Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Linux powers the fastest computers on the planet

Once upon a time, supercomputers used special vector model processors to achieve their remarkable speeds. Then, at the dawn of the 21st century, people began working out how to achieve record-breaking computer speed by linking hundreds or thousands of commercial microprocessors running Linux and connected with high-speed networking in MPP (massively parallel processor) arrays. The supercomputing world has never been the same. Today, Linux rules supercomputing.

The latest "Top 500 supercomputer" list of the fastest computers on the planet makes that abundantly clear. Broken down by operating system, this latest ranking has 469 of the top 500 running one kind of Linux or another.

To be exact, 391 are running their own house brand of Linux. Sixty-two are running some version of Novell's SUSE Linux, including such variants as UNICOS/lc and CNL (Compute Node Linux). Red Hat and its relatives, including CentOS, come in second with 16 supercomputers.

As for the non-Linux members of the fastest computer club, IBM's AIX Unix, with 22 computers, is the only serious competitor. Microsoft and Sun, with Windows HPC 2008 and OpenSolaris, are barely in the running, with fives supercomputers for Windows and a mere pair for OpenSolaris.

Linux isn't just setting the standards; it's breaking the record books. The fastest of the fast is now the Cray XT5 supercomputer, known as Jaguar. Jaguar, which runs CNL, didn't just take first place; it blew away the competition with a top speed of 1.75 petaflops per second, leaving the previous record of 1.04 petaflops per second in the dust. (A petaflop is 1,000 trillion, a quadrillion, floating point calculations per second.)
What's even more amazing is that the IBM Roadrunner, another Linux system, which has held the top record, had only broken the petaflop barrier in the summer of 2008. Or perhaps it isn't so amazing when you consider that, with Linux leading the way, the slowest member of this new list can do 20 teraflop (trillion floating point calculations per second). In other words, this list's slowest system would have ranked No. 336 in the last Top 500 list from six months ago.

Linux and improvements in Linux-based MPP programming techniques can't take all the credit. Jaguar, which is located at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, was upgraded from quad-core to six-core AMD Opteron processors. After this upgrade, Jaguar is running almost a quarter of a million CPU cores. In theory, Jaguar can reach a peak speed of 2.3 petaflop per second.
Between the continued improvements in multi-core processor speeds, network fabric throughput, and Linux performance, we can expect to see supercomputers gaining speed at this remarkable rate for quite some time to come. At this rate, we may see a Linux-powered exaflop (one quintillion calculations per second) computer by the early 2010s. That's not just a theory: IBM is already working on the design for such a supercomputer monster for the Square Kilometre Array telescope project. The proposed operating system? Linux, of course.

Linux powers the fastest computers on the planet

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Migration Story – Windows to Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) « Blogternals

So, you have decided for one reason or another to give up Windows and switch to Linux. One of the problems is that most people don’t know how to accomplish this and those who do understand have already done. Human nature dictates that most people, once they learn how something is done become sensitized as to how hard it was to gain that knowledge. I decided to think back and then document exactly what one needs to do in order to migrate successfully from Windows to Ubuntu. When I say successfully I mean completely including getting flash and Java to work in Firefox, installing the most needed codecs for your Media Player files, MP3s and DVDs. Also perhaps setting email and for a good measure a few tips and ticks. During this guide I will be showing you how use what is provided by the default Ubuntu install and only installing minimal applications. I will not be showing you how to install what I think are the best applications for doing things, I’ll just be showing you how to get things working and installing the minimal apps to get things working.


One problem you may or may not have considered is all your files and settings. Now I am not trying to talk you out of moving to Linux just making you aware of troubles you will be facing when trying to migrate over. If you opt to re-size your Windows partition and install Ubuntu in a dual boot environment, the Ubuntu installer will prompt you to transfer your files and settings over from your Windows installation. If you are going to opt to obliterate Windows all together you will want to back up your files and settings before you begin (I would back up my files in either case). Make sure you back up your Internet Explorer bookmarks or FireFox bookmarks or both as the case may apply to you. Ubuntu will be able to read from (and even write to) Windows partitions, so copying files from a Windows partition to your new Ubuntu file system is possible. So if you are just choosing to use a new Hard drive then you will not need to back up your data before hand. If those files are on a server (shared), you can get to them via smb (included by default in e.g. Ubuntu’s nautilus file browser). In this case, you will have to log on to that server with a user account known to that server, and with the necessary permissions to at least copy files and directories, but that’s easy to set up.

