Ponca City, We love you writes: "The NY Times reports that researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are creating what is in effect a vast digital petri dish able to hold one million operating systems at once in an effort to study the behavior of botnets. To stalk the botnets, Sandia Scientist Ron Minnich, the inventor of LinuxBIOS who specializes in computer security and his colleague Don Rudish have converted a Dell supercomputer to simulate a mini-Internet of one million computers. The researchers say they hope to be able to infect their digital petri dish with a botnet and then gather data on how the system behaves. "When a forest is on fire you can fly over it, but with a cyberattack you have no clear idea of what it looks like," says Minnich. "It's an extremely difficult task to get a global picture." The Dell Thunderbird supercomputer, named MegaTux, has 4,480 Intel microprocessors running virtual machines with Wine, making it possible to run 1 million copies of Windows without paying licensing fees to Microsoft. MegaTux, a reference to Tux, the penguin character that is the official mascot of the Linux operating system, is an example of a new kind of computational science, in which computers are used to simulate scientific instruments that were once used in physical world laboratories. "One of the advantages of such a system is that we can stop the simulation at any point and look for patterns," says Rudish. "It's one of the neat things you can do when you crash a simulation of a 747 on a supercomputer.""
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