Does this theatre need a new console?

JChenault

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I have been asked to review a grant request for a venue. They do ( about 250 events a year. Dance, Theatre, Concerts, etc.

They have two consoles. An EOS purchased in 2006, and another console ( sounds like something in the EOS family) which they use as their backup. Their fear is that since the 2006 EOS is based on Windows XP their last update will be the 2.9 release.

They say that they can upgrade one of the consoles 'relatively inexpensively' to Win 7, but the other console cannot be upgraded.

They feel that in order to maintain system redundancy, both consoles need to be running the same software version - and ( implied ) that an update to 3.0 when it comes out is a requirement.

Putting aside the question of 'Why do you HAVE to run the latest and greatest software' Does anyone know if the statement that both consoles must be running the same software version in order to have redundancy is true?

I have not dealt enough with multiple EOS systems trying to keep a hot backup ( or even just plug one in when the first fails) to get a sense of what may make sense.

Anyone have any ideas / opinions.
( Sounds like an interesting topic to ask the ETC folks at LDI)
 
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sk8rsdad

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Networked Eos family consoles have to be at exactly the same version in order to work as primary and backup. It's not going to be possible to use a 32-bit XP console as a backup or primary to a 64-bit Win 7 console. FWIW, they likely don't need an Eos and could buy a pair of junior consoles from the Eos family.

This venue is not alone. There are many others that will be facing obsolescence decisions in the near future. Expect a spike in used XP systems on the market.
 

SteveB

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The Eos is long in the tooth and a case can be made to upgrade.

They "don't" need to run the latest OS, but with that many events of that variety, a likelihood that a visiting company has a show file that uses features found in a later OS makes that no upgrade policy annoying.

They only have to have both consoles on the same OS IF they are using the consoles in a Master/Slave-Backup configuration. If the 2nd desk is just a focus desk and they leave it off the system, then just load the current show file from a USB. There'a a case to be made that having the backup desk on line and ready might make it susceptible to whatever kills the primary. The rub with a master/slave configuration is the address count. In order for the slave to run the system, it needs to have enough addresses to do so. So if they use the legacy Eos over 1024 addresses and that's what the Ion is at, that 1024 is the only thing that the Ion will run.

I could see upgrading the Ion (presumption) to Win 7, then purchasing a Gio@5.
 

FMEng

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IMHO, there is no reason a lighting system should ever be connected to a network that has access to the internet, and there are countless reasons to keep the network isolated with a cable gap. If the internet can't get to the console, then the operating system has no need to be patched, making an obsolete OS perfectly fine to run. There might be good arguments for upgrading, such as hardware age, but the OS isn't one.
 

MNicolai

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If they're running 250 events a year, I wouldn't necessarily say 3.0 is a requirement as much as that they need to be on reliable consoles that won't give them any downtime. If they're on a 2006-era chassis, it's probably time for them to upgrade before the hardware fails and forces their hand at an unbudgeted point in time. The threshold determining whether they need a backup is probably more based on how much ticket revenue they stand to lose, if any -- not all downtime is refundable whereas some is contractually obligated. In many situations though, a backup is a luxury. If they're under 6,144 outputs, they can also achieve a decent get-you-through-the-night backup via Nomad instead of a 2nd desk.

Aside from being on the same version, the Backup should have at least as many outputs enabled as the Primary. If you have 4000 outputs and buy a Nomad with 1024 outputs, that's going to be a problem.

There might be good arguments for upgrading, such as hardware age, but the OS isn't one.
If they want to get heavy into touchscreen use, the OS will be a limiting factor. Windows 7 is when multi-touch came out. Anything XP is limited to single-touch. Obviously they can't be using multi-touch already, but it can definitely be a useful feature for people on Nomad or without a fader wing.

Security-wise, the console may not be connected to the internet but surely people will connect their laptops/phones/etc to that network from time to time. That's a good opportunity for threats to hop onto the XP device and go to town on any unpatched vulnerabilities, and possibly attack other laptops/phones when they are connected to that network later on. Doesn't matter if it's on the internet -- anything XP, even if it's Embedded XP on an isolated network, is a lingering security threat. Probability of something happening isn't very high but still exists.

