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Re: Broken applications: Could we be honest?

Thanks for your response.

We have the pgi compiler on the head node of a very
old, 32-bit beowulf. I do my production calculations on
a very nice large, 64-bit cluster at a national laboratory, but
my desktop machine had, until about 6 weeks ago, been a
1.4 GHz 32-bit machine. The graphics had become hopelessly
bogged down. So, ironically, our main internal compute engine
is 32-bit and my desktop is 64. Go figure. I'm using my
laptop for most code development and for making xmgrace 
figures for publication.

Art Edwards

On Sat, Jul 08, 2006 at 05:40:37PM +0100, Jimmy Tang wrote:
> On 7/8/06, Art Edwards <edwardsa@afrl.kirtland.af.mil> wrote:
> >
> >I have been writing to the list about two applications that
> >are so broken on the AMD64 distribution that they render the
> >box pretty useless. I'm sure one could say that two measly
> >applications are no big deal. However, if you do scientific computation
> >for a living, and two of the primary tools are broken, you now have
> >a rather clumsy paperweight where a computer should be. You could
> >argue that we should simply learn new tools, and we could, but we
> >should really be doing science instead.
> >
> >This brought up the question, who uses 64 bit Linux anyway?
> >Surely gamers do not drive the 64-bit linux community. It can't be the
> >desktop
> >community, seeing that the standard office tool doesn't really
> >work for 64-bit. I would think that scientific and engineering
> >users would drive this community. Besides the instruction set, which
> >can probably give some speed, but wouldn't justify the cost, the address
> >space in 64-bit OS's mean that we can solve much larger problems. Unles
> >you're
> >not doing some heavy-duty, memory-intensive computation, 64-bits seems
> >to be simply a status symbol.
> >
> >For compute servers the amd64 distribution is fine. All you really need
> >are
> >languages (compilers), libraries and decent MPICH. We run our small, 32
> >bit
> >Beowulf on debian with abandon, and from my experience, I look forward to
> >converting it to amd64 ... with a 32-bit node where things actually work.
> >
> >Unless such core pieces as the debugging tool (ddd) and the data display
> >tool
> >(xmgrace) are working, it is dishonest to pretend that the 64-bit version
> >is ready for testing. It would be very nice if you, and other distro's,
> >were
> >to put appropriate caveats on the websites, saying that 64-bit is really
> >not
> >ready for the prime-time desktop. That way, we could make better
> >purchasing
> >decisions.
> >
> >
> >
> At the risk of imposing what we do at our work place onto your work flow, i
> find that users generally should have access to better debuggers/profilers
> than what ships with standard gnu distros. presumably if you are doing
> scientific computations, you probably have access to a commercial compiler?
> i know that the portland group compilers ship with a fairly good gui
> debugger if you are not satisfied with gdb (in parallel attached to each
> running process)
> also shouldnt users be using programs like xmgrace on their local
> workstations? again with out trying to impose my workflow to yours, i find
> sometimes users do silly things on the head node on clusters, and I tend to
> try and get my users to do post analysis etc... stuff that can run serially
> on their own desktops whenever possible.
> Jim
> -- 
> Jimmy Tang
> Trinity Centre for High Performance Computing,
> Lloyd Building, Trinity College Dublin.
> http://www.tchpc.tcd.ie/

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