Monarch ULB 64 2005 Custom Workstation

The Software

Keeping in mind I have the prejudice that most users of this kind of machine instantly blow away any factory load and put in their own, I was pretty happy with the software load—your standard Red Hat 64-bit workstation load helpfully set to a default 800×600 resolution for initial configuration. I was able to bring the resolution up and put X in a high and deep resolution. The system ships with the NVIDIA driver installed, which is a good thing if you want to take full advantage of the serious video card that comes with it.

As you could predict, given the video card the machine shipped with, video and OpenGL performance was very smooth, with the pre-installed applications running very well. But, when I went to build some test applications, I was unable to make a compile complete. The load was not set up for compiling, which is a minor problem, but as a reviewer, it was one I wish I didn't have to worry about. I had no problem getting binaries of some sample applications running on the machine and experienced a smooth ride on Tux Racer and others.

That said, I really like to be able to compile apps, as many 32-bit builds don't run as well as they could otherwise. Considering that 64-bit RPMs still are unavailable for many applications, this should be a standard feature. That said, the machine ships with installation media, so properly loading the features I wanted wasn't a showstopper.

Like the last machine, the sound card was not configured, but a quick run of redhat-config-soundcard fixed that quickly. Unlike the last machine I tested, the sound was crystal clear, with no pops, hums or clicks.

The fantastic, sexy, amazing NVIDIA Quadro 3000 FX video card was equipped with dual-DVI outputs, and Monarch thoughtfully included DVI adapters. I tested the dual-monitor modes to good result.

The machine also shipped containing a handy portfolio with all the manuals, warranty information, passwords and CD-ROMs that came with the individual components, which I also really liked, as it is often handy to have such things around for unforeseen uses of the machine.

In short, if you are looking for a graphics workstation, you could do a lot worse than the Monarch. Damn, this thing is quiet.

Chris DiBona is the Open Source Programs Manager for Mountain View, California-based Google, Inc. These writings are the author's opinion and don't necessarily reflect those of his employer. Before joining Google, Chris DiBona was an editor/author for the popular on-line Web site slashdot.org, and he is an internationally known advocate of open-source software and related methodologies. He co-edited the award-winning essay compilation Open Sources and can be reached via dibona.com.

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