Linux optimize

What CAN'T Linux do?

Jack Wallen asks the question, "What can't Linux do?" Well, it can control your fish tank and run on a wristwatch, for starters.
A few weeks ago a colleague of mine sent me a link to a story about a man who clustered together 16 Playstation 3s using Linux to simulate black holes. I had forgotten about this until yesterday when I was thinking, "What can't Linux do?" I know, I know, you're thinking: Alright fanboy, bring on your dogma. Not so. This isn't one of those pie in the sky, wishful thinking blog entries where I am going to go on to spout that Linux will, in fact: cure cancer, solve global warming, fix the U.S. economic crisis, and release the world from its dependency on oil (although it might help in those arenas).

But think about it. People have made Linux take on tasks no one probably thought it capable of.

1. The story mentioned above. A man installs Linux on 16 Playstation 3s (with zero hardware modifications), clusters them together, and creates a system to simulate black holes.

2. Installing Linux on a Mac. I was just reading the most recent Wired magazine that has a good story on how Apple has created a very closed system where only Apple software plays on Apple hardware. Hello Yellow Dog Linux! I have run Linux on an iBook - it was sweet.

3. Routers. We all know that Linux works well on routers. OpenWRT installs well on many Linksys routers.

4. For fish tanks. Yes you read it correctly. At one point I had a small Linux box set up to control the lighting and wave action on a reef tank. This was done with the old X10 remote system and bottle rocket software.

5. Linux on a watch. Yes, IBM did it back in 2000.

6. Linux on mobile devices. Back in 2000, I was the proud owner of one of the short-lived Agenda handheld devices that used Linux. Not only did this serve as a PDA, but I also managed to get a light-weight version of Apache installed and ran a small Web site from the device. And, hopefully, soon we'll see the Google Android platform!!!

7. Car navigation. In 2004 Sony introduced three Linux-based in-car navigation systems.

8. Home security. A small startup in Britain called AlertMe sells a Linux-based home monitoring system that allows you to monitor your home from any Web-enabled phone or Web browser.

9. NAS. There are plenty of companies using Linux on network attached storage devices.

10. Gaming platforms. Not just the PS3s as mentioned before. Linux has been sucessfully installed on: Gamecube, Gameboy, PS1, PS2, Sega Genesis, N64, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, Super Nintendo, Xbox.

11. Airplane black boxes. Montavista uses a Carrier Grade Linux to power in-flight recorders.

12. Brain surgery. Yep. This Linux-powered robot helps in brain surgery.

That's the short list.

My point is this. Linux is an incredibly flexible platform that can be stretched and tweaked to do nearly anything. From fish tanks to brain surgery, the list will only continue to grow.

And, of course, I know the one thing that everyone is going to chime in with "Linux can't play games." Well, that's not true, it just doesn't play all the "game aficionado games" without the help of Wine. But, yes, Linux does in fact play games.

So, what exactly can't Linux do? It's your turn. Go.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

224 comments
hermanungemachr
hermanungemachr

The company I work for is a windows xp based system. We use AutoCad 2008 for our drafting program. My problem is that Linux could handle it but the software for the applications that are used at work just does not seem to be available. Until that happens Linux will always be an interesting hobby but not a viable system. I have tried to fiddle around with Linux but I find that I am so used to the windows system I can not utilize Linux. I can not find files, directories and when I do find files I do not recognize the extensions. I have installed Suse 10 and uninstalled it as I could not use the work software at home. I then installed Ubunto but had to uninstall it as again I could do nothing with it. It is very frustrating as I like Linux over windows but I have to work with what works. AT 58 perhaps I am just too old to learn new tricks.

georgezilla
georgezilla

Make the Microsoft fanboys remove their heads from their arses long enough to take a good look at Linux. And see that maybe, just maybe, the Linux community might be on to something. George

mr.pro.2020
mr.pro.2020

I Think Linux didn't have i good Download Manger like IDE in Windows??!!

axualgroup
axualgroup

Linux can't convince millions of consumers to switch to it. Even the name is unappealing. It sounds technical and hard. Linux has its place, but it won't be on consumer desktops unless it's marketed and named differently.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You'll find it becomes easier to work with both and good habits can be transfered back and forth. Just keep exploring what functions you can duplicate under your Ubuntu VM or bootable partition. In my case, Outlook and existing office documents make Windows convenient to have along with some windows only software. Interacting with the rest of the machines and some non-windows software makes my other OS as important to have. With VMs, both are available on the same screen.

j-mart
j-mart

No one has not yet produced an application you desire does not mean Linux can't perform this task. All it takes is someone with the required skills and desire to make it for it to happen. This is due to Linux being "open source". Access to the code means being able to see how it works and how to make it do new things, some which haven't even been thought of yet.

daryl
daryl

Go find an online dating site. It most likely hosted on Apache running on Linux.

