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Focus: Platforms

Richard Vernon

Issue #88, August 2001

With this month’s feature articles we cover both hardware and software.

The topic “platforms” is almost as broad as “computers” because anything upon which something else is dependent can be considered a platform. With this month’s feature articles we cover both hardware and software.

Frequently, when people think platform they think processor architecture. And for years, as far as Linux was concerned, that meant x86, despite the fact that some courageous individuals began very early the work of porting Linux to other platforms. Some of us can remember as far back as 1996 in the precivilized days before 20GB hard drives when Linux was supported on only few platforms other than x86, such as the IA32, the Amiga and Atari. Now every major processor (and a whole lot of minor ones) have been ported to Linux.

In his article, “The Trials and Tribulations of LinuxPPC 2000 Q4”, Paul Barry discusses his experiences with the highly touted PPC processor, the one believed by many to have the best chance of taking the “tel” out of “Wintel” (see page 60). While many distros continue to support only Intel, a growing number are offering support for the PPC. Besides the usuals—Yellow Dog, MkLinux and LinuxPPC—SuSE, Mandrake and Debian also have distros for the PPC. In our August 2000 issue we ran an article on installing LinuxPPC, and Barry’s article, almost a year later, provides a good measure for how far it’s come and the distance still to go.

In our second feature article, “PostgreSQL Performance Tuning”, Bruce Momjian discusses what can be done on the hardware end to improve the performance of tasks involving the PostgreSQL database (see page 66). Momjian provides an illustration of memory types and uses and how to make the most of PostgreSQL by modifying cache size and sort size and spreading disk access across drives.

Also, see Stephanie Black’s book review (page 76) on Momjian’s PostgreSQL: Introduction and Concepts. Momjian’s book includes tips on maximizing performance through optimizing the queries sent to the database. Between the article and the book, you should be able to get your PostgreSQL running at its maximum potential.

—Richard Vernon, Editor in Chief


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