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MultiPC OS

A precursor to the real parallel computing of future
  (+1, -2)
(+1, -2)
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Until we have real parallel computing, I find that at work and at home, I many times use several PC's doing different tasks. I use remote-access or VNC, but get the other PC's whole screen on my PC.

Got me thinking, that it could be a good idea to make a "Multi-PC" OS, where you run programs on different PC's, maybe you can decide which PC to run on, or even "move" running programs from one PC to the other, when the first PC is too full.

Instead of seeing the whole PC screen of the second 3rd and 4th PC, I would like to be looking at a "Windows" like environment, where one window is actually running on another PC. (Currently only the files are accessed on a network, and programs can be run on more than one CPU inside a PC, but programs are not run on different PCs).

pashute, Apr 15 2008

Remember Jini? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jini
Jini was supposed to be exactly that - an ocean of OS in which devices - CPUs, memory, hard drives, keyboards, screens, etc. - all floated, each accessible from any other. [DrCurry, Apr 15 2008]

An operating system for real parallel computers http://www.uruk.org/emu/Taos.html
From the early 1990s [coprocephalous, Apr 15 2008]

Plan 9 http://en.wikipedia...an_9_from_Bell_Labs
[BunsenHoneydew, Apr 17 2008]

Inferno http://en.wikipedia..._(operating_system)
[BunsenHoneydew, Apr 17 2008]


       I'm sitting at a PC running under XP (hey, not my choice), running UltraEdit in one window (actually a whole 24" monitor), whilst another window on another monitor (same PC) is an X Window (Exceed) session, with a Linux desktop, with about four different terminal windows running jobs and debug sessions on several different servers and embedded devices in different parts of the company.
What's to invent?
coprocephalous, Apr 15 2008

       As [coprocephalous] says, the X Window system allows you to run software on one machine and have its window appear on another and has done for decades. It's just Microsoft that doesn't support it.   

       Moving running programs from one PC to another has been thought of before, it's just a very difficult problem.
Srimech, Apr 15 2008

       I'm not even a Linux maven, and I can remember doing exactly what your second and third paragraphs describe in 1994, with X Windows. So, pretty much baked. AFAIK Unix has been able to do this (with or without a windowing system) since the 1960s   

       And what do you mean, "until" we have real parallel computing?
BunsenHoneydew, Apr 15 2008

       Answers to both [copro] and [Sri] Actually I worked with IBM AIX Unix and X-Window, for years - almost forgot about it. I'm not talking about just showing the window of a running program, (which would also be nice for M$ to have). I'm talking about a real "distributed" user-oriented operating system, that knows what's running and where, for this user.   

       Moving running programs from one PC to another has been thought of? Why is it so difficult. Let me give an example: Most programs today serialize i.e. save info as files on the disk system. Many of these programs are installed on all PCs. The "OS" would know where copies of the software exist (ie. if Excel is installed on all PCs) and could save the file temporarily on the other PC (through the network) and then start excel on that file on that PC.   

       The drawback is security and fighting "viruses" i.e. vandalism, but this is HB, and that other half can be thought out.   

       Interestingly, I find that all my "stupid" ideas get buns, and any ideas I have which I seriously contemplated, usually get bones :-(   

       Hope you change your minds.
pashute, Apr 15 2008

       //Moving running programs from one PC to another has been thought of?//
I forgot to add that some of the jobs I'm running are large system builds, parts of which are automatically farmed out to other developers' PCs and run in the background, to speed up the process, so yes, even this is baked.
coprocephalous, Apr 15 2008

       A distributed build, though, is several small applications. None of the compile processes stop halfway and move to another host. It's a bit different to move an application such as Excel. The problem is that an application may have lots of state that isn't stored to disk. It may be in the middle of a recalculation which can't be interrupted. It may have network connections - telling the process on the other end of those to reconnect to another host is difficult.   

       You *can* modify Excel to address most of these problems - the problem is that it's Excel you need to change, not the OS. The OS can give some support to applications to help them move around, but moving running processes in the general case opens a massive can of worms.
Srimech, Apr 15 2008

       //A distributed build, though, is several small applications. None of the compile processes stop halfway and move to another host//
True, but there would be little point in moving the entire state of a running application across a network unless the network bandwidth was very much greater than the memory-to-processor bandwidth.
coprocephalous, Apr 15 2008

       look up (original UNIX developer) Dennis Ritchie's "Plan9" OS... or DEC(umm Compaq, umm HP) VMS for Clustering. You don't want to move a running task, btw.
FlyingToaster, Apr 15 2008

       Indeed, if you can see this task from any display, why would you need to move it?   

       And yes, have a look at Plan 9 and its descendant Inferno. They're pretty much what you describe
BunsenHoneydew, Apr 17 2008

       While we're regaling our scenarios: I'm sitting at a MacBook running Leopard, which has some software that supports hypervisor virtualisation that allowed me to install the "windows xp" operating system on what it thinks is a fully specced i815 motherboard, but virtualised. I don't have any actual applications for that other OS, so it's more of a curiosity to see it run within Leopard, before closing it down again and getting on with my work.
Ian Tindale, Apr 17 2008

       Imagine a beowolf cluster of these!
Voice, Apr 17 2008

       I just happened across this idea, but it reminds me of a project I want to try when I have the resources. I want to build multiple computers in a single computer case, each with only a minimal boot volume and a minimal OS or hypervisor, each running a VM server, with one VM (which is the computer you actually use) then spanned across the multiple physical computers. Also, they'll have different motherboards and CPUs, while storage and GPUs will be dynamically shareable between the physical machines to most performantly serve the VM(s) running on them.
notexactly, Apr 15 2018


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