Expect a spike in used XP systems on the market.
They're already out there. eBay is flooded with suspiciously inexpensive Ion's that offer no indication they are the old XP models.
 
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tyler.martin

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An upgrade something they should be budgeting for. Keeping in mind 2.9.1 is actually the last version of EOS that will run on Windows XP hardware. If there are incremental releases between now and 3.0, your client will not be able to update. Sure 3.0 probably isn't show critical, as it seems they are mostly a roadhouse/rentalhouse. Hardware wise, a 13 year old computer is going to start having some issues - it's just inevitable.

I've done about 100 Ion/Element Windows 7 hardware upgrades in the past year, and most of the clients generally don't notice a difference in performance, except for the significantly faster boot time. The upgrade cost depends on the hardware iteration of console (Ion has a few hardware versions) , so before they pull the trigger, confirm the serial number eligibility with ETC Tech Services, however it is much cheaper than a new console.

My three main clients with Eos Classic's are all upgrading in the next year or have already replaced it with an Eos TI or a Gio@5, and kept the Eos as an emergency (not online) backup or used it in an Aux space (Quite funny to see an Eos in a 30x30ft blackbox with 24 dimmers)

I'd suggest they upgrade their other console, and start running that as their master/main desk. While show files will continue to be backwards compatible, i'd never want to consistantly move between software versions.
 

Calc

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IMHO, there is no reason a lighting system should ever be connected to a network that has access to the internet, and there are countless reasons to keep the network isolated with a cable gap. If the internet can't get to the console, then the operating system has no need to be patched, making an obsolete OS perfectly fine to run. There might be good arguments for upgrading, such as hardware age, but the OS isn't one.
He's not worrying about security updates, it's about EOS updates. ETC has announced that any of the consoles that originally shipped with WinXP have hardware that won't be compatible with the upcoming EOS 3.0, and will be stuck on 2.9.X .
 

RickR

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The question isn't whether they need to upgrade it's when.
  • 3.0 isn't even out yet.
  • Ever hear the sayings about versions ending in ".0"?
  • Lots of venues and shows run year old versions. Many are many years old...
This problem won't be real for a year and won't be critical for 2 to 3 years. Congrats to them for thinking ahead!
 

Footer

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They "don't" need to run the latest OS, but with that many events of that variety, a likelihood that a visiting company has a show file that uses features found in a later OS makes that no upgrade policy annoying.
I'm with Steve here. Its a 14 year old desk. Its time to upgrade. For those of us running road houses (which I assume this place is) it is expected that all consoles on your tech specs are running the latest OS updates of any console you have. If this venue doesn't upgrade to 3.0 when it comes out they'll be renting in a desk is the show they have coming in needs it... and they now have to put that on all their tech specs. That is going to be a real point of pain when advancing shows. It also has a real possibility of burning them on a weekend show day. If they are the kind of place that is doing this grant writing style they are really looking into the future and it does not surprise me they won't have this problem for a for more years.

Now... when this problem hits in my building we'll fix it by emergency and pull out the credit card and go, just like we did when our 20 year old Insight finally died.

Now, back to my I refuse to upgrade to Lightwright 6 life.
 

SteveB

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.

Now, back to my I refuse to upgrade to Lightwright 6 life.
Ooooo....LW 6 does some nifty stuff. I refused to use it for a while, then started setting up addresses and universes, then doing all my profiles and addressing and sending to the Ion. Then started in with labels for fixtures, then did a connect to the Ion to suck off the patch I was re-using. It has a lot of improve,ents that made me want to use it more and more, all I use now,
 
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Jay Ashworth

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IMHO, there is no reason a lighting system should ever be connected to a network that has access to the internet, and there are countless reasons to keep the network isolated with a cable gap. If the internet can't get to the console, then the operating system has no need to be patched, making an obsolete OS perfectly fine to run. There might be good arguments for upgrading, such as hardware age, but the OS isn't one.
They're running XPe and 7e, and those have different out-of-support dates.

