Linux vs. Solaris on Sun Opteron hardware

Discussion in 'General Server' started by mek42, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. mek42

    mek42 New Member

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    The short story is I'm looking into getting a used Sunfire v40z to use mostly as a large memory workstation. Is there any advantage in running Solaris on it, or is Linux just as valid a choice?

    Would both OS be able to equally access the on-board systems monitor PPC?

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  2. DevynCJohnson

    DevynCJohnson Super Moderator Staff Member Staff Writer

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    Even though I am a big fan of Linux, I cannot deny that Solaris would be the best choice as far as hardware compatibility and performance. If you had other concerns, then maybe my answer would change. Generally, if the hardware was made by Sun-Microsystems/Oracle, then Solaris would be the best choice.

    Linux would work well, but the BEST system would be Solaris. You can still use either one and get excellent performance. Overall, I think your personal taste for the one you like best would be your greatest answer.

    What are you planning to do with the computer - gaming, graphics design, web-browsing, writing, etc.?
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  3. mek42

    mek42 New Member

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    A medium length answer to: Why?

    I have a bunch (for a private individual - I'm pretty sure I could break 24 Gb with enough DIMMs, not sure if I have enough for the full 32 Gb that the v40z supports) of 2 Gb ECC Reg DDR (1) sticks from when I ran a personal (small (tiny)) Beowulf when I was a grad student. I want to put those all in one workstation to have a bunch of RAM. Two of my Beowulf nodes use 4 matched speed single core Opteron 8xx CPUs, so I started looking for quad socket 940 main boards that I could stuff in a full tower.

    Searching the used market yielded some v40z systems not too dear (though anything needs to wait until we sell our old house, so I should probably start by moving as much RAM as I can to one of the node machines and get started with that).

    What I plan to do with the thing (other than supporting my local utility)

    The driving force that is getting me closer to having an active Linux box rather than wistfully thinking that Linux is nice is that a) my daughter is now 2 years old; b) we want to homeschool her; and c) I want to pass on a basis of problem solving skills to her (see aside, below), which I believe to be related to programming ability.

    So I'll want to do some programming again to get my skills up again. I also want to learn at least the rudiments of parallel programming, as it seems we have reached the limit of serial performance, though I'm content at this point to limit myself to one box parallelization - getting MPI to work was tedious when I setup my Beowulf.. My academic background is C and C++ and I taught myself enough Fortran to make a trivial contribution to a computational chemistry project, but right now I'm trying to learn a bit of python, though I'm not yet at a point to know whether python is thread aware.

    Lastly, I applied a utility that allows my Windows Dwarf Fortress executable to use more than 2 Gb of RAM and then saw my system performance plummet - having more than 20 Gb of RAM available to a single process (via Opteron memory sharing) would mean I could run a much larger fort while using my windows machine to read the DF wiki while playing.

    Aside: Why I think problem solving ~ programming skill

    Until about three years ago I was a chemist. Then I adjuncted at the local community college for a couple years and now I'm starting a new career as an industrial hygienist. While teaching, my biggest challenge was how to teach general problem solving skills to my students who for the most part were pre-nursing or other health technician. I was under no illusion that my students would be using most of the chemistry we covered on a day to day basis , but I did want them to walk away with some sort of system that could be generally applied to solve problems they might encounter, as it seemed that general problem solving was a universally low priority during the precollegiate preparation my students had, recent high school grad and nontrad alike.

    In the middle of my teaching career, my wife became pregnant. Homeschooling had been an interest for some time, now the concept became real, as it were, and one of the things I began to contemplate was how I obtained my own problem solving skills. Upon reflection, I decided that a possible major differentiation between myself and many of my peers is that I was but a class or two shy of an academic minor in CS. So, I figured that learning to program probably assisted in the development of problem solving skills.

    So, in hopes that programming will positively influence problem solving skills, I want my daughter to learn to program. We plan to homeschool, I will be coving the STEM side of the plan, so I need to hone apply the angle grinder to my own programming skills so I will be able to cogently pass them on in a few years.
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  4. DevynCJohnson

    DevynCJohnson Super Moderator Staff Member Staff Writer

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    Okay, then I think Solaris would suit your needs better, unless you prefer Linux better.
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  5. ryanvade

    ryanvade Administrator Staff Member Staff Writer

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    You can always choose *BSD. o_O
  6. ryanvade

    ryanvade Administrator Staff Member Staff Writer

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    You can always choose *BSD. o_O

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