FSN – the IRIX 3D file system tool from Jurassic Park

Funny Stuff, IRIX Software

Films rarely depict computing accurately – largely because, let’s face it, sitting in front of a terminal hacking away is hardly the most exciting thing to watch. Back in Jurassic Park, when Lex was trying to hack into the computer system to get the power back online, she used a 3D file manager. Lots of people liked to cite this as a great example of how Hollywood just ‘didn’t get’ computers.

FSN 3D file system navigator Silicon Graphics SGI IRIX Jurassic Park

What most people fail to realise is that FSN, the File System Navigator, was an demo system tool from Silicon Graphics IRIX. You use to be able to download it direct from the (now sadly defunct) Serious Fun freeware pages on the Silicon Graphics website. Hey, this is Silicon Graphics we’re talking about – who else would make a 3D file browser in with their OS?

Gerhard Lenerz has some more information and some good screen grabs on his site at http://sgistuff.g-lenerz.de/movies/jpark.php – I can recommend a good browse on there as he has some great SGI resources.

FSV, the File System Visualiser, is a re-creation of FSN for UNIX systems that have OpenGL. I can recommend grabbing it and having a play – it works under OS X for some truly silly fun.

Film appearances aside, FSN was an interesting approach to deal with ‘information overload’ and to use powerful computer graphics to provide a simpler interface to something complex (in this case, the IRIX filesystem).

If you want to play around with FSN under IRIX, you can grab the ELF version (for IRIX 5.3 and later) at ftp://ftp.sgi.com/sgi/fsn/fsn.tar.Z – or you can grab a local copy from here.


IRIX Software

IRIX Software

The Nekochan community has been working hard porting the latest versions of popular and useful Open Source software to IRIX. They’ve come up with a distribution called Nekoware, and this is an essential software collection to get the most from your Silicon Graphics machine.

The Nekoware builds require IRIX 6.5 and are well thought out and structured, with the dependencies all taken care of.

You can download them from http://www.nekochan.net/what-is-nekowar.html. Stop by the forums there and give them props for such fantastic work!

SGI has a large range of free or evaluation software available for download. It can be found at http://www.sgi.com/software/

SGI also ships CDs with pre-compiled freeware with new systems. These freeware packages are regularly updated, and are freely available for download. They are tardist files, and so can be downloaded and installed with just one click.

The URL for SGI’s freeware site is http://freeware.sgi.com

One word of warning – the freeware packages have been compiled with SGI’s compiler. This means if you’re using GCC, you may run into problems.

For example, if you have downloaded the perl freeware package, and then try and compile some perl modules using gcc, it will fail – perl will have been compiled using the SGI compiler, and will expect the same for the modules.

In these cases, you will need to remove the freeware packages, and compile the app from source.

It’s also worth noting that there is a bug in recent versions of GCC, which appears in IRIX 6.2 and early versions of 6.5. Any program compiled with GCC that uses IP (for example, Apache or OpenSSH) will show all remote IPs as being This isn’t too helpful. At the moment, it seems that GCC 2.7.2 was the last version that didn’t have problems with IRIX 6.2 – I would recommend installing this as your compiler. Recent versions of GCC 3 play nicely with IRIX 6.5.

SGI’s Software Products page can be found at http://www.sgi.com/software/ – it has links and details for SGI’s commercial software.

Other Software Links

  • Blender is an excellent freeware 3D modelling software package. It is also available commercially. The URL for the homepage is http://www.blender.org/

  • Douglas Scott has an excellent page of Audio and Music applications for SGI systems, originally at http://reality.sgi.com/dscott/audio.apps/

    I’ve setup a local mirror.

  • Bill Henderson maintains a page of links to all sorts of Public Domain software, originally at http://reality.sgi.com/billh/anonftp/

    Please email me if you know where a copy of this now lives.

  • Greg Lukomski maintains the excellent Unofficial Lightwave SGI Resource Guide at http://www.matchmove.com/sgi/sgi.html

  • SiliconBunny’s local mirrors have copies of some of the more popular software available – notably the various versions of Quake.