7e in particular does not go out of support in January as 7 Desktop does, I think.

XPe likely *is* going out of support.

My personal favorite intermediate security approach is simply not to set a default gateway on the desk. That doesn't keep it from getting bit by some other machine on the LAN, of course, but it can be a major PITA to keep everything airgapped and still usable, and I admit that as a 35 year IT guy...
 

ChrisB_SanDiego

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I have been asked to review a grant request for a venue. They do ( about 250 events a year. Dance, Theatre, Concerts, etc.

They have two consoles. An EOS purchased in 2006, and another console ( sounds like something in the EOS family) which they use as their backup. Their fear is that since the 2006 EOS is based on Windows XP their last update will be the 2.9 release.

They say that they can upgrade one of the consoles 'relatively inexpensively' to Win 7, but the other console cannot be upgraded.

They feel that in order to maintain system redundancy, both consoles need to be running the same software version - and ( implied ) that an update to 3.0 when it comes out is a requirement.

Putting aside the question of 'Why do you HAVE to run the latest and greatest software' Does anyone know if the statement that both consoles must be running the same software version in order to have redundancy is true?

I have not dealt enough with multiple EOS systems trying to keep a hot backup ( or even just plug one in when the first fails) to get a sense of what may make sense.

Anyone have any ideas / opinions.
( Sounds like an interesting topic to ask the ETC folks at LDI)

Well since they do grant requests I am assuming it's a 501c?

Have they considered applying for ETC's equipment grant? It never hurts to try...
https://www.etcconnect.com/About/About-ETC/Philanthropy.aspx

Next deadline is in the spring, so I'm not sure what your venue's purchase time frame is.
 

DuckJordan

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Doesnt matter
The question isn't whether they need to upgrade it's when.
  • 3.0 isn't even out yet.
  • Ever hear the sayings about versions ending in ".0"?
  • Lots of venues and shows run year old versions. Many are many years old...
This problem won't be real for a year and won't be critical for 2 to 3 years. Congrats to them for thinking ahead!
This is not true for road houses. I'm required to keep my console on the newest release per contract requirements we do close to 400 shows a year between 4 spaces. Most of the time Shows bring their own desk however. The few shows I've had come through that need our desk have required the latest version. (old show files load in new Software, the same is not true for the reverse).
 

eadler

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I agree with everyone saying that you should likely upgrade and basically every point made.

Now, if you're looking for something to do with the old desk, I have a 24/48 that would be happier in backup duty than primary duty (and a Producer II with disk sequencer on backup duty that would be happier on museum display duty)...

Seriously though, if they're a touring house they're going to have folks coming in with show files from all different versions of consoles that, even if they aren't contracted to have the latest version, will be a lot easier to deal with with the latest version. They've got old equipment that gets a lot of use that is likely fully depreciated anyway. There's newer options with added usability and features that they may want to use for their own purposes and I'm guessing they don't have support staff that is wanting to remember how to do something with an old version of an embedded OS if/when there's an issue. Go through the pros and cons newer options and figure out what meshes best with what they have, who uses their venue, AND/OR may even be best as a total replacement.
 

EdSavoie

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Windsor, ON, Canada
For a house doing that many shows a year, being on the "Latest and greatest" is less for fun and more so you don't cause problems when people start showing up with showfiles that refuse to load on your console...

I'm also going to echo the sentiment that for a house seeing that many shows, hardware that old is becoming a liability irrespective of software version.
 

ElGusto

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Location
Southwestern Virginia
The question isn't whether they need to upgrade it's when.
  • 3.0 isn't even out yet.
  • Ever hear the sayings about versions ending in ".0"?
  • Lots of venues and shows run year old versions. Many are many years old...
This problem won't be real for a year and won't be critical for 2 to 3 years. Congrats to them for thinking ahead!
I toured for several years. Showing up at a venue with an out of date console is not a deal-breaker, but is pretty annoying, and occasionally requires an on the spot update, which can be time-consuming.
 

