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US Army Needs Linux Workstation Advice

Cliff posted more than 14 years ago | from the suggestions-anyone dept.

Linux 391

Shawn wrote in asking for suggestions on high-end Linux Workstation configurations for the US Army. Aparently, they are looking at replacing some SGIs with cheaper PCs, and this being Slashdot, I'm sure some of you might be able to make some improvements to their suggested configuration. I can't tell you how glad I am to see the US Army giving Linux a chance. The US Navy could probably learn a thing or two from this. Click below for the full text.

Shawn asks: "The US Army is looking for advice on purchasing several high-end Linux workstations. These systems will be used in a post-flight processing environment. We routinely process raw data measurements in excess of 1 million samples/second. This processing can utilize several GB of disk space and up to and exceeding 1GB of RAM. We are currently using SGI Octane systems but need to switch to the lower cost PC environment. This will allow less costly while still providing excellent performance. Let us know any advice you may have or insights we may not have thought of.

Here are the specifications we are currently considering:

Motherboard

  • Intel® 840 chipset
  • RIMM slots for at least 1GB dual-channel Rambus® memory
  • Integrated dual ATA-66 EIDE controllers
  • Ports: USB (2), serial (2), Parallel, PS/2
  • Integrated Ultra 160/M SCSI and Ultra/Wide SCSI Controllers
  • NO INTEGRATED VIDEO
CPUs (2)
  • Intel® Pentium® III 733Mhz (slot 1)
  • .18-micron Coppermine architecture
  • 256K cache
  • 133MHz FSB
Memory
  • 1GB Rambus® memory
Case
  • Full tower
  • 300W or greater power supply
  • 4 or more 5.25" exposed drive bays
  • 1 or more 3.5" exposed drive bay(s)
  • Two or more small fans blowing air directly across the drive bays
Storage
  • 9GB Ultra 160/M SCSI (7200 rpm) hard drive (internal)
  • 36GB (or larger) Ultra 160/M SCSI (10000 rpm) hard drive (internal)
  • LS-120 internal superfloppy (IDE)
  • 5X (or faster) DVD drive (internal - IDE or SCSI)
Video Card
  • Diamond Viper V770 Ultra 32 (AGP 2X/4X)
Monitor
  • Viewsonic P815 21" monitor
Network
  • 3Com 3C905B-TX ethernet card (PCI)
Sound
  • SoundBlaster PCI128 (PCI)
  • Powered speakers with wall adapter
Keyboard
  • Soft-touch keyboard (no keyclick)
Mouse
  • Microsoft Intellimouse
OS
  • Red Hat Linux 6.x
Warranty
  • 3 year parts and labor

Thanks,
US Army Test Facility."

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doesn't this breach national security? (1)

Spydr (90990) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438356)

how long till the nsa shuts /. down for exposing national secrets? ;)

this is a joke just in case you have no sense of humor.

---
http://www.spiderinteractive.net

Re:The US Army (3)

lrc (5755) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438357)

Actually, their business is to keep other people from killing me, or forcing me to do something I
don't want. Something that I heartily agree with.

Well, This case meets the specs... (3)

handorf (29768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438358)

Addtronics 6890a [wco.com]

And personally, I LOVE this sucker. Nice and open, even with tons of stuff in it, and it can take about 5 extra fans. Oh, and the Mo-Bo tray slides out with all the expansion cards in place with 4 screws removed.

Desktops only (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438359)

what happened to our all NT military?

jhartzell

...am I impressed or what... :) (1)

rkt (9943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438360)

I am really impressed at the configuration. However I was just wondering

1. Why not an SMP with Dual or Quad CPU when one is going to such lenghts ?
2. How about a TV Tuner cards... linux supports a lot of those now a days..... for those moments when working-on-a-high-end-pc becomes too boring.
3. Last not least, won't it be better to have a RAID of 3 or more instead of two simple disc drives ?

NEway... I'm not the one who is spending... so all I can do is give "FREE" suggessions here.

rkt

Re:The US Army (2)

Kamelion (12129) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438361)

Their business is defense and deserves some
respect.

The actions of the US Army are decided by the US
Congress and the President of the US. Sure the
Pres. is a prick, but you can't blame the Army
for that.

VA Linux (3)

mochaone (59034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438362)

Let's see if VA Linux can handle this.

Re:FIRST! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438363)

TROLLMASTAH needs to get a life.

Hardware (1)

bibos (116554) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438364)

for the DVD drive I'd take the Pioneer DVD-A04SZ, it's 10xDVD and 40xCD i like it oww and ya give us some more confidential information lol :) is Russia going to use any Atomic bombs soon ? ;)

Re:The US Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438365)

Their business is killing people, something I don't agree with.

I can certainly understand. Would these computers be used to protect and serve? Depends on what side you happen to be on. Armies are controlled by a government, which is controlled by polititions, which is controlled by businesses, which are run by agressive suits, which are run by stockholders. Scary indeed.

But, if you wish to see high performance computing at its finest at the risk of selling your soul, this may be a fine opportunity. Enlist your skill today. The Army is looking for a Few Good Boxen.

