This could be described as the year of the operating system. Microsoft Corp. is racing to finish Windows 2000 before 2000, IBM and Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) are forging a new version of Unix for Intel 64-bit processors and Compaq, Sun and Hewlett-Packard are toughening their proprietary Unix versions.
For an IS manager it’s an embarrassment of riches – and a time of confusion. The expected lock-down of systems starting this summer due to Year 2000 concerns may give users a few months of breathing room and time to compile a list of questions.
Among them: Is it worth waiting for the much-delayed Win2000 or should we stick to NT Server 4.0? Will Win2000 be as reliable as Unix? Will the Data Centre edition be worthy of a data centre? And, as always, is Windows’ alleged cost of ownership advantage just window-dressing?
“NT versus Unix? I get this question from clients two times a day,” says Tom Bittman, vice-president and research director at the Gartner Group in Stamford, Conn. With more mission-critical applications coming out, NT supporters want them added to the IT mix. But managers wonder if Microsoft is up to the task.
“In almost all cases they’re leaning towards Unix,” said Bittman, “and wondering if they’re crazy.”
But Bittman warned NT is “probably two years behind the hype.”
“NT still has issues of scalability for the majority of the market, and that’s one reason many companies are going with Unix.”
In fact, he added, Unix is undergoing a bit of a come-back.
“We’re definitely seeing the start of a slow-down in the server space. A lot of companies are realizing Unix still has a place, and that NT is still missing some attributes. The belief is they may be fixed in Windows 2000. But while they’re waiting, that puts more of a focus on Unix for certain mission-critical and back-end applications.”
Microsoft’s ambitions are high: the Data Centre edition will scale up to 16 processors and 64 GB of memory, said Erik Moll, Windows 2000 marketing manager for Microsoft Canada. The Advanced Server edition (now called Enterprise Edition ) will go up to four-way symmetric multi-processing. Both will have advanced clustering and load-balancing capabilities.
Other features will include the Active Directory, a management service with file-level encryption and support for Public Key Infrastructure, and Web and Internet support services.
“There’s no question as we move forward to Windows 2000 one of our key focuses will be on reliability and availability,” said Moll. “We’ve greatly reduced the number of reboots as you do reconfigurations of your system, and we also worked hard to make sure device drivers have gone through compatibility testing.”
Until Win2000 is proven, however, users are looking at NT.
For Bittman, Unix has it over NT for scalability, mixed workloads, high availability and reliability, maturity of applications and the availability of people skilled enough to run mission-critical deployments.
Expect more than 200 concurrent users on your system? Don’t use NT, he advises, unless perhaps you’ve got SAP R/3. Gartner has seen SAP implementations with 850 users, not big by Unix standards, but impressive considering most applications on NT can’t handle more than 200 users. It speaks to how well SAP has been tuned for Windows, said Bittman.
However, he added, the majority of the market would need about 400 users, and that’s where Win2000 is headed.
As scalability declines as an issue, high availability and reliability will become more important, said Bittman. Microsoft’s “Wolfpack” clustering technology is two years behind Unix, said Bittman, but will be better in Win2000.
“Our biggest concern is NT reliability,” he said, “and it’s not getting better. In fact, I have clients who tell me in their view, every release of NT has only gotten worse. I don’t think that’s true, but there’s that perception out there.”
The biggest issue is memory leaks. Microsoft acknowledges the problem, but most will be plugged only in Win2000. Meanwhile, Gartner tells clients to expect an NT system will go down at least once a week. For companies who can tolerate that kind of performance, he said, NT will be good enough.
However, Ritchie Leslie, director of Montreal-based DMR Consulting Group Inc.’s Microsoft strategic alliance, believes NT has a big place in the enterprise.
“For medium-scale applications, say transaction systems supporting a few hundred users, Windows environments have a clear total cost of ownership advantage over Unix environments,” he said. “NT is cheaper to buy, most organizations have NT servers so if they can avoid having to buy a specialized Unix box to run an application, they can reduce the total cost.”
