Archive for September, 2008

An experiment

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

My brother is a computer illiterate. He can use a computer for the purpose of e-mail messaging and for editing documents, spreadsheets, etc.

I have decided to “abuse” his older laptop, an IBM X31 and install Ubuntu on it. This is some sort of an experiment. I wonder how he, a simple user, can cope up with using Linux as a desktop.

I have made sure he had the following, for now:

  • Ubuntu 8.04 32bit
  • Firefox 3 with Adblock Plus
  • Hebrew fonts, and msttfcorefonts package installed
  • OpenOffice which defaults to saving in MS Office formats – doc, xls, ppt
  • Skype
  • VLC media player
  • Hebrew layout enabled

I will let him use it for a few days, and keep my blog up to date on this. It interests me 🙂

Engrish, anyone?

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

I love it when I get an Engrish product. Their manuals, their texts – I just love it.

This is the cover of a flash light I was given during the latest RedHat summit here in Israel.

The interesting part is the text scanned above. I will quote (grammar and spelling mistakes are kept as in the original)

PRODUCT CHARACTERISTICS:

1. This product is a new science and technology product and made with high and new science and technology. It can illuminate only placing it in rhythm.

2. No need any power no environmental pollution. Low noise and health. Comparing with common torch,it can be several times on lift.

3. Con stantly using this health torch,  it can benefit to your palm, arm and shoulder stretching and blood circulation,so as to let your hands relax and brain clever,hand and brain coor dinate and promote your brain memory and health composition.

A manual flash light, right? 🙂

x86 Scale Up

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

I have been introduced to a very cool software/hardware combination yesterday. It has been, without exaggerating, one of the coolest things I have seen in a while.

As you may know, x86 has an issue with scaling up. It’s that x86 architectures and price don’t justify scaling up to tenths and hundreds of CPUs. The multi-core technology introduced in the last few years made a four-way server seem trivial today, where in the past it was a high-performance server for large (and expensive) data centers. It is very common today to purchase an eight-way server at a price of a mere commodity server – all thanks to the multi-core technology.

However, when compared to the large Unix data centers, where 64 and 128 cpus are rather common (I will emphasis – the large Unix data centers), although nowadays, per-core, x86 is somewhat more powerful, for a large load set, it could not rival any many-way server. The common solution with x86 was to “scale out” – add more cheap servers and manage the workload in a more distributed way. Yes, you might pay with communication overhead, however, this can be made cheaper still.

With a distributed load sharing came the illnesses of communication latencies. Myrinet, 10Gb/s Ethernet and Infiniband were a common, yet expensive (as it was a niche market) solutions, and still – for distribution of high loads, they were well worth it. Still – a large scaled-up server based on x86 was nowhere to find.

No more. With ScaleMP’s concatenation you can “bundle” a set of servers using Infiniband link into a single huge-multi-way, huge-ram server at a very low cost, relatively.

Think about how you can purchase your current server, for example, your eight-core server (two quad-core cpus), and in time, scale it up into more powerful server (add another two quad-core cpus), or add more RAM, or more network interfaces, or whatever.

This is not as fast as the IBM x3950 board-link (excuse me for not knowing the exact name), so it is not ideal for databases or systems which tend to create a lot of cache-misses, however for large (actually – very large) SMP systems, it could be great. It can allow any company which feels that the current server might not be enough the safety and assurance that they can actually scale up, using the same server, into adding more cpus and more RAM to the server at any time.

I is supported, as far as I know, only for Linux at the time being. It diminishes some of the distance between the large Unix machines and the modern Linux, for a fracture of the price.

I liked it.