Linux owns supercomputing | ZDNet

In the latest Top500 supercomputer race, only two — count ‘em, two — of the world’s fastest computers aren’t running Linux.

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  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Artem Tashkinov: Independent Hardware Vendors Hate Linux

    Independent commentator Artem S. Tashkinov is back at it again with his latest thoughts on GNU/Linux and its problems in a post entitled “Why Linux/GNU might never succeed on a large scale”.

    Tashkinov has previously ranted about problems he views with Linux as well as other operating systems like Android and Windows 10. His latest controversial thoughts are on why he thinks GNU/Linux might never succeed on a large scale. But then again, many of you will probably agree GNU/Linux has already succeeded on an enormous scale — well, at least in clouds, servers, and workstations. When it comes to Linux on the desktop, most reports still put the overall Linux desktop at around 2% with the Linux gaming market-share at under 1%. And, of course, there still hasn’t been a break-through GNU/Linux smartphone that’s done well in overall markets.

    The “IT guy” argues that hardware vendors hate dealing with the Linux kernel over the lack of control, the frequent breakage of the Linux kernel API, the inability for some vendors to publish documentation on their hardware, and regressions in drivers created by the open-source community.

    When it comes to IHVs, there are plenty out there still scared of Linux or think it’s not worthwhile to invest in given the current desktop numbers, especially within the PR/marketing departments at some of these companies.

    While some points raised by Tashkinov have some merit such as around the Linux kernel’s lack of a stable API/ABI, others of you probably see things quite differently.

    Why Linux/GNU might never succeed on a large scale

    I’ve always wanted to talk about the Linux kernel and how well it supports various hardware devices and recently I got a perfect opportunity when I was asked the following question:

    “Why can’t computer manufacturers work with Linux, FreeBSD and other open source developers to make their hardware work properly first time? I think we all know the answer: Microsoft has a very tight grip over the computer manufacturers and they produce everything for Windows only and dare not offer alternatives in case Microsoft increases the price of Windows or withholds technical information”.

    In reality, independent hardware vendors hate to support the Linux kernel for many reasons:

    They cannot control their code in the Linux kernel.
    They cannot properly do QA/QC for eight kernel releases (at the time of writing there are eight supported kernel releases) and Linux developers love to break APIs all the time and new APIs sometimes require heavy modification of the code which means a new round of QA which costs a lot of money. Compare that to three supported Windows releases: 7, 8.1 and 10. Also consider the fact that only the display driver model substantially differs between these three Windows versions.

    Many hardware devices don’t have proper spec sheets and documentation, or such things cannot be published due to laws (e.g. HDMI algorithms, various TPMs devices, etc. etc. etc.) or out of a fear of competition.

    The Linux kernel “features” such massive code changes every release along with often a complete absence of QC/QA, drivers might break due to very tangential changes in unrelated kernel subsystems. You just cannot develop drivers in such a massively unstable environment even if you tried.

    Linux kernel developers love to say, “release your specs and we’ll write the code for you” and while it’s true, too often they don’t have the resources to properly debug the code on a multitude of different devices and devices combinations.

    The open source development model might work for very basic very standard devices like motherboards (sans ACPI and software suspend), PCI NICs, mouse/KB controllers, USB buses, etc.

    It’s almost impossible to apply to GPUs (Radeon/Intel open source drivers don’t support many hardware features of respective GPUs), proprietary RAID/storage controllers, cameras, touch sensors, hardware sensors, various devices which implement image processing, encryption, protection and central management and many other classes of devices.


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