There have been “huge advances” in NT management tools, he said, adding the operating system is catching up in stability and reliability.
“For all but the very largest applications, Windows NT is becoming an increasingly practical platform,” he said. But, he added, it’s not ready for a large data warehouse or large transaction-based system.
Bev Crone, who watches both platforms as general manager of midrange system sales for IBM Canada Ltd., acknowledges that NT/Win2000 use will continue to eat into the Unix market. “At first blush,” he said, Unix looks more expensive than Microsoft’s offering, but not when the user considers factors such as reliability, availability and scalability.
Unix vendors aren’t standing still, he added, pointing to the IBM Unix collaboration on Project Monterey for Intel chips.
But Bittman is skeptical. Santa Cruz, Calif.-based SCO Inc. hasn’t set sales records with UnixWare, its Intel offering, he said.
Vendors are only now realizing that the first version of the IA-64 chip will create a small market, which won’t grow until the next generation of processors, called McKinley, debuts.
While some analysts believe Microsoft is aiming for an October release of Win2000 Professional, Server Edition and Advanced Server, Bittman says that will only be for “bragging rights.” He expects it will come out next year and will be filled with bugs that weren’t caught during beta testing, because users are telling him they aren’t testing it with mission-critical apps.
“We’re telling clients don’t deploy it in a production mode for at least six to nine months after general availability, after at least one service pack and maybe two,” Bittman said. “We’re also telling them it will be less reliable than NT 4 with service pack 5 for a year.”
Anyone marked as developer in Bugzilla can now:
So if you have some person who you want to give Bugzilla permissions,
= Minutes for Tuesday, October 15th, 2013, 16:00 UTC =
== Next Meeting ==
== Attending ==
I just published our schedule for 3.11/3.12 on our wiki, it’s
[An ics file is also avai…
The deadline for the next release of Gtk-Perl modules will be Saturday, November 23rd 2013 at 00:00 UTC. Please see the mailing list post ( http://bit.ly/161TZH0 ) for more information.
Overview of changes in Gnome2::Vte 0.11 [2013-10-22]: RT#89113 – Use v2 of CPAN::Meta::Spec in Makefile.PL; this adds the “nice bits” to MetaCPAN (git clone URL, project homepage URL, etc. Thanks to Gabor Szabo for the bug report. View the source in…
Overview of changes in Gnome2 1.044 [2013-10-19]: RT#89191: Fix FSF’s address; RT#89188: Make enums.pod depend on Gnome2 directory creation. View the source in the Gtk2-Perl git repo at https://git.gnome.org/browse/perl-Gnome2/tag/?id=rel-1-04-4 or do…
Overview of changes in Gtk3 0.014 [2013-10-18]: dist.ini: document ‘is_trial’, sets ‘testing’ in metadata; Add MetaJSON, set MetaYAML version = 2; Add [MetaResources] block with correct URLs; fixes RT#89118. The metadata changes have populated the Gtk…
Here comes GNOME 3.10.1, the first update to GNOME 3.10, it includes
We won’t end it here, we will soon publish the schedule for our next
Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME reached version 13.10. Let’s take a quick look at what’s new!For 13.04, I’ve made separate posts for some flavours with videos, etc., but there aren’t so many changes in the latest 13.10 (Saucy Salamander) release, so I’ve made a quick summary instead.Kubuntu 13.10Muon DiscoverMuon DiscoverNew User ManagerKDE Connect (available […]
It was not announced with the usual template but we need your tarballs
So go for it, and let’s make it shine.
= Minutes for Tuesday, October 1st, 2013, 16:00 UTC =
== Next Meeting ==
== Attending ==
Operating systems, graphics cards and processors all have combined to improve the workstation and give shape to the market. Although these factors are conspiring to generate a considerable shift towards the Windows NT or personal workstation, the traditional Unix workstation still has its loyal followers.
