a lot of early utilities like the Zoo
archiver. It has both gcc and a K&R C compiler, cc. It runs SunOS 4.1.4
which is a BSD derived OS with System-V extensions and some Sun specific
extensions (like an X server with Postscript built in to it).
There are a
variety of shell based mail programs like mutt, elm, pine, and BSD mail, many old
command line based news readers, and other tools. Note, some of the news readers
no longer work because they require direct access to the news spool and we now
outsource our news service. Those that support NNTP (like trn, nn, and tin) still
If you sign up for a shell account here, you get access to all the
shell servers and your files and mail are the same across the lot so you can use
different machines for different tasks.
- In 2007, I decided to replace Eskimo.com with a new shell server. I went with
an Ultra-2 running Aurora 2.99 Linux distribution. The original idea was to use
the SunOS emulation that was present in Linux to run the legacy software on
Eskimo.com however by the time Aurora 2.99 was released, the SunOS emulation
support had been dropped from the kernel. So instead, this machine just became
another shell server customers could use.
I had founded an IRC network in
1995, NewNet, and had intended to allow customers to run Eggdrops on this new
server but the Linux kernel had a problem, Eggdrops caused a kernel panic. The
newer versions of Eggdrop would no longer compile under SunOS.
2.99 was pretty much stillborn. Aurora 2.99 was never significantly updated after
it's initial release, and 3.00 never happened. I've compiled a number of tools
from various sources and made them available on this machine but with the loss of
interest in Sparc on the part of the Linux community, it's been difficult and many
things will not easily compile on UltraSparc hardware owing to issues of
endianess, or embedded assembly, or Intel specific hardware requirements of newer
There were three reasons I preferred the Sparc hardware early on.
Buffer overflow exploits were common but almost always targeted Intel. On Sparc,
they'd cause a core dump rather than grant elevated permissions most often. So
there was an inherent security advantage. The I/O capability of the UltraSparc
hardware was very good in it's day relative to PC hardware. And for a given
speed, Sparc outperformed Intel hardware significantly. Sparc no longer retains
any of these advantages over Intel hardware. For that reason, I've begun migrating
all of Eskimo North's services to Intel i7-2600 based systems.
- This server is a virtual machine running on an Intel i7-2600 based system.
The physical box has 32GB of RAM of which 8GB is allocated to this shell
server. Both the host machine and this guest are running CentOS 6.3 Linux.
The hypervisor is Qemu/KVM. I played with Xen but did not find any significant
performance gains over Qemu/KVM and the latter was a lot more
This shell server brings a lot of new capabilities to our
customers. The option of using a graphical environment, either KDE or Gnome
Desktops, an integrated software development environment, Eclipse, Office
Productivity Software (both OpenOffice and LibreOffice), and a huge assortment
of software, graphics, and text development tools. This machine is still a
work in progress but there is a lot of useful tools present now and it is
available for customers use. If you want to run a Moo or a Mud or an IRC bot,
or MMORPG server, this would be the machine to use.
Eskimo North • P.O. Box 55816 • Shoreline, WA 98155 •
Tel: 206-812-0051 • Toll Free: 800-246-6874