[Beowulf] Oh.. IBM eats Red Hat

David Mathog mathog at caltech.edu
Mon Oct 29 09:44:29 PDT 2018

> Joe Landman wrote:
> The downside to (most) of the stable distros are the aging compilers,
> languages, and libraries.

On CentOS and RH the devtoolset packages provide newer compilers.  
However, the libraries are still old, and that can be an impossible nut 
to crack.  I recently ran into a package (which shall not be named) 
where I just could not build a library version which would work with the 
supplied binary - it had to be new enough to meet the version 
requirements but old enough to build on CentOS 6.  It was possible to 
rebuild the entire application from source though - the library version 
requirement was just a reflection of the system that binary was compiled 

If IBM gave RH a kick so that they moved everything forward to, let's 
say, (current date - 2 years) era compiler/library releases it would be 
a good thing.

> This is where Ubuntu shines, in that they have nearly up to date
> versions of everything.  gcc 7.3.0, perl 5.26, python 3.6.6.

That makes things ever so much worse for people using CentOS and RH.  
Developers assume that all that cutting edge stuff is available 
everywhere.  They end up baking in library version dependencies which 
are not actually needed for their programs to work.

> It turns out that getting up to date compilers and libraries has become
> quite important for those working on large distributed code bases.

Libraries are harder.  Try to build a newer one than ships with CentOS 
and it is not uncommon to end up having to build many other libraries 
(recursive dependencies) or to hit a brick wall when a kernel dependency 

In biology apps of late there is a distressing tendency for software to 
only be supported in a distribution form which is essentially an entire 
OS worth of libraries packaged with the one (often very small) program I 
actually want to run.  (See "bioconda".)  Most of these programs will 
build just fine from source even on CentOS 6, but often the only way to 
download a binary for them is to accept an additional 1Gb (or more) of 
other stuff.


David Mathog
mathog at caltech.edu
Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech

More information about the Beowulf mailing list