According to figures released last year by research firm IDC Canada Ltd., NT workstation shipments, between 1998 and 2003, are projected to have a compound annual growth rate of 15 per cent. For the same period, traditional workstations are expected to decline by three per cent each year.
Despite the Unix workstation’s decline, it will still find a home in many niche areas and among companies that have made large purchases in the past and are reluctant to switch, said IDC.
“It’s still doing very well in the scientific area, as well as in large-scale manufacturing,” says Alan Freedman, research manager for servers and workstations at IDC. “It’s the organizations with the huge installed base that haven’t made the transition, while the organizations that are small or more agile are moving towards NT.”
Traditional Unix workstations are still found in departments devoted to engineering, mapping, geology and other technical applications. “The Unix market is not shrivelling up or fading away,” Freedman says. “But what we’re seeing now is that some of the mechanical and electrical design areas that were wholeheartedly Unix are now at least taking a look at the NT workstations.”
The reason they are looking at personal workstations has a lot to do with lower prices, increasing operating system reliability and the advances in processor and graphics technology. Independent software vendors have responded by porting many of their applications to Windows NT.
Backing up the capabilities of the personal workstation are improvements on the processor front. Of particular importance are Streaming SSMD Extensions, an innovation from Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif. Similar to the MMX innovation, SSE gives the Pentium III the ability to better perform the floating point calculations needed for high-end graphics calculations.
Coinciding with the advances in processing are low-cost graphics cards which ease entry into the world of high-end graphics work. In the past, the customer had to spend $3,000 or more to get a graphics card with an on-board geometry accelerator but now there are cards that can do this for less than half that amount.
Able to leverage the power of on-board processors, users get graphic performance that scales with their processing performance. One of the prominent applications of workstations’ high-end graphics capabilities is in Geographical Information System (GIS) applications. Some of the major GIS vendors, such as ESRI Inc. of Redlands, Calif., are porting many of their products to the Windows NT operating system. Higher processing power, in conjunction with the latest graphics cards, allow for a more dynamic presentation of geographic information.
The newer graphics cards also allow workstation users to use two monitors on a single workstation. Graphics cards that make this possible include the Millennium G400 Series from Matrox Graphic Inc. of Montreal. Based on what Matrox calls the “DualHead Display,” the feature allows the user to extend one application across two monitors, or open multiple applications at once. Some users, the company says, display applications on one monitor while showing tool bars on the other.
Six months ago desktop PCs were equipped with 4MB video cards. Now users are getting 8MB or 16MB.
But while this is pretty powerful for the desktop level, hardware isn’t necessarily the only means of defining a workstation, argues Kevin Knox, a senior research analyst with the Gartner Group in Stamford, Conn. “I think workstations are defined more by the application than they are by the hardware,” he says. “Generally, workstations are systems optimized for a specific vertical application. It’s not just high-end, mid-range and low-end.
“I agree that the lines are blurred and there are vendors out there that play to that. I think their workstation numbers are inflated significantly because they are showing workstations in the desktop market.”
“The high-end market is flat to a small decline in terms of revenues, and a larger decline in terms of units because of NT,” says IDC’s Freedman. “However, some companies are coming down with lower-priced Unix workstations to combat that — most notably Sun Microsystems with workstations that are lower in price and target the same markets as the NT workstations.”
“So while Unix does not have the majority of the units, it does have the lion’s share of the revenue,” says Freedman. “We are predicting over the next four or five years, slight negative growth in units and a bit higher negative growth in revenue — about two or three per cent.”
Gartner Group reports that NT will eventually supersede Unix in the high-end market. The Unix versus NT operating system game has been playing for some time now, and vendors, which at one time clearly chose sides, no longer seem as sure of the winning team.
Not too long ago, the workstation market consisted of Sun, HP, IBM and SGI, but there has been a rapid penetration of Wintel systems, says Knox. “Sun is trying to protect its installed base, and frankly not doing very well on the low end,” he says. “They introduced the Darwin product and that really hasn’t taken off as I know they wish it had.”
