OS X system as a unix workstation

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squeen
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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby squeen » Thu Sep 11, 2008 3:55 am

We have our simulator tools developed under IRIX ported to both OS X and Linux. In general, Linux is IMHO the closer match for two reasons:

1) IRIX combined functionality from both System V and BSD Unix (East Coast vs. West Coast Unix). OS X is hard-core BSD only, Linux is a mix. The last of support for unnamed semaphore is a glaring example.

2) OS X treats X11 as an inferior interface, so the full set of OpenGL/X11 features are not always exposed (e.g. Full Scene Anti-aliasing). Apple would really prefer you develop inside the OS X Cocoa/Aqua environment. A more cynical view says Apple used Open Source Unix to get a quick leg-up on applications that would run on their new OS, but once they have a native app that replaces functionality, they really don't give a crap about supporting the "antiquated" X11 interface.

Just my two-cents.

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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby josehill » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:05 am

OS X is quite well supported in the BFX world, and the workstation hardware is pretty good (after the G5 generation's liquid cooling problems, that is). For routine bioinformatics workstation use, I like OS X quite a bit. I'd stick with Linux or Solaris on the server side, however, as they have some performance advantages due to kernel/threading issues. If you run database platforms like Oracle, it can be particularly noticeable.

Depending on your situation, you might take a look at some specialist consulting groups for help. I have a lot of respect for the guys at BioTeam - platform non-partisans, very knowledgeable, w/academic and industrial clients. (I have no affiliation with them, but I've had good interactions with them.)

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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby josehill » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:47 am

ohw0571 wrote:I have read comments from people having several crashes a day after upgrading to Leopard, for example, which is, frankly speaking, a shame for any unix system :evil:

I haven't run into this myself, though it's my impression that a lot of that has been because of the use of a handful of Tiger-specific 3rd party customization utilities, munging Leopard upgrades. Systems that shipped with Leopard were more solid, and also keep in mind that there have been a couple of Leopard revs since original release. The next major release, Snow Leopard, looks promising from a performance and stability perspective.

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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby nekonoko » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:54 am

josehill wrote:I haven't run into this myself


Either have I, even on non-Apple hardware.
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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby jwhat » Sat Sep 27, 2008 5:07 am

ohw0571,

I moved to Mac initially due to need to have a portable computer and I had the occasional use for Windows machine to do my personal accounting, which I did via Virtual PC. That was back in PowerPC Mac days.

With the move to Intel, Mac is a very good virtualisation platform. VMWare Fusion is much much more robust and full featured than PowerPC Microsoft Virtual PC software, which Microsoft never supported properly.

I am running a Mac Pro with lastest VMWare Fusion (v 2) and have Mac OX 10.5 as host to: Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and even an OS X Server machine.

I believe that you can even get Solaris to run on VMWare. The issues have you have with virtualisation is that you do not get special hardware support (ie access to hardware accelerated OpenGL for example). But if you have special need for this on an occasional basis then you can boot to any of Windows, Linux or FreeBSD via BootCamp.

I recently installed Windows version of Open Inventor on MacBook Pro and run it natively via Boot Camp and also via VMWare Fusion and there was a huge difference in performance. Boot Camp was much faster in this case. However for general computing (does not need special hardware), VMFusion VM's run very well and overhead of virtualisation is relatively small.

In terms of robustness/lack of bugs, I did have some issues with Fibre Channel on OS X Server, but now that i have virtualised OS X Server and gone back to straight OS X (10.5) my Fibre Channel issues appear to have gone away.

As Squeen points out there are issues with OS X X11, but if you do not need the hardware acceleration then you can get around this by running a Linux or FreeBSD VM.

So do not see Mac vs. Linux vs. FreeBSD as mutually exclusive, you can have all of these via products like VMWare or Parallels and now that the Mac are native Intel this option has many benefits without a huge performance penalty.

Cheers,
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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby tbcpp » Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:40 am

Right before the 10.5.4 update I was having about 1-4 grey screens of death (kernel panic) a day. Not Fun! I haven't had that for several months and not at all since 10.5.5. So YMMV.

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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby Hakimoto » Tue Sep 30, 2008 11:46 am

jwhat, no offence intended, but your comment made me smirk: You can also install Solaris natively and virtualise the others in it. ;-) (ok, maybe not the latest and greatest of MacOS X , but pretty much everything else!) My production laptop runs Solaris. SOMEtimes I boot Windows in a box and run Corel in it. :D

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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby japes » Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:09 pm

OS X should be fine. Especially if your application supports it well.

If these are to be used as researcher's workstations then using OS X will have the advantage of native MS Office availability and other productivity/collaboration tools (mail/web), thus eliminating the need for a second workstation for office work. As others have said, VMware and VirtualBox will let you run Windows/Solaris/Linux/etc if you need.

Stick with the MacPro though, I don't trust an iMac being pushed to run high cpu utilization more than in bursts. I have no problem asking a MacPro to run 725% cpu (8 cores) all day long.

Worst case with the MacPro, you negotiate a trade deal with your software vendor for linux or windows licenses in exchange for your OS X licenses and load up Solaris, Linux or Windows on the MacPros. They are solid machines.

I have heard of 3d places rendering in the background with MacPros on everyone's desk, at night running them all full-out, even rebooting them into alternate OSes depending on the need. In essence they have a physically distributed cluster that just happens to play nice and let artists work.
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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby jwhat » Tue Sep 30, 2008 4:07 pm

Hakimoto,

I am deeply offended, that you too see the benefits of virtualisation ;-) .

This (virtualisation) is the main game to my mind and sad to say that rise of Intel architecture chips makes this easier, as it avoids need for emulation.

I agree 100% that it really does not matter if you use Solaris, Linux, OS X or Windoze as the underlying OS once you decide to go down the virtualisation path.

I moved to Mac originally when then they where PowerPC and with the introduction of BSD based OX X... but now that they are Intel based it has really been a huge benefit to me in making my system setup/adminstration simpler.

What I like about Mac is that it makes it easy for me to setup VMs and the back these up via "Time Machine" without having to worry about tar, cpio and other backup programs. As simply put the most important thing is not the hardware but the data you have on it. With my SGI box, I had to manually manage keeping multiple copies of data files as I had stripped disks without mirroring (due to me not having an XVM mirror license). Now I have big data sets sitting on stripped/mirror disk set, with periodic back up to slower striped set via Time Machine. This works well as it provides good degree of redundancy with ease of use I was not able to achieve with either Windows or IRIX.

I have got rid of 4 PC and the Octane is currently makings its way out into ebay land...

For me a 8 cores of CPU provides me with more than enough grunt to do my work.
Also fortunately being back in Australia, the high cost of shipping of shipping Tezro is now much easier to resist :D

Irrespective of whether you are on Solaris or OS X I think that what we need is to get drivers that allow hardware OpenGL acceleration from VM. Currently VMWare has this of DirectX but not OpenGL...

BTW what virtualisation software are you running? Is in native SUN product, VMWare or something else?
Unfortunately from a licensing point of you you cannot officially run virtualised OS X Server on anything than a Mac...
I have not read the standard Mac OS license, but was going to see if I could virtualise this from VMWare, just to see what happens. I will report on this once done.

Cheers from Australia,
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Re: OS X system as a unix workstation

Unread postby indigofan » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:58 pm

I have a G5 Dual processor machine and it works like a charm, uptime is not an issue and even while doing processor heavy work, the machine runs just as stable as my old SGI boxes...
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