My son likes to play a game called NeverWinter Nights on my laptop (a windows XP system from Dell). Every so often, while he's playing, something goes awry: the game freezes, the computer locks up, and the only recourse is to power off the machine and power it back up again. I'd say the average uptime for this machine is 6 hours, but hey -- its a laptop, you are supposed to shut it down to save batteries aren't you?

My desktop home machine is a generic linux box. Its average uptime is about 30 days or so. The last time I brought it down was to upgrade the video card. Power glitches account for most of the reboots. I can't recall a time when I had to reboot the system to unwedge it.

When working on Sphinx-4, I work primary on an UltraSparc III system called 'glottis'. We received this system on April 8th, 2003. Here is the complete history of system reboots:

[email protected]% last reboot
reboot    system boot                   Wed Apr  9 07:39 
reboot    system boot                   Wed Apr  9 06:35 
reboot    system boot                   Wed Apr  9 06:31 
reboot    system boot                   Tue Apr  8 17:05 

That's April 9th 2003. This system has been running for nearly 400 days, and in fact has only been rebooted 4 times in its entire lifetime! This system was taken out of its shipping box, plugged into the UPS, powered on, a couple of OS patches were applied, and that was that. It just runs and runs.

Netcraft keeps tabs on the top 50 sites with the longest uptime. Amazingly enough all of the top 50 systems are BSD or FreeBSD systems. The top five systems have all been running for 5 years straight! One may well wonder why there are no Solaris and Linux boxes in the top 50. According to the NetCraft FAQ: HP-UX, Linux, NetApp NetCache, Solaris and recent releases of FreeBSD cycle back to zero after 497 days, exactly as if the machine had been rebooted at that precise point. Thus it is not possible to see a HP-UX, Linux or Solaris system with an uptime measurement above 497 days. That's an unfortunate bug, I bet we'd see many Solaris and Linux boxes in the top 50.

It would really be great if all my computers could have uptimes measured in years not in hours. I wince every time I hear the sound of disks being abruptly powered down when my son hits the power-off button on the laptop. That's just not right. Well, apparently, there is a version of NeverWinter nights for Linux. Maybe it is time to put the Java Desktop System on the laptop.


Silly, you can't compare a laptop and gaming machine with a desktop and server machine. I was just discussing this issue the other day with one of my friends - he was saying that when he doesn't play games, he goes for weeks without rebooting, just hibernating the computer. (Eventually he has to reboot to apply patches, hehe). Once he starts playing games, his computer suddenly needs to rebooted daily. That's REALLY annoying about rebooting the laptop though. The first thing to do is always to check if it's using the latest video driver.

Posted by Will Gayther on May 09, 2004 at 10:14 PM EDT #

Well, you could always get your kid to play NWN on your Linux Desktop... works fine on mine.

Posted by Robert Watkins on May 10, 2004 at 12:36 AM EDT #

Second that. NWN on Linux.

Posted by LeBron James on May 10, 2004 at 02:46 AM EDT #

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