What users are saying, he continues, is they have an office productivity machine for the everyday applications, and a Unix box, and they want to consolidate them into a single system. “Right now that’s the NT system,” adds Knox. He expects traditional PC vendors such as Compaq and Dell to take the lead in market share because of the improved performance of NT, Xeon processors and other technologies.
There are, however, still some markets that can only be served, at this point, by the robustness Unix delivers. Traditionally, high-end workstation markets have included mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD) and electronic design (ECAD) in industries as diverse as auto, finance and software design.
Changes in workstation market
The rise of the personal workstation has dramatically changed the face of the workstation market in Canada — at least in terms of vendors.
In 1997, according to IDC, Hewlett-Packard Co. was the leading vendor with more than 14,000 units shipped in that year. Second was Sun Microsystems Inc. with approximately 8,000 units shipped. Following Sun were IBM, Digital, Compaq, Dell and Silicon Graphics. Since that time, the Windows NT/personal workstation market has been growing at 15 per cent compound annual growth while the Unix market has been declining by a three per cent annual growth rate. Trends for both camps are expected to continue until 2003.
In 1999, 19,500 workstations were shipped in Canada. as much as 32.6 per cent of the market is now held by Dell.
Compaq follows at 23.7 per cent, then Hewlett-Packard at 21.6 per cent, followed by IBM at 14.7 per cent. Other workstations account for the remaining 7.4 per cent of the market, IDC Canada reports.
Risc machines no longer dominate
Three years ago, the workstation market was dominated by RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) processor-based products running Unix operating systems and applications.
Today, several developments in this marketplace have allowed advanced application users to rely on other processors to provide comparable performance to a traditional workstation at a lower price.
A workstation-class system is a higher- performance computer specifically engineered for applications with more demanding processing, video and data requirements intended for professional users who need exceptional performance for computer-aided design (CAD), geographic information systems (GIS), digital content creation (DCC), computer animation, software development and financial analysis.
With the introduction of Pentium II processors, many computer companies expanded their product lines to offer Intel based workstations. The added performance provided by these and successive Intel Pentium III and Pentium III Xeon processors have resulted in a strong shift from proprietary, traditional workstations to branded personal workstations, which use the Windows NT operating system.
Workstation users benefit from rapidly evolving processor technology. High performance workstation-class systems let power users be more productive as projects can be completed much faster, saving organizations time and money.
The workstation market has been one of the first to benefit from the set of instructions incorporated into Intel’s Pentium III processors, called Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSE). This performance improvement will come from the new SSE-enhanced applications and drivers being introduced by hardware and softwar vendors.
Most branded workstations also provide the option to add a second processor, allowing users to takeadvantage of the multi-tasking and multi-threading capabilities of their applications and operating systems.
In addition to dual processor support, workstation-class products are differentiated by their options for advanced Open GL graphics adapters, greater memory and storage expansion, higher performance harddrives and application certification.
It is important to understand that all 3D graphics cards are not created equal. 3D video adapters can generally be categorized as those optimized for advanced workstation applications or those that are good for games.
OpenGL (OGL) support is the industry standard that separates the workstation from a gaming workstation.
Most of the workstation graphics glory goes to the high-end 3D video cards, but multiple monitors are also an important productivity tool for many workstation users. Two or more monitors can be of benefit tp those who require more display space for increased efficiency and effectiveness while multi-tasking.
For instance, multiple monitors can help software developers create and debug applications by having an application on one screen and a debugger on another, or a programming editor on one and an onlin reference manual on the other.
The annual GNOME summit starts tomorrow. Contributors are gathering from around the world for four days of discussion and working sessions. Scheduled topics include Wayland, Boxes, and the GNOME continuous build system.
Traditionally held in Boston, this is the 13th GNOME summit, and the second to be held in Montréal.
