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The rationale you give for buying Sun equipment is that most free software out there "just works" when you build it for a Sun machine. I have a few things to say about that:
1. I argued long and hard with the executives of Sun that they should have a closer-than-arms-length relationship with the GNU software folks, because that would make their machines the hardware of choice for an ever-increasing niche of the market. (The VP's were split on this issue--while some agreed it was fundamentally sound logic, others followed that logic to the conclusion that I was really branding Sun's own software as crap that people would discard in preference to GNU.) In any event, Sun was very free-software friendly, and the fact that Richard Stallman and other GNU hackers all used Sun machines only strengthened Sun's position.
2. Over time, Linux has far overtaken Solaris in terms of being free-software and hacker friendly. GNU (and other free software, such as Apache) has become suff...
When it comes to I/O performance, I've said it before and I'll say it again: BUY SGI.
I didn't have a 600 MB file handily lying around, but I did have a 280MB index file (which is almost 1/2 of 600 MB). Copying it from one disk to another on an O200 took 95 seconds and change, twice.
The O200 runs a journaling (i.e., safe) filesystem, xfs. So this clocks in at about the same speed as your unsafe Solaris machine, and almost 50% faster than your HP.
Note that the disks on this machine are Barracuda Utra-SCSI, which means that things could go faster with the newer 18GB disks...also, there's only one SCSI controller, though with an XIO add-on card, it can drive four channels simultaneously.
Finally, there are only 2 processors, not four, though for $500,000, it could be upgraded 25 times over.
To all those who talk about the money/motivation correlation, I say "not so fast!". While there might be a great motivation the results from spending a great deal of money, Phil is arguing that it's motivating people to do things that are not necessarily as socially productive if they hadn't accumulated a massive debt in the process. Secondly, schools are treating their students more like customers and less like the pupils that they really are. As a results, at Stanford (to name names), the policy is very flexible in permitting students to "buy" an A by dropping a class the day of the final and then re-taking it with out any penalty on one's transcript. If you can "afford" to take extra classes, you can raise your GPA by dropping classes that are below your target GPA.
In private high schools, teachers are told by students that since the students pay the tuition, the teacher's job depends on making the students "happy."
Here's a radical proposal for sti...