TheGooch1
TheGooch1

Quite a few Linux users have the misconception that using an obscure OS makes them smarter than those who use mainstream solutions. To generalize, I am using something no ( hardly ) one else is using, therefore I am special. Sorry to burst your bubble, but using Linux doesn't make you smart any more than saying x + z = ( x + y ) + ( y + z ) + ( -2y ) does. You could have stuck with x + z and had been done a long time ago, but chose to make things unnecessarily complicated so that you looked smarter. But to each his own, if running an OS on a toaster makes you feel better in the morning, the by all means do so. While you are busy doing that, I'll have already be done working and taking out Hot Chicks(TM) to dinner. Oh, and taking a shower every once in a while will help with getting women. Thank you for your time.

Jaqui
Jaqui

since linux is techy / geeky / hard, and women like SMART men, using linux would be MORE likely to get you women. ]:) [ ok girls, I know, smart men are such a rarity, but if you could look away from the morons using windows you might find the mother load :p ]

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

goofy, yes. Technical and hard? No. Goofy is not normally associated with technically and hard. Linux' reputation as a geek specialty is why people associate Linux with with technical and hard. Outside of the geeky rep, most folks I know just think it is a goofy name and that alone is enough to stop them from exploring. Me, I like goofy and suspect that most folks secretly do in spite of the utter horror they feel at being discovered at liking goofy.

DanLM
DanLM

during the post.. And no, I am not using vista... This is the sposid good os from microsoft that everone likes... xp pro. yes, its bought and paid for. Dan

j-mart
j-mart

By thinking up knew ways of using this versatile, adaptable OS to solve problems, find new uses for this "Swiss army knife" OS, many may have made themselves smarter with Linux. Your computer use may be limited to the basic "consumer computing", ie. word processing, sending and receiving email playing around with a few toys, providing a host for the "Bot Masters" to cause their brand of havoc browsing the web etc, so with your narrow approach Linux is not likely to expand your mind. In the meantime many clever people, scientists, engineers and the like will quietly go about their business using Linux to do the serious computing tasks, while you plod away with your toy OS. Some of us average computer uses also have realised Linux can also be used for the "consumer" computing tasks as well, often with a lot less drama than using the closed source alternative. The first step to failing at any task is to approach it with a pre conceived attitude ie "Linux is hard to use", but don't you worry, as a Linux user I, like most other Linux users don't really care what you, or anyone else thinks, as I will happily use Linux as my first choice OS, after all it is only computers and software, it's only a tool and not centre of the universe or any thing that is really important

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Only you can make you smart/er. The tools you choose and attitude with which you approach it are your problem. You are a predictable dispenser of Linux FUD. Is there nothing else in life of interest to you?

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

and seem to have some very skewed views of the OS and its users. It would be fair to say that of all the computer users that do not shower on a regular basis, 90% use Windows, simply because Windows has 90+% of the market. Also, that using Windows is more likely to make you an online sexual predator, since most of them use Windows... or that using Windows will cause cancer, since most cancer patients use Windows... But thats more statistical fud based in no way on actual data, or valid cause/effect, much like your comments. Hot Chicks(TM)... Seriously, to easy to flame...think, "you paid money for a girl and are now making fun of others," line of flame.. lets just pretend we did all that and move on. But, pig headed as you are, the gist of your post IS correct. using Linux does not make you smart. Hell, a trained monkey could run rings around the internet on Ubuntu/Fedora/PCLinuxOS/Mandriva/Suse. Linux is as easy to use as Windows for day to day tasks.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

but able to tweak with great flexibility and extreme imagination............ ;) edit tu

