No, I don’t mean Gandalf, I mean the software kind. And before I’m accused of being Gates’ live-in cabana boy (it’s all baseless rumors), let me clarify.
Out of curiosity, I very briefly tried the new Server 2008 Release Candidate (freely available from Microsoft). I’ve been using Vista 64-bit since I need to see all the memory in my machine and, while it works mostly OK, there are some low-level scheduling issues with it – for instance, sound is really choppy on battery power, no matter what I do with the power settings, so I can’t use the thing to watch a DVD or listen to music on the plane. Many others seem to be having the same issues, despite the funky Multimedia Class Scheduler nonsense that Microsoft put in the OS that makes networking slower (great info here), even though older incarnations were not suffering from media playback issues under load. And no, if I disable the Multimedia Scheduler it does NOT work better, it actually gets worse, which means that the service is there to fix some other kludge-y issue Microsoft introduced with the scheduler or something like excessive power throttling of certain devices.
The deluge of WAN accelerators from Cisco, Riverbed, Juniper, Expand, Packeteer,Bluecoat, Silverpeak etc. etc. is proving good for datacenters. Not sure how many vendors will remain viable in a year or two, but the selection at the moment is decent.
One of the more exotic and exciting IT subjects is the one of processor scheduling (if you’re not excited, read on, practical stuff to be seen later in the text). Multi-tasking OSes just give the illusion that they’re doing things in parallel – in reality, the CPUs rapidly skip from task to task using various algorithms and heuristics, making one think the processes truly are running simultaneously. The choice of scheduling algorithm can be immensely important.
I just got a new corporate laptop, a nice, shiny T60 (OK, it’s IBM black and therefore thoroughly incapable of reflecting on any part of the spectrum).