I have a small collection of old, custom programs for IRIX on SGI MIPS, some of which I need to run for work related reasons because there are no modern alternatives available and we need to access them for legacy stuff in the back room. I'm just the guy that was lucky enough to get tasked with finding a solution. There's no source code available and little to no documentation on any of it.

What are my options short of spending $1000+ for a powerful and fully functional SGI workstation on ebay? I'm hesitant because, you know, it's ebay. And it's not like I can buy these things new from SGI anymore, which means I'll have to take my chances by relying purely on re-sellers of used and refurbished products. I spoke with SGI on the phone and they said that they don't support the hardware or software and that they won't even provide me with documentation or part numbers, so I'm out of luck on that end.

IRIX simply won't boot in QEMU no matter how closely I try to configure it to match the real hardware, probably due to the custom graphics hardware and all kinds of little undocumented hacks and fixes for optimization done by the engineers in those old machines. I know there are people on Nekochan forums working on this and they've got some kind of headless boot in QEMU, but I need the whole OS and GUI to work. It doesn't have to be stable or all that fast, it just needs to work well enough to run these programs I have.


As far as I am aware, there is no fully working emulator for SGIs, because the graphics hardware consists of custom chips, is not properly documented, and hasn't been reverse engineered yet.

Also, the disk images that would be needed to run an emulator are still under licence.

There is some code in Mame, but I think this is work in progress, and I haven't tried to run it (because I don't have access to a disk image).

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    Yeah, you were right. This was kind of the answer I was expecting to receive. In the end I picked up a nice quad core 700MHz Tezro workstation with 3GB of RAM and I installed a new 80GB hard disk in it. It runs great and I was able to reinstall IRIX using the instructions and install media it came with. So far it's running all of the programs fine. I ended up having to talk to my boss about spending $800 for a used machine on ebay, which went better than expected. – 12345 Jan 4 '18 at 22:05
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    This is the cheapest solution, unless your time is free. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 26 '18 at 14:00

Have a look at this github repo: https://github.com/irixxxx/qemu. That version of qemu adds irix userland emulation. You would still need an irix root on your linux box, though.

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