DanLM
DanLM

I truthfully was trying to get an idea of how many linux users there actually are. I found one site that listed an estimated 60,000,000 linux users. Do I beleive that, not sure... My next search was to see the total number of apple users. Apple, being propitary can rely on its sales numbers to say it has so many users... Linux, being open source... Only has number of downloads, and that can't be trusted... 3 reasons... 1, tried it and didnt like it.. Or 2, they didn't count the download... Or 3, unlike windows.. You can share the download without any repercussions... So, how many copies are being handed around. Id love to see some true numbers... Dan

dawgit
dawgit

ProE had been orininally build for Unix, but them seem to have forgotten their roots lately. I think CATIA is sticking with a *nix. Could be why their market share appears to be growing. PTC (ProE) seems to be trying to one-up Auto Desk. Sad realy. -d

a.southern
a.southern

Python is merely 2D, I don't think many people in design would touch 2D these days. You want feature based design trees and 3d modelling for interferance checks and model creation for sending data straight to the IM'ers. I'd have to look closer at Varkon Cad, but screenshots don't do it great favours. It *may* be ok, but when you spend ?X,000,000 on a product, paying a little extra (approx ?5k per seat for mid range cad) for software you are familiar with is not a major problem. For the record, I do wish ProE still did Linux versions as I'm taking tentative steps into Linux now. http://www.pythoncad.org/ http://www.varkon.org/ -AS

DanLM
DanLM

Thanks OTR. I'll be honest, with the weather getting nice... I've kind of fell back into just reading books either under an open window or the front steps. I probably wouldn't have taken the time to search for that. Thanks for the information.... Dan

j-mart
j-mart

Engineers, Architects etc design things, software is just one of the tools used. The Empire State building was designed by Engineers and Architects with no computer input. The tools used were log tables slide rules and the knowledge and skills they possessed and it has not fallen down yet. The office building you are talking about was also designed by Engineers and Architects, one of the tools they may have used was software programs to do the calculations. Just because a particular software application, at present, has not been released on the Linux platform it does not mean that Linux is incapable of performing that task, it just means that particular application has not been produced for Linux. As an OS, there would be no application that has been released for the windows platform that could not be re written and released for Linux if some team of developers had the inclination and resources in front of them to do so. Would it be as viable an option for the team that linked play stations together using Linux to have done the same thing with X Box machines with windows as the OS?. At a technical level Linux is much more versatile and powerful than Windows, a "consumer" OS, can ever be

DanLM
DanLM

If your design software goes down because of the os, no big deal. If the os that goes down to operate the computers in your car. Your yuked. In other words, they delegated windows to what was not mission critical. Again, a real os hu? Dan By the way, I'm at work or I would research further into all car companies and what they use for design software... Along with the os that runs them.

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

I did write "designing" and you came back with an article about Windows as an embedded car OS...do you see that these are two different things? One designs the car, the other runs it.

a.southern
a.southern

ProE wildfire, one of the four big mainstream cad systems, has stopped supporting Linux in their 4th release. I'm very dissapointed at their decision to do this. The other main three generic Cad systems (SolidEdge, Solidworks and inventor) were programmed with Windows in mind, so aren't really going to shift into Linux (I don't believe). It's a real pity, because with MS now no longer shipping XP preloaded, ProE offering a Linux Based Cad Station would have been a real marketing advantage over the other systems, as most design offices just look at all the gubbins in Vista and denounce it as unworthy. Were a Design Package to offer linux as an alternative to Vista, then they would really get the malcontents out there. -AS

DanLM
DanLM

This again, is just too easy. http://electronicdesign.com/Articles/Index.cfm?AD=1&AD=1&ArticleID=16158 [i]Poliak believes the Microsoft Windows-based operating system employed in the Ford/Microsoft Sync system is well developed, [u]but stresses that the automotive world needs to put greater importance on a stable and reliable OS.[/u] . . . Not everyone is so sure about the Windows OS in an automotive environment. John Bruggeman, chief marketing officer for Wind River Systems, feels that Windows is more of a PC-centric OS and that automotive makers aren't thrilled about having PCs requiring a driver's "primary" attention installed in their cars. He believes there may be a brighter future for the open-source Linux OS. In fact, his company recently embraced the operating system, with the realization that more and more consumer devices now rely on it.[/i] Any other points you made do you wish to be shown at least in doubt, or down right incorrect? Chuckle, id love that one... Having linux operate the computers of your car as you talk smack about a real os. Again, just too easy. Dan

