The Game Grid is powered by Unix

I first saw the most recent Tron Legacy trailer when jwz posted the video a week ago.  I remember seeing the brief scene when the kid is looking at the computer console and being mainly focused on the on-screen keyboard.  “Oh yeah, I remember that from the original Tron.  They had iPad keyboards long before the iPhone.” But that was about all I took away from the scene.  I watched the trailer again last night, this time in HD, and had to freeze-frame it on that scene,

This time, I focused on the console windows.

This might be where I become “comic book guy” for a bit and geek out over minor details that mean little, if anything.  If you, yourself, are not a geek, please do not mind my geekery.

I cannot say that I know the mythology of the new movie (and if you do know, please do me a favor and don’t spoil) other than a little bit timeline from the Flynn Lives website for the Alternate Reality Game promoting the movie.  According to the site, Flynn disappeared in 1989.  Presumably this computer is either the same system from 1982 (the original Tron movie) or a slightly upgraded one.  Given this information, I find a few interesting things about this screenshot:

  • The operating system is “SolarOS.”  Given the graphics, I find it hard to believe this is the same Solar OS as some guy’s side-project, first released in 2007.  Given the timeline and its similarity to Unix and X Windows, it’s most likely “SunOS” and/or “Solaris” (with the name changed by the movie folks to be not quite so blatant), although Solaris did not come about until… 1991? …1992?
  • Given the little concentric boxes in the upper-right of each window, X window manager looks like twm or some variation thereof.  (It’s been a while since I have used twm and remember/know little of its variations or forks).
  • That window in the back is running top.
  • The thing eating up the most process time is Xorg, an Open Source implementation of X Windows.  I’m having difficulty coming up with a timeline for Xorg, but I’m pretty certain it did not exist until mid-decade — certainly not in 1989, in which case I assume somebody upgraded the computer since being installed in the secret back room of Flynn’s.  Maybe he has a service agreement and pays someone to come along and upgrade the thing.  Or maybe he pops out into the real world for some air (and system maintenance) every once in a while.  Or maybe he just upgrades software from within the machine — although I’d imagine that would be a little worrying if you were living inside the machine you were upgrading.  Who would restore from backup?  And if you were in the machine, not interacting with it from the console, why would you care what window manager it runs?
  • There are a couple of instances of watch.
  • Something called “ksof” — is that like lsof?
  • The game grid runs on 2.5G of memory?  (This assumes, of course, that the Tron world is entirely contained within this system, and that it’s not just an interface console to an even larger system somewhere.)
  • Load averages in the 0.6 and 0.7 range are a little high, but not horrible.
  • Lots of things are running with a “nice” value of -5.
  • The fact that there are “0 zombies” (zombie processes) is probably pretty good for the folks in the computer.  I’m sure Tron Legacy would be a much different movie with (un-)dead processes.

Maybe others can find interesting tidbits, easter eggs, or anachronisms in the screen.  Sound off in the comments if you notice something interesting.

Posted in: Movies Pictures

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Brian Enigma

Brian Enigma is a Portlander, manipulator of atoms & bits, minor-league blogger, and all-around great guy. He typically writes about the interesting “maker” projects he's working on, but sometimes veers off into puzzles, software, games, local news, and current events.

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