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Supercomputer speed

Linux is a fast operating system. In fact, we feel pretty safe saying it’s the fastest operating system. OK, so there are different metrics, but considering the world’s fastest supercomputer with a mere 3.1 million Intel Xeon
processors runs Linux, we feel on very safe ground for at least one of those metrics. Almost as impressive is that 97% (Source: of the world’s top-500 supercomputers happen to run Linux. Check out the statistics yourself at, they’re really impressive.

It wasn’t always that way. Whizz back to 1998 when Linux was still clawing its way out of the primordial binary ooze and just a single supercomputer ran it. Jump forward six years and that figure had exploded to 291 of the top-500 supercomputers and Linux never looked back. Now, I’m no expert (we could probably stop the sentence there) in supercomputers, but the benefits of a GNU/Linux OS apply as much to your home user as they do to supercomputer manufacturers. There’s no per-core licence to worry about – which becomes a big worry if you have 3.1 million processors to power. It’s designed to run on low-cost commodity hardware.
It’s entirely scalable from powering a watch, up to supercomputers, and above all it’s open source. So the code can be easily tweaked, tailored and optimised for the system it’s running on with no issues.

And that’s what we’re doing this issue: highlighting the tweaks and tools you can use to speed up your system for a faster, smoother system. Some might shout “install Gentoo!” the fastest swimming of penguins, but you might like your current install and the awesome Mayank Sharma can show you how. We’re also turning the Pi into a supercomputer, offering a guide to the amazing Arch Linux and see how well Linux is prepared for next-gen 4K UHD displays. Along with the usual mix of server tutorials, unmissable GNU tools and cloud computing guides, it’s another essential issue of Linux Format magazine!

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