DanLM
DanLM

Top 500 super computers by os... Lets see if we find linux there. http://www.top500.org/stats/list/30/os Linux 381 76.20 % 3963141 6666103 826226 I see Linux as number one os... I see lots of linux actualy in the top 10... Haven't found windows yet. http://www.top500.org/charts/list/30/os Here's a chart for you, damn.... Windows made it... In clusters, must because in a cluster the fact that windows is known to blow chunks more often then linux means they have to have lots of redundency. Ie, when a machine goes down... There is another to take its place. Very small share for win blows, even with them clustering them... Cluster.. hmmm, what comes to mind when I think cluster. Why, thats it. Cluster f&^%. Yup, thats why windows must be labeled under that catagory. Kind of funny isn't it that windows didn't make the top performers though... ahhhh, your real os must be doing something else... Crashing maybe? Wait, it must be getting its required updates becauase of security bugs. Need I say more about your os and your real job? You deserved this flame by your own remarks. Enough said. I think I made my point about your real os and how well it's considered in the scientific and mathmatic community. Dan

dawgit
dawgit

And I'm gona get you wabbit. jagooch, you're a little confusing with all that. Every thing you have mentioned can, and at times does fit the description of all known OSs out there. It would depend on the user's ability to get the most out of any OS, and to choose what for his / her purposes the best for the money, that does the job. Ir-reguardless of the flavor. (exception for maybe Vista, no hope there.) It's all good. -d

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I can't use Windows to test dev anything. My fuzzy logic controller crashes in Matlab on my Windows box, but works fine on my Linux box...want to know why? It's called memory management.

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

"In the meantime many clever people, scientists, engineers and the like will quietly go about their business using Linux to do the serious computing tasks, while you plod away with your toy OS." ...That designed the office building that I am sitting in now. The Engine in my car, and probably my entire car. Yes, a toy OS that was used to create things that many lives depend upon, but is somehow still a toy. Have fun troubleshooting your "library not found" and "kernel panic" ( I used Linux as my only OS on 5 boxes at home for 4 years straight, so I know about those :) ) while I actually get some work done.

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

But since I wasted tons of time with running Linux exclusivly for a number of years before I saw the error of my ways ( I was always holding out the hope that the next release would be better ) and revised my belief that Open Source Software was the best thing for the world ( lol!). I feel its my duty to stop others from making the same mistake. Life is so much fuller when you are not tied to your computer. Its a big world, don't let yourself get too caught up in one small part of it!

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

but I just [i]have[/i] to know. WTF is cthurian???

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

What then are the requirements for obtaining that -est for which I yen?

santeewelding
santeewelding

The "-er" form is reserved only for those having achieved and mastered superlative madness.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

but just couldn't find it there in the dustbin at the back of my brain. Thanks! One less thing to drive me crazier until I peg it and put it back away. ;)

seanferd
seanferd

The bully from Different Strokes. About how lame is that?

DanLM
DanLM

about apple to be truthfull... But there is two sets of real numbers I want to see. And I really don't care what the results would be as long as they were truthfull. 1). Percentage of Linux/Unix systems(servers/desktops) that have been infected. I would want to know the total number of servers, and the total number of desk tops. Then the same with windows.. Total machines, type of machines, and percentage infected. 2). A realistic number of linux/unix desktops in use. Truthfully, I was getting better numbers this time. Problem I was finding in my search's were that this goverment/that goverment were planning/researching going to desktops. In that I was rushing, I was unable under most case's to see if they actually converted over. Or, if they stayed. I don't want the numbers off of just one web site either... Ie: linux.com, thats biased. Oh well, I'll keep hunting and pecking... Never know what I might find. Dan

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

at their game'. I'm frankly not so sure that should be the point. In spite of the fact that it appears the numbers - while improving for sure - are cr@p for Linux, I'm relatively sick and tired of the whole numbers/dollars market analysis thing. As long as we allow the machinations of the 'picturemakers' to keep us focused on 'the numbers' it is very likely that the practical value of one thing (Linux) over another (Windows and/or Mac) will ever be noticed, much less explored and taken seriously by the wider, non-tech community. I include Mac because I think that in it's own way Apple is equally as tyrannic as MS.

$$$$$$$$$$
$$$$$$$$$$

[i]All though, I haven't tried other MS products.[/i] I'm relieved to hear it! [i]1). Welcome back[/i] Thanks. It's nice to be back. You guys talk about some of the most interesting things. [i]2). It's great to find another TR person doing the grid computing. And I don't care what project people choose, it all helps science.[/i] I agree, I get a lot more out of donating computations to research than money to charities. It really comes close to in-person volunteering, just from reading a bit about what problems the projects are trying to solve.

