I’ve long been interested in parallel computing, having become intrigued by the subject when reading about the first “Beowulf” clusters in use years ago. I began experimenting with PVM on my Linux and FreeBSD machines at home years ago and was pleased to build a “cluster” of two machines which could process POV scenes more quickly than either one by itself. It was a nice achievement, but I recognized that parallel computing did not hold much promise for my day-to-day computing experience.
As time went on, I discovered MOSIX. I began playing with MOSIX and was thrilled to have a cluster that did not require special apps compiled against PVM or MPI libraries. MOSIX made parallel computing transparent to the applications running on top of it. While there are still places where the PVM or message-passing models may work better, MOSIX greatly simplifies this parallel computing process and opens it up to every Unix binary. (that can be forked)
As a Mac OS X user / administrator today, I have been playing with Xgrid since Apple released it’s technology preview. Based on the initial marketing hype and my experience with MOSIX, I was greatly anticipating an amazing advance forward in parallel computing in a system with the advantages of MOSIX and the signature ease-of-use that Apple products bring. I have since discovered that while Xgrid simplifies some things, it is certainly not as trivial as I first expected. In addition, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of examples for new uses for Xgrid. Doing a search for Xgrid applications, I discovered the same basic POVRay example that I used to test my PVM-based cluster years ago.
Now I’m not saying that Xgrid is bad. In fact, I’m very glad to see Apple working on such technology, and I’m certain that it will continue to improve. Perhaps we’ll see advances in this area for Leopard. In the meantime, wouldn’t it be great to have MOSIX ported to Darwin? I’ve never even glanced at the MOSIX code, so I have no idea what this would entail, but the MOSIX team says it has been ported to several Unices, and they seem to indicate that it is fairly portable code. So, let’s do it. Are there any other Mac OS X / parallel computing enthusiasts interested in such a project? Am I way off here? Maybe Xgrid is more powerful and flexible than it appears to me. What are some of you doing with Xgrid? I’d love to hear about it.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to use Xgrid for POV and Xcode’s distributed build technology for compiling large projects. But if I could speed up certain tasks on my older G3s and G4s by tapping the idle CPU power on my newer boxes, that’d be marvelous. Read More ›
I happened to be looking through my awstats output for this month when I noticed something I found a little odd, or at least worth mentioning. I’ve been examining these types of logs for years now and there’s so much data there that perhaps I’ve missed it before, but in the list of search engine bot statistics, I noticed an interesting relationship. So far for the month of March, Googlebot has hit my site 409 times for a total bandwidth usage of 3.10MB. Yahoo has hit my site 719 times for a total bandwidth of 6.39MB. Last, but certainly not least is the MSNBot coming in with only 590 hits, but a whopping bandwidth consumption of 11.89MB! Now, there are a number of others in my list, that each consume far less than these big three. Looking back over the past several months’ data, Google and Yahoo appear to be rather even in this measurement, but MSNBot is the clear leader with sometimes 15 times the bandwidth consumption! I don’t exactly know for certain if it’s fair to interpret these numbers this way, but it occurred to me that Microsoft is trying extra hard to beat Google, and perhaps this increased bot activity is evidence of it. Anyway, just makes you wonder how well it’s going for them. ;)
I’d be interested to know if anyone else has seen this activity or has a better explanation for it. Read More ›
I went backpacking this past weekend with several good friends, David Benton, Phillip Paul, and Bruce Boggess. We traveled to the Big Frog Wilderness, right near the Ocoee River. Our hike led us up the mountain Friday night and we camped down in a valley near Rough Creek Saturday night. It was a great weekend and a great hike. I took my dog Tennyson with us and he had a great time. He was a bit of a nuisance sometimes, as his nose gets him in trouble, but he is a great trail dog. David has put together a great map of our hike and pictures from the weekend. Thanks Dav! Read More ›
I’m probably only one of 3 people crazy enough to run Tiger Server on Beige G3 hardware, but I figure I’ll post this for those 2 others that may find this helpful. I recently applied the 10.4.5 update and was disappointed to see that my screen blanked upon reboot. As I am running VNC server on the box, I connected remotely to it to discover that the video was indeed messed up, even in VNC. I had been avoiding the “Patched RagePro” driver provided by XPostFacto because I had seen some artifacts when using it before, but the update has forced me to check that checkbox in XPostFacto to get any video. Of course, if I happen to notice too many artifacts, I suppose I can always install the 10.4.4 driver.
BTW, for anyone who may be curious about performance of Tiger Server on such old hardware, it’s really not that bad. I mean, it’s useful for browsing, email, testing, etc. I actually use it as a backup server. It runs Bacula backup software and backs up my network computers to an externally attached FireWire HD. Read More ›