3GiB ram, gnome-system-monitor now says 2.9GiB

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Wed Apr 8 12:21:36 UTC 2009

2009/4/8 Amedee Van Gasse (Ubuntu) <amedee-ubuntu at amedee.be>:
> On Tue, April 7, 2009 15:53, Liam Proven wrote:
>> 2009/4/6 Matthew Flaschen <matthew.flaschen at gatech.edu>:
>>> Liam Proven wrote:
>>>> 2009/4/6 J. Limon <jlimon at eml.cc>:
>>>>> Just for comparison, htop reports 3016MB.
>>>>> - J. Limon
>>>> 3016MB *is* 2.9GB.
>>> NO!
>> *Yes.*
>> The only people who use decimal measurements in computing are the
>> sales lizards who right adverts for hard disks, and only the gullible are
>> taken in.
> *Yes*
> I also hate those sales lizards. Don't we all?
>> In computing, KB/MB/GB/TB means the binary powers. This messing around
>> with KiB/MiB etc. is never used in any official literature, is not widely
>> known, and only confuses beginners. It's pedantry and sophistry and it
>> helps nobody.
> Perhaps in your part of the world. I live on the continent where the
> Système International (SI) was invented. Agreed, the SI is a French
> invention and my southern neighbours (I'm from Belgium) are known for
> their pedantry and sophistry. But it's not because it's pedentry that it
> isn't true.
> I was trained as a science teacher (but never ended up in education). I
> was always told that words like kilo, mega, giga always mean the same
> thing. *ALWAYS*. No discussion. We could fail a test simply for not using
> the right units.
> That was back in the late nineties, and I already had more than 10 years
> of computing experience in my fingers (I'm 32 now). The discrepancy
> between decimal and binary units in computing was starting to bother me.
> It was like an itch I couldn't scratch. I *knew* that there was something
> wrong, but I could't lay my finger on it.
> And then, I think it was 2002, I stumbled upon a Usenet discussion about
> kibi, mebi, gibi, with a link to this article:
> http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/binary.html. Suddenly the skies cleared
> up: this was the solution! I was immediately sold. It was simple and
> elegant, and it didn't conflict with the traditional measurement systems
> that were hammered in my brain. I think an epiphany is the appropriate
> word if you are a religious person.
> In my personal experience, there are always those boring dec/bin
> discussions when kilo, mega, giga are used, but I have never seen a
> decimal interpretation of kibi, mebi, gibi. So I use the decimal prefixes
> wherever I can, and I don't explain them. I don't need to.
> Just a few more comments:
> * kilobyte is kB with a small k. Capital K is degrees Kelvin, or (x -
> 273.15) °C. Really. Trust me on this one, or look it up if you don't.
> * people who interpret kilo as 1024 are not beginners. They are
> intermediates. *Real* beginners with absolutely zero knowledge of
> computing only know that kilogram = 1000 gram and kilometer = 1000 meter
> so logically kilobyte = ... ???
> --
> Amedee

I find this point of view surprising - and you may note from the email
in my sig that I am British, so I'm a European too, and I too grew up
with decimal units - more or less from the start of their introduction
in my country, so I've had to defend them against people as little as
a few years older than me for my whole life.

But it seems to me that you are in a position like King Canute (or
Knut), the early English king who demonstrated that monarchy is not
absolute by sitting on the beach and ordering the tide not to come in.

He got wet.

The position is this: the whole computer industry uses KB (and kb,
interchangeably) and MB and GB and soon TB to mean /binary/ powers.
Except, as someone has pointed out, in datacomms.

So whereas yes, we can campaign for this to be changed, for *now*, the
real answer is education. One day they might not, but for now, when
"top" says 4321MB, it means MiB, and when the brochure says "80GB hard
disk", it means 80 GiB.

People have to know the difference.

Changing the units will not happen overnight and they have to know
which is which.

Liam Proven • Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/liamproven
Email: lproven at cix.co.uk • GMail/GoogleTalk/Orkut: lproven at gmail.com
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