Good afternoon to everyone. Hopefully the week is progressing nicely
for all the Linux enthusiasts around the world.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Linus and the whole
cohort of Linux developers for what I consider to be a fairly outstanding
As some of you may know our Cancer Center is run completely by a
network of Linux workstations. These platforms serve as the basis for
Perceptions-OIS which is our clinical information support environment.
Perceptions and the proper care of our cancer patients would not be
what it is today without Linux.
This morning the workstation servicing the pharmacy rolled over the 1
million process mark. Here is the current uname and uptime outputs:
Linux snirt 1.2.13 #4-K Tue Sep 5 12:56:58 CDT 1995 i386
12:17pm up 78 days, 5:35, 6 users, load average: 0.02, 0.17, 0.15 Proc: 1005618
The important field to notice in the uptime line is the Proc: field.
This is a count of the total number of processes created/run by the
kernel since the machine was booted. This workstation rolled over the
1 million mark about 10:00am this morning.
Our local patch file modifies all of our kernels to include a counter
which is incremented on each successful fork. We modified the kmem-ps
utilities to report this value. We thus have a means of determining
the total number of processes run by the kernel. We find this useful
as an index to determine load variations on a day-to-day basis for our
The machine in question is an 80386-dx33 (Gateway-2k) with 16Mbyte of
memory and runs X about 12-14 hours a day. This machine is
responsible for running the software which coordinates and manages all
the chemotherapuetic and infusional drug therapies administered at our
Cancer Center. The total process and uptime count would be
approaching the 2 million/170 day mark except for the unfortunate
problem of bad batteries in a UPS... :-)
Everyone can of course debate the usefullness of uptime results. My
intention is not to initiate a thread which is better left to those
individuals who have time for the the advocacy groups. My real
intention is to publically acknowledge and thank the efforts of
everyone who has made this operating environment what it is today.
People who know me will tell you that I am neither an OS or language
bigot. I tend to use the tool that fits a job the best. We stumbled
onto Linux and began using it because it made a development/operations
platform available which made the Perceptions-OIS project possible.
Since Perceptions is based upon a peer-to-peer, multi-host concurrent
processing model a unix-like platform was really the only solution to
The important point of this note is that I think we need to all
acknowledge the tremendous toolset that has been made available by all
those individuals dedicated to the notion of freely distributable
software. It includes not only Linus and the Linux gang, but those
individuals committed to the other free unices, developers such as
Larry Wall and John Ousterhout who have graced us with high-level
scripting tools such as PERL and TCL/TK and certainly last but not
least the Free Software Foundation.
I have been around computers since the early to mid-1970's. This
experience has taught me to be staggered by the arsenal of tools that
are now available through the free distribution channels. There has
probably never been a time in history when the price of entry for the
development of sophisticated applications has been so low.
People have told me on many occassions that I am absolutely nuts to
put the health and safety of our cancer patients into the hands of an
'unproven' operating system and software environment. This is a point
that could be very seriously debated. It would seem that experience
is currently indicating that we have made the correct decision.
Our patients who suffer from dreadful cancer related and hematologic
diseases deserve every opportunity they can be given. The tools that
we have been able to deploy from free software channels have enabled
us to write and develop innovative applications which, to my
knowledge, do not exist through commercial avenues. To not avail
ourselves of the flexibility and power of this environment would be to
ultimately deprive our patients of access to both efficiencies and
quality care improvements that our software has given to us. Taking
that thought to bed each evening lets me sleep quite comfortably.
I promised myself that I would not ramble on so I should close this
note and get back to productive work.
Thanks go from our patients, my staff and myself personally to Linus,
the Linux Activists and all free software developers and enthusiasts.
Thanks for providing an environment which has supported a million
attempts in the last 78 days of making life better for all of us.
Have a pleasant remainder of the week.
Dr. G.W. Wettstein Oncology Research Div. Computing Facility
820 4th St. N.
Fargo, ND 58122
`The truest mark of a man's wisdom is his ability to listen to other
men expound their wisdom.' -- GWW