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May 7, 2010

Death and Resurrection

In my last entry, I noted that Golem’s hard drive failed last Tuesday, and that the machine seemed to be ailing, with the fans constantly spinning up and down. This got steadily worse, as the week progressed, with the machine putting itself to sleep with ever-increasing frequency.

Finally, on Friday, it died, the victim of a CPU coolant leak. Somehow, the design decision, to perch two liquid-cooled G5 CPUs, directly over the power supply, seems a little … peculiar. Anyway, a new machine was ordered. It arrived on Tuesday, and I spent the past couple of days getting various bits of software to run again.

Moving from PPC to Intel and from Leopard to Snow Leopard (and a bunch of really bone-headed decisions on the part of the Fink maintainers) made the move far less smooth than my previous upgrades. There are still a number of things that don’t work properly, but the main bits seem to work now.

Four Generations of Golem
PurchasedCPURAMHard Drive
HP 9000/712Feb, 199580 MHz PA/RISC64 MB2 GB
Macintosh G4Feb, 2001466 MHz G41 GB30 GB
Macintosh G5Jan, 2005dual 2.5 GHz G5’s2.5 6.5 GB250 GB
27” iMacMay, 2010Quad-core Intel i5 @ 2.66 GHz8 GB1 TB

It does feel a lot faster than Golem III, and the 27” screen is positively sinful.

Tomorrow I’ll reinstall TeX …


  1. Every so often, Apache starts misbehaving, filling the error log with

    could not lookup DNS configuration info service: (ipc/send) invalid destination port

    Googling that message, one gathers that it’s the result of a catatonic mDNSresponder. But there doesn’t seem to be any solution on offer. Restarting Apache makes the problem go away (for a day or two). But that’s just a bandaid …

  2. Sendmail seems to also suffer when mDNSresponder goes catatonic.
  3. One thing that stymied me for quite a while: WebDAV (including MacOSX 10.4-compatible Calendar publishing) stopped working, with a

    The locks could not be queried for verification against a possible "If:" header.  [500, #0]
    No space left on device: No space left on device  [500, #28]

    error in the Apache logs. The solution is to delete the DAVLockDB file(s), and let Apache recreate them.

Posted by distler at May 7, 2010 1:02 AM

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Re: Death and Resurrection

I recommend checking out MacPorts. Packages tend to be more current than Fink in my experience, although I’ve run into a few that are still broken on Snow Leopard.

Posted by: senderista on May 7, 2010 11:52 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Death and Resurrection

I’ve no idea how wedded you are to doing things in the berkeley/linux way rather than the mac way, but installing Tex Live for mac is an absolute breeze. You get a full tree that, while not perfect is as comprehensive as any TeX distribution; the distribution is stuck in one single place that doesn’t get tangled up with various other folders (or other TeX distributions) onyour Mac. The maintainers are pretty good about updating it every year. It comes with various helpful Mac programs. It even comes with the option to install 64-bit versions of the various CPU intensive tex programs which should be 15 or 20% faster than the 32-bit versions.

Really, what’s not to like?

As for your table, the the interesting thing is just how drastically the pace of hardware has slowed down on all three dimensions. We have a big jump ahead of us when Light Peak comes out end of this year; and when the various parties involved finally get their acts together (which will happen god knows when) and integrate flash as a transparent cache for magnetic HDs we will see a big jump in file system performance.
Apart from that, it looks like we’re stuck waiting for the parallel SW train to eventually leave the station. And poor Intel stuck with a lousy mobile solution and a just as lousy GPU solution — not a nice place to be just as desktop computers turn into white product goods, replaced when they die but no sooner.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on May 9, 2010 1:29 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Death and Resurrection

installing Tex Live for mac is an absolute breeze

I did install TexLive 2009. It’s very nice, and — yes — largely 64-bit, where available.

As for your table, the the interesting thing is just how drastically the pace of hardware has slowed down on all three dimensions.

Ah, but there’s a fourth dimension barely alluded-to. The first two machines had 17” CRT monitors. The third had a 19” LCD display. The last one “is” a 27” LCD display.

It should also be noted that Golem I was a “workstation-class” machine, and (in inflation-adjusted dollars) 6 times the price of Golem IV, a decidedly “consumer-grade” machine.

… just as desktop computers turn into white product goods, replaced when they die but no sooner.

An interesting analogy.

There is one difference, though. The other reason for replacing computers is when they are no longer able to run the software you’d like to run on them. Golem III was not able to run Snow Leopard, which meant that there were various applications that it couldn’t run, either. Annoying, but not enough-so that I would have wanted to ditch the machine today. But, eventually, even had it survived …

Posted by: Jacques Distler on May 9, 2010 2:16 AM | Permalink | PGP Sig | Reply to this

Re: Death and Resurrection

5 years between one Golem and the next means we arrive at Golem XIV in 50 years. The Singularity Is Near!

Posted by: mitchell porter on May 11, 2010 1:51 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Death and Resurrection


any comment on the new paper by Lisi et al?

Posted by: A Person on May 16, 2010 10:49 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Death and Resurrection

You should have included the actual price you paid for each of the configurations and compared it to Moore’s law.

Posted by: Shayne Sherman on July 23, 2010 11:50 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

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