OpenOffice will open MS Office documents, spreadsheets and presentations, Visio and MS Projects clones work towards compatibility with files created with the Microsoft products, pdf’s are not problem, Adobe even releases a Linux version, … But your mileage may vary as so things still don’t port but this will be the exception I promise.

If you were already using Firefox on Windows, this is going to be pretty straightforward. We already know we can copy between the two file systems, and Firefox keeps all settings inside a user profile so moving thins around will be easy. If you are using IE I suggest you install FireFox right now and then import your IE bookmarks to FireFox and then continue this will make life so much easier for you.

As for the rest of your media you will just need to copy things over and then learn the new applications you are going to use to read, listen, or view them. Pretty straightforward here.

OK, lets get our hands dirty, The first thing you need to do is print this article out so you can have it own hand or at the very least write down the URL or bookmark before you begin installing Ubuntu. You should have already downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 and burned it to a CD, if not you need to do so now here is a link if you need it, for those not sure you need the Desktop version. OK, go ahead and install Ubuntu. If you need help with that here is a link.

So you have Ubuntu installed now this is where I enter with some very useful information that is missing in most manuals when you switch to Linux. The reason most install guide leave you here is because Linux is about choice, and they expecet you to make your own choices, but what about the simple everyday things we use our computers for. Media, mail, and the Web (This is where flash and Java come in). They are most likely not working at this point an most Linux distro and there is of coarse a reason for that as well. Now, I am not going to dive to deep into the legalities of why codecs are missing and things don’t quite work but just understand that there are legal ramification for the maintainers and they have to watch out for their own interests.

OK, So I am going to give you a little bash script here to run from the command line. This should get your Shinny New Ubuntu running with all the restricted stuff installed, Flash Working as well as Java.

A Migration Story – Windows to Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Making the Evolutionary Leap from Meerkat to Narwhal | Linux Magazine

If you're using Maverick Meerkat (Ubuntu 10.10) or an older distribution, Natty Narwhat is a whole new animal.

I’m very happy with Ubuntu as a desktop operating system. I’ve used it for years with no significant issues. In fact, Ubuntu excels where other disributions fail. Even Linux arch rival Windows, is often left in the last century compared to the innovations perpetrated by the Canonical group. But what about Natty Narwhal? Is the hype worth the effort? I’d have to say, “Yes.” Although, I’m not 100 percent sold on Unity, I’m impressed with its boot speed, shutdown speed, and snappy performance. Oh, and there’s that little matter of The Launcher.

This article describes my personal experiences with upgrading Ubuntu 10.10 to Ubuntu 11.04 via the Ubuntu automatic notification and online update method.




Making the Evolutionary Leap from Meerkat to Narwhal

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Living the Linux Lifestyle — Datamation.com

Why do some people choose to run Linux as their PC platform of choice while others opt instead for other ways of running their computing experiences?

Is it market share, perceived ease of use, slick marketing overtures, users wanting to use what they already know? This list might explain why people might choose OS X or Windows.

But what approach to computing (and life) prompts a person to use a Linux box on a daily basis? I’ll share my insights based on personal experiences and other observations accumulated over years of living the Linux lifestyle full time.

Software buyer's remorse has gone M.I.A.


I haven't spent my hard-earned income on software in years. I own one single (legal) copy of Windows XP Pro that I use for work purposes (software testing) in VirtualBox.

Does this mean that I choose not to spend money on Linux then? Not at all. I do in fact, donate money to specific Linux-related projects on a regular basis.

Full article here: Living the Linux Lifestyle — Datamation.com

Thursday, December 08, 2011

How to Create Your Own Customized Ubuntu Live CD

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We love a good live CD, but what if your favorite one doesn't quite have every application or tweak you need? Here's how to roll your own Ubuntu Live CD, with all the packages you want, and some nice customizations, to boot.
The tool that we're going to use is called Reconstructor, which is a free webapp that lets you roll your own Ubuntu and Debian live CDs.
We've mentioned Reconstructor in the past; below is a step-by-step for using it.

Getting Started

The first step is to sign up for an account at Reconstructor. Click the Sign Up link and fill out the form that appears. Confirm your account by clicking on a link that will be emailed to you, and then log in.
You'll be greeted by Reconstructor's main interface. To create your customized Ubuntu CD, click on the Create Project button in the left column.
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Fill out the basic information about your project. In our case, we're going to customize an Ubuntu 9.10 Live CD, to include some useful utilities.

How to Create Your Own Customized Ubuntu Live CD