Gobokat

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I don't think the issue here is the EOL of XPe - it's that ETC will not be writing new code for a non-supported OS and as such the question becomes, how important are software updates to this venue.
Are they hosting touring companies for which in-house desks are utilized? If so, then this instantly becomes a no-brainer, update the consoles. If in fact one of the two cannot be updated then replace that one and do the hardware update on the other. I would recommend this for one, and only one reason - fixture library updates. Now that we're in an ever increasing world of multi-attribute fixtures which really appreciate having calibrated color-space control having the latest fixture libraries is sometimes the most important part of the desk functionality, especially in multiple one-night shows as a road house (ever have to look at a touring LD and tell him your house desk just doesn't support the LED's he has in his rig because you're not running the latest desk version?)
If this venue is not hosting outside groups, not renting current fixtures requiring new libraries, and not desperate for new software features then I would recommend they sit tight on their current boards until one of the other factors changes.
Unless someone can tell me what is happening inside an EOS that makes it drop dead at a given number of weeks of operation I would think those desks are still fine as long as keyswitches and faders are maintained. IF the keypads are going and faders are worn and screens are going dark then it's time to replace hardware, but not just because of a software update.
 

Malabaristo

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Unless someone can tell me what is happening inside an EOS that makes it drop dead at a given number of weeks of operation I would think those desks are still fine as long as keyswitches and faders are maintained.
The biggest thing is the spinning platter inside of the hard drive. Next biggest would probably be the various cooling fans, followed by thermal stresses in the power supply (or whatever other components inside see the highest temperatures). All electronics have a finite lifespan. It's difficult to predict exactly when something as complex as a console will fail, but the probability of failure absolutely does increase with age. There's probably at least one Eos desk out there somewhere that will continue working for 25 years or more, but there's also a few that had major failures after less than 5 years. Somewhere in between (maybe around 10-15 years) you hit a point where the probability of failure makes replacement a good idea even if you haven't observed any issues yet.
 

Gobokat

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The biggest thing is the spinning platter inside of the hard drive. . . . Somewhere in between (maybe around 10-15 years) you hit a point where the probability of failure makes replacement a good idea even if you haven't observed any issues yet.
I will respectfully disagree with that assessment. Sure, fans die, replace the fan. Power supplies die, again, repair the unit. But to say the CPU or RAM or is just going to stop working is a bit too much sales pitch and not enough reality. I still have solid state gear from the 90's happily plugging away and no one says that the ECUs inside our cars, which have a much rougher operating environment are only good for 10 years then the car is junk. Keep your fans clean, keep your gear repaired, when you're talking a multi-10 of thousands of USD investment a couple hundred a year (or much less) in preventative maintenance isn't out of the question.
It seems we're conflating the desire for new features with "need to replace". These controllers are tools and disposing of them because there is a newer release version seems like poor fiscal planning.
Look at the users who held on to XP (and the associated hardware) because they saw no advantage to upgrading their environment. They weren't worried about the CPU or RAM cards suddenly not working.
As I said in my post - if the facility needs to maintain current fixture libraries then sure, they're going to have to do what they need to do to ensure continuing updates from ETC. If that isn't the case, then just because there is a new model on the market doesn't necessarily mean they need that new gear (apologies to my rep and sales friends.)
 

JimmyM

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This was posted in another post, but regarding fixture library updates for 2.9.1 consoles, from the release notes:

Eos v2.9.0 is released for Windows 7 and XP-based hardware. As the final feature release for XP, there will
be other releases forthcoming for 2.9 (even after 3.0 is released) to support new network hardware as
needed, but these are not anticipated to include new features, or modifications to existing ones. As such,
2.9 is largely a clean-up release, addressing a number of anomalies across the application software. Please
note that we will continue to make fixture library patches available for 2.9.
So that means that although they won't get new features, they are not dropping support altogether, keeping it up to date with fixture profiles, and other compatibility requirements.


Release note for 2.9.0: