Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Monday, October 10, 2011

  • Oct 10 / 2011
  • 2

Open Virtualization Alliance Grows

It appears that KVM, the Linux kernel’s built-in virtualization, has become mainstream with the Open Virtualization Alliance now having 200 members. Started by HP, IBM, Intel and RedHat the Alliance seeks to promote and standardize KVM and associated tools so that price/performance and competition thrives.

I used KVM to make videos and found it quite solid for what I do, running a few virtual machines for testing new software. If businesses find the same reliability they will use it widely for virtual servers and cloud computing. This should stimulate growth of GNU/Linux on servers and desktop where virtual desktops are employed.

I can’t wait for my new motherboard to arrive so I can exploit KVM again. For $50 I can install a new motherboard that supports a CPU, RAM and storage that really can use KVM well. I can run several virtual machines at once and create a virtual “anything” in the way of systems to test, saving me huge capital expenditure and keeping space and power requirements minimal.

  • Oct 10 / 2011
  • 14

Sand in the Gears of Wintel

For nearly 20 years Wintel, M$ and Intel’s monopolistic PC practice, has demanded ever more RAM every few years in PCs. Now, when attempting to move onto ARM, M$ is making noises that suggest they will actually reduce the footprint in RAM potentially making small cheap computers capable of running M$’s OS. They are saying publicly that “8″ will use 200MB less RAM than “7″. Whether this is pre-release PR or fact remains to be seen. One thing is sure, “partners” like Intel and OEMs may not be pleased that people may be able to keep their PCs running like new longer.

We read here often that older PCs are prone to failure. That’s not true except for fans. Old chips are just well broken-in and can tick for a decade or longer. Some early ICs have been running 40 years as good as they were new. If folks can keep airplanes alive for 60 years, getting an IC to last is trivial with no moving parts.

We read here often that PCs need 4gB of RAM at least. That’s not true either, unless you are running that other OS and load a bunch of useless stuff on every boot. Last year, I worked at a place where 8 year old PCs running GNU/Linux were quite useful with only 256MB RAM. Of course they worked better as thin clients than thick but even the terminal server running GNU/Linux only needed about 500MB for the services and 50MB per simultaneous client.

It is a fact that PCs don’t slow down but M$ made them slower with age by constantly increasing the use of RAM (and virtual RAM) and hard drives so that PCs using that other OS ran less efficiently with time. By starting with a lower demand for RAM, that other OS may get its foot in the door of ARMed PCs but it remains to be seen whether ARMed PCs will become less efficient over time with “8″.

I predict that M$ will not be able to cut decades of poor utilization of resources in the next release.