Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Linux Ports

I am writing in response to Dave Blondell's letter in December, where he says “The sad truth of the matter is that Bentley, and for that matter most other software companies, don't get enough requests for Linux ports to justify the production costs.”

Perhaps it's true for ports from non-Unix environments, but it surely is not true otherwise. In the same issue, a look at “Linux Makes the Big Leagues” by Sam Williams and the “A Place for Linux” presentation by Chip Richards (mentioned by Sam) shows exactly how I persuaded our company to start using Linux. For only $250 we could have Linux with Metro Link Motif—what's more, we could use a cheap PC clone that put our HP715 to shame in the performance stakes.

Since we associate closely with some of our clients, they often visit and get to see some of the new enhancements that are under development. Often they noticed how fast Linux was compared to other platforms, and switched to Linux.

And the best part is that I never need to change a line of code when compiling across platforms—I use simple shell scripts that are used as CC and LN. The combination of Linux[Intel] with its BIG ENDIAN architecture and HP-PA RISC with its nice LITTLE ENDIAN (same as networking) provides a nice combination of test beds to ensure both byte swapping and 64/32 bit compatibility are tested.

At the end of the day it is no extra effort to provide a Linux solution. Probably the biggest deterrent is the loud anti-commercial chorus. Those folks who don't mind paying for software should be more vocal.

While not everyone may appreciate or use any of the free software that I have contributed to the Linux community, some of the credit must go to my employer (who does not provide free software as a rule), for the skills and resources I used to create my free software were gained from them; in return, they use some of my free software.

—Ross Linder ross@mecalc.co.za

Author Photos

Did you guys happen to notice how much the author Richard Sevenich bears a resemblance to the author Dean Provins? By golly, they could be brothers.

—M. David Gelbmand gelbman@npiny.com

Yes, we did notice. Unfortunately, at the same time you did—when the magazine arrived from the printer, not before we sent it to be printed. We apologize to both Mr. Sevenich and Mr. Provins for the mixup —Editor

Articles on Beowulf Systems

Thanks for the articles on the Beowulf systems and PVM. I have known Patrick Goda of the Loki system for three years now, since he came to our local Linux User's Group this past spring to talk about Loki.

I was a little disappointed that there was no mention of what I consider to be the ultimate in “Freely Distributed Systems”: the “Stone SouperComputer”. The Stone SouperComputer is a project at the Oak Ridge National Labs, the same laboratory that gave us the PVM software.

It seems that a project at Oak Ridge needed some computer power, but had no budget for it. They decided to implement a Beowulf system using donated computers. By using older 486 and low-end 586 systems donated to them, they were able to create a no-cost supercomputer. It now has 48 system boxes working together to do real-world work. You can find the web pages at http://www.esd.ornl.gov/facilities/beowulf/.

I am very excited about the “Stone SouperComputer” project, because for the first time it demonstrates that any university, college, high school or even grade school can put together its own “Soupercomputer” using a freely distributed operating system and allow students to tackle the most difficult type of coding, that of a parallel environment. It also paves the way for low-cost, highly available, high throughput systems for research or even administrative work.

—Jon “maddog” Hall, Linux International maddog@zk3.dec.com

Microstation 95 Update?

We have contacted a Bentley re-distributor in our area who informed us that they could in fact secure us a copy of Microstation 95 for Linux. We have also checked with the supplier of our current add-on software to make sure that their software for Microstation would run on the version for Linux, and we were informed that not only did it run on Linux, but that they had customers already doing just that. While it is possible that the other customers may include academia, I don't believe they all are. This leads me to believe that, with the help of a good re-distributor, users outside academics should be able to get a copy. Although the distributor stressed the “unsupported version” heavily, with a demand for the Linux version this may disappear. Please keep up the great work.

—Medina County Engineers lfilak@ohio.net