[Bioclusters] Any issues porting applications to OS X?

Tim Cutts bioclusters@bioinformatics.org
Fri, 5 Mar 2004 15:41:09 +0000

On 5 Mar 2004, at 15:32, Christopher Porter wrote:

> We're in the market for a cluster; most of our options are Xeon/Linux, 
> but one is a cluster of XServe G5s running OS X. We're going to run 
> some benchmarks to see how the performance compares, but some in of 
> our group have expressed concern that 'the vast majority 
> bioinformatics software is developed on Linux', and 'there may be a 
> long time lag before new software is available on OS X'.

Most stuff compiles quite cleanly.  You could get bitten though with 
anything that builds shared libraries.  OS X dylib bundles are *very* 
different from normal UNIX shared objects.  Have a look at the O'Reilly 
book "MacOS X for Unix Geeks" which is very small, but covers some of 
this stuff.

There are various other gotchas as well, but I don't know about them in 

> I have never had problems getting software I need to run on OS X, but 
> I wondered if anyone can provide me with examples of applications that 
> won't run on OS X, or are Linux only (only binaries released & no 
> source available).

I suspect you'll get much more bang-per-buck with Xeon machines.  
You'll also probably get better management features, although how 
crucial that is rather depends on how large a cluster you want to get.

Personally, although I love Macs, and have one as my day-to-day 
machine, I'm currently happier with Linux for the larger scale stuff.


Dr Tim Cutts
Informatics Systems Group
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Hinxton, Cambridge, CB10 1SA, UK