[rescue] Perverse Question

Phil Stracchino alaric at caerllewys.net
Mon Jun 16 14:06:33 CDT 2003

On Mon, Jun 16, 2003 at 02:30:34AM -0400, Dave McGuire wrote:
>   It's all a matter of standards.  I'll flip burgers before I'll run an 
> x86 box in production.  And you know what?  I've never flipped burgers, 
> and I never will.

x86 boxes can belong in production environments and do a damned good
job.  If you buy some generic white-box machine with XP on it and every
component supplied by the lowest bidder, and expect to run your company
24x7 on it, obviously you have a few reality issues.  But I ran a
company IT department for five years on mostly x86-based servers, and
you know what?

We had a fair bit of downtime from unexpected hardware failures .... 
but not on the x86s.  All the hardware failures were on the Sparc box
running Solaris.  We lost more disks on that machine than on all the
100-plus *user Windows PCs* in the company combined.  Because the vendor
supplied disks that came from the lowest bidder.  Right now, I know one
friend who's recovering data from his home x86 PC today because a disk
failed; and I know another who's doing an OS reinstall today on a Sun
mailserver where he works because a disk failed.

Shit happens, and Traditional Unix Boxen aren't immune.  They're not
immune to obsolescence either...  how many sun4c machines does *your*
employer use today?

> And I'm not as smart as half the people here...which means nobody
> here has any excuse. 

It's not about excuses.  It's about reality.  However much you detest
and despise the x86 architecture, however many flaws it may have, you
can't make it go away by sticking your fingers in your ears and shouting
LALALALALALALA! at the top of your voice.  The x86 architecture has its
place, and it's capable of doing a damned good job there, with the right
OS and the right software.  It's not the architecture's fault that DOS
and Windows have historically been steaming fetid piles of rancid
dingos' kidneys.  Sure, it's far from an optimal architecture.  But,
really now, what *is* an optimal architecture?

It's easy to say now that you'll never run an x86 box in production.
Like the saying about there being no atheists in foxholes, though,
there's few zealots on unemployment lines.  It'd be interesting to see
if your anti-x86 elitism would survive becoming the difference between
employment and homelessness.

I'll be the last person to deny that there are flaws and weaknesses in
the x86 architecture.  Some of them have improved in recent years.
Others are still as glaring as they have ever been.  But if someone
tells me, "This is what we want done, this is your budget to do it
with," and that budget will cover only x86 hardware, I'll use x86.  If
someone tells me, "Work with these x86 machines or clean out your desk
and we'll find someone who will," I'll work with x86.  I'm working on an
x86 machine right now that I built about eight months ago to replace
another that I'd been using for ten years with scattered upgrades along
the way.  There's another to my left.  Sure, there's two Sun boxen on
and under the desk to my right.  (Well, four, but only two of them are
in service right now.)  But for my desktop, Linux runs more of the
software I want to use than Solaris does and runs it better, and frankly
Linux on Sparc pretty much sucks.

Sneer at x86 all you want: it *works.*  There's room for x86 alongside
Sparc, and MIPS, and StrongARM, and Viper, and Alpha, and Power4, and
VAX.  I use Sparc and Solaris where it's the best tool for the job, and
I use Linux and x86 where it's the best tool for the job, and I grit my
teeth and choke down Win2K and x86 where it's the best tool for the job.
(And I tried to use OpenBSD on sun4m where it looked like that was the
best tool for the job, but either my LX has bad serial ports, or OpenBSD
doesn't talk to them right.)

For the record, I detest Windows.  I particularly detest Win9x and XP.
And while I'm willing to tolerate 2K as GameOS, I hate having to try to
get real work done on it.  I remember with no fondness at all being
required to use a 98 box for documentation and Netware administration
because the company was locked into Word and Excel and because the only
half-way usable admin tool for the Netware servers ran only on Windows. 
I ripped out as much of the cruft as I could, and 98 *still* crashed or
locked up hard at least every other day.  When it was feeling
particularly pissy it'd lock up several times a day.  But if working
with Windows feeds my family and puts a roof over their heads that's
better than this sweltering, leaking, roach-and-ant-infested trailer,
I'll work with Windows.  Only until I can get something *better*, but
until then, I'll even work with Windows, never mind working with x86.

 .*********  Fight Back!  It may not be just YOUR life at risk.  *********.
 : phil stracchino : unix ronin : renaissance man : mystic zen biker geek :
 :  alaric at caerllewys.net : alaric-ruthven at earthlink.net : phil at latt.net  :
 :   2000 CBR929RR, 1991 VFR750F3 (foully murdered), 1986 VF500F (sold)   :
 :    Linux Now!   ...Because friends don't let friends use Microsoft.    :

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