Archive for January, 2008

MySQL, MyGoodness

January 17, 2008

“Fantastic, what a great idea!” was my immediate reaction to our announcement that we intend to acquire MySQL, as detailed on Jonathan’s blog yesterday.

With MySQL’s deep database experience and Sun’s extensive hardware and software portfolio and expertise, there are huge possibilities for the kinds of solutions we can bring to market by combining forces. Practically everything Sun does is relevant for such solutions. Here are a few of them:

  • We build highly-threaded, high core count SPARC microprocessors and we have partnerships with both AMD and Intel that give us access to their microprocessor roadmaps, giving us the freedom to innovate at the system level over a wide range of product and application requirements.
  • We build highly scalable disk and tape subsystems based on innovations within Sun and on the many years of experience in the storage and archive arena brought to Sun through our acquisition of StorageTek in 2005.
  • We have Solaris and all of its technologies and capabilities, including our work on Project Indiana to create an OpenSolaris binary distribution and to make the Solaris user experience more welcoming for customers accustomed to GNU/Linux. And when I say “we have Solaris” I also mean we have the expertise within Sun to make Solaris sing on all our hardware platforms–from highly scaled SPARC systems to Intel and AMD systems with a wide range of capabilities.
  • And we have the ability as a system company to innovate across our entire hardware and software stack to deliver highly-optimized solutions for our customers. And now with MySQL joining the family, we can extend those benefits right up into the database layer. There are very few companies that have the ability to do this to the extent Sun does.

I also see this acquisition as part of a continuing evolution (or perhaps “enlightenment”) on Sun’s part with respect to Open Source. I’ve seen several stages of Open Source involvement at Sun, starting with “Contributor” with our release of OpenOffice and other code to the open source community, moving to “Practitioner” with the creation of the OpenSolaris community, and now moving on to what I think of as “Champion” with our recent acquisition of Cluster File Systems and, soon, MySQL. I can’t think of another large corporation that has embraced open source and community development as broadly and aggressively as Sun. And now we are putting our money where our mouth is, as we say in the US. We’ve gone beyond merely using and contributing to open source software to active investment in significant areas of the open source ecosystem. Of course, for the world to see these acquisitions as a positive development for open source, we need to prove to you that we will be capable and tasteful stewards of these products and technologies. I believe we’ve demonstrated this so far with our handling of the CFS acquisition by continuing to actively support and extend the Lustre parallel file system roadmap and in particular by our firm statements concerning the recognized importance of Lustre to our many Linux-using High Performance Computing customers. Moving Lustre to Sun was good for Lustre customers and good for Sun. I’m confident the same will be true of MySQL.

By the way, “MySQL” is pronounced My-Ess-Que-Ell, not My-Sequel. Says so here. I’ve never met anyone who pronounces it incorrectly, but I hear you are out there…


Winter Storm at Beaver Brook

January 15, 2008

[beaver brook, sharon ma]

MPI Library Updated: Sun ClusterTools 7.1 Released

January 8, 2008

The latest version of Sun’s MPI library for Solaris x86 and Solaris SPARC is now available for free download on the ClusterTools 7.1 download area. Our MPI library is based on Open MPI, an open source MPI effort to which Sun contributes actively as a corporate member.

This new release adds Intel support, improved parallel debugger support, PBS Pro validation, improved memory usage for communication operations, and other bug fixes. Sun Studio 12, the latest version of Sun’s high performance compiler and tools suite, is also supported.

ClusterTools 7.1 is based on Open MPI 1.2.4.

Customized Feeds with…Cool!

January 8, 2008

[search results window on]

While I knew I could search for entries containing specific tags using this page, I hadn’t noticed until today that I can turn those searches into custom RSS feeds using the icons on the right side of each Search Results page. I now have Bloglines subscriptions to two custom blog streams, one for all entries tagged with HPC and another for Solaris. Cool.

Solaris Security Features: How Wide, How Deep?

January 7, 2008

Judging from Distinguished Engineer Glenn Brunette’s recent blog post, Top 5 Solaris 10 Security Features You Should Be Using, very wide and very deep.

If you are an HPC (or other) customer who cares about security either for keeping the bad guys out or for limiting unintentional damage within your computing infrastructure (perhaps you have students or others who should not have full access to your machines, but need some capabilities to be effective) or for handling multi-tenancy situations (perhaps you allow multiple populations to access your resources and want to keep those populations separated and/or restricted), you should definitely take a closer look at some of the features Glenn highlights.

My Ubuntu Experiment: First Report

January 6, 2008

[ubuntu logo]

As I mentioned recently, my father has agreed to try Ubuntu as his home desktop operating environment, replacing Windows XP. And because I promised to document the experience, here is what happened yesterday when I delivered the system.

