The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator complex, intended to collide opposing beams of protons or lead, two of several types of hadrons, at up to 99.99 percent the speed of light.
CERN played a pivotal part in the evolution of the internet we know and love today. Tim Berners-Lee invented the hypertext link when he was working at CERN as an independent contractor in the 1980s. He saw the opportunity to link his hypertext to the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Domain Name System (DNS) The rest, as they say, is history.
Berners-Lee designed the first web browser, built the fist server and the first website was launched at CERN in August 1991. And he gave away world wide web to the world as a gift for Free.
CERN is home to not only a spirit of free enquiry, but to the use of free software itself. For starters CERN’s 20,000 servers use GNU/Linux. In fact they developed their own version of Scientific Linux (SL), a recompiled version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, in conjunction with Fermilab and other labs across the world.
Coming to LHC experiment, LHC will output data on a truly massive scale that threatens to simply overwhelm the bandwidth of the current web: it is reported that the experiment will produce one gigabyte of data every second and that deluge requires a whole new way of handling data and distributing petabytes of information.
To solve that problem CERN came up with the Grid. This is being seen widely as the future of the web. Two large bottlenecks have been identified: the shortage of IP addresses and bandwidth. The former is being solved with the introduction of IPv6 which should render addresses virtually inexhaustible. As the number of users and web-enabled devices grows however and the web churns out more and more data, the other choke point therefore becomes bandwidth. CERN’s solution is The Grid.
The primary architecture of the computing grid is the “TIER” and there are three of them: 0, 1 and 2. The first centres on CERN itself, the second covers various sites across Asia, Europe and North America and the third is represented by individual labs, universities and private companies. Tier 0 - capable of managing up to 10 gigabytes per second across fibre optic cables. Checkout ZDNet's video on CERN's 3D digital camera.
CERN’s choice of GNU/Linux is no one off. To manage such a vast data output from the LHC some controlling software was required to manage the petabytes of data for users sitting at their computers across the world on the computing grid and GNU?LINUX is the best option for it. Users need to access the data transparently even though it is sitting on geographically disparate servers housing those petabytes. It is the opensource community that plays a great role in all the scientific experiments as well as in new innovative stuff. It is quite clear that even if it is a Super computer or a billion dollar Scientific Experiment or a new innovative technology it is the opensource community and GNU/LINUX that comes for the rescue rather than the propreitary stuff.
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