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How Coyote Proved a Point


Once Coyote worked with some people who sold cameras. These cameras could take pictures of the insides of living bodies and obviously doctors liked to use them.

One of these cameras was broken. It took pictures that had big weird spots on them. The man who was responsible for fixing the cameras came to Coyote and said “the camera is broken.”

“I see that,” said Coyote, “But as clever as I am, it is not my magic to fix these cameras.”

“Clearly,” said the man, “But the man who is responsible for selling the cameras believes there is a problem with the software.”

“Nonsense,” said Coyote, “If there was a problem with the software, we’d see it everywhere, not just on one camera. The seller man just doesn’t want to pay to fix it and want’s it to be the software people’s problem. He is always greedy.”

“Of course you are right,” said the fixer man, “but if we ran the images in some different software and the same things were wrong with them, we’d prove it was the camera and not the software, right?”

“I suppose,” said Coyote, “What do you have in mind?”

“Well,” said the fixer man, “there is some other image processing software that doesn’t run on Windows. It runs on something called Solaris and it requires lots of RAM and processors because it can do so many things. I have a copy of it.”

“Interesting,” said Coyote, “But we do not have any machines that can run this thing. We have no Solaris machines, nor any machines that meet these very high hardware requirements.”

Then Coyote thought. “Will it run on OpenSolaris?”

“I don’t know,” said the fixer man, “Let me call the fellow who gave me this and find out.”

“Let me think,” said Coyote, “We have in our storage closet many many decommissioned Pentium IIIs and IVs from customers who have been upgrading to newer imaging stations.”

Coyote took many of these old computers. He took out their motherboards and power supplies and mounted them in the drawers of an old filing cabinet. Then he installed Debian on them, compiled with a custom kernel to run some clustering software called OpenMOSIX. OpenMOSIX would allow Coyote to make a virtual machine that thought it was running on a multi-core computer with lots of RAM, all the resources of these computers combined. He installed OpenSolaris into the virtual machine. He installed the imaging software onto the virtual machine as well.

The images processed and sure enough, there were the same defects that were produced when the images were taken and processed with the Windows software.

The seller man had to admit then that there was something wrong with the camera. And he sent the fixer man out to fix it. But he was so impressed with Coyote’s cluster contraption that he wasn’t even mad. He put it on display in the office as a work of art, and it sat there until the company was sold.


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