Berkeley CSUA MOTD:Entry 52163
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2017/10/23 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
10/23   

2008/12/4-10 [Computer/HW/CPU, Computer/HW/Drives] UID:52163 Activity:nil
12/4    A question to you old crufy alumni: So lately we've suggested
        VMs, and been asked why it's necessary. We've suggested top-of-the-line
        hardware and been told we don't need that much power. So I'd like to
        ask -- what exactly do you think the CSUA is supposed to _be_?
        \_ Noone said VMs weren't needed.  They suggested you use the
        \_ No one said VMs weren't needed.  They suggested you use the
           there is quality, free VM software out there that you could
           use.  Asking for the for pay stuff is fine, but you aren't
           likely to actually get it, so take what's free and works.
           \_ I guess...would it hurt that much to ask for the expensive stuff,
              though?
              \_ When the company supplies a free version that works quite
                 well you will get a lot more traction towards getting the
                 expensive version if you have used the free version, shown
                 that it's actually getting some use beyond "we installed
                 it cause it was kewl" and that there would actually be
                 some advantage to having the pay version.  VM stuff IS
                 really cool and worth playing with.  The free version
                 exists because really, until you have a large install
                 there's really no need for expensive management tools.
        \_ Offering a rant, then an answer for my own question:
           Sure, VMs aren't strictly necessary, or people can go to
           OCF if they want access to computing resources or practice
           with sysadminning. But they'd be supported by OCF, which
           has basically nothing to do with the CSUA (anymore), not
           to mention they're bound by whatever the OCF is willing to
           allow/install/support on their servers. VMs let us tinker w/o
           worrying about giving root, or a bad program taking down the
           server or monopolizing server resources. As a consequence
           it is also useful for stability's sake, independently of
           offering students VMs, as we can separate services out and
           move them between servers as load necessitates. Do we need
           the speed? We'd certainly see some benefit. Mail processing
           is pretty laggy, and even with my donation of vermouth (with an
           Athlon 64 2800+; it replaced a 500Mhz computer) it struggles
           to keep up. Upgrading away from our failing 16-disk ~5TB array
           to something newer and less failure-prone may not be manly -
           but it certainly seems sane to me. If we're going to spend
           $2k to replace our servers, why not spend $3k to replace our
           servers and move the CSUA forward?

           I doubt anyone objects to getting equipment so the servers
           suck less, but I think that in order to keep the CSUA from
           stagnating, we need to seriously move forward in what we offer
           students. Attendance to helpsessions isn't what it once was,
           and the computing services the CSUA currently offers simply
           aren't as attractive to students anymore. Anyone can find a
           UNIX login server offered by the campus with webspace (w/
           CGI) and shell access. Most people now join the CSUA as a
           social group or to use the office machines and hang out. At
           this rate we're going to lose our technical relevance,
           and what then? Regardless of overlap with the OCF, we
           need to move our technical resources forward and attract
           technically-minded students again, because at the moment,
           we're not. The CSUA is wandering at the moment, without a
           clearly-defined direction. If you guys are suggesting that we
           don't need to do more for students in this area, then I'd like
           to hear your thoughts on what we do (other than the obvious
           'build better student-alumni relations' line).
           \_ I dunno, the CSUA hasn't had a clear direction since I joined
              in '98.  (Web and email hosting wasn't terribly relevent then
              either.) We started mentoring in 2002, but I it always seemed
              either.) We started mentoring in 2002, but it always seemed
              like a bit of a flop to me.  I've noticed video games have been
              more important since I left.  Anyway, the CSUA is always trying
              new things.  I don't think that's a bad thing.  I just don't
              know if we need an i7 fileserver.
              know if we need an i7 fileserver.  I guess I don't really see
              how improving the HW -> more members.  I don't mind, really,
              I'd like soda to work better, but I don't know who's going to
              join because we have a nice fileserver or VMs for sys admining.
              It's not a bad thing, but it's all stuff people can do at home
              now.  It's good for current members, but I don't really see it
              as attractive to new members.
           \_ I already talked about this down below.  The primary function
           of the CSUA is to be a social, community-building organization.
           The machines exist to support that function.  It used to be that
           the services the CSUA provided on its hardware were directly
           contributing to the community--there was a time when having an
           email server and web hosting was a really cool thing, and people
           would join the CSUA just for that.  Then they'd get sucked into
           using wall and MOTD and become part of the community.  But now
           most of the services the CSUA historically provided are no longer
           interesting; everyone's got more email addresses than they want,
           web hosting is free and better elsewhere, and wall and MOTD are
           dead.  Providing virtual machines isn't an inherently bad idea,
           but what's the upshot?  How will you use it to help build
           community?  What services will you provide that contribute to
           community?  -tom
              I guess I don't really see how improving the HW -> more members.
              I don't mind, really, I'd like soda to work better, but I don't
              know who's going to join because we have a nice fileserver or VMs
              for sys admining. It's not a bad thing, but it's all stuff people
              can do at home now.  It may be good for current members, which is
              fine, but I don't really see it as attractive to new members.
           \_ I already talked about this down below.  The primary
              function of the CSUA is to be a social,
              community-building organization.  The machines exist to
              support that function.  It used to be that the services
              the CSUA provided on its hardware were directly
              contributing to the community--there was a time when
              having an email server and web hosting was a really cool
              thing, and people would join the CSUA just for that.
              Then they'd get sucked into using wall and MOTD and
              become part of the community.  But now most of the
              services the CSUA historically provided are no longer
              interesting; everyone's got more email addresses than
              they want, web hosting is free and better elsewhere, and
              wall and MOTD are dead.  Providing virtual machines
              isn't an inherently bad idea, but what's the upshot?
              How will you use it to help build community?  What
              services will you provide that contribute to community?
              -tom
              \_ perhaps having VMs available would make more interesting
                 helpsessions feasible, as we could go in-depth on some topic
                 and provide an avenue for students to go further in-depth
                 after the fact (i.e. helpsession setting up X piece of cool
                 software and giving them a sandbox to play in). --toulouse
        \_ As a crufty alum, I think the CSUA should encourage undergrads
           to learn about software, cs, computing, &c. by providing ugs
           with opportunities to try out and develop new things in a friendly
           setting.
           When I was an ug there were several CSUA projects, such as the
           lottery scheduler, that offered such opportunities.  I think
           that the VM proposal would offer a similar opportunity and should
           be pursued.
           Re VM software - I agree with a pp that setting up a free sol'n,
           such as Sun's virtual box, is probably a better idea than asking
           for a VMWare donation. IMO, the process of learning how to make
           free software work for one's needs teaches one about much more
           about software and computing than installing and configuring a
           pre-packaged commercial sol'n does.
           Re HW - While I understand the attraction of getting the latest,
           1337est hardware, my experience suggests that going with a sol'n
           of the previous gen hardware is always preferable in terms of
           maintainability and reliability.
           maintainability and reliability. -crufty-alum
           \_ :| Well, the Core i7 Xeons as I understand it will be coming out
              some time after the Core i7 has been out, so perhaps that will
              positively affect their quality? I see what you're saying, but
              I've never really been burned by new hardware, other than lack
              of drivers and the like. Care to share some stories? --toulouse
              \_ Well, mostly the problems I've had are with the drivers for
                 the motherboards that are required to run the most recent
                 cpus.  We had no end of problems with an Intel MB for the
                 first round of Xeon chips (there were no reliable linux
                 drivers for the onboard gig-e ethernet, the sata controller,
                 the scsi controller, or the lights out management module).
                 I had similar problems with nforce boards for AMD chips and
                 recall similar problems when the PPros and P2s first came
                 out as well.
                 For the record, I'm not opposed to the CSUA buying the latest
                 hardware.  I'm just not convinced that the projects you want
                 to do (e.g. VM) require it, i.e., what is the difference btwn
                 getting a 4 core C2D system (or 2 C2D systems) and getting one
                 Core i7 system?  [If there is a big difference, I apologize
                 for my ignorance - I am not an engineer anymore and have lost
                 touch with the details of recent cpu performance] -crufty-alum
                 \_ It seems practicality and wisdom are prevailing over our
                    nerd-rections, and we may go with a Dual C2Q Xeon server. We
                    await final word from the pupp--er, President. While we're
                    at it, we'll probably get new, better hard drives.
                    nerd-rections, and we may go with a Dual C2Q Xeon server.
                    We await final word from the pupp--er, President. While
                    we're at it, we'll probably get new, better hard drives.
                    --toulouse
2017/10/23 [General] UID:1000 Activity:popular
10/23   

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