[Beowulf] SGI to offer Windows on clusters

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Thu Jan 18 09:10:05 PST 2007

On Thu, 18 Jan 2007, Richard Walsh wrote:

>    Robert that universe includes me ... ;-) ... I was only qualifying 
> Ashley's statement about operating
>    system impact on HPC cluster efficiency/performance.   The Windows/Linux 
> cluster market analysis
>    can  continue ...

Sure, Richard, but you (forgive me) are doubtless a geek.  I am a geek.
95% or more of the participants on this list are geeks, and the 5% that
aren't and are corporate are either geek wannabes or have close friends
or subordinates that are geeks.  There have even been one or two borgs
lurking on the list in years past, but they tend to get sprayed with
toxic substances when they emerge and hence they are usually content to
just lurk while plotting their nefarious plan to perpetuate their World

Geeks do not live in the Universe to which I was referring -- the one
where corporate shirts are doing CBA and risk assessments (including
their own personal risk associated with rocking boats to force major
changes) and then making decisions in which they have to compare things
like short run comfort to a POSSIBLE long term ROI should they invest in
a product that they KNOW will a) piss some people off because it doesn't
work for them for their favorite bit of software pie; b) piss other
people off just because they have to change and learn knew things; c)
piss STILL other people off because it doesn't work on their particular
piece of hardware, forcing the company to invest some unspecified dollar
amount in rebuilding things so that they will work.

No, we geeks live in a parallel universe, one where people make rational
decisions based (paradoxically enough) on ideals such as "better
performance", "cheaper", "more scalable", "better design", "more stable"
instead of on more socially aware and concrete things like "more likely
to get me fired when my boss gets pissed off that his system no longer
can run Quickbooks, Turbo Tax, WoW, and the nifty app that synchronizes
his personal favorite calendar program with his PDA", or "more likely to
get me fired when I have to replace all the NICs and GAs in the older
office PCs in order to have linux recognize them", "more likely to get
me fired when it fails to work for all of our cameras in marketing, mp3
players in development, cheap lexmark printers wherever, A2D converters
and labware in the lab..."

There are of course, a few humans that actually manage to do the "Tavern
Between the Worlds" thing and pass freely between the geek Universe and
the corporate Universe, scarfing a beer as they pass through.  You can
usually tell them by their odd costumery when they've recently passed
through the Gate -- those coats and ties clash with all the tee shirts
with penguins on them -- but you can also tell that they truly belong if
you try to hold an intelligent conversation with them.

And finally there are the Borgs, who pass between the Universes but do
so in their Master's Keep, entering through one gate dressed like the
soulless automata that they truly are and emerging from another wearing
double-knit polos with Borg logos and knife-edged khaki pants and
loafers, so they can pretend that they are just "one of the geeks" at
some Geek Faire being held in Geekworld.  If you fall into their
clutches at one of these events they will simply grab at your collar
(they're searching for your non-existent tie or lapels) and intone
"resistance is futile" until somebody comes along and makes fun of them,
causing them to scurry back into the protective embrace of their control
droid at the biggest, most overdone booth at the Faire.  Sometimes The
Borg Himself shows up to deliver a keynote address or otherwise assert
his Geek Roots, but no real geeks are ever seen in his Company (in
either sense of the term) so it cannot be said with certainty if it
really is The Borg or just one of his many clones.

So to clarify, nobody in the Universe under discussion -- the one that
isn't already using linux clusters because of its vast performance and
cost advantages in their mileau -- could care less about performance per
se as long as it is "good enough" and the risk/ROI/CYA equations work
out right.  Places where The Borg already Owns Their Soul, in other

"Resistance is Futile..."

(Gawds, there's bound to be a video game in here somewhere, isn't


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

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