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View Full Version : *Also* not so much a software question



Karro
06-10-2008, 12:43 PM
But a computer-related one, nonetheless.

So, I was thinking about it, and though I have some tinkering I can do on my laptop to try to get the most juice out of it when trying to build and render maps in GIMP, without this so far it tends to stall out when working on larger files. (Particularly, it stalls and I lose drop-down-menu functionality when I have large and intricate areas selected.)

But, besides tinkering to turn off virus scanners and whatnot, I was thinking I also have the 8-year-old boat anchor at home. It runs Windows ME, but it's got another decent processor, 512 MB of memory and 32 MB of dedicated graphics.

So... is there anyway I can string it up and slave it to my laptop (a dual-core with 2 GB of memory running Vista) and have it help, even if just a little, when I'm working on maps while at home? Anybody out there have experience with that sort of thing? I'll admit when I've tried to network computers together running different OSes (no matter they're all Microsoft), it's usually a bugaboo for me. But I figure if I can put that unused horsepower to work, even though it's not much, it might be enough to help. I just don't know how.

jfrazierjr
06-10-2008, 02:16 PM
I rather doubt it. In most cases, either the OS or the applicaiton has to be explicitly written for distributed processing and I highly doubt this is the case here with normal consumer type software.

Though I am no expert in the matter, 3D rendering is one of the few places where you will consistenly find such processing setups and such software is tied to the hardware directly (ie, no OS to speak of) or if standard OS (windows, Mac, *nix, which I doubt there are may such applications) the software is very expensive. As an example, Industrial Light and Magic had hundreds of processors running for 6 months to process the 2500 or so C effects for the Star Wars episode 1 movie. My understanding is that they build the software entirely in house on previous work and had to spend thousands of hours making changes to the code base to accommodate what was needed to make this particular movie.



Even if the OS is capable of handling the distribution of processing off to other machines, I would think that the application would have to be using an appropriate threading model, otherwise, there is no way for the OS to slice up the workload since a thread is the smallest unit of work.

For the most part, if any is done by a standard OS natively I don't know about it. The vast majority of this kind of work is done by writing specialized software that sends some bit of data to a central server that acts as a traffic cop and determines who can do the work before sending on and likewise in the routing of the result back to the originating machine. I highly doubt PS and GIMP were built with such ideas in mind. Even machines that have multiple processes in the same box can only be used if the OS (most can) AND the application was built to understand the multiple processors exist and account for it. Generally, timers must all be configured in the code to run on a single, same processor from what I understand (which is not much) to avoid some type of contention with each other.

Joe

Karro
06-10-2008, 04:26 PM
I rather figured that would probably be the case. That's what I get for only having a Minor in Computer Science... just enough understanding of how things work to be able to dream about how I'd like them to work!

It just seems sad to let that otherwise useless hunk of metal and plastic go to waste. And I wouldn't have known for sure unless I'd asked.

Redrobes
06-10-2008, 05:26 PM
If you go and get a new network card then it will run at the standard LAN speed of 100Mb/s which is quite fast and the system should be able to keep up with that. If you get an el cheapo harddrive and fit it in then you can use it as a nice networked storage backup box and it will do that job at pretty much the full speed.

As for the CPU processing power - its not worth trying to get any more out of it. Its a fact of computing that your old machine is many many times slower than your new one.

If you run a VNC server on the old box then you can run a VNC client on the laptop and view the screen on the laptop. Also if you buy a projector or have a large monitor for it then you can use the old box as a projector / map slave for VTT's when playing RPG's :)

jfrazierjr
06-10-2008, 10:09 PM
It just seems sad to let that otherwise useless hunk of metal and plastic go to waste. And I wouldn't have known for sure unless I'd asked.

You could always put linux on it and learn that if you don't know it. Linux tends to be quite a bit less memory intensive than Windows (especially Vista), so you may even see comparable performance even if the hardware is older. You could also use it as a file server...

Joe

RobA
06-10-2008, 11:56 PM
You could also use it as a file server...
Joe

Thats what I just did. Downloaded a turnkey linux distribution, and dropped in a SATA card an two 500GB sata drives running mirrored. Total cost < $250CDN.

I'm also using it as a print server.

-Rob A>

Karro
06-11-2008, 02:12 PM
If you run a VNC server on the old box then you can run a VNC client on the laptop and view the screen on the laptop. Also if you buy a projector or have a large monitor for it then you can use the old box as a projector / map slave for VTT's when playing RPG's :)

Oh, you tease me! I haven't had an opportunity to play in, oh, like 4 years now. Since I moved to Atlanta like a year-and-a-half ago, I haven't been able to build up a base of gamer friends. I've finally found some who enjoy niche boardgames (Settlers of Catan and others) via my fiancee, but few of these are interested in trying out RPGs any time soon if ever. :(


You could always put linux on it and learn that if you don't know it. Linux tends to be quite a bit less memory intensive than Windows (especially Vista), so you may even see comparable performance even if the hardware is older. You could also use it as a file server...

Joe

This was my original plan for the old machine--to try out Linux. I thought I'd be safe giving UBUNTU a whirl. But the soon-to-be-wifey suggests that since we both have an old desktop and a laptop that we ought to dump one of the old desktops (and we won't really have room in our new house for the clutter of multiple desktops). I don't anticipate her sacrificing her newer desktop for linux tinkering... We'll see if I can save it!


Thats what I just did. Downloaded a turnkey linux distribution, and dropped in a SATA card an two 500GB sata drives running mirrored. Total cost < $250CDN.

I'm also using it as a print server.

-Rob A>

A basic home server that can serve the Laptops around the house and do all the hard-line stuff would be a good use.

Thanks everyone!

Redrobes
06-11-2008, 02:35 PM
Don't forget that latest Ubuntu will run in a window on Windows. But yeah Id run a networked file server as an archive / backup system for the laptop in case it failed on you.

Edit -- Ahh but not for Windows Me it seems - almost everything but ME tho. Never did like ME much anyways.

dormouse
06-20-2008, 06:53 AM
Dual boot system with a Linux OS such as Ubuntu will be the quickest, easiest solution. It's the GIMP's native OS and Linux runs much faster than Windows (and most other Windows run much faster than Vista). No need to use it for anything other than using the GIMP. Download and use as a LiveCD first to make sure you are happy with it.