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January 20, 2005

A Brief History of Golem

When I came to UT, I decided that

  1. I was going to be my own system manager.
  2. My machine name was not going to change, even though the hardware surely would.
  3. I was going to run a decent operating system (NeXTStep, and later MacOSX).
  4. Someday, I would get an office with a window.
Three Generations of Computer, One Domain Name
PurchasedCPURAMHard Drive
HP 9000/712Feb, 199580 MHz PA/RISC64 MB2 GB
Macintosh G4Feb, 2001466 MHz G41 GB30 GB
Macintosh G5Jan, 2005dual 2.5 GHz G5’s2.5 6.5 GB250 GB

Today, generation III arrived.

  1. I unpacked the box.
  2. Hooked the FireWire cable up to Golem II, and booted into FireWire Target Disk Mode.
  3. Reformatted and partitioned the hard drive.
  4. Used CarbonCopyCloner to clone Golem II’s hard drive onto the new one1.
  5. After dinner and putting the kids to bed, returned to the office to swap out the old machine and replace it with the new. (It takes a while to copy 25 GB of files, even over FireWire.)

First impressions are that it’s a lot quieter than Golem II, in addition to being alarmingly faster.

Oh, and all of this took place in my new office. The one with the window.

Update (1/25/2005):

At Srijith’s request, some pictures of the new office.
The new office, with Golem III underneath the desk.
Golem I and Golem II.
View to the UT Tower.

1 My friend at Apple, who write the scripts used by their Phone Support people, turns white as a sheet and starts to stammer when she hears about my method for upgrading machines. But I can attest that it works flawlessly.

Posted by distler at January 20, 2005 2:01 AM

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8 Comments & 2 Trackbacks

Re: A Brief History of Golem

A window? Nice!

I find myself in the market for a Mac that will compile Firefox in a tolerable amount of time: any advice? Money’s mostly an issue in that I don’t want to feel like I’ve been taken while buying a toy.

Posted by: Phil Ringnalda on January 20, 2005 3:34 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

buying a Mac

The obvious answer is: a “bottom-of-the-line” iMac G5 ($1299, though, even if you think you don’t need it, I’d shell out an extra $50 for the build-to-order BlueTooth option) and a GB or two of 3rd-party RAM (supposed to be bought in matched pairs, though this may not matter much in the iMac).

The G5 will crunch through compilation tasks, and the ZFP iMac will fit nicely on your desk.

The alternative is a G4 Mac Mini ($599 for the 1.42 GHz/80GB model) with your own monitor/keyboard/mouse. It’ll be slower than the iMac, and has only one RAM slot (maxes out at 1GB). But, if price is really the deciding factor …

Posted by: Jacques Distler on January 20, 2005 8:24 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: A Brief History of Golem

Well, sadly, I find Apple too expensive for my budget.

In any case, it is my understanding that recent Mac OS are really UNIXes (older versions of FreeBSD and NetBSD), and Intel h/w is cheaper. So if one finds Linux flaky, there is a better alternative.

But as far as commercial software is concerned, Mac probably has as many as windows software (including *MSOffice*).

What are things you find superior in Macs? Curious.

Posted by: mfa on January 20, 2005 8:35 AM | Permalink | Reply to this


Well, sadly, I find Apple too expensive for my budget.

Have you actually looked, or are you just going by reputation?

What are things you find superior in Macs?

A vastly better user-interface (and I don’t mean the eye-candy). I could go on for pages and pages, but two examples will have to suffice:

  1. Compare configuring a new printer using CUPS versus (Apple’s front-end to CUPS).

  2. Compare, which manages all my contacts, integrates seamlessly with the mail client (, the calendar program ( and syncs with my BlueTooth phone, with …
    Well, what would you compare it with under Linux/FreeBSD/… ?

And then there’s the ability to run commercial software alongside my unix applications (no more wasting time dealing with two different OS’s to handle all my needs).

including MSOffice

As a matter of principle, I don’t use any Microsoft products.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on January 20, 2005 9:23 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: better

Ok, you caught me; re. prices of Macs I have gone by the reputation :-)

I agree with your comments on Linux, though they are improving. Because of previous bad experience with Linux, I never trust GUIs (so thought Macs were similar); thus, for printing I directly edit /etc/printcap. The other problems with Linux are incomplete documentation and distribution dependence (unlike BSD). But not much commercial software for BSD (the Linux compatibility is pretty good, though) and drivers.

Lucky, you can get by without MS Office. I have to be able to read/edit what others send me (OpenOffice is not enough, sadly). Of course, almost all of my own documents are in LaTeX; and with a package like pdfscreen, making slides from the articles is painless!

Posted by: mfa on January 20, 2005 12:10 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: A Brief History of Golem

Congrats on the new Mac and the new office to sit it in. How about a snap of the two?

Posted by: Srijith on January 20, 2005 8:55 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: A Brief History of Golem

Congratulations, Jacques. New G5 and a new office with a window? You must be very happy. I wonder which room your new office is.

Posted by: Jae. on January 20, 2005 2:00 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Window Office

Hi, Jae!

It is, alas, Bryce Dewitt’s old office. So my satisfaction is bittersweet.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on January 20, 2005 3:16 PM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this
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