Big W Consortium > Member Services

The History of BigW

Dates To Remember

    1996-MayA DECstation 3100 with 16 megs of RAM and two 100 meg hard drives, a former campus computer cluster workstation (, is purchased used from Carnegie Mellon University for $250 by Brighten Godfrey through Forest Godfrey, who was then finishing his freshman year at CMU. The DECstation is named "BigW". It's running a vintage installation of Ultrix.
    1997-MarBigW is hosted at Ripon High School as, now with 24 megs of RAM and an additional 500 meg hard drive. Accouts are given to friends and some RHS students.
    1997-Jun-02At the instigation of Jake Timmons and Dan Williams, is purchased in the name of "The Big W Consortium" and assigned to the DECstation. switches to a Sun SPARC IPC with 12 megs of RAM and a 400 meg hard drive running Solaris 2.5.1. The box is hosted in Adrian Drury's dorm at Carnegie Mellon University. The old DECstation is sold to Morgan Welk.
    1998-AugThe IPC is upgraded to 36 megs of RAM and a 4 GB hard drive, now hosted in Forest and Brighten's dorm at CMU.
    1999-JanA Sparc LX with 32 megs of RAM and the IPC's 4 GB hard drive replaces the Sparc IPC.
    1999-MayDuring a brief period of downtime while the Sparc LX is moved between dorms at CMU, is hosted from a Mac IIci running MachTen under Mac OS at Ripon College. is switched back to the Sparc LX hosted once again in Adrian Drury's dorm at CMU.
    1999-AugDuring downtime while the LX is moved, is once again hosted breifly on the Mac IIci at Ripon College. is switched back to the LX, now in Brighten's dorm at CMU., alias, becomes's secondary server and the Commercial Division of the Big W Consortium. is a Sparc 5/170 with a 2 gig hard drive and 64 megs of RAM, hosted in Forest's house in Eagan, MN on a DSL line.
    2000-May-16The LX sets its record uptime:
    /> hostname
    /> uptime
     10:09am  up 168 day(s),  1:12,  5 users,  load average: 0.09, 0.05, 0.03
    ...and is taken down to be moved to Minnesota. temporarily becomes the primary server.
    2000-Jun-01The LX, now also in Eagan, replaces Ophelia as the primary server.
    2000 - 2002BigW is hosted by a Sparc LX in Eagan during the summers, and a Sparc LX in Brighten's dorm at CMU during the school year. Both systems run NetBSD.
    2002-Mar-01BigW has broken its previous record uptime of 168 days, and continues to break the record as long as it isn't rebooted.
    bash-2.04$ hostname;uptime
     1:46PM  up 175 days, 21:04, 7 users, load averages: 0.41, 0.23, 0.18
    Notice our load average is higher than in May 2000. That is because computers get slower as they age.
    2002-MayBrighten graduates from CMU, and BigW is moved to Eagan, to remain there indefinately.
    2003-June-24The good ol' Sparc LX keeps on running!
    bash-2.04$ date;hostname;uptime
    Tue Jun 24 03:45:46 CDT 2003
     3:45AM  up 405 days,  3:25, 7 users, load averages: 0.10, 0.15, 0.25
    2004-May-29BigW is upgraded to a PowerMac G3 300MHz with 256MB of RAM running MacOS 10.3. The old BigW on the SPARCstation LX continued to run right up until the end and set the record for continuous uptime without a reboot.
    Sat May 29 22:44:06 CDT 2004
    10:44PM  up 745 days, 21:45, 2 users, load averages: 0.10, 0.09, 0.08
    2008-November-25After 4 and a half years, the G3 dies. It is replaced with a Mac Mini emergency purchased used from FirstTech computers in Minneapolis. The Mini is a 1.2GHz PowerPC G4 processor with 1GB of RAM. It has roughly 200GB of hard drive space. By this point, the software was up to MacOS 10.3.9. It wasn't changed in this upgrade.
    2011-September-25As spam processing becomes a bigger issue and the software becomes more outdated, BigW is upgraded to a Mac Mini Core Duo 1.66GHz (dual core) with 1GB of RAM. It is running MacOS X Server 10.6.8. This allows new services like Time Machine backups, Windows file system exports, and Webmail. It also updates to newer IMAP servers, etc. The new machine has 2 Terabytes of disk space (1 for backup and 1 for primary).
    2013-November-10>For the first time in its history, actual new hardware is purchased for BigW. A Dell R210 II server with a 4-core/8-thread Intel Xeon 1280v2 3.4GHz processor and 8GB of RAM replaces the Mini. The new machine is now running the vmWare ESXi hypervisor. The installation of OSX Server is moved over and turned into a virtual machine with 6GB of RAM and 6 threads assigned to it. Additional VM's will be created in the future (including personal VM's for any members who want one). A Linux shell login server is a likely first addition.