[linux-elitists] The First-Ever Installfest in Egypt (fwd from brian-slashdotnews@hyperreal.org)

Jeff Kinz jkinz@kinz.org
Mon May 3 09:31:03 PDT 2004


On Mon, May 03, 2004 at 03:54:17PM +0200, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> 
> List's been comatose, so I'm just posting a few random snippets.
> 
> Fedora Core 2 test 3 <http://torrent.dulug.duke.edu/> is a genuine
> improvement in end user usability. The 2.6.x kernel produces a much superior
> GUI response. Resolution resizing in X doesn't require restarting the server.
> Lots of other goodies, too, but those are more under the hood.
> 
> Have been attending a road show (Sun dual Opteron servers, Java Desktop
> System) today. I still don't understand what Sun's story on Linux is. They
> must know it's eating them alive both at the low end and at the clustering
> end.
> 
> Is Sun confused? Or are they just faking it? Anyone knows?
Is this a serious question or just a rhetorical one?

They are faking it, running as fast as they can just to slow down the
rate they are losing market share at. They will continue to (try to)
rely on telling a good story (marketing) which, if they can get people
to believe it, will convince some to continue to purchase SUN systems.
(Same reason businesses purchased NT for servers...)

Please note that I think SUN does make some good stuff. This is not a
rant against SUN. SUN is just at the wrong place of the market at the
wrong time. If they had followed MS lead and commoditized UNIX in the
mid to late 1980's they could now be in MS's very enviable position
and would consequently be much less vulnerable to the impending Linux
erosion. In fact, a commoditized BSD-based UNIX might have prevented the
development of Linux at all. Would enough people have worked as hard on
Linux as they did if there had been Intel-Solaris licenses available for
$50-$60?

By the way, don't blame me for it not happening. :) I suggested
just that to SUN several times in the 1980's and 1990's. Nobody was
interested and now its far too late.

(Anyone recall "Road Runner"? SUNOS running on a 386?)

Two years ago, on a New England Linux user's list (either blug or
gnhlug) I stated that SUN would be the first serious "victim" ("entity
severely diminished by") of the Linux movement. I was shouted down by
people (from SUN) who stated that Linux could not compete with High
End Solaris installation due to the better performance characteristics
engineered into the SUN kernel.

But some who I think are the smartest folks in the business are clearly
choosing the importance of the price/performance ratio over pure
performance.

>From a paper by the folks at Google: (see 3rd & 4th (out of 3?) below)
http://www.computer.org/micro/mi2003/m2022.pdf   page 3-4
###########################################################################
In summary, Google clusters follow three key design principles:

* Software reliability. We eschew fault-tolerant hardware features such
as redundant power supplies, a redundant array of inexpensive disks
(RAID), and high- quality components, instead focusing on tolerating
failures in software.

* Use replication for better request through- put and availability.
Because machines are inherently unreliable, we replicate each of our
internal services across many machines. Because we already replicate
services across multiple machines to obtain sufficient capacity, this
type of fault tolerance almost comes for free.

* Price/performance beats peak performance. We purchase the CPU
generation that currently gives the best performance per unit price, not
the CPUs that give the best absolute performance.

* Using commodity PCs reduces the cost of computation. As a result, we
can afford to use more computational resources per query, employ more
expensive techniques in our ranking algorithm, or search a larger index
of documents.

Leveraging commodity parts: Google's racks consist of 40 to 80 x86-based
servers mounted on either side of a custom made rack (each side of
the rack contains twenty 20u or forty 1u servers). Our focus on
price/performance favors servers that resemble mid-range desktop PCs
in terms of their com- ponents, except for the choice of large disk
drives. Several CPU generations are in active service, ranging from
single-processor 533- MHz Intel-Celeron-based servers to dual 1.4- GHz
Intel Pentium III servers. Each server contains one or more integrated
drive elec- tronics (IDE) drives, each holding 80 Gbytes. Index servers
typically have less disk space...................
###########################################################################

-- 
Jeff Kinz, Open-PC, Emergent Research,  Hudson, MA.  
"jkinz@kinz.org" is copyright 2003.  
Use is restricted. Any use is an acceptance of the offer at
http://www.kinz.org/policy.html.



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