The summit is an informal event and everyone is welcome. For those who are interested, there will be a happy hour community meetup with the Montreal Linux community on Saturday afternoon. More information can be found on the wiki.
Thanks to CRIM for hosting the event and Savoir-faire Linux for sponsoring. Thanks also to Red Hat for sponsoring the Sunday social event, and to Canonical for providing our hungry hackers with tea, coffee and bagels.
The life of Matt Dalio changed when, at very young age, he lived for a year in Beijing, China.There he was able to discover difficulties suffered by many children, many of which were orphans.
Starting from this experience Matt decide to start the China Care Foundation an association that has raised over $14 million to provide support to special needs Chinese children.
But Matt has also a dream: to improve lives of millions with use of free software in his latest endeavour, Endless mobile.
Matt shared with us his visions and projects during his keynote talk, at GUADEC.
Q: Your life changed when you first went to China at the age of 11. Do you think that the spirit of cooperation inside the China Care Foundation is comparable in any way to inspiring free software communities?
A: When I was first learning about the free software community and talking with individuals in that community, I was struck by just how much we have in common. We all want to give free access to people who need it. We all believe in the power of software to unlock the potential in people.
China Care Foundation is very much a collaborative effort. In the years since I founded it, the network of individuals who contribute — from dollars to volunteer time to giving an orphan a true home – has grown immensely. Right now, in addition to individual contributors, China Care has clubs on 52 campuses around the United States; college kids collaborating to give live saving surgeries, foster care placements, and adoptive families to orphans in China. It has been incredible to see this network of people, from their respective places in life, working towards the same goal. There’s so much power in that.
Q: Tell us about your keynote at GUADEC.
We think that computers are everywhere, but they aren’t. 80 percent of the world does not have access. Isn’t that amazing? And yet you’d never know walking around our little corners of the world. What we don’t realize is that for all of the towns that we drive between and cities that we fly between, they are all pretty much part of the same little subset of the world. It’s like walking around on dry land and not realizing that 80 percent of life on earth exists under the sea. You wouldn’t know it unless someone told you about it.
My goal was to tell people about it. To give a vivid picture of what it looks like. To help people understand what the *middle* of the pyramid looks like. These are people who want computers. They have electricity. They are literate. And they have money. It’s not just that computers are too expensive for them. The real problem is that technology has never been built with them in mind. What does someone do when they live in a place that has no hope of getting Internet access? What is a computer without the Internet? It’s a Microsoft Word machine. So who would buy such a thing? And yet that is 80 percent of the world.
The examples go on and on, of cases where you think about how what technology could be for someone in that market. It could be infinitely more powerful than it is for you or I, because that person is also lacking access to the basic necessities. There are not enough good doctors to give quality health. There are not enough teachers to give quality education. There are not enough good jobs. Yet a computer with the right applications can be answers to all of that. Just being able to search Wikipedia for Dengue Fever can be enough to save a life. Imagine what else you can do? A link to Khan Academy or Code Academy is enough to change the direction of a life.
Technology has solved innumerable problems in the world, and yet the people who build technology don’t make a living of understanding what it means to people who do not have technology. So there isn’t really anyone building software for that part of the world, and those who do go way down to the bottom of the pyramid where there all sorts of other challenges.
My goal was to speak to the Gnome community about just how large of an opportunity this can be for Gnome. Billions of people are waiting for a computer. Waiting for an operating system that is built with them in mind. And with just a little bit of effort and a little bit of understanding, we can reach them.
A: I certainly did not expect what I got. The response to my talk was overwhelming in the volume of support. Goodness, what a community. Plus, it was just such a great community of quality human beings. Really, I am proud to call it a part of my life.
If you missed Matt’s talk at GUADEC, read more on the Endless Mobile webpage!
Banshee 2.9.0 has been released!
Banshee 2.9.0 is the first release in the 2.9 development series leading up to 3.0.