Before I turned the system over to my father, I finished the configuration by attaching his HP 4110 USB printer. Ubuntu handled that flawlessly–when I started the printer installation utility, the printer had already been identified and I was able to print a test page immediately. Impressive.

I then took my father through a very short introduction to the system, capturing his issues as we went. The issues and my remedial actions are listed below.

  • ISSUE: He had an immediate negative reaction to the default Ubuntu brown background. Said it was ugly.
  • ACTION: Changed the background to a sky blue.
  • ISSUE: I had previously dragged Solitaire to the desktop, since he’d had it there on his XP system. However, he immediately noticed there was no icon for Hearts, another game he enjoys.
  • ACTION: I hadn’t put Hearts on the desktop because it wasn’t included in the base Ubuntu installation. This was easily fixed by searching for the name of the appropriate package and invoking the following:
    % sudo aptget install gnome-hearts

    Once installed, however, the game failed to start. More web searching found this thread which allowed me to fix the problem with:

    % cd /usr/share/pixmaps/
    % sudo ln -s ../gnome-games-common/
  • ISSUE: Where is Google Earth? I had forgotten GE had been installed on the original XP system.
  • ACTION: I downloaded the .bin file from here and then ran ‘sh’ on it, which installed the software with no problems.
  • ISSUE: As the sole user on the system, he did not want to specify a username and password each time the system booted.
  • ACTION: System -> Administration -> Login Window -> security tab : Enable Automatic login
  • ISSUE: He asked if he could still access AOL.
  • ACTION: That stopped me for a minute because based on a quick search, there is no Linux AOL client. However, since my father only accesses AOL via broadband and everything he needs can be reached via, no client software was needed.
  • ISSUE: He asked how to access his existing documents.
  • ACTION: We used OpenOffice to open several Excel and Word files and encountered no issues.

Those were all the issues noted during this first session and none were show stoppers, so the experiment continues. More news as I have it…

Uh, Did Parade Not Get the Memo?

January 6, 2008

In today’s Boston Globe…

ACM and IEEE: Why Bother?

January 5, 2008

For the past several years I’ve asked myself why I continue to renew my ACM and IEEE memberships. Other than digital library access which is available to all Sun employees, I don’t use any services from either organization. The membership benefits are either uninteresting or I lack the time to take advantage of them. The monthly magazines are more of a burden than anything else–just two more magazines to look through with little content of interest. I do, however, enjoy ACM Queue when I have the time to read it.

And yet each year I send them hundreds of dollars (ACM $99, IEEE $170 + IEEE Comp Society $50), perhaps with the vague feeling that it is good to support my professional organizations (isn’t that backwards?) or that someone who is serious about his profession should belong to the appropriate organizations.

Those arguments are starting to wear thin. Is there anyone out there with some compelling reasons why I should renew my memberships for 2008?

Take the Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

January 5, 2008

Your Score : 64 credits. You’re a major sci-fi geek! Do you speak Klingon?

Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 64 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quiz

Tips for Conference Bloggers: A Free Guide

January 3, 2008

Bruno Giussani and Ethan Zuckerman have created a handy guide for bloggers who are covering conferences or other events at which they would like to blog summaries of a series of talks. Tips for Conference Bloggers is available free here in PDF form as either a six-page document or in a three-page booklet format.

Based on my experiences blogging the last four Sun HPC Consortium conferences, the advice is all useful, though I do have some comments. First, I recommend writing your draft entries in a text editor rather than using blogging software, especially if you are unable to keep up and publish each summary within 10 minutes, as recommended by the authors. At the last Consortium meeting, I lost eight draft entries with no backup when ecto ate them. I’m assured by ecto’s developer that this problem has been corrected, but this failure caused me such a huge problem and put me so far behind schedule that I now write my entries in emacs and then paste them directly into roller for publication. On overreaction perhaps, but I had committed to blog all of our customers’ talks at this conference and had no recourse other than to spend many hours reconstructing my notes for those talks.

Also, while I agree that publishing talk summaries within 10 minutes is a good goal since it leaves you time to participate in the conference yourself rather than spending all of your time hunched over a laptop, you need to decide how much detail is appropriate for your event. In my case, I try to present a fairly detailed summary of each talk with a lot of content links, which takes time. And since one talk often immediately follows another, it is easy to fall increasingly behind as the day progresses. As the guide mentions, sharing the load with another blogger can be a great help. Also, early access to presentation slides can really help you preload your drafts with useful links and other material so you can publish your final entries more quickly.

Via one of my favorite sites, Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools. The CT discussion of the blogging guide is here.