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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:35 am 
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Hello!

I am thinking about the operating system I will install in the server I am going to use in the lab as my noisy desktop computer :roll: . They guy is going to be a dual 3 Ghz Xeon with HT, 12 Gb, 2 x Nvidia GT430 512 Mb and SCSI HDDs.

I would like to install a real Unix on it, but Solaris does not seem to be the best option. It has Java but there are still some applications that have not been ported to it, although not many. I think that I could make it work properly and is still an option to consider, but I am not completely sure about it.

On the other hand, I can install a Windows 7 Pro or the last stable version of Debian. Both have the applications I need and Debian works just perfectly fine on the computer. Since it is an old server, all the hardware is recognized during the installation and it works like a charm. However, it is still a Linux and I am not totally conviced about this, specially about the performance of my CUDA programs. Of course, Windows is Windows, and I know that it works and very well, specially in terms of Nvidia drivers :).

Well, honestly I do not know what to choose. Do you have any opinion or suggestion on this?

Thank you! :D

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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:15 am 
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If it were simply going to sit under your desktop and you'd have a laptop, thin client or terminal to use, I'd suggest simply installing ESXi 4 (with the free hypervisor license) and have Windows 7, Solaris, Debian or something else entirely running as Virtual Machines.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:24 am 
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Okay. Server.

I'd say OpenIndiana or CentOS. Windows 7 is desktop-oriented, so I personally wouldn't use it.

What kind of server will this be, anyway?

But if you OpenCL isn't an option and you absolutely need CUDA instead, CentOS or Debian.

Anyway, I hope I helped you a bit, and I do wish for your project to do well. :)


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:27 am 
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ESXi 4 is also an option!, my O2 will be next to the server all the time and I can use the girl as Unix terminal, it is exactly what I am doing now, because my laptop runs Windows 7 :).

Nuke, the computer is a server, but I will use it like a normal desktop PC. A member of Nekochan gave it to me for free and, since it is much faster than my laptop, I am upgrading it to substitute my Asus UL20A :D. CUDA is absolutely essential to me, since I need to render complex crystal structures in real time day after day.

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R12000A 400 Mhz; 1 Gb RAM; 72 Gb 15K HDD; IRIX 6.5.29
CrystalEyes; Dial Box; O2Cam "ZEYE"; external Toshiba SD-M1711 DVD-ROM; Octane speakers;
Lock bar; SGI microphone.
Mods: PSU Noctua fan; internal Toshiba SD-M1401 DVD-ROM; Adaptec AIC-7880P SCSI card.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:31 am 
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[[C|-|E]] wrote:
It is also an option!, my O2 will be next to the server all the time and I can use the girl as Unix terminal, it is exactly what I am doing now, because my laptop runs Windows 7 :).


Something to check before going down the ESXi route is to make sure the motherboard inside the Dell supports VT-D (AMD's equivalent just so you know is called IOMMU). If it does then inside your VMs themselves they could access the GeForce cards directly. I do this with my ESXi 5 server, I have 2 5970 Radeons in CF and can access them natively inside a Windows 7 VM.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:35 am 
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I have to check if it supports ESXi at all, the guy is an old supermicro and the CPUs are not even 64 bit, just i686 Prestonia. I have to use a 32 bit operating system with PAE enabled... :/. Let´s see if the people around is able to stand the noise, because I plan to put it just under my desk...

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_________________
Image _Betty Blue_
R12000A 400 Mhz; 1 Gb RAM; 72 Gb 15K HDD; IRIX 6.5.29
CrystalEyes; Dial Box; O2Cam "ZEYE"; external Toshiba SD-M1711 DVD-ROM; Octane speakers;
Lock bar; SGI microphone.
Mods: PSU Noctua fan; internal Toshiba SD-M1401 DVD-ROM; Adaptec AIC-7880P SCSI card.

_REKIEM_I7_
Seasonic X 1250W PSU / Intel I7 2600k 4 x 5,00 Ghz / 2 x Gainward 2Gb GTX 560Ti Phantom 2 / 32 Gb DDR3 / Intel x25-M 160 Gb SSD and 10 extra Tb
_REKIEM_T5400_
875W PSU / 2 x Intel Xeon Harpertown 4 x 2,83 Ghz with 12 MB cache / 1 x Zotac 1Gb GTX 440 / 32 Gb DDR2 667 ECC / Samsung 840 Series Pro 128GB SSD and 1 extra Tb


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Unread postPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:11 pm 
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[[C|-|E]] wrote:
Well, honestly I do not know what to choose. Do you have any opinion or suggestion on this?

