[Beowulf] Oh.. IBM eats Red Hat

Chris Samuel chris at csamuel.org
Tue Oct 30 02:26:07 PDT 2018

On Tuesday, 30 October 2018 5:04:39 AM AEDT John Hearns via Beowulf wrote:

> I just realised...  I will now need an account on the IBM Support Site, a
> SiteID AND an Entitlement to file bugs on any Redhat packages.

I suspect that won't be the case, from what IBM are saying they're basically 
going to let them carry on with how Red Hat are doing things.

A couple of points now I've had some time to think further on this:

1) IBM has always required you to run either Red Hat or SLES for hardware 
support on xSeries hardware. Having better links into one of those means it 
becomes easier to track down issues when Red Hat stuff up a kernel feature on 
a point release (like breaking Mellanox IB for several releases in RHEL6 for 
BG/Q Power systems, it panics your service node when you boot 4 racks at once, 
had to run RHEL 6.2 kernel until it was fixed in 6.5).

I would be a bit nervous if I was SuSE on that front on that potential for 
more tie-in.  On Power I'd be worried if I was Canonical as they had gone in 
hard with partnerships with IBM for Power around 2015.

2) IBM does have techies (as others have mentioned); from my local perspective 
they hired most/all of the OzLabs folks in Canberra in 2001 (who were stranded 
after LinuxCare folded) to join the Linux Technology Centre there, and were 
doing a lot of PPC kernel & firmware hacking.

They brought up Linux on Power5 before AIX (for the first time - AIX needed 
firmware support whilst they could get Linux to boot on the bare metal). Some 
of them you may have heard of :-) (Andrew Tridgell, Rusty Russell, Paul 
Mackerras, Chris Yeoh).  I had the privilege of working with some IBM folks 
seconded to VLSCI and they were a very smart bunch (Mark Nelson moved from the 
LTC down to Melbourne & did a bunch of work on Slurm for us).   There's a heap 
more information here:


3) xSeries support has always been a pain point for folks dealing with IBM, 
but the pSeries (POWER) support has been a lot better in general.  As long as 
your IBM account manager doesn't muck up your support schedule. ;-)

Red Hat's support has been not that great in my experience, and there are 
signs of a lack of testing in their release cycle (they released a point 
release of RHEL6 where rsync's parsing of remote source/destinations was 
broken so you couldn't rsync to/from a remote source, plus of course the 
recent release of a kernel where RDMA was completely broken due to a single 
character typo).

4) Sierra (and presumably other IBM CORAL systems) runs RHEL7.  See point 1.

All the best!
 Chris Samuel  :  http://www.csamuel.org/  :  Melbourne, VIC

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