[Beowulf] A press release

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Wed Jul 16 15:00:04 PDT 2008

On Wed, 9 Jul 2008, Toon Moene wrote:

> Lombard, David N wrote:
>> All were after.  MCC dates from '91;
> Ah, that explains :-)
> As I bought a NeXT workstation in November '91 (at the tune of ~ $ 20,000) I 
> had no need for a PC-type Unix-look-a-like.

You have my deep sympathies.  I had to manage a stable of some ten
NextStations, and while their GUI was lovely, I wanted to apply a blunt
instrument to the inventor of "netinfo" as well as to the (probably
same) joker who claimed that the NeXT could run on a standard Unix /etc
model with NIS etc.  I'd save a few good licks for the person who left
all the blank commands in -- complete with their man pages -- and who
wrote the NeXT versions but didn't bother making the binaries actually
correspond to their man pages.

Nice (if expensive) "Unix-like" personal systems; really dark side stuff
to try to manage in a scalable way in a mixed Unix environment of
mostly-Sun workstations.

> Besides, the NeXT was good enough to start working on g77 ... It could even 
> run our (then operational) weather forecasting model.

They also ran Mathematica beautifully.  That was primarily why we got
them -- they did a find MMA notebook, and we had a prof who was writing
great notebooks to support some core graduate courses.  But to do
computations, for my $20K -- or even my $10K, as we got "great" prices
-- I was all Sun.  Or maybe a little bit SGI, as they had some nice (but
much more expensive) MIPS based workstations that I ran a fair bit of
code on.

I'm a late finger -- I didn't start using linux much until 1994 or
thereabouts -- some version of SLS first, and then transitioned to
slackware on genuine floppies.  At first I only ran it at home on 486s
and then a couple of different cheap 586 clones, but in 1996 I bought
some of the first dual Pentium Pro's and popped slackware on them with
the 2.0.0 kernel and made them into a cluster.  They weren't really
bootable and stable until 2.0.5 or 2.0.6 or thereabouts -- the early SMP
kernels were pretty disasterous and actually would do things like eat
disks because of locking problems and some serious bugs in disk and
network.  So MCC's day came and went without my notice... and even SLS
was a bit thin as I absolutely needed stuff like TeX and IIRC it didn't
have it but slackware did.  But it was long ago and I pitched my SLS and
Slackware floppies (smiling face of bob and all) a few years ago, since
floppies are obsolete.


Robert G. Brown                            Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Duke University Physics Dept, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
Book of Lilith Website: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/Lilith/Lilith.php
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