Avoid 3COM 905B (1)

Norman Lorrain (11572) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438366)

I recently had a bad batch. (dropped packets)
A second source confirmed to me that these cards are troublesome.

I recommend anything with the Tulip chipset (DEC 2xx4x) e.g. Netgear


No, there business is killing people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438367)

When was the last time the US military came out and defended you from an invading force? When was the last time the US military killed anyone? How often do they defend you against invading forces each year? How often do they kill people, not involved in forces invading the US, each year?

It's pretty clear. They are in the business of killing people.

They should stick to buying high-priced, high-end systems. Spend more on computers and less on bombs.

Why intel? (2)

PraveenS (83566) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438368)

If you're really looking for speed, why not try a 64-bit processor? Alphas or Sparcs, both are very fast, especially Alphas. They run linux well, and are fairly stable. The only disadvantage is you would have to port the code by making sure that it's 64-bit clean.

alpha (1)

heh2k (84254) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438369)

what about a 264 or even a 164 alpha?

Thinking Beyond Redhat (1)

webword (82711) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438370)

They don't need help with *Linux* per se, they need help with Redhat's Distribution of Linux. Offering help is interesting here when you think about it. Don't companies charge big bucks for this advice? Further, don't they make a living by providing this advice and support? Are we stealing business from our consulting brothers? ;-)

But seriously, while I'm a RedHat fan, I wonder if the request would have been more appropriate if they were looking for *general* Linux advice.

John S. Rhodes
WebWord.com Guru Interviews [webword.com]

Dumping SGI for "cheap" PCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438371)

Two thumbs down. SGI's are more expensive for a good reason. Why do you think these "cheap" PCs are so CHEAP? Come on US Army! We deserve the best! SGI all the way!

I don't like sound blaster PCI 128's or 3com (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438372)

Some of those Sound Blaster 128's do not work because of randomly changing codec chips... I have an es1370 (also Creative,very similar to SB 128). The SB Live card has Creative's official blessing in the form of open source drivers from the manufacturer. Also, I like the DEC Tulip based cards; Bay and Linksys both make one. 3Com also charges 2x what their competitors charge due to name recognition. Otherwise, this system looks awesome.

Watch out for the backdoors in the Intel CPU's. (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438373)

Avoid the Intel CPU's. The AMD K7's outperform the Intel Pentiums, anyway.

Since this is a government bid, presumably security is a concern. The problem with the Pentiums is that the CPU microcode can be changed
on you, and you'd never know it.

This problem gets even worse with the Merced/Itanium/whatever-the-64-bit-chip is called.

With the embedded crypto, changeable microcode, and the moves to integrate ethernet on the motherboard, the 64-bit CPU will be wiretap ready.

This is presumably why the Chinese have moved away from the Pentiums, and Europe appears to be heading in the same direction.

The K7's don't have this problem. Nor do the PPC, or the DEC Alphas.

Be All You Can Be (2)

jabber (13196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438374)

And now, with Linux, so can your hardware. Whatever it is.

Impressive system BTW. I wonder if my local Army Surplus store has any of these badboys for cheap.

Saving money... (1)

elixir (21353) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438375)

Why the soundcard, speakers, DVD and LS-120?
Unless you are doing sound analysis, etc... Hmm.

It would be faster doing RAID (not sure of the level) for the drives, if you are doing alot of reading/writing.

Just my 2 cents.

Do you really need some of this? (1)

KPU (118762) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438376)

I thought this was a processor-intensive operation! What are you doing with a Microsoft Intellimouse on Linux? Why not use onboard video if all you're doing is anaylsis? Why the DVD? Do you want to watch movies during anaylsis? And why two USB ports?

Wrong answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438377)

Their mission is to protect your right to say what you just said. Their mission is to protect the American Idea, and the American way of life. Their mission is to sacrifice their own life for an idea that they believe is larger than they as individuals are. Their mission is something that is simply beyond your comprehension. You don't have to understand it, but you should respect it. And if killing is required, I don't have an issue with that. It's simply the way of the world.

jhartzell

implementation creeping into spec (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438378)

Those are all fine components, but I think it's way too specific if you're not building it yourselves. Call your favorite Linux system vendor (VA? Dell? Penguin?) and say, "I'd like a bunch of kick-a** desktops for such-and-such sort of data analysis - what do you suggest?" Maybe procurement requirements won't let you do that, in which case I think they're broken (surprise, surprise).

any thoughts on the G4? (1)

confidential (23321) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438379)

ok, ok, i know, blatant apple plug, but have you thought about the G4? Other then ports and drives that you can add, it somewhat looks like that could do it for ya.Once they get LinuxPPC altivec optimized... *drool*.

Just dont forget about that Apples thinking that you can only run MacOS on it, you dont need x86 for everything you know =)


-confidential

Have you considered asking VA Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438380)

I'm sure they'd love to land this account and someday maybe they'll even show a profit.