About Solaris .... We had an elderly IBM server that needed an OS. I made live CD's for all the systems I was interested in using. Solaris automatically found ALL the memory and ALL the cpu's where none of the others did, so I went that way. At the time Open Solaris was the buzz but I couldn't use it because of no Adaptec drivers. Yes, I could have fought it and got them installed but it was easier to go with Real (tm) Solaris.

Working with Solaris was like swimming in the supernatant removal tank down at the local wastewater treatment facility, but once it got running it didn't even hiccup for three years. Then the air conditioning failed over the weekend and the hardware fried. Not Solaris' fault.

btw, Solaris apps displayed quite nicely on an Irix computer (Fuel).

Fast forward to replacement time. Solaris did well for three years, let's stick to the proven peanut butter. No more Intel hardware, no more Honkin' Big Boxes, just a little V100 server. Doesn't even have SCSI. Downloading Solaris turned into something of a problem, at least from China, so I just bought it locally for three bucks. Wasn't looking forward to setup since that part was pretty miserable last time. But this time, due to hardware constraints and a different set of goals, I went for the bare minimum install. No graphical user interface at all.

What a different animal ! Without that three-way mess that Sun called a desktop, Solaris is very nice. Straightforward to install and maintain and runs well. ZFS is super (altho kind of pointless with a V100.) Performance on even an old Sparc processor is good.

My experience is, if you don't use their stinking awful ghastly terrible disgusting useless desktop, Solaris is very good. I'm happy that I got through the Great Ellison Firewall and put up with the installation peculiarities (DON'T let the install program partition your disks ! Who ever thought that ridiculous setup was the way to go ? Jeeze.) It's working quite well now and the Sun web server is superior to Apache. NFS, big bubbles no troubles. Users, groups, maintaining everything from a command line, straightforward and simple and capable (prstat, much nicer than top, etc etc)

Mikey likes it, although if you are a Linux or Windows user, your mileage may vary.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:07 am 
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Nothing against Solaris, but I really like FreeBSD for my servers. Mmmm: trailing-rev but still stable ZFS, and I don't have to worry about being shot in the kneecaps by Larry Ellison. Everything works the way it should...

But [[C|-|E]]'s priority is CUDA, and a quick Google search makes me think it'll work.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:04 am 
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Yeah, I think he should use either Debian or Windows, due to the CUDA aspect. Not sure if CUDA would work on FreeBSD, but it might.

He should install FreeBSD just to try seeing if CUDA runs on it. I know that 32-bit Nvidia drivers work on FreeBSD, although I'm not sure about 64-bit.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:27 am 
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Thank you for your answers!

I was working with FreeBSD a little bit, but CUDA support is not very good. Or, to be honest, there is support but the performance is not as good as in Debian or Windows. It is also easier to find the software I need for Debian, since it shares many of the repositories with Ubuntu :). However, since my guy has a pair of Prestonia CPUs I have to use a BigMem 32 bit kernel in Debian to access my 12 Gb of RAM and this one is not as good as the standard one, at least in my personal experience. I have already seen a Kernel Panic. PAE support in Windows 7 Enterprise, however, is said to be very good. I think that I will tinker with the two operating systems for a while and then I will choose the more stable :).

_________________
Image _Betty Blue_
R12000A 400 Mhz; 1 Gb RAM; 72 Gb 15K HDD; IRIX 6.5.29
CrystalEyes; Dial Box; O2Cam "ZEYE"; external Toshiba SD-M1711 DVD-ROM; Octane speakers;
Lock bar; SGI microphone.
Mods: PSU Noctua fan; internal Toshiba SD-M1401 DVD-ROM; Adaptec AIC-7880P SCSI card.

_REKIEM_I7_
Seasonic X 1250W PSU / Intel I7 2600k 4 x 5,00 Ghz / 2 x Gainward 2Gb GTX 560Ti Phantom 2 / 32 Gb DDR3 / Intel x25-M 160 Gb SSD and 10 extra Tb
_REKIEM_T5400_
875W PSU / 2 x Intel Xeon Harpertown 4 x 2,83 Ghz with 12 MB cache / 1 x Zotac 1Gb GTX 440 / 32 Gb DDR2 667 ECC / Samsung 840 Series Pro 128GB SSD and 1 extra Tb


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:54 am 
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D'oh, I also missed the fact that you'd need to use PAE.