I started out in 1994 as a Linux advocate, saying to myself, “This is great, but I wish it were easier to install and didn’t screw up my boot sector.” In 1995-1996, I forgot about it so that I could concentrate on applications. In 1997 I went into denial, and in 1998 I tried to remain objective.
In 1999, I’m taking a “who cares” attitude. I’m not denying Linux per se; I’m simply refusing to get caught up in an OS holy war.
It’s not 1999 yet, though, so I still have a little time left for some more denial–not just about Linux, but also about Windows 2000 and NetWare.
Linux fanatics out there, you’re going to have to get over this: In some aspects, Windows NT is a better operating system. The biggest NT advantage is that it has a development model and a ton of rich consumer-friendly applications.
Were that the only thing, Linux would be home free, since the mass acceptance of the operating system will spur on more applications. But Linux also has problems with its scheduler. I’ve written before that the Windows NT scheduler is not up to par to what is available on some Unix platforms (see PC Week, June 1, Page 71). However, NT’s scheduler makes Linux’s look like dog meat.
Another Linux problem is with I/O. An engineer I know says that Linux is rife with Ring 3 scaling problems. But he added that the operating system will “get there” soon enough.
The trouble with NT starts with its registry, which most engineers complain is a horrible mess. The only people who like the NT Registry are those who sell packages to “fix” it.
As bad as it is, the registry is the least of Microsoft’s worries. We have today a big need for 24-by-7 uptime, and NT just doesn’t cut it. NT doesn’t allow IT managers to gracefully kill rogue programs. It makes organizations reboot systems too often, even when minor, noncritical application-level changes are made. Sure, Microsoft and others have patches, kludges and fixes that let NT function in this environment. But corporations want guaranteed uptime; that’s why Linux is perfect here.
NetWare 5.0 should have been poised to reap profits from a delay in Windows 2000 and the newness of Linux. Unfortunately, there are a ton of problems with NDS (Novell Directory Services), including incompatibilities between NDS with NetWare 5.0 and NDS with NetWare 4.0 implementations.
There are also unconfirmed reports that NetWare 5.0 is slower than NetWare 4.0 in some instances. The performance problem stems from NetWare’s unithreaded TCP/IP stack. But really, these performance differences are so slight that it shouldn’t really make a big difference.
All this hand wringing is meaningless in a way. We in the press and in the community constantly operate in an “exclusive OR” world. That is, if something new comes along, we have to assume it will displace something else. But the buying practices of corporations rarely function in this way. Corporations buy to solve problems.
That’s why I see businesses forcing vendors to work together. The consumers will push Microsoft to accept Linux; they’ll push for development of stronger NT development (for example, Winsock) APIs on the Linux kernel. They’ll push Microsoft to accept NDS because consumers don’t plan to dump it.
Next year, though, Linux will be pushing other Unix vendors out of the market. The smartest move Novell could make would be to completely dump the NetWare code base and move all of the NetWare services to Linux. Caldera supports NetWare for Linux now.
Watch out for Caldera, by the way. In 1999, it’s going to make some Linux announcements that will knock your socks off.
Overview of changes in Gnome2-VFS 1.082: Avoid misusing the macro PL_na, thus preventing issues when Gnome2::VFS is used in conjunction with certain XS modules, among them XML::Parser and String::Approx. View the source in the Gtk2-Perl git repo at h…
Overview of changes in Gnome2 1.043: Avoid misusing the macro PL_na, thus preventing issues when Gnome2 is used in conjunction with certain XS modules, among them XML::Parser and String::Approx; Created %meta_merge, which is used to pass META_MERGE va…
Overview of changes in Gtk2 1.248 [2013-09-29]: Avoid misusing the macro PL_na, preventing potential issues with other XS modules. View the source in the Gtk2-Perl git repo at http://git.gnome.org/browse/perl-Gtk2/tag/?id=rel-1-24-8 or download the so…