Their business is invasion... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438381)

The US military is in the business of invading foreign nations and imposing their rules on the rest of world. The military are the thugs who backup the politicians who come up with grand philosphical reasons to extend the scope of control of the US economy to include the entire world.

While I can't disrespect these boys who are eager to "play guns" for real, they do little worthy of respect.

Americans are hated all over the world, almost universally. Why? Because they've bomed more countries than anyone else since WWII, and because they've got soldiers on the soil of soveriegn nations. Your saying American soldiers are "just following orders." Now where have I heard that before?

Net card... (2)

Falsch Freiheit (7780) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438382)

I'd suggest either an Intel EtherExpress Pro or a card based on the DEC Tulip chipset instead of the 3c905 card... The Linux drivers for either of those seem to be better done (especially with SMP, though this is probably fixed now) than the 3com driver.

Re:Avoid 3COM 905B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438383)

I agree, a Tulip would do much better, or at least change to a 100Mbit 3COM.

Re:Desktops only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438384)

*laugh* I work for a research lab and write software for the Navy. All of the software we develop (mostly tactical displays) is under Solaris, with the exception of some occasional dedicated DSP work for sonar signal processing. There is no "all NT" military, at least not from where I am standing.

The heart bleeds .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438385)

If you don't have any information to contribute to the individual who posed the question, the least you can do is refrain from posting your own warped projections on reality. I'd love to live in a world where a military isn't necessary, but we don't live in that world. Now if you want to pretend that we do live in that world, then go right ahead. But don't expect the rest of us to play along with your little fantasy.

(What sort of crack is the moderator that marked this post up smoking, BTW?)

dumbass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438386)

Without an army any country could just walk in and take over. Lazy dumbass sheep like you probably wouldn't even know the difference with the new season of ER or some such crap. People have been killing each other since time began. Its part of nature. You can't change that. Now some famous quotes: "The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of "liberalism" they will adopt EVERY fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. (Former Socialist Presidential Candidate) - Norman Thomas "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth. - George Washington"

The System (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438387)

A nice setup, but here's a couple of suggestions: * Was that two processors you were considering? Perhaps push it to four. * Consider getting a redundant RAID array if this is going to hold terribly important data. * Make sure there's no chance of this system getting overheated. Don't spare the cooling fans. And get one of those temperature LCDs/warning alarms that mounts onto a 5.25" bay. * Redhat is great, but also consider SuSe 6.3, in Best Buy for about $25. Lots of great stuff on those CD ROMs.

Typical overkill (3)

BranMan (29917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438388)

Sometimes this kind of stuff just irks me - how clueless are people anyway??

This is a DATA PROCESSING machine. You do NOT need a 128bit sound card plus massive speakers. If any kind of sound is going to come out of this thing, an average SB16 or AWE32 is more than adequate.

You also do NOT need a Viper 770 video card. What the heck are you going to display on your screen that you would need 32 Mb of video RAM for?? Just an ordinary video will do - 8Mb at the most. This is X-Windows, not Quake.

No need to specify UltraDMA66 controllers if the only thing you're going to hang off it is a DVD drive.

The Athalons will still give you a few percent higher performance on math than the PIIIs, you may want to go with that instead - though you may not have much pick of motherboards.

Other than that, looks like a darn nice set of specs.

SCSI controller?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438389)


I recommend staying away from Adaptec.

Mylex is the best, Symbios has the lowest
price/performance ratio.

All hardware is troublesome... (1)

MrJ (2608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438390)

All hardware is troublesome under the right conditions. I've encountered some mean tulip cards also. My 3Com 905B is working great. No troubles at all.

WRT TNT2 (2)

J4 (449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438391)

Everything looks pretty tasty but currently the
driver for the TNT2 chipset doesn't perform very well.
The situation is being worked on.
Right now 3dfx chipsets have the best support but are pretty much maxed out potential wise.
I would suggest looking at Matrox G400 instead.
Matrox has been very good about releasing specs
and the current driver outperforms the TNT2 in terms of framerate by a considerable amount.

Re:The US Army (1)

kschafer (111979) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438392)

Apparently, everything you know about the U.S. Army was learned from video games.

you fucking karma whore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438393)

That post really deserved a score: 2? What was so profound about it? BTW I don't think linux supports ultra 160 scsi.

Re:...am I impressed or what... :) (1)

RodStewart (13476) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438394)

as for cpus:
my guess is price, basically bang for buck under linux, even though it doesn't look like that at first glance. support for multi-cpus under linux is wanning[sp], and threaded application support is too.

tv card would be cool, i want one !

what are they gonna use that sb 128 for? doesnt really sound liek they would need something that high end, not really high end but real damn expensive ;).

Rambus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438395)

I think you would get better bang for the buck if you went with 2 - 4GB of SDRAM. If you want speed, you absolutely DON'T want swapping. 2GB SDRAM should cost about 1/4 as much as the 1GB Rambus...

Also, I don't know what your exact application specs are, but the video card is overkill if you aren't doing 3D. A Matrox G200 would work just fine.

Dan

Answers to those questions (2)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438396)

When was the last time the US military came out and defended you from an invading force?

Unknown. When was the last time anyone tried to shoot the President? Long time? Secret Service must be obsolete, too.

Point is, the Army is a preventative (ideally) AND curative (sometimes) measure.

How often do they kill people, not involved in forces invading the US, each year?

I don't understand the question. Are you saying you care about the freedom of only those people with the good fortune of having been born a US citizen?
,br> It's pretty clear. They are in the business of killing people.

What do you suggest we do with a tyrant? Explain how nice freedom is and hope he understands?
---

Re:No, there business is killing people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438397)

You punk ass loser. The reason you don't see
any invading forces is cuz THE ARMED FORCES
ARE DOING THEIR JOB, i.e. keeping the invaders
away.

It's like "Red Alert". You're playing "Red Alert"
and you see through the fog of war that the other
side has a lotta guns and troops and APCs and all kindsa stuff. So you, being the punk ass loser that you are, quit the game and go out and get some sushi or a burger or something. It's like
that with the "invaders". They take a gander across the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean (those are two very large bodies of water on the east and west sides of the US) and they see planes
and troops and guns and all kindsa scary stuff, so they just go out for pizza or hummus or something.

Punk ass loser. Their job is defense.

Hardware (2)

whoop (194) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438398)

Forget the P3's and go with Athlons. As for the LS120, be careful with them. The power supply pins are VERY fragile. I went to use mine after like 6-8 months of not paying attention to it, and lo and behold it wasn't working because the pins all broke off. :)

By the way, where are all the SMP Athlons? A year ago everyone was saying "by the end of 1999," but I see none. Going from a K6-2/450 to Athlon/550 nearly halved the time to compile things. I can't wait to reap the benefits of two of these suckers.

...Okay, I'm a Coward. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438399)

Call it a personal quibble (which is why I'm posting this annonymously), but I'm not so hot about the Army's choice of Wide SCSI as a backup option; while recent builds have allowed for more stability, the bus has been a total nightmare for myself & a couple others I know (and that was just with standard SCSI!) The thought of high-volume memory storage on Ultra-Wide for something as serious as Army applications (field engineering and disaster relief, commumications relay & reconnaisance, etc.), coupled with the tendancy of hardware drivers to collapse after less than a full year's install on some builds makes me shiver.

Myself, I'd run Linux with Solaris on an array of Alphas for the SCSI tasks. But that's just my unpopular opinion.

Mixing IDE and SCSI (2)

gnubie (2277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438400)

In my experience, mixing IDE and SCSI devices causes a performance hit on the SCSI side. In fact, I've seen a noticeable increase in the performance of a good UltraII SCSI chain by disabling the on-board IDE controller.

Re:Wrong answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438401)

Protect my right to say...

Unless you are a serbian reporter sitting in a television studio in Belgrade....

Setup (5)

debrain (29228) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438402)

It's difficult to say what needs to be changed when I'm not entirely sure what the specific application setting is for this piece of equipment.

If it is specialized, I would recommend a simple window manager such as BlackBox or IceWM. There is no need to burden your system with unnecessary tools and applications. If, on the other hand, it is going to be a user friendly system, I'd have to recommend using KDE or GNOME, giving preference to your personal aesthetics. The added complexity of GNOME or KDE should be justified.

In terms of hardware, I must point out that USB support will not be available until kernel 2.4, IIRC, but that will be arriving soon. Also included will be firewire support, again IIRC, which should encourage you to investigate using that as a possible alternative to SCSI. Again, it is application dependent, and also subject to some personal preference.

In terms of video, the Diamond Viper is a bit of overkill if you'll be using BlackBox or IceWM, and you could save yourself a bit of money by getting something a bit less hefty, and possibly including TV support, such as the ATI Rage128. Since the TNT2 chipset is being backed by NVidia under Linux, it is a decent choice, IMHO.

With respect to the processor of choice, I see no real reason not to get an AMD instead of an Intel if the price is right and the speed is sensible. Alternatively, with Linux, you can go completely Alpha, or Sparc (although I would avoid Sparc, but that's a personal aesthetic thing), and not have to really worry about interoperability with other platforms given the nature of Linux.

Well, I hope that helps.

A Simpsons reference for all seasons (2)

Ross C. Brackett (5878) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438403)

From Episode 1F14, "Homer Loves Flanders" (as stolen by me from snpp.com):
----
The Simpsons watch yet another edition of "Eye on Springfield", with your host, Kent Brockman.

Kent: Tonight, on "Eye on Springfield": just miles from your doorstep, hundreds of men are given weapons and trained to kill. The government calls it the "army", but a more alarmist name would be -- "The Killbot Factory."
----
Always cracks me up when I see that one.


Re:The US Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438404)

Actually the Armys business is maintaining a free country so ungrateful pieces of trash like you are free to spew garbage from your mouth. It's full of soldiers who are willing to risk their lives to provide you with an umbrella of freedom. It's sad that a few minutes of your time is too much to ask from you, when they are willing to give up all their tommorrows for you.