I used to run a pair of Gallatin Xeons (32bit HT) under FBSD 7.x, and PAE was not pleasant. Turning it on in the kernel seemed to conflict with anything else that wasn't part of GENERIC - no Virtual Box. And even under a GENERIC kernel VBox performance was awful. Hopefully that's not an indicator for ESXi, but with no hardware virtualization support I wouldn't expect much.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:58 am 
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I agree, at the end I think I will go for the Windows 7 Pro or Enterprise... they handle PAE really well or, at least, I never had problems with it...

_________________
Image _Betty Blue_
R12000A 400 Mhz; 1 Gb RAM; 72 Gb 15K HDD; IRIX 6.5.29
CrystalEyes; Dial Box; O2Cam "ZEYE"; external Toshiba SD-M1711 DVD-ROM; Octane speakers;
Lock bar; SGI microphone.
Mods: PSU Noctua fan; internal Toshiba SD-M1401 DVD-ROM; Adaptec AIC-7880P SCSI card.

_REKIEM_I7_
Seasonic X 1250W PSU / Intel I7 2600k 4 x 5,00 Ghz / 2 x Gainward 2Gb GTX 560Ti Phantom 2 / 32 Gb DDR3 / Intel x25-M 160 Gb SSD and 10 extra Tb
_REKIEM_T5400_
875W PSU / 2 x Intel Xeon Harpertown 4 x 2,83 Ghz with 12 MB cache / 1 x Zotac 1Gb GTX 440 / 32 Gb DDR2 667 ECC / Samsung 840 Series Pro 128GB SSD and 1 extra Tb


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:59 pm 
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smj wrote:
D'oh, I also missed the fact that you'd need to use PAE.

I used to run a pair of Gallatin Xeons (32bit HT) under FBSD 7.x, and PAE was not pleasant. Turning it on in the kernel seemed to conflict with anything else that wasn't part of GENERIC - no Virtual Box. And even under a GENERIC kernel VBox performance was awful. Hopefully that's not an indicator for ESXi, but with no hardware virtualization support I wouldn't expect much.


Indeed, and most BSD users would just go for 64bit and never worry about PAE again...

Code:
 The Physical Address Extension (PAE) capability of the Intel® Pentium Pro and later CPUs allows memory configurations of up to 64 gigabytes. FreeBSD provides support for this capability via the PAE kernel configuration option, available in all current release versions of FreeBSD. Due to the limitations of the Intel memory architecture, no distinction is made for memory above or below 4 gigabytes. Memory allocated above 4 gigabytes is simply added to the pool of available memory.

To enable PAE support in the kernel, simply add the following line to your kernel configuration file:

options          PAE
Note: The PAE support in FreeBSD is only available for Intel IA-32 processors. It should also be noted, that the PAE support in FreeBSD has not received wide testing, and should be considered beta quality compared to other stable features of FreeBSD.

PAE support in FreeBSD has a few limitations:

A process is not able to access more than 4 gigabytes of VM space.

Device drivers that do not use the bus_dma(9) interface will cause data corruption in a PAE enabled kernel and are not recommended for use. For this reason, a PAE kernel configuration file is provided in FreeBSD which excludes all drivers not known to work in a PAE enabled kernel.

Some system tunables determine memory resource usage by the amount of available physical memory. Such tunables can unnecessarily over-allocate due to the large memory nature of a PAE system. One such example is the kern.maxvnodes sysctl, which controls the maximum number of vnodes allowed in the kernel. It is advised to adjust this and other such tunables to a reasonable value.

It might be necessary to increase the kernel virtual address (KVA) space or to reduce the amount of specific kernel resource that is heavily used (see above) in order to avoid KVA exhaustion. The KVA_PAGES kernel option can be used for increasing the KVA space.

For performance and stability concerns, it is advised to consult the tuning(7) manual page. The pae(4) manual page contains up-to-date information on FreeBSD's PAE support.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:30 pm 
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smj wrote:
D'oh, I also missed the fact that you'd need to use PAE.

Which is why I went to Solaris in the first place. On the 4p xeon server, was stuck with it but Solaris did a better job than Linux. I didn't try FreeBSD tho.

Half the fun of using Solaris is rubbing Larry's nose in it, smj. Kind of like using Adobe or Autodesk products for free :P

kubatyszko wrote:
Indeed, and most BSD users would just go for 64bit and never worry about PAE again...

Exactly. PAE sucks. Even in the best instances, the os is not really using memory above 4 gigs. It's swapping in and out. Generally, I don't think that matters because most people don't use that much memory. It's just a bragging point ...


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Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:03 am 
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Windows, I choose you.


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