When you’ve had enough in the office, or need a bit of light entertainment at home, have some fun with these:

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IRIX Software downloads

IRIX Software

I highly recommend not only checking out http://freeware.sgi.com but also pages on the Other Sites page for other software.

FSN – the 3D File System Navigator

Download: fsn.tar.Z

Not one I’ve written myself, but this is the ELF binary of the famous FSN, which featured in Jurassic Park. You can find out more by reading this post.

All the other applications on this page have been compiled using GCC under IRIX 6.5 on my Octane

Root disk cloning script

Download: clone_root_disk.ksh

The XLV/XVM plexing option is expensive – very expensive. Yet everyone needs a backup of their root disk. This korn script can be run nightly from cron, and will clone your root disk. All you need is another disk in the machine, which has already been partitioned by fx, and away you go!
The script is pretty straightforward, so can easily be modified to clone other important disks in your machine.

Quake, Quake2, and mods

Version: Quake2 3.20

Download: SGI Quake local mirror

Dug out from an old backup tape, here’s my mirror of the SGI Quake pages from SGI’s website. Quake, Quake2, plus some entertaining mods like Action Quake 2.


Version: 4.1.9 (unstable branch)

Download: allegro-4.1.9.tardist

Allegro is a cross-platform gaming library – similar to SDL. Off the top of my head, you’ll need ESD installed to get sound. There’s an ESD tardist on the SGI Freeware website.

The Allegro homepage can be found at http://sunsite.dk/allegro


Version: 1.0

Download: elite-tnk.tardist

Elite is the greatest computer game known to man. Ever. Elite:TNK is the result of a project by Christian Pinder to reverse-engineer Elite from the original BBC disk version.
This requires Allegro, and runs splendidly on my Octane. It installs in /usr/local/elite-tnk, and the binary (newkind) must be run from within there.

The Elite:TNK home page used to be found at http://www.cjpinder.clara.net/elite.html, but this site now appears to be dead.


Version: 1.2.1

Download: actx-1.2.1.tardist.gz

ActX is a collection of anime window sitters (Active X Window System).

The home page can be found at http://kurumi.sakura.ne.jp/~chimari


Version: 0.31

Download: akaneclock-0.31.tardist

AkaneClock is an excellent anime clock. Lots more fun to have sitting on your desktop than the normal clock.

The home page can be found at http://kurumi.sakura.ne.jp/%7Echimari/ActX


Version: 0.4.2

Download: aterm-0.4.2.tardist

aterm is my preferred terminal. It allows background transparency, and with the Buffy GTK theme fits right in with the Indigo Magic desktop.

The home page can be found at http://aterm.sourceforge.net/


Version: 0.9.24

Download: prngd-0.9.24.tardist

PRNGD is the Pseudo Random Number Generator Daemon – a source of entropy. You’ll need a decent source of entropy for any cryptographic applications – OpenSSL, for example. PRGND saves any entropy it has when it’s shutdown – this means you have a strong source of entropy right from when your machine boots. It also doesn’t generate a ‘pool’ of entropy, so, unlike EGD, it can’t be drained and won’t block.

The home page can be found at http://www.aet.tu-cottbus.de/personen/jaenicke/postfix_tls/prngd.html


Version: 1.0.6

Download: gnupg-1.0.6.tardist

GNU Privacy Guard is an OpenPGP compliant Open Source replacement for PGP. Personally, I’ve used PGP 2.6.3i for donkeys years, but more and more software appears to be written to use GnuPG specifically – hence this tardist. This version isn’t the most recent, but works fine for me. I may build a newer tardist sometime if there is enough demand.

The home page can be found at http://www.gnupg.org/


Version: 1.1.4

Download: zlib-1.1.4.tardist

zlib is a compression library. Pretty much anything that will use compression will need this. This version fixes some potential security flaws with previous versions. Note that any applications statically compiled against older versions will need to be re-compiled against this new version to use the fixes.

The home page can be found at http://www.gzip.org/zlib/

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