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[Discuss] Whence distributed operating systems?

On Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 04:50:35AM +0000, Mike Small wrote:
> After the meeting I was discussing this issue with a friend. It's not an
> original criticism I didn't suppose, so I found someone with better
> words to sum up my reaction:
> "Sadly it seems that we now need to either wait for Linux or Windows to
> catch up with the 1980s state of the art in distributed systems (think
> Locus or AFS). What went wrong? Products like DataSynapse?s FabricServer
> look like an interesting attempt to address the problem, at least for
> the Java world, but it feels to me that mainstream operating systems
> designers seem to have lost the plot somewhere along the way."
> Is single system image still a thing?

No, because you need to deal with parallelism issues on a single server.
Pocket computers now have four simultaneously working cores. It got really
hard for CPUs to get faster -- how long has the state of the art hovered
around 4GHz -- so the process improvements lead to more cores, instead.

80 cores used to be called a cluster, now it's a moderately expensive
1U box. If your problems are smaller than that, you use virtualization
to gain efficient utilization. If your problems are bigger than that,
you need to coordinate lots of machines anyway, which will be managed
in a manner nearly identical to a swarm of virtual machines even if they
are containers or real metal.

The easiest answer is to take your problem, split it into a lot of
cases, and send the cases out to all the [threads, cores, containers,
VMs, boxes] to be worked on. Hopefully they don't need to interact much
during the case work, and hopefully they don't need to coordinate much
afterwards. Most of the work involves figuring out what to do for those
interactions and coordinations.


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