from the million-bottles-of-wine-on-the-wall dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "The NY Times has the story of researchers at Sandia National Laboratories creating what is in effect a vast digital petri dish able to hold one million operating systems at once in an effort to study the behavior of botnets. Sandia scientist Ron Minnich, the inventor of LinuxBIOS, and his colleague Don Rudish have converted a Dell supercomputer to simulate a mini-Internet of one million computers. The researchers say they hope to be able to infect their digital petri dish with a botnet and then gather data on how the system behaves. 'When a forest is on fire you can fly over it, but with a cyber-attack you have no clear idea of what it looks like,' says Minnich. 'It's an extremely difficult task to get a global picture.' The Dell Thunderbird supercomputer, named MegaTux, has 4,480 Intel microprocessors running Linux virtual machines with Wine, making it possible to run 1 million copies of a Windows environment without paying licensing fees to Microsoft. MegaTux is an example of a new kind of computational science, in which computers are used to simulate scientific instruments that were once used in physical world laboratories. In the past, the researchers said, no one has tried to program a computer to simulate more than tens of thousands of operating systems."
"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the
sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment."
-- Richard P. Feynman