Beowulf! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438405)

I don't know much about it myself, but I have heard it's good for crunching the kind of data samples you are talking about!

Re:Why intel - because of price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438406)


Their goal is to get off of high-priced &
underpowered hardware.

SPARC & Alpha are great, but you pay a massively
inflated price for them...

Mark

Re:The US Army (1)

RodStewart (13476) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438407)

calling the pres a prick is a bit harsh, and offtopic don't you believe.

BTW, after watching him on cspan on economic matters, im convinced at what a smart man we have runnning our country, even with obvious faults and problems like us all . thats why im worried about GW Bush, he never comes off as a intelligent man.

Re:Net card... (1)

technos (73414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438408)

I have to second the suggestion. DEC Tulip cards perform the best of any ethernet card I have run across. (at least in a single processor board) I can't really comment on the SMP troubles of the 905, though I can tell you I gleefully swapped four of them out for cheap Tulip cards and got a 15% throughput increase.

Re:Dumping SGI for "cheap" PCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438409)

sgi's suck! redhat all the way!!!

Re:Thinking Beyond Redhat (1)

aprentic (1832) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438410)

They didn't actually ask for help with Redhat. They just said that they're considering it.
And I think it's good that they did too. I, for one, hate it when people ask for advice with their linux problems but neglect to tell me exactly what is going on.
Imagine if some newbie was having trouble with splat and forgot to mention that he was running Redhat. Doh!

My comments on these hardware specs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438411)

36 GB SCSI drive: Why not go with a RAID 5 array?
Use a nice Mylex RAID controller.

Number Nine Video: Bah! Get Voodoo3, baby!

DVD drive: I don't see the point in having a DVD
drive since the DVD consortium is being openly
hostile to the Linux community. CDROM drives are
still more pratical at this stage in the game.

Misc Advice: If you're going to buy 10 exact
duplicates of this machine here's how to make the
install easier/faster on the other duplicate
machines:

1. Make the hard drive a single partition. You
shouldn't need a swap partition with 1 GB RAM.
OK, you may need one swap partition just to be
safe.

2. Install the OS, then install all the drivers
like the Voodoo driver, and the SB Live drivers.
Setup X just they way you want it. Install all
your favorite software.

3. "tar -xfp" the entire hard drive from the
root directory down. Copy this tar file onto
a CDROM disc.

4. On the other machines, boot from a linux boot
disk, partition the hard drive, pop the master
image CD in the CDROM drive, untar the master
image file onto the hard drive. Run lilo to make
the hard disk bootable.

RAID/SMP (2)

Wanderer1 (47145) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438412)

SMP is a good idea, if your application is calculation-intensive. If it is merely I/O intensive, then you have another ballgame.

RAID is a good idea for I/O heavy traffic, when that traffic exceeds the capability of a single disk. Caching is an option, but we're looking at a constant stream of new information, rather than reusing existing information. Thus you want a pipeline which can deliver data to the final medium (disk) quickly without eating up additional CPU cycles or unnecessary I/O bandwidth.

RAID-0 is a good choice in this case, with a hardware-based controller and 4 or 5 drives. The data is streamed to the controller at speeds approaching the bus limit, and the controller fans out the load to individual drives without any system overhead.

I don't believe data-guarding (mirroring or parity) is warranted in this case. A workstation does not need 24/7 uptime, and I doubt the application would be able to "pick-up" where it left off if a fatal error occurs. Plus one would expect the products of this process to be backed up immediately to another medium, rather than left on harddisks.

-b-

Defending the Intellimouse (2)

Frank Sullivan (2391) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438413)

Actually, the Microsoft Intellimouse works very nicely under Linux/XFree86. I recently used one on a Netfinity at work because i knew it could be used as a three-button mouse, and it was handy. To my pleasant surprise, i found out that the wheel also moves an xterm scrollbar! What a great feature!

But a DVD drive? Um, guys, they aren't really supported well yet.

---
120
chars is barely sufficient

Re:Why intel? AMD ? (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438414)

Why not a nice AMD K7 ? And a DVD RAM drive (toshiba) which can also read DVD-ROMs ?

Re:The US Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438415)

you have 25 gallons of semen in your stomach and you dare talk about prick...oh, wait...you're not that Rod Stewart. sorry.

PC's and Linux/Intel. (2)

richnut (15117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438416)

I think Linux is an excellent match for a place like the Army as they have tons of resourc3es to maintain their own internal code fork to fit their own internal needs in the most reliable way. Not to mention that internal expertise on the OS would make important defense systems easier to fix and extend in times of crisis. OTOH, nothing disturbs me more than using Intel based machines for such a venture.

Intel is nice and all for toys. But even imagining an Intel based machine in the hands of an Army programmer who needs to fix code or people die, really scares me. I've used a lot of Intel based machines in my life, and almost all of them were crap compared to their custom-built UNIX counterparts. Their components fail far too often, their archetecture is woefully un-scalable, the interchangable parts of a PC make it hard to get an effecient system case for cooling or for ease of maintenance, they make poor use of space, they're ugly, and their build quality is sad at best. Incedentally most of this isn't Intel's fault, it's just the way the crumby boxes are designed. They sure are cheap though.


