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Old 2013-08-04, 13:04   #1
jasong
 
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"Jason Goatcher"
Mar 2005

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Default User-based computer that NEVER needs resetting, possible?

I know there are some Linux boxes, especially server-based ones, that haven't been reset in over a decade. But do you guys think it would be possible to create a box that would NEVER need to be totally turned off?

I had a computer case that lasted me ten years before it became so out-dated I couldn't use it anymore, but with things like hard drives, cd drives, even parts of the operating system, I could imagine a system(couldn't make it, though) where everything was modular and semi-independent.

Maybe have a lesser system which could stay on for general purpose stuff while cpus and GPUs are replaced? I guess you'd need more than one thing with the ability to take over the whole computer? Obviously, you'd want to be able to physically turn these extra things off to protect against infection.

Another thing would be OS stability, you'd want the ability to reset any part of the software, or else things might slowly become unstable over time.

You'd need a system that could watch for instability, or maybe reset certain parts of the system periodically, without shutting off the whole thing.
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Old 2013-08-04, 13:09   #2
xilman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
I know there are some Linux boxes, especially server-based ones, that haven't been reset in over a decade. But do you guys think it would be possible to create a box that would NEVER need to be totally turned off?

I had a computer case that lasted me ten years before it became so out-dated I couldn't use it anymore, but with things like hard drives, cd drives, even parts of the operating system, I could imagine a system(couldn't make it, though) where everything was modular and semi-independent.

Maybe have a lesser system which could stay on for general purpose stuff while cpus and GPUs are replaced? I guess you'd need more than one thing with the ability to take over the whole computer? Obviously, you'd want to be able to physically turn these extra things off to protect against infection.

Another thing would be OS stability, you'd want the ability to reset any part of the software, or else things might slowly become unstable over time.

You'd need a system that could watch for instability, or maybe reset certain parts of the system periodically, without shutting off the whole thing.
Very nearly anything is possible if you are prepared to pay for it.

What's your budget?
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Old 2013-08-04, 16:51   #3
CRGreathouse
 
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Probably the cheapest way would be to get, say, three systems and declare their union to be the computer. (Sharing and mirroring hard drives would make this feel somewhat less like a cheat.) You could then reset or replace any one system without bringing the whole thing down.

More expensive solutions are, as Paul suggests, quite possible.

Last fiddled with by CRGreathouse on 2013-08-04 at 16:51
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Old 2013-08-04, 17:42   #4
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
I know there are some Linux boxes, especially server-based ones, that haven't been reset in over a decade. But do you guys think it would be possible to create a box that would NEVER need to be totally turned off?

I had a computer case that lasted me ten years before it became so out-dated I couldn't use it anymore, but with things like hard drives, cd drives, even parts of the operating system, I could imagine a system(couldn't make it, though) where everything was modular and semi-independent.

Maybe have a lesser system which could stay on for general purpose stuff while cpus and GPUs are replaced? I guess you'd need more than one thing with the ability to take over the whole computer? Obviously, you'd want to be able to physically turn these extra things off to protect against infection.

Another thing would be OS stability, you'd want the ability to reset any part of the software, or else things might slowly become unstable over time.

You'd need a system that could watch for instability, or maybe reset certain parts of the system periodically, without shutting off the whole thing.
Sounds like you want a fault-tolerant computer system.

Have you ever heard of Tandem Computers? They were the dominant manufacturer of fault-tolerant mainframe systems in the 1970s-1990s, but are now a division of HP.

You might be interested in how Tandem made fault-tolerant hardware and software with the features you list, and more. Re: "NEVER need to be totally turned off" - they called their systems, which had exactly that property, NonStop.

Last fiddled with by cheesehead on 2013-08-04 at 17:50
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Old 2013-08-04, 17:57   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheesehead View Post
Sounds like you want a fault-tolerant computer system.

Have you ever heard of Tandem Computers? They were the dominant manufacturer of fault-tolerant mainframe systems in the 1970s-1990s, but are now a division of HP.

You might be interested in how Tandem made fault-tolerant hardware and software with the features you list, and more. Re: "NEVER need to be totally turned off" - they called their systems, which had exactly that property, NonStop.
Exactly what I was thinking.
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Old 2013-08-04, 18:41   #6
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How did it handle power outages?
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Old 2013-08-04, 18:50   #7
CRGreathouse
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BudgieJane View Post
How did it handle power outages?
Presumably the same way everyone else does, UPS + generators.
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Old 2013-08-04, 19:40   #8
cheesehead
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BudgieJane View Post
How did it handle power outages?
AS CR says, with backup power.

Also, though not for actual power outages,
Quote:
Originally Posted by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandem_Computers
... Power supplies were each wired to only one side of some pair of CPUs, controllers, or buses, so that the system would keep running well without loss of connections if one power supply failed. ...
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Old 2013-08-06, 01:08   #9
jasong
 
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I'll take a look at the link, but I was thinking of stuff for normal people, people that only know as much as they have to, like my parents or grandmother.

Linux is fault tolerant, but if something really bad happens don't you generally lose data that had nothing to do with the fault? And Windows is even worse, you either go back to a previously saved copy or spend hours re-installing stuff.

And don't even start about Macs, those are for people with more money than sense.
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Old 2013-08-06, 01:12   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post

And don't even start about Macs, those are for people with more money than sense.
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Old 2013-08-06, 01:54   #11
chappy
 
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Hey, lay off the Macs they are awesome for gaming!

photoshop ftw!
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