DanLM
DanLM

I can find. I can leave other applications running with boinc with no problem. All though, I haven't tried other MS products. I use Thunderbird for email... Outlook only for scheduling so that I can sync to my pda, and I only have my one bsd email account on that to accept charily root reports. I don't use a lot of Word or Excel at home, so they are not open a lot. I originally had boinc set via override to use 100 percent resources even when I was on the machine. I ran like that for years actually. When I started noticing the lockups, I backed it off to only utilize 100 percent when the machine was inactive... And that is when I tied it directly to only when IE7 was open. Eh, I just stopped using IE 7. I'll use opera and F.F.. Even though I actually liked IE7... I don't like it enough to screw with my grid computing. ;o) By the way Abso... 1). Welcome back 2). It's great to find another TR person doing the grid computing. And I don't care what project people choose, it all helps science. Dan

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$$$$$$$$$$

Now that you mention it, I did notice Task Manager indicating that my resources were being only lightly used (all my BOINC projects are set to use 100% of resources), and I think that was just after I opened IE7. That's a dual-boot machine, which hasn't had much work on the Windows partition since installing BOINC. I may have the same conflict, but just not notice it because of disuse.

DanLM
DanLM

Also Opera. I actually seem to use all 3. All it would take for me to switch to a specific browser, and use it all the time. Lol, delete the other icons off my desktop and out of the quick launch. Your right... It's time. [edited to add] I wont quit participating in seti and Einstein... I'll get rid of windows completely first... I'm in the top 97 percentile with regards to results. Dan

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

If boinc locks it up whenever you leave IE7 open, it might be time to go to Firefox... ;) Firefox does everything I need it to with the exception of ActiveX. So I use IE7 to run Windows Update and that's it. :)

DanLM
DanLM

Chuckle, I've abused the crap out of this machine with installs. I don't know... This issue might actually have something to do with my wireless usb. I've lost connections with that. I have noticed that explorer will have issues when there is a hardware problem. The only thing I know on this machine that has issues some times is that USB wireless. In that IE 7 is tied directly to explorer, that might be part of the problem. Still strange though that this problem only occurs with boinc(when seti is running) and IE 7. Kicker, I have a laptop running the same things... No problems. All though, the wireless is internal to the machine... And because Laura use's it, I have loaded nothing else other then office. Eh, who knows... Kick the machine, turn it off because ctrl/alt/delete wont work. And reboot... And back we go. Dan [edited to add]I know for a fact, that if I leave IE7 open and the machine goes into screen saver which is when seti utilizes full machine resources... That I have severe lockups. I have to make sure that I close IE7 before I go to work for things to be ok when I get home. I can reproduce this at will.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

There's no need for fanboy crap here. I've seen both situations. Some people install WinXP, abuse the hell out of it with hardware and software changes and XP takes the licking and keeps on ticking. Other people install it and do nothing else major to their systems, but have nothing but problems with it. Maybe in your case, you're lucky.

DanLM
DanLM

Actually, I run boinc for seti and eienstien... Ever sence I have upgraded to IE7, boinc and windows just don't get along. And it only happens when IE 7 is running that boinc cause's windows to lock up. I can nail it down specificatly to applications. But one of those applications is tied directly to the os. And I have been running these grid computing applications from 2006. So, again.. Winblows. Do you run 24/7 high end processing applications? Maybe its just that windows was never intented to handle real computing power. Could that be it? Or could it be that MS broke again something that wasn't broken. Funny, my freebsd machines that run the same applications never lock up. Dan [edited boat load of times] to put a reality check to the windows fan boy with specifics. Wonder what real applications they run.

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

Hmm, I built a P4 in 2003 and installed XP on it. Its been running ever since, with downtimes only for hardware upgrades( and no OS activation as required afterwards! ). This install has never blue-screened or crashed, so I don't know what you did to yours, but I've tryed a multitude of apps and hardware on my current install with no problems...so maybe in your case the problem is between the keyboard and the chair?

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

daggone it! I'm happy with XP, but when it 'blows chunks' it blows chunks. Anybody 'happily' running Windows that doesn't keep current backup in some form won't be happy with Windows over the long haul.

DanLM
DanLM

post that. I kept getting locked up. Iritates the hell out of me. My point is, or was trying to be... Who is to say that linux isn't being accepted... If the gov's accept it, usualy the people follow. baaa... And I run the good windows os, xp.. .roflmao, and I usualy do like ie 7. No lie box, I had 4 goverments listed that went to linux... INcluding brazil which is the 5th largest nation in the world... I am not going to make the attempt again to post that... Ill just delete the bloody post. Dan