Preliminary info on the Scyld Beowulf distribution

Donald Becker becker at scyld.com
Mon Oct 9 22:28:04 EDT 2000


Well, I guess I was scooped by SlashDot.

As many of you have guessed from the hints and list postings, Scyld has been
working on the next-generation Beowulf system.

Our goal was an easy to install and run system that required minimal
sysadmin knowledge for production use.  Our new distribution is also easy to
use for developers.

Here are a few features that should help avoid common problems reported on
the list:

  We use 'BProc' for almost everything.  This eliminates the environment and
  path problems with 'rsh', and is far faster than either 'rsh' or 'ssh'.

  After years of discussions, we finally have a universal booting system.
  It uses 'Two Kernel Monte' to replace a minimal initial kernel that knows
  only about networking with a full kernel.

  Only the front-end "master" node has a full install.

  The compute "slave" nodes can run with only 40MB in their filesystem.
  Essentially all of the 40MB is cached libraries, with most files in
  /etc/*, such as /etc/passwd, not needed.

  Executables only need to exist on the front end machine.  We don't even
  need /bin/sh on the slave nodes.

  The system is usable with 64MB.  128MB or larger is preferred for serious
  applications.

  The system is based around a common distribution e.g. RedHat.  We replace
  the kernel, the C library and a handful of utilities (the last two are for
  LFS large file support).  We add the cluster control programs, including a
  GUI, a custom MPI, etc.

We will showing this distribution later this week in Atlanta at the Linux
Showcase.  If you won't be in Atlanta you can order a development preview
CD-ROM distribution for only $2 from LinuxCentral at
     http://linuxcentral.com/catalog/index.php3?prod_code=L000-089


Donald Becker				becker at scyld.com
Scyld Computing Corporation		http://www.scyld.com
410 Severn Ave. Suite 210		Second Generation Beowulf Clusters
Annapolis MD 21403			410-990-9993



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