Saturday, April 7, 2007

Ubuntu Disti is Amazing

Summary; a lot of water (or bits) have flowed under the bridge since my last post. Since I've started to find my blog in Ubuntu searches on Google, I guess I better keep it up; eh? I now have 10 "working girls" churning billions of floating points ops per seconds and teaching me VPN things.

It is actually ironic - my "fun game computer" is now one of my weakest systems. I now have 3 'servers' for my fun and self-learning which are 2 or 3 time more powerful. Since one can make a nice dual-core Linux system for just $400, why not? I save my money and every few months add a new system. But that will change - my "fun game" system is just waiting for summer 2007 ... I want to see what AMD releases to counter the Intel Core 2 Duo advantage, plus the whole NVidia 8xxx + DirectX10 graphics market should reach a more realistic price point.

So far I have to say the Ubuntu Disti is pretty amazing just because I have YET to find a system I could not boot the Live-CD or install the desktop on. I did find 2 old 1997-circa APGx1 cards it didn't like, but we have a pile of old APG cards at work to chose from. There have been some problems when I change plug-n-play displays with X11 defaulting to ridiculously low-resolutions; I had to learn to go edit /etc/X11 files under recovery mode. Plus I should say I still use Windows XP for my games and media systems so I am not bothering to try & squeeze 3D graphics or even audio out of the Linux boxes. However, the Ubuntu just seems to install and boot ... no hacking required.

Ubuntu Nodes under my command:

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (7.04) Beta:
  • "Tara" is AMD A64 X2 3600+ (~1.9Ghz), 2GB DDR2-800, SATA 150GB drive on a ECS RS485M-M Socket AM2 ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard. Only problem so far is the K8 power/freq control doesn't work under Linux kernel 2.6.19 but since she runs at 100% CPU load on both cores all the time ... I don't really care.
  • "Bela" is a sweet AMD A64 3000+ (~2.oGHz) with 1GB DDR400 on an unusual JetWay 754 NVidia Motherboard. Bela's just a temp Ubuntu worker since soon I'll take her out to California to swap out my daughter's old 1.2GHz Celeron DELL. She has an NVidia 7600 card and Windows Vista upgrade waiting for her in the role of family PC.
  • "Yuna" is an old PIII Coopermine 1Ghz with 512MB PC133
  • "Zefa" is an old PIII Coopermine 650Mhz with 384MB PC100
  • "Saly" is an old PIII Katmai 450Mhz with 512MB PC100
Ubuntu Edgy Eft (6.10):
  • "Nana" is AMD A64 X2 3600+ (~1.9Ghz - twin of Tara), 1GB DDR2-667, SATA 150GB drive on a ECS RS485M-M Socket AM2 ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
  • "Amie" is AMD XP 2400+ (~2.0GHz) with 1GB PC3200 RAM on an ABit KW7 Motherboard
  • "Xena" is a Dell 8200 with a P4-M 1.6Ghz and 512MB
  • "Cali" is an old yet feisty (hot-running) Celeron 2.5Ghz with 512MB PC3200.
  • I should mention I loaded 6.10 or 6.04 on several other old PIII and dual-KII systems just to see, but I didn't keep them running. In fact, I'll retire Saly as soon as I get my daughter's old 1.2GHz Celeron since Saly's PIII probably doesn't justify the power she consumes every day.
Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog (5.04):
  • "Dora" is HP nc6120 nootebook. She's a bit of an orphan because I use her for GNU cross-compiling for embedded processors at work, so there is strong incentive for me to NOT break what ain't broke and NOT to try to upgrade her - especially since some of our tools like OLD versions of Python and every new upgrade involves pain-to-port. But one of these days soon (once Ubuntu 7.x is fully released) I'll swap in an old spare notebook drive and see if 7.10 installs and how much of the old development system she runs.
To Be Complete: pure WinXP-Pro SP2:
  • "Luci" is AMD A64 3000+ (twin of Bela), 1GB DDR-400, 150GB Raptor, ATI X1600 graphics - handle Oblivion pretty well. Luci can dual-boot to Ubuntu (now 7.04 beta), but she rarely does.
  • "Joey" is Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 (~1.9GHz) with 1GB DDR2-800 on a GigaByte 945P-S3 Motherboard with NVidia 7100GS and Hauppauge PVR-350 video/TV card. I have to say she seems to leave the A64 X2's a bit behind ... but she cost more ...
  • "Feba" is an old broken WinBook C200 notebook which shares a KVM with 3 Linux systems in a DMZ lab and runs some commercial Windows software when required.
  • "????" is HP nc6120 notebook (Twin of Dora) and basically my work computer for MS Office and Outlook, etc. She's the only unnamed computer I have and I fell a bit guilty about that :-). But our IT department gave her a wonderful fixed name - something like mkt-cms1-3029 or so ... I forget. I haven't had the heart to confuse "her" with a 2nd name.
Why do I have so many computers? I guess I'm a quantity not quality folk - haha.

No, really. I work with industrial networking and so have (as an excuse) the need to study and experiment with VPN, complex routing, firewalls and network latency in distributed networks. So much for my pretext ... I also enjoy seeing the little ladies sweat it out running BOINCs jobs in their spare time. Even poor little Saly with less than 10% the horse-power of Nana, Tara or Joey does a surprising amount of work.

Nana, Tara, Amie and Yuna form a 4-node distributed OpenVPN system based on PKI security certificates - pretty amazing and presenting lots of routing and firewall challenges since each node ends up with multiple IP addresses based on interface used. I'm constantly learning and refining how they work.

Joey, Luci, Tara and Xena are my home systems; although I only pay to run 3 of them 24/7 ... Luci normally gets to "sleep" when idle since she lights up like a Christmas tree and the Raptor drive makes a distinct "ping" whenever it seeks. Tara used to be my router/gateway at home until I started playing with XEN virtualization and that pretty much hosed up my firewall until I can better understand how IPTABLES works, so Xena has taken over the gateway role.

The other "working girls" are all at work and doing various other industrial-protocol simulation roles used for testing. In their spare time they churn BOINC projects (Rosetta, Malariacontrol, & Boincsimap) and all told, BOINC claims I have 12 billion floating point ops per second and 25 billion integer ops per second at my command. I probably won't add any more computers to my harem, but by end of the summer I'll probably upgrade at least 3 or 4 of them to dual-cores and retire the 3-4 slowest workers. Specifically, Saly, Yuna, Zefa and perhaps Cali could be replaced.

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