[Beowulf] [craig.hunter at nasa.gov: Re: Intel?]

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Jun 8 15:45:30 PDT 2005

At 01:44 PM 6/8/2005, Robert G. Brown wrote:
>On Wed, 8 Jun 2005, Michael T. Prinkey wrote:
> > On Wed, 8 Jun 2005, Robert G. Brown wrote:
> > >
> > > This just makes it official.  Apple will from now on be in direct
> > > competition with Microsoft, unless they are completely daft and make
> > > enough architectural changes in x86 that their software isn't portable
> > > to vanilla box PCs.
> > >
> >
> > It seems that they are "daft."  One Apple's VPs has emphatically declared
> > that they will not allow MAC OSX to run on anything but Apply hardware.
> > They were bit by the clone business once.  They seem reluctant to do it
> > again.  Too bad too.  That is one of the few possibilities for a real
> > tidal change in the desktop.
>But remember, the thing about a rip tide is that it all but inexorable
>and inescapable -- you may make it out swimming across it, but not
>fighting it directly back to shore.  Metaphorically speaking.
><mondo snip>

> >
> > Mike
> >
>Robert G. Brown                        http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
>Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
>Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
>Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

Part of the (reasonably justified) reputation that Apple has is due to 
their reliability as perceived by the user (no Blue Screen of Death).  To a 
large part, this is due to their ability to have a relatively closed 
system, with relatively low variability on the hardware side.  No funny 
crashes due to marginal power supplies, etc.  The closed-ness also means 
that applications writers are a bit more constrained in their ability to 
run amok. I haven't coded at the app level for Mac, but in the Windows 
world, there's entirely too much flexibility, indirection, and 
functionality exposed for it to be "safe", especially for things like 
references to uninitialized memory, passing null pointers, etc.

That said, the Wintel world has not been standing still, either.  Win2K and 
WinXP, for all their foibles, are a pretty reliable operating system in the 
perception of the user.  I've been running Win2K on my desktop for 3 years 
now (on a Compaq box), and have had maybe 3 or 4 unexplained 
crashes/lock-ups in that time, and that's running a fairly wide variety of 
not particularly well behaved software. (and no, I don't reboot daily or 
weekly.. typically I wind up rebooting every few months because of power 
failures) The dozen or so serious problems I've had have been clearly the 
fault of a non-Microsoft application misbehaving: Eudora corrupting it's 
mailboxes when you get too many messages in one (an undocumented feature); 
Matlab choking when trying to do graphics on my Matrox card (some 
interaction between the Windows GDI, the OpenGL interface, and Matlab... 
turn off all the acceleration features and it works);  the Win2K AFS client 
having problems.

There have been an awful lot of Max OSX releases in a relatively short time 
recently, and there have been a fair number of complaints about 
compatibility of one application or another.  I fail to see much 
substantive  difference between the Puma, panther, cheetah, tiger, ocelot, 
lynx, etc. sequence for Mac and the Win2K,SP1,SP2,SP3 sequence for Windows, 
other than the Apple names are cuter.  All OSes are going to have periodic 
updates, and for the Windows world, these days, it's pretty painless (as it 
would have to be, if you're a big company rolling out changes to 10,000 
desktop computers, not all of which have the same configuration).

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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