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Debian Software Linux

Debian Cluster Replaces Supercomputer For Weather Forecasting 160

wazza brings us a story about the Philippine government's weather service (PAGASA), which has recently used an eight-PC Debian cluster to replace an SGI supercomputer. The system processes data from local sources and the Global Telecommunication System, and it has reduced monthly operational costs by a factor of 20. Quoting: "'We tried several Linux flavours, including Red Hat, Mandrake, Fedora etc,' said Alan Pineda, head of ICT and flood forecasting at PAGASA. 'It doesn't make a dent in our budget; it's very negligible.' Pineda said PAGASA also wanted to implement a system which is very scalable. All of the equipment used for PICWIN's data gathering comes off-the-shelf, including laptops and mobile phones to transmit weather data such as temperature, humidity, rainfall, cloud formation and atmospheric pressure from field stations via SMS into PAGASA's central database."
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Debian Cluster Replaces Supercomputer For Weather Forecasting

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  • Re:Debian? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ketamine-bp ( 586203 ) <calvin@k.[ ] ['eta' in gap]> on Friday March 14, 2008 @02:17AM (#22748492)
    i would suppose that debian is quite a versatile distro for any purpose...

    -- from a debian user... who actually started quite late with potato....
  • Re:Debian? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @02:22AM (#22748522) Journal
    Debian, like most distros, is what you want it to be. Debian is used regularly as a server OS.

    I doubt they have X installed on these machines.
  • Re:Debian? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gullevek ( 174152 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @03:27AM (#22748704) Homepage Journal
    Debian is sure not a desktop distribution. Ubuntu would be one. I run Debian on all my servers.
  • Re:Debian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mortonda ( 5175 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @03:50AM (#22748808)

    Why Debian? A desktop distro? That's got to be one of the least scalable and cluster-friendly distros..
    Keep going, I was expecting to hear you claim Windows XP was a server OS next...

    Not sure why you call Debian a desktop distro, it's much more useful as a server.
  • Re:Debian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfc ( 842110 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @04:01AM (#22748836) Homepage
    You obviously doesn't have a clue about Debian. Debian has been a fine server since 1995, and I still choose it before RHEL anyday. I have always found it strange that everyone went for RedHat, when they could have Debian. Mark S. saw the advantages of Debian and based Ubuntu on it, Ubuntu is a server and a desktop distro, based on Debian. It has made more people realize the strength of the Debian approach.
  • Re:Debian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperQ ( 431 ) * on Friday March 14, 2008 @04:09AM (#22748856) Homepage
    Exactly, My job is running high performance computing clusters. You don't need to put much effort into your cluster distribution at all. As long as it's stable, and gets the job done, why mess with it.

    The things I (and my co-workers) put a lot of optimization effort into is the kernel and our apps. You're exactly right.. 99.9% of our CPU cycles go into getting work done, and that 0.1% used by /bin/ls don't matter a bit.
  • Re:Debian? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wellingj ( 1030460 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @04:10AM (#22748870)
    I don't get why every one is saying it's not for desktop. It runs great on my T60. Everything works fine: sleep, mouse, red nub, wireless, sound, screen brightness, Blue-tooth. I guess I have never used the media buttons...
  • Re:Debian? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GigaplexNZ ( 1233886 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @04:34AM (#22748942)
    They never said it can't be used for desktop. They are just saying that it isn't primarily aiming for desktop use and works very well on servers, debating the original posters claim.
  • by darthflo ( 1095225 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @05:12AM (#22749082)
    I guess he isn't referring to licensing costs for the various distributions not putting dents in his budget but rather the operating costs of their new cluster as a whole. The SGI machine seems to have dented the budget pretty badly while replacing it with a Linux (beowulf?) cluster polished those dents out to the extent of them being able to test various setups in addition to their cluster and still have a smoother budget.

    Also, their supercomputer may just be outdated, not necessarily because of bloated software. I don't know how well SGI's products and support survived their recent bankrupcy, but I'd imagine not too well (though they seem to have built the Xeon-based #3 from the Top 500 recently).
  • Re:Debian? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Apro+im ( 241275 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @05:26AM (#22749122) Homepage
    Hmmm... 0 to Gentoo/Slack fanboyism in like... 4 comments.

    I know people who know a fair amount about running clusters. None of them want the headache of dealing with the random-ass unexpected conflicts that arise out of having the explosion of possibilities for custom compiling for each server. Also, nobody wants to use their precious "performance cluster" cycles compiling every update. If you really need to compile tweaks (for the important stuff only), you do it offline, once, and then build a *binary* package to distribute to your nodes.
  • Re:Debian? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gullevek ( 174152 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @06:02AM (#22749238) Homepage Journal
    I never said it doesn't work on a desktop. I use it here on mine right now. It's just not as easy to setup as Ubunutu I think.
  • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @06:21AM (#22749308) Homepage

    Sure. Add in paying for tech support or the cost in man-hours it takes to keep it running. Both can make a serious dent where nobody expected to see one.

    That's the big attraction for Debian. For a production system, support tasks drop to almost nothing. It's there. It runs. If and when a patch is needed, it is just that - a patch - and not any weird licensing changes or mutations in functionality.

    Of the linux distros, it's an excellent choice for servers, perhaps the best. Given the rock-solid nature, it can be good for enterprise desktops, if you are willing to plan. However, Kubuntu LTS meets that need.

  • Re:Debian? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lillesvin ( 797939 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @07:16AM (#22749436) Homepage

    How fortunate that apt/dpkg handles source packages so well then... Punching in 'apt-get -b source <whatever>' is not a whole lot harder than 'port install <whatever>' or whatever you prefer, is it? I know, I know... Don't feed the troll... Sorry.

  • by rolfc ( 842110 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:23AM (#22749680) Homepage
    You customise absolutely everything yourself in Debain too, but when you have more than 50 servers running, thats not what you want. In that situation you want something dependable, stable that let you do other things. In Debian you don't ever have to reinstall, you just upgrade. I started out with Slackware, if I remember right, but since I started using Debian in 1995, I have not seen a better server,and during that time I have used quite a few. No one has served me better than Debian.
  • Re:Debian? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 427_ci_505 ( 1009677 ) on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:43AM (#22749790)
    While Ubuntu might be friendlier, and be more polished, I'd like to say that Debian is perfectly workable as a desktop os. (Started with a base install that didn't even appear to come with less, moved onto fluxbox when I wanted a gui, moved back to kde because I missed it).

    It just takes a little more effort if you do something pointless like start out with just the min install.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14, 2008 @08:49AM (#22749836)
    In fact nobody familiar with debian expects them to need tech support more than they would with other OSes, if at all.

    So, other choices = $$$ for licenses + $$$ for support.
    Debian = likely less $$$ for support.

    So the question is: how many mods are on crack today?
  • by asuffield ( 111848 ) <> on Friday March 14, 2008 @09:42AM (#22750376)

    The data is submitted by the owners

    So what you have is a list of the 500 biggest operations who think it is important to brag about what platform you are running. That's quite different from the 500 biggest operations (I'd be surprised if the two lists overlap at all).

    I know that if I were running one of the largest, most sophisticated computer systems in the world, I wouldn't be going around telling my competitors how I did it.

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray