Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 24th Jun 2014 22:06 UTC

In the latest contest, not only did Linux dominate, but Linux showed that is slowly pushing out all its competitors. In the June 2014 Top 500 supercomputer list, the top open-source operating system set a new high with 485 systems out of the fastest 500 running Linux. In other words 97 percent of the fastest computers in the world are based on Linux.

With numbers like this, it's easy to forget that this project started with the words "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu".

This hobby now dominates almost every field of computing - from mobile to supercomputing.

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I think it must have been by 2005 that Linux had first been used for 50+% of the top 500 supercomputers. I remember it was 2009 that 92% of the top 500 were running Linux.

In hindsight it seems like a no brainer:

1. Most of the HPC people come from the Unix world.
2. Linux is like Unix and it's POSIX compliant.
3. Linux cost is $0 *if* you're an expert at OS administration which is true for... the HPC people who knew Unix.
4. Linux has had multicore support since 2.0 series from the mid 90's, and GPU computing support since NVidia got into the GPU computing sector in the late 2000s.
5. None of that per CPU/GPU software licensing hassles means you can spend your money on hardware and support staff instead.

As I understand it, Linux isn't actually POSIX compliant, but it's close enough so that it does not matter for 99% of tasks.

But actually I think if you were making a top 100 supercomputer, Microsoft would gladly give you a license to Windows, or probably pay you to take it for the publicity. However, on supercomputers, the OS is a distraction from the task in hand, and all they want is an OS that works well enough and gets out of the way. We're also talking about computer scientists who are likely good enough to tinker with the OS itself to tune it for their own needs, and Windows does not really suit that.

Linux is a good choice, of course, but I think the reason it's used so often in embedded systems or supercomputers is much the same reason as Windows is used so often on the desktop, it's got inertia, a code base, people know it.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Carewolf Member since:

It is complient, but nobody is paying the fee to have each release certified.

Of course POSIX is many standards, there are a few of them Linux doesn't implement, or implement fully, but still more than most.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Wootery Member since:

Huh. So when something is advertised as 'POSIX compliant', that could refer to any of many POSIX standards?

Reply Parent Score: 2

zlynx Member since:

No actually there are some corner cases where Linux does the fast thing instead of the POSIX thing, such as select() very rarely returning read-ready for a socket that has nothing to read.

This happened due to arcane magic in the socket code so it may have been fixed and I didn't notice.

Reply Parent Score: 3