[Beowulf] Linux laptops, and M$ advertisement

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Mon Apr 16 20:37:47 EDT 2007

At 11:22 AM 4/16/2007, Peter St. John wrote:
>While looking around for a laptop I discovered that MS is paying 
>Google for the keyword "linux" to point to a "Get the Facts!" page 
>(reminds me of TheTruth.com) with testomonials about why MS is 
>better than Linux for clustering (!). What struck me was that I 
>wasn't googling "linux cluster" but just "linux notebook", yet the 
>page is about MS cluster installations at research facilitites.
>The ad is 
>The testamonials all seem to be equivalent to "I"m a PhD in Rocket 
>Science but setting up a Linux Cluster is too complex, so using MS 
>saves me time to do Rocket Science".

Well, as a rocket scientist of sorts (although not actually in 
propulsion), I didn't see any rocket science folks.. I'd be willing 
to bet that among those who actually DO rocket science Linux has a 
fairly high penetration(at least here at JPL, it does).

But your point is well taken.  And so is Microsoft's...

A more accurate model for this market would be "I'm a rocket 
scientist with a Windows desktop application that provides me with a 
familiar interface to a back end that might be a cluster or might 
not. I don't want to have to care what's running back there in the 
closet, because I'm a rocket scientist, not a sysadmin.  *I* don't 
much care who provides me with a turnkey solution, I'll be happy, 
independent of what's under the hood. But I'll be darned if I'm going 
to download ISOs off the web, burn them and build my own 
cluster.  Talk to the computing infrastructure people and stop 
bothering me.  And if you're selling something they don't like, 
you're doomed.".

>None of them mention if their MS clusters were in any way subsidized by MS.

The U Va one is probably the Apple Mac cluster, no?

>Also, I assume that essentially they are paying their vendor to do 
>the setup & support, and they don't say if that compares 
>economically to, say, paying Joe to do that, only that it saves them 
>time themselves. Sure, if I had that budget, I'd pay Joe and RGB to 
>come and work for me and I would have more time for other things.

Institutional budgets are a funny thing.  Many things get done that 
don't make a heck of a lot of sense from the end user, but make 
perfect sense from another viewpoint.  This is especially true with 
the parts of the "life cycle cost" that aren't in the original 
capital investment.

James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
Flight Communications Systems Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875 

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