What Has 1.1 Terabytes, 9,503 BogoMips and Flies?
We've been doing “building the Ultimate Linux Box” articles in LJ since 1996. In that time, we have seen Linux scale to IBM mainframes, 32-way ccNUMA boxes and other exotic hardware. As much as we'd like to explain how to build them, most of us aren't going to have the space, power or budget for a 32-processor system that we can tear down whenever we want to put in another sound card.
So our Ultimate Linux Box is more of an ultimate Linux workstation or an ultimate Linux small server—big enough to be faster than you need for most uses and small enough to be practical in an office or home environment.
The first question, of course, is whether to buy or build your machine. On the one hand, you can do things for your hand-built system that a mass-market PC manufacturer probably won't:
Pick the very best case for the exact hardware you want to run, your work environment, your aesthetic sensibilities and your desire to work inside easily.
Use a top-quality power supply and quiet, ball-bearing fans.
For non-ultimate systems, you can put a really good SCSI card, SCSI drives and Ethernet card on what is otherwise a low-end desktop machine. This type of configuration will work well for most Linux developer workstations and small server tasks, but mass-market vendors won't usually build them because they don't appeal to people who buy systems by comparing CPU clock speeds and prices.
Leave off the parts that will end up gathering dust: your keyboards and mice will last several generations of hardware, and you probably already have a box with a CD burner.
On the other hand, there are two things that a mass-market PC manufacturer can provide that you probably won't:
Professional thermal and acoustic engineering. Your homebrew system will likely end up with more fans, a bigger case and a bigger power supply than a mass-market system with similar performance numbers. This doesn't necessarily have to translate into more noise, if you're careful.
Relationships with hardware vendors who don't respect you. One of the big differences between our box and the Hewlett-Packard x4000 we reviewed in the LJ June 2002 issue is that we're using an ATI video card, and HP uses NVIDIA.
But if you're working with interesting new versions of core software, such as the kernel and X, you might not find much help from the traditional Linux channels for proprietary modules. At USENIX this year, Linus Torvalds said, “They may work, but you're not getting the full advantage of Linux.” The only case when you could possibly accept a non-Linux kernel module is when you're not doing any “Linux-y” stuff with the box—if you treat it like just another PC and don't recompile the kernel or hack anything whatsoever. Oh, and if you completely trust your hardware vendor.
The intermediate route, which is ordering your system from a low-volume or custom shop serving the Linux market, is worth considering if you want to save shopping and building time, as well as get good advice on Linux-friendly parts. Linux hardware vendors are an informal, peer-to-peer reputation system for selecting good parts, and this works surprisingly well. You can go to the web sites of the good ones, see complete lists of every piece of hardware that will go into your system and get a no-hassle warranty on the complete box.
For this year's Ultimate Linux Box, we started with a base configuration of the Glacier Dual Xeon workstation from Aspen Systems Inc. in Colorado, and here's why. Think of the Ultimate Linux Box as a Beowulf node, one with good graphics and sound and a lot of reliable storage, in a tower case.
Companies that build Beowulf clusters are good places to look for the fastest processors and motherboards and the most reliable memory, because cluster users are picky about such things.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.View Now!
|The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database||Jul 29, 2016|
|Stunnel Security for Oracle||Jul 28, 2016|
|SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager||Jul 21, 2016|
|My +1 Sword of Productivity||Jul 20, 2016|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!||Jul 19, 2016|
|Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)||Jul 18, 2016|
- Stunnel Security for Oracle
- The Firebird Project's Firebird Relational Database
- Murat Yener and Onur Dundar's Expert Android Studio (Wrox)
- SUSE LLC's SUSE Manager
- Managing Linux Using Puppet
- My +1 Sword of Productivity
- Non-Linux FOSS: Caffeine!
- Google's SwiftShader Released
- SuperTuxKart 0.9.2 Released
- Doing for User Space What We Did for Kernel Space
With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide