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RS/6000 Linux Box 128

According to Infoworld, later this year, IBM will release an RS/6000 machine capable of running Linux, as well as AIX. While the article mostly discusses AIX, it says that IBM expects Linux to be very popular with ISPs and ASPs. Let's hope so. What's the architechture count up to now, anyways?
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RS/6000 Linux Box

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  • You don't seem to have been banned yet... I doubt you will be. It's a bunch of small minded flamers who insist on flaming everyone who disagrees with linux. I do agree that it is them who screw everything up. And don't assume it's a bunch of teenagers...
  • You know , it has been a long time since I have heard someone say something like that about IBM .
    These are heady times , my friends .
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A number of ways to look at this post from one who himself was nitpicking.
    "Your moron" could be interpretted as "Hey Justin, I'm your moron."

    Or did this English genius with the absolute authority on the word "anyways" goof up himself (gasp)?
    Maybe he meant "You're a moron" (naw, he's too nice for that), or has fat fingers and meant to type You're More On, or maybe he is what he calls - a true moron. Let's ponder on this while we take a spiritual crap and think of new words we can use to iritate the anyways out of this fella.

    Anyways, I think the English language could benefit from a few new words. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You say you want companies who derive some of their income through
    commercial software to embrace what is fundamentally anti-commercial
    software. Please consider how big a hump to get over this would have to
    be for them. The FSF wants to destroy all intellectual property. IP is
    critically important to IT companies. There are plenty of companies
    who seen Richard Stallman as their enemy. This is a fair viewpoint,
    since rms really is out to get them.
  • FYI, I guesstimated and specced out eBay's required configuration with IBM equipment. They're currently running on multiple UltraSPARC Enterprise 10,000's. (Yes, 64 processors, many gigs of memory, etc.)

    It would require replacing their precious Suns with a single 24 node IBM RS/6000 SP2 system, using 18 Silver Wide nodes, and 6 Silver Thick nodes. Load it up with ATM and QFE connections, and make sure that the webservers can fill those up, and problems solved.

    But everyone wants Sun, because Sun is owned by AOL and claims to have been around longer. Nevermind the fact that IBM is the recognized world leader in ERP applications, has the fastest memory bus on earth. (>6GB/s on the S70 Advanced Server @ 262MHz. That's faster than a 21264.) Nevermind the fact that they do more ERP with the RS/6000, AS/400, and S/390 than Sun, Digital/Compaq, and Hitachi combined. Nevermind the fact that the RS/6000 SP and SP2 are all over the Top 500 Supercomputer list in *RETAIL* versions. Sun's more popular; let's use Sun! They're the Dot in Dot Com.

    Sorry. IBM's the original Dot in Dot Com. The dot that goes right before the decimal places in any financial statement whatsoever. And money is necessary for that Com operation, Com being COMMERCE.

    Somebody tell me when the world gets a clue. Till then, I think I'll stick to what works and not what's popular.

    -RISCy Business | Rabid System Administrator and BOFH
  • I'm currently on a contract at IBM in the Component Broker (CORBA-based middleware) development group. Many of the folks here came from the AIX/PS2 (or its successor) project.

    From what they tell me, it died. That's too bad, because for a short time in late '89, I worked on that project. It wasn't a bad os, had some neat clustering technology, and at the time was one of the few Unixen available for the Intel architecture.
  • I've got a 604e in my Amiga 4000, and I didn't buy it from Apple.. :)
  • I admin RS6K boxes, yes, they are fast and stable and no, I don't like AIX either.
  • Probabely be easier to go back to the source and work on getting linux's SMP support working better, and on more CPUs
  • I haven't taken too close a look at how Sun does this, but what you suggest has already been done. It would depend on whether or not the RS box uses multiple motherboards (which I can't imagine it not doing so) I know that a Starfire can have up to 8 domains across all of it's motherboards. The domains to not share memory, AFAIK.
  • bah, is that all? my 386 DX/40 can do that and make toast.
  • You'd be suprised at the quality of morons who start ISPs these days. I recently asked one why she chose to use NT... "because a 14 yr. old hacker told me unix is not secure."

  • Yes, In Greenfield Mass, I was looking, along with a small contingent of GEECS admins, for an ISP for our server, and found that two of the places were run by x-cons. We needed a permanent connection, and when we asked one of the guys about it, he said he logged people off by hand after two hours, saying something along the lines of 'you can't possibly need to be on longer than that in a day.'

    He bore a federal penitentiary tattoo.
  • er yes....

    Just not of humans.

    I believe that's pretty close to the estimated number of planetary ants. :)
  • This brings something to mind:

    Everyone on Earth would need an IP address to connect to that server...there are only 4228250625 possible IP addresses in the world, and slightly over 6000000000 people in the world. Methinks you don't have to worry. Just a thought.
  • Ici au Québec, nous avons l'Office de la Langue Francaise (The Language Police).

    This government incarceration department enforces all public and commercial signs containing French twice as large or in twice the quantity of any other language (though only English is ever fined). Anyways, that's just those finnicky Quebec nationalists.... :)
  • Ok, IBM, now that you went to the clue store lets kick it up a notch. Get Lotus on the Linux Bandwagon, Notes, Smartsuite, the whole ball of wax. Then get the boys down at DB2 to fully port and support DBS to linux. Now, get the folks over at Tivoli (remember them? they still work for you) to get off the ball and support Linux for the enterprise management tools. Tell the folks over at the Notebook shop to write Linux drivers. Now, I can go to my boss, and say, Hey, IBM supports Linux, I can get a a full office suite, a real enterprise RDBMS plus Enterprise management tools. Ya know, no one ever got fired for buying IBM :-)
  • Right, I always get these two numbers wrong ...
  • case you didnt notice, lotus IS porting to linus...
  • Linux runs on nearly everything in some form or other, except fot the arcane MCArchitecture (found in PS/2 boxes by IBM) and pre 386 x86 computers. It also has a small issue with Mac classics and Osborne computers. (I believe that it won't work on a Vic20 or TI-99-4a either. :) )
  • a few billion could be sitting behind proxies...
  • flagshit? now thats great endorsement.
  • and SGI has a higher bandwidth bus i believe.
  • err..OS/2 sucks rocks. it may/may not be mission critical but its like a weird version of unix+dos hacked together by a 2 year old. OS/2 is dying anyway..if you had said AIX, your post might have actually made an impression on the rest of us.

  • Spelling is an integral part of writing, and writing is an integral part of communication. What you seem to be suggesting is that the best programmers are the worst communicators.
  • It would be nice. I look forward to the day when I can get a PPC system that I don't have to buy from Apple.

    I'd love to learn more about the RS/6000. They are supposed to be solid boxes. And, stable as it may be, I've met few people who like using AIX.

    More architectures is certainly a good thing.
  • this raises the question yet again of Linux's high-end scalability. the box in the article is a lower-end model. there was no mention of linux with the higher-end (24 processor) model. we all know linux is slightly behind in this category (compared with other UNIXs), it would be nice if IBM contributed to this effort... it's a nice thought.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While this is great to hear, has anyone else heard the rumours that IBM is abandoning AIX on workstations in favor of NT? Especially their high-end graphics workstations (to me, AIX isn't really recognized for this, but IBM makes the cards, so...). AIX would just be a server OS, and all of IBM's high-end workstation line would run NT... Unsubstantiated, of course. [And I'm posting it anonymously cause I'd rather not associate with it login name.]
  • Called Pizzazz, the upcoming box -- now in beta testing and due sometime in October
    Now that we see IBM selling Pizzazzs is microsoft going to buy Pizza hut?
  • Okay...some IBM really seems to have jumped on the clue bus. I hope they get the $$$$ right. That's the only way I see most ISPs making that move. The competition has driven the price down so much (You can get unlimited monthly access for $9.99 per month here in Cleveland) that I'm guessing most of these guys can't afford to spend big bucks on servers anymore.

    OTOH I can't imagine too many IPSs going with NT on Intel if they can get an RS6000 for similar bucks. GO BIG BLUE !!!!
  • Running in a 12-way configuration the system delivered a SPECweb96 benchmark of 40,161 http ops/sec, besting Hewlett-Packard's HP 9000 N-Class server by 66 percent.
    This is pathetic - It would take this box over 112 days to service an http request from every man, woman and child on the planet earth. This just isn't going to cut it. I need a machine that can server a number of pages/day greater than the population of France. This shabby IBM box falls short by almost a million.
    Seriously, If you use one of those beauties to serve static web pages, you need your head examined. It's like using the USS Missouri for island hopping. I'd like to see TPC/H numbers though - data warehousing is one of the few apps that could use this kind of horsepower.
  • While I'm happy to see support from IBM on this, RS/6k's running Linux are not new. Lower end models have been capable of running LinuxPPC (and possibly hiTech pacific's and YellowDog Linux's versions, which are based on LinuxPPC) for quite a while -- at least since last September, when I started to care about LinuxPPC as I purchased a mac, and probably long before. According to, the following RS/6k models are supported:
    RS6000 (PowerPC-based), 830, 850, 40P, Nobis, INDI

    Additionally, PReP, CHRP, an dBeBoxen are supported.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 1999 @07:04PM (#1808868)
    RS/6000 boxes are not cheap. They're more than similar Sun boxes. The software that's available for AIX/6000 is a small fraction of the software that's available for Solaris. So, if you're looking for a commercial UNIX system, unless you have some brand loyalty to IBM (which many shops do), Sun boxes are a better choice than IBM boxes.

    If IBM wants to stay in the RS/6000 business, then, it has to do two things. First off, it has to make the boxes cheaper. The PowerPC and PPC reference-architecture hardware can make that possible. Second off, it has to have an OS that has as much or more software as the competition. Like NT or Linux.

    It costs a lot to build and maintain a commercial UNIX operating system. Especially if you insist on doing everything The IBM Way. It probably is costing IBM an arm and a leg to keep AIX development going. Using an existing OS (or two, or a few) as a base and adding in RS/6000 specific features to that would probably be a very cost effective move.

    This assumes, of course, that IBM is interested in making a profit. Sometimes, I wonder.
  • I believe you can buy multiprocessing 604e motherboards straight from Motorola. I don't know if you can get G3s or not, but I'd rather have the 604es any day.
  • Although IBM may support linux on the RS6k, this article sure doesn't say that. "Linux-oriented bundled solutions" is usually market speak for "we'll try to make the machines play nicely with your existing and future linux systems" not "we'll offer linux with tha machine". I think joins the BeOS/Amiga article in the category of "we misread that" posts. Two in one day.
  • Don't you think you are being a bit melodramatic?
    It's open source. Anyone can develop for Linux. Obviously you are not interested in making a contribution to the Linux community, so I guess those 'dumb teenagers' are the ones doing all the work while you sit back and criticize.
  • ok, so it will run linux... big deal...
    so does my toaster...

    but when will i get os/2 on this puppy?
  • We've been using RS/6000's at work for years. They are ludicriously overpriced machines. Now we're buying PC-based linux boxen. You just can't beat the bang for the buck, and even better, we don't have to deal with IBM -- possibly one of the most annoying organizations we've had the displeasure of doing business with. We can't even open a box and install/swap a peripheral without voiding our maintenance agreements! To me, one of the best things about Linux is that it makes the commercial Unices (and expensive proprietary hardware) unnecessary for most applications. Show me an RS/6000 with a bang/buck ratio similar to a Dell PowerEdge, and I might care.
  • I have seen a lot of confusing posts, so this is what I understand from the article, feel free to correct me.
    The article seems to say that basically, the machine will ship with and run AIX, but CAN run Linux. This means that they are not dropping support for their OS, but rather diversifying the range of OSes that may be used on their systems. It is obvious that the demand for linux is much greater than that for AIX, so IBM are adding value to the machine by adding that support. It does not mean that IBM are going to be particularly active in Linux development, and I wonder just how much work they have/had to do for Linux to work anyway. I don't think its a really really noble thing for them to have done, how many other platforms only give you one choice of OS? They're only doing the smart thing.
  • That's why it's so silly to use horsepower like this for static webpages.
  • by edgy ( 5399 )
    Oh darn! I was going to get that thing out of the closet and use it for something useful.

    That thing was pretty cool though, for its time. Too bad I used up all its 16K ram trying to write a program for it once. :-)

    I must have been like 12 years old back then :)
  • Ummm...

    If it's true that "a bunch of dumb teenagers" are now getting involved in the Linux project, I fail to see how their work could possibly affect the operating system's technological merit. If you refuse to run Linux because you disagree with what it stands for (or what you think it stands for), that's reasonable. However, saying that Linux used to be a good OS and has deteriorated to a poor OS doesn't make sense. For starters, older versions are still available.

    If you have specific objections to certain aspects of Linux, you're free to change them. That's the beauty of open source. You're also free to pick your favorite distribution - if you think Red Hat has sold out and become too commercial, you're free to choose Slackware, which has very little commercial support and many of the Linux newbies haven't even heard of.

    Linus did say that if Linux had 90% market share it would become as bad as Windows. However, last I checked, there wasn't much danger of that, especially as more and more alternative operating systems are growing (really looking forward to Mac OS X Consumer!).

    Does anyone else have further comments?
  • To answer your question, no, they are not PowerPC based. IBM and Motorola do not jointly develop the PowerPC any more, and the new RS/6000 workstations actually use IBM's Power3 architecture. This is good though, because the Power3 is faster, and 64 bit. If you really want RS/6000 though (at least for home use), I would recommend looking for auctions selling older PowerPC based RS/6000 machines. The performance is not as good as the new ones, but the price will be much more agreeable.

    As far as AIX goes, I think it is great. I could ramble on forever about it's virtues (especially the Logical Volume Manager). However, I would recommend trying it yourself. After all, it would only be my opinion :^).

    I speak for myself, not my employer
  • I'm not joking. The innards of those boxes are a mess. They're *GREAT* if what you need is basically a cheap server. If you want a reliable server, look elsewhere.

    Compare the reliability & performance of one of those to an IBM NetFinity server. I think you'll find the NetFinity's slightly higher price is acceptable.
  • I didn't say it was satire. I said people misread and misinterpreted what was said in both cases.

  • If you can guess the secret part number, you can get a beta of OS/2 on a PPC microkernel. (No joke.)
  • You know what?

    Even though one of my goals in life is to get Linux running on every RS/6000 there is, you won't catch me touching this Model 150 reissue running Linux.

    IBM's jumping the gun. They're quick to point out it can transfer 6.4GB/s. (one of the slower RS/6000's. The S80 is rumoured to be breaking 16GB/s, and I've had my S70's at work moving nearly 7GB/s via multiple 100bFL and QFE.) but it's pointless.

    Linux is nowhere near ready for the RS/6000. The TCP/IP stack and various NIC drivers are so poorly written and/or implemented, that you actually can't go anywhere NEAR that. Linux just can't do that.

    Let's get down to specs. The 'Pizzaz' is basically a reissue of the 43P Model 150 (7043). What's the 7043 got in it?

    PowerPC 604e @ 375MHz, 128M to 1G of ECC, 5 PCI slots, 4.5G to 54.6G of disk via an onboard SCSI-UW controller, onboard sound, keyboard, mouse, tablet, ethernet, serial, and parallel.

    That's in the TOWER configuration. Put it into a 2U rack, and here's what you HAVE to lose in that single box; 54.6G won't fit in a single 2U case. Nor will 5 PCI slots, unless they go with a PC-style ATX 2U case. To meet NEBS compliance, I suspect they'll have to scrap other things as well, but only on internal expansion. Either way, you end up with somewhat less of a machine.

    Now, what're the possible gains? Well, 604e's will do 400MHz without any complaints; I'm running dual 604e/400MHz processors on a development machine. It's NOT an RS/6000. It's a Motorola MTX+-based system. But it runs AIX, so it's a similar enough test bed. The onboard ethernet can be replaced with non-proprietary single, and quad fast ethernet cards, like the Digital DE21x40 based ones that are everywhere. But then you lose some PCI slots. IBM will probably put some sort of video onboard, to save space. But that takes the system further away from single-point-of-failure. The LED operator panel gives you a single point to determine most failures, but the numbers are not always exact. (888 - boot medium not found. Why, it doesn't say.)

    The Model 150 is a workstation. Not a server. IBM's basically trying to turn one of my favourite workhorses (I had two on my desk at one point) into something it just can't be; a server. The Model 150 is a workstation designed for heavy duty graphics (ie; CAD/CAM) and programming work. It's not a server. If you want a server, look at the F40 (and try to ignore the disaster that is Linux SMP on PowerPC) or F50.

    Sure, maybe it's something for the ISPs, but for what it's going to cost, you may as well get a Motorola MTX+. For about $4k, you get dual Digital DE21240's onboard, dual 604e/400MHz, onboard SCSI-UW, and 7 PCI slots, all in a configuration you can put in a PC ATX case and mix-and-match standard PC parts with.

    -RISCy Business | Rabid System Administrator and BOFH
  • 6,000,000,000,000,000
    that's 6 quadrillion...

    If you estimate that every ant weighs half a gram (I'm not at all sure how close that is to accurate - but I'd say on average its about right :) ), then you have 3,000,000,000,000,000 grams of ants in the world - or 3 billion metric tonnes. Ants have only a slightly greater total mass than humans and some how I doubt every human weigns an average of 500 kilos (about 1100 lbs). :)
  • I hate to be a wet blanket, but I don't see any real motivation for a $30k linux box.

    Because the same hardware with a proprietary Unix would likely be a $32k+ box.

    The point is not to buy the hefty hardware just for the sake of running Linux, but rather to run Linux on the hefty hardware because it's more cost-effective that way.

  • Unlike some companies we all could name, IBM's take on this is pretty simple: Customers want Linux on RS boxes, so they're expanding their support for it.

    Steven, Senior Technology Editor, Sm@rt Reseller
  • In a word, no.

    NT is going to be playing a bigger role on PC-based systems (sorry OS/2ers), but AIX still rules on Power workstations.

    Steven, Senior Technology Editor, Sm@rt Reseller
  • Please don't wish that crap on everyone. Yes, the GNU tools are featureful, and yes, they can be nice. But everyone should switch to GNU make?


    Have you ever looked at the source code to that utility? It's a veritable masterpiece on how *not* to write code.

    Thank you, but no.

    Besides, I like the pmake utility used in most
    distributions of BSD.

  • Since Linux doesn't scale well beyond four processors (and has a fixed upper limit of 16 CPUs, AFAIK), a 24-CPU box does not make sense.

    Unless -- and here's a bizarre thought -- you have the same box run multiple virtual Linux machines, sort of VMWare-like. Six virtual Linux servers, four CPUs a piece.

  • I guess I am one of the few who like AIX. The best thing about AIX is SMIT or Smitty which is their admin tool. I really hope IBM helps get this ported over to Linux.
  • I'm not sure how much money an ISP spends on hardware but I suspect that the box is probably not their biggest cost (except for the big eCommerce hosting sites). I'd like to see a breakdown but I suspect salaries, communications, consumables (disks, software etc) then CPU in that order. The advantage of Linux over AIX is that there is a significantly larger portion of the population familiar with Linux, hence the learning curve reduces and thus hireability of talent improves. Also, it would be nice to get people who have a clue about balanced systems, especially I/O bottlenecks!

    As for the number of systems out there, off the top of my head

    - SGI offer nice balanced systems with good real-application/price performance and from memory one outfit also offers mips-based linux systems.
    - HP with their PA-RISC have solid engineering, though probable a little pricey for just ISP work,
    - Compaq Alphas are supposed to be good file/web servers
    - Your standard Sun Sparc covers the low-mid range server market quite nicely
    - El Cheapo Intel box
    - Apple servers

    For a large ISP, rock-solid reliability, good service and security, decent software, plus someone to sue in case things goes really wrong are probably more important than the actual price of a box.

    Think of the system, not the box

  • Over the last several years we got rid of all our RS/6000's in favor of Sun Enterprise systems. We started that migration for improved price/performance and scalability in the hardware. Now, we like the software too. If IBM were to catch up in hardware, we would want to stay with Sun to avoid having to go back to AIX from Solaris. ;)

    Of course, if we had known we could run Linux on the IBM's, we admins might have saved off a couple of the better boxes for ourselves!
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Saturday July 10, 1999 @07:49PM (#1808911)
    As the others have sort of pointed out, it would only take around 1.73 days to serve up one page to everybody on earth (approximately six billion people), not 112 days.
  • Posted by Justin:

    Does it matter?

    And I think you meant "You're"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    After running a (small) ISP, I'd say that bandwidth, dial up equipment and salaries were the highest cost factors, in that order... Servers were far down on the list, after rent for office space etc.

    Of course the reason dial-up equipment ended up so high was that the growth in the ISP market forced us to upgrade so damn often.

  • I'm sitting on a 633 MHz "Ruffian" Alpha w/ 256MB RAM. I would never deploy it as a server though. The speed of the box is really amazing.

    With bladeenc, it takes about 45 minutes to encode 630MB ripped cd data in 128kbit/s mode. I think that is fairly good, since this box has only the "cheap" 21064a cpu (cheap is relative - the motherboard + cpu package was priced at about $1300 when I bought it).
  • After I was able to convince myself that Linux presented me with a stable development OS for my work at home on my own stuff, I then found myself happily chatting away at work about the pros & cons of using Linux. And the novel point of view of the Linux developers with regard to copyright/ownership.

    The response at work reminded me to keep within what I call "commercial mode". By which I mean that I try to let people know what I consider is significant, in very un-excited tones, & when they bring in inappropriate cost-accounting, or try to demonstrate that key people need to be convinced with tailor-made arguments, or some such other expenditure of precious energy, I just shrug, signalling that the matter can slide, & finish with: "if I am right a bandwagon will eventually come around, the execs will jump on it, with or without detailed argument". Bandwagons being like that.

    This is, admittedly, not an approach which strongly advocates Linux. That is because I want it advocate itself. (I tire quickly of advocacy). When the competition starts using it then my not-so-little commercial organisation will most likely jump on the bandwagon too.

    It appears then that IBM is jumping upon the bandwagon. Even if only by way of press release. And I really don't care. But I suppose this means that at some point soon somebody from upstairs, being IBM aware, will come around telling us of their Big Decision & their Bright New Idea. Market driven, of course.

    (My first ever post. Why is this comment box so small?)
  • Yes, Linux/PPC has run on many RS/6000 boxes for quite a while. But the story is longer than that - it's not just "low end" boxes. Infact, the really low end may never run Linux.

    A lot of people don't seem to realize, the PowerPC is more IBM's cost cutting triumph than it is Motorola's technological triumph.

    For ages, IBM has been using the Power archetecture in RS/6000 systems. The problem? Too freakin expensive to build systems with several (like 64) processors.

    Enter Motorola with an ageing, dead-end CISC design, and tons of experience with low-cost design and manufacture.

    Getting Apple to use the new, cheaper version of the Power line, the PowerPC, really made life a lot easier for IBM, who has based their high end workstations and mini's on PPC chips ever since. RS/6000, AS/400, you name it.

    I'm frankly not sure what an S/390 like Pacific Blue uses - something else entirely, from all reports. (Or was it S/360? it's late, and I'm watching monstervision)

    Anyway, just wanted to clear that up. Old Power-1 and Power-2 based boxes will probably never run anything but AIX.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    New IBM Hardware which can run IBM's new supported Linux distribution which will be supported by IBM running IBM/Lotus' flagshit product - Domino for Linux.

    Personally I think this is great to expand the large enterprise acceptance, use and growth of Linux to far beyond any OS that is available today.
  • I don't really understand where they're going with this. They've got this massive project (Monterey) going to with SCO and Sequent to bring AIX to Intel boxes. Now they're putting Linux on RS/6000s? Strange.

    Perhaps they're having trouble selling RS/6000s in to the ISP market and are hoping Linux will give them a way in. If I could get an ATX motherboard with a PPC for a decent price I might even go for it, but I certainly wouldn't pay the normal RS/6000 prices for one of these babies.

  • Ok. Not VMWare like. Have the system simulate 4 computers/6 cpus each (or however...) and use an internal high speed bus to link them...

    Access each other's ram? 4 OSes using each others system memory? I seem to have dug a complex hole...

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"