Our IT guys have been rearranging the network at work the past few weeks. I got an email asking if it was okay to change the IP address on the machine named “hugo”. Hugo is a Sun Sparcstation 10 that was assigned to me in about 1993. It runs SunOS 4.1.4 which was the last BSD-based Sun unix before the SysV-based Solaris took over. The machine has been running in a rack in our computer room with no keyboard, mouse, or display since about 2002.

I told them to go ahead, but they were unable to access it. It was responding to pings, but wouldn’t answer to telnet. There are a handful of other machines of similar vintage in the same rack so I logged in to one of them to see how long it had been since it was last rebooted. 764 days. That’s over two years running continuously without a reboot for systems that are 15 years old. (These systems are all on UPS power backed by a big old diesel generator)

Since there was no display handy to show what was going wrong I tried power cycling it. It didn’t come back. The system hadn’t been in active use for a while so extreme measures weren’t called for. Time of death was 2:51pm 6/26/08.

I just didn’t think its passing should go unremarked. How old is 15 in computer years?