-Rich

Re:Net card... (a bit off topic) (1)

billh (85947) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438417)

I use a number of Tulip cards, but I've had a hell of a time getting the things to stick on 100 instead of 10. Maybe it is just my 10/100 switch, but the Windows machine on my network is the only one that will consistently hold 100.

Has this problem been solved? I haven't checked in over a month, but last time I did I pulled down the latest driver, read the FAQs, recompiled, etc... I still can't get anything but 10 reliably, and when I do get 100, I get so many lost packets that anything more than a telnet or SSH session will die on me.

Interestingly enough, my laptop with a 10/100 3Com card comes up 100 every time. Although RH 6.1's netconfig dumps core each time I use it, it still brings the card up just fine.

The business of the Army (2)

jabber (13196) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438418)

The business of the Army is to protect your rights to anonymity (posting as an AC), and free speach (posting as an AC), and liberal technology use (posting as an AC), and maintaining the US in a position that allows you to have an enjoyable standard of living (posting as an AC).

Their presence, and successful killing of people who would otherwise be running your life, is what provides for your right to choose to be a pacifist. Their existence is also what provides for your right to not contribute to their efforts. Were it not for someone standing guard, you might be tortured into providing the desired information against your will.

Being an immigrant, I fully support and appreciate the US armed forces. Thanks to them, dissidents and people with unpopular (non-state-sponsored) views have a chance to be heard. They even have an opportunity to spew their self-righteous opinions without spending more than two seconds thinking about their validity. Their only fear of retribution being that of someone else exercising their own God and Country assured right to free speach and a differing opinion.

Give your 3COM 905B a hug (1)

DeathB (10047) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438419)

I love mine. The entire 900 line has given me nothing but sticky sweet high throughput... I know nothing of their quality record, but I've never had a bad one.

Re:Their business is invasion... (1)

hald (1811) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438420)

The military are the thugs who backup the politicians
Well, it sure beats the politicians being forced to backup the military... Witness the Ivory Coast and Pakistan recently...

Hal Duston

Re:No, there business is killing people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438421)

For you it seems to be in the Army's ass where the shit don't stink.

Companies, and some advice. (5)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438422)

I'd recommend the following companies:

The first three companies are pure Linux. The fourth is getting good advice on Linux systems from people in the community.

You absolutely want as little variation on your hardware as possible with these machines. This will up the price of each machine. However, it will also make them easier to maintain, repair, upgrade and find drivers for. The additional expense pays off in the long run, if you are going to deploy thousands of these things. Make this a condition of your contract.

Personally, I say go with ASL, if only because they're nice guys.

NB- I don't work for any of these companies, even (as far as I know) indirectly.

Re:Why intel? (1)

Derek (1525) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438423)

Intel, Sun, Compaq, Apple, even AMD. All make great processors (Pentium, Sparc, alpha, Gwhatever, Athlon ...) It's nice to see that you're looking at linux because now you not only have more choices in software, but in hardware too.

-Derek

Re:...Okay, I'm a [clueless] Coward. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438424)

>Linux with Solaris on an array of Alphas for the SCSI tasks Solaris doesn't run on Alphas.

Re:The US Army (1)

RodStewart (13476) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438425)

my real name is rob. hehe. i love rod stewart for one reason, the song: "if you want my body and you think im sexy". come on how can you not love him. plus he's 'tapped' all those supermodels, to me hes god like.

BTW, songs like maggie whatever make no sense to me.

RAMBUS RAM too $$$$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438426)

IIRC, a 128Mbyte stick of PC800 RDRAM (fastest currently available) will set you back around $1200.

EEEEEK!!!!!!

Re:My comments on these hardware specs (1)

psylence (87893) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438427)

Hopefully the US ARMY knows how to image a hard drive if they plan on rolling out all new ones!!!!!!!

Observations (3)

OnyxRaven (9906) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438428)

Looks as if you have a good idea of what you need, or is it what you want? make sure you NEED all that processing power, super-expensive Rambus memory, and ultrafast video card.

I have a feeling this sounds like a storage machine - means you should have a good amount of ram, but regular PC100 or PC133 will work fine. Dual processors? maybe, if you are doing stripeing or mirroring with your disks.

Also don't limit yourself to RedHat - remember redhat is not linux - you can go ahead and look at debian, stormix, mandrake, suse, and the rest for a distribution that fits your needs, or one that just spikes your interest. (I personally like stormix)

if you can get past the windows mentions, look at the god-box and the other boxes over at Ars Technica [ars-technica.com] . They have some great reccommendations on good value hardware.

Lastly, i saw a few complaints about the 3c905b cards in earlier posts. We religiously use these cards (albiet in windows NT machines) here at work and have had nothing but good experiences with them. I love the 3com and i have a hard time using anything else (execpt if it is free of course :-> )

Re:Their business is invasion... (0)

evilphish (128599) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438429)

I take it your from iraq moderate this shit to -1 troll
Gentleman, you can't fight in here, this is the war room..

Physical Security Trumps Insecure Software (2)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438430)

... If the box is sitting in a concrete bunker, with no wires heading to the outside world, and armed Rangers around the base, this issue isn't that much of an issue.

I really don't think this is a significant matter for machines that are either:

  • Not required to be particularly secure, or
  • Are housed in rather secure environments.
It's fair to say that AMD might provide "better bang for the buck;" the insecurity of microcode is, however, something that organizations have been coping with since microcode computers were invented, which likely dates back to the '60s.

As for "You'd never know it," a secure US Army site is likely one of the places to which Intel would be willing to release secrets as to protocols necessary to validate that the microcode hasn't been tampered with, no?

Re:TV Tuner Card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438431)

Why do you need one other than to watch the Army Navy game whils't you process data.

It's slashdot.COM not slashdot.USARULES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438432)

but those who choose nationalism before Zen always have the biggest mouth

Re:The US Army (1)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438433)

"the pres. is a prick"

gee, over here in ireland we happen to think he's an ok sort of guy. thanks to his ability to get people talking, and by appointing george mitchell, we now have done a great deal to stop killing and bombing in n. ireland.

he's been president while the us was having a period of very large growth, and has tried to get y'all a sensible health care system. sure he has personal problems, but bertie ahern has a mistress and we focus more on what he does wrt his *job* and not what he does with his family life. america was founded by people that the english found to be too uptight - and it still shows.

otoh you have people in congress like jesse helms, strom thurmond, and a host of other sleazebags. and that newt gingrich character, whew, scary guy.

back on topic: the us army computers. are there issues with the large ram requirements? and you can dump the video card. set up redhat w/ kickstart and a serial terminal and if need be use a term server to watch over them and admin them in cases where the network connection fails. the nice part here is that you can use the term server connections to test uptime, etc.

Video Card (1)

graphicsboy (96499) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438434)

Im not really familar with the support of that video card under linux. I'd check it to be sure under Xfree86 as well XIG. If you are going to be looking at sat images and want a card like that you probably want good hw accelerated for a final result. I dont know of any really good OpenGL (assuming thats what you might use) accelerted cards that fully support Opengl. Again, I dont know too much about THAT card..but I'd make sure the video card you choose can meet your reqs... fast 2d... good 3d...whatever.

Authentic source? (1)

droob (71208) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438435)

What confirmation do we have that this is actually a question from the Army, and not an average user looking for a quick review of the system he's planning on buying? The list looks like it's copied straight from a manufacturer's web page (note the warranty info, and inclusion of basic peripherals), and several posters have pointed out that the components don't match up well with the intended use.

Or, I suppose it could have very poorly researched.

Advice aplenty (1)

Zico (14255) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438436)

Shawn: Stick with the SGIs and quit chasing fads. It's not like SGIs stopped being good computers. If you already own the SGIs, it sounds like the more expensive option is buying computers to replace them. Use all that money that you would've spent on new hardware and give it to the boys -- they're already underpaid enough as it is. Honestly, the idea that the US Army would use Slashdot for their recommendations is silly. It gives me a pretty good twinge of fear about our national security. Do you really speak for them, and if so, could you please give us your full name?

Cliff: Next time, just stick with giving us the story instead of posting an incorrect Slashdot article (the Navy/NT one) that is going to serve absolutely no other purpose but to turn part of the discussion into unnecessary flames. If you want to start a flame war, at least start it with something based on the truth.

Cheers,
ZicoKnows@hotmail.com

Re:Watch out for the backdoors in the Intel CPU's. (1)

ps -onnt (78821) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438437)

That's why the Big Boys AKA N$A use Trusted Solaris on Sparc's.

Re:doesn't this breach national security? (4)

Martel (41139) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438438)

Sir. We at the NSA are not aware that we have any
such sense of humor.

Check your cables (still off topic) (1)

GeorgeH (5469) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438439)

If its dropping packets, check your cables.
--

Re:Watch out for the backdoors in the Intel CPU's. (1)

evilphish (128599) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438440)

Have they realesed dual K7 boards? Last I heard they haven't
Gentleman, you can't fight in here, this is the war room..

Re:Their business is invasion... (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438441)

While there is no question that the American military has been pushed into some questionable situations, it is also true that the world is probably a better place because of their stabilizing influence.

Would you rather there was ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, or perhaps you would have preferred the Iraqi's to overrun Kuwait? And let's not even get started on what would have happened if the Americans hadn't meddled in World War II.

Not too mention the fact that if the US Army did not exist then the United States would almost certainly be invaded. That may not seem like a big deal to you. But hey, I live here.

Perhaps it would strengthen your argument if you listed some of the places that you feel that the US should not be involved right now.

Re:Setup (2)

Pretender (3940) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438442)

Alternatively, with Linux, you can go completely Alpha

If I remember correctly, XFree for the Alpha supports far fewer video card options, so you would probably want to stick with Intel.

Re:Typical overkill (1)

Martel (41139) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438443)

Come on now, the grunts want to play Unreal Tournament with the rest of us!

And speaking of UDMA66 controller... why not save some cash and go with UDMA drives instead of SCSI?

Re:The US Army (1)

termite666 (101297) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438444)

I could say alot of bad things about the Army,but I wont .It put me through college. I can honestly say my life is better for having served .

I have a suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438445)


Use BSD. And hire a BSD expert as a consultant. This is not the environment for Linux. Trust me.

Non US Slashdot readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438446)

Their business is killing people, something I don't agree with. So, no advice from me.
I fully agree.

Something worth considering before starting ye 'ol patriotic spitting and steaming about protecting the American Idea might be if the target of your promilitary rage is a citizen of the U.S. of A.
I'm not, and I'm sure that a helluva lot of /. readers aren't, but guess what! There ARE other free countries in the world!
Now you are free to call me a commie subversive coward (can't be bothered to create an account) but the way i see it is this:
I can't make war disappear tomorrow, but i CAN take the first step, and that is to refuse to be a part of it myself.

WTF (1)

trickykid (130334) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438447)

These machines soundz spiffy and all, I have run similar machines to these sans i840, but I have to disagree with your choice of video card and nic, If your not pushing any rendering through your video card i'd dump that lame old TNT2 and get a card which is far superior as far as usability goes, like a Matrox Millenium 2; i whould not use a 3com NIC in a military spec system, unless you have drivers I haven't been told about. I think your missing the boat on this one(j/k), Your spec is lacking TONS of detail in that, I would rather have a P3b-F BX motherboard from Asus than an Intel Spec i8440 Board from Intel.

Re:Avoid 3COM 905B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438448)

I agree with the recommendation to avoid 3Com cards in a high performance environment. While the parallel tasking feature is indeed decreasing latencies it is also the reason for high rates of retransmittions (because of dropped packets).

All other items on the list seem reasonable. I would have different preferences, but the chosen items appear to be adequate for the task.

Re:Why intel - because of price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438449)

Given the target processor (700+ mhz Intel) you might as well be looking at an Alpha box; overall performance is likely to be much better (assuming the code has been ported over) the alpha box will let you get away with significantly more cache and memory then its intel counterpart and in this power bracket the price range is similar.

Re:The US Army (2)

richnut (15117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438450)

You dont have to agree with the killing people part, but not everyone in the Army is involved in offensive capabilities. They do a lot of basic research, and do a lot of defensive things to allow you to express the opinion you just expressed. The Army employs scores of people who have never shot an enemy or been deployed in a forward area to get rid of an enemy. The Army is almost directly responsible for the first non-soviet artifical satelite. The millitary has been behind countless technical innovations that make your life the way it is, RADAR, plastics, commerical aviation, the Internet etc. Their business is to protect Americans and to protect the American way of life. That does including killing people but it also includes engaging in research to use technology to their advantage, the fruits of which are all around us today.

-Rich

Military Security (2)

veldrane (70385) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438451)

Even though no security is 100% it couldn't hurt to have the box surrounded by tanks like that Apple in that Macintosh commercial.

>;)

-Vel

Re:Watch out for the backdoors in the Intel CPU's. (1)

-cman- (94138) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438452)

This assumes that these servers are hooked up to the outside world. Sounds like they are planning on using them to download and process stored sensor data from something that flies. This being the Army, that imples helos or RPV's. If this is the case they will probably just be on an isolated LAN. After all if you are on a dirt firebase in Albania, you don't exactly have an OC3 out to the local backbone.

The Army has been using LINUX for a few years. (2)

billbean (114481) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438453)

This is not the US Army's fist implementation of the LINUX operating system. I was lucky enough to field an intelligence analysis tool running LINUX a couple of years ago. It was great fun getting paid to play with LINUX!

Re:I don't like sound blaster PCI 128's or 3com (1)

gphat (5647) | more than 14 years ago | (#1438454)

Sound Blaster PCI 128s are nothing but glorified Ensoniq 1370s, I believe they are 1371s... I've never had one not work! Had 4 of them on 4 difference systems, and never had a problem. I also have switched to the Ensoniq 1370 though, because they are cheaper;) 3Com kicks ass, they always work! But NetGear cards cost 1/5th a 3Com and work as DEC chipsets, you can't beat that;)

Non US Slashdot readers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1438455)

Their business is killing people, something I don't agree with. So, no advice from me.
I fully agree.

Something worth considering before starting ye 'ol patriotic spitting and steaming about protecting the American Idea might be if the target of your promilitary rage is a citizen of the U.S. of A.

I'm not, and I'm sure that a helluva lot of /. readers aren't, but guess what! There ARE other free countries in the world!

Now you are free to call me a commie subversive coward (can't be bothered to create an account) but the way i see it is this:
I can't make war disappear tomorrow, but i CAN take the first step, and that is to refuse to be a part of it myself.
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