Cluster Poll Results (tangent into OS choices)
Andrew M.A. Cater
amacater at galactic.demon.co.uk
Tue Nov 4 19:05:13 EST 2003
On Tue, Nov 04, 2003 at 05:50:57PM -0500, Joe Landman wrote:
> Andrew M.A. Cater wrote:
> >If you want an ultra stable platform to which you can freely contribute
> >code and which you can use for any purpose - try Debian "stable".
It's an idea.
> There are interesting bits in debian. I am not sure it is necessarily
> the right choice for clusters due to the specific lack of commercial
> support for cluster specific items such as Myrinet, and the other high
> speed interconnects.
Dan - if I build a _really big_ cluster, will you get Quadrics to do
Same goes for any other vendor - if you ask them nicely and make it
worth their while, they'll do it. In many cases, it's only a recompile
of a device driver to account for library differences, after all.
HP use Debian internally, IIRC. Some of the Debian developers are also
HP folk - HP are potentially looking to support more of their products
under Linux? [See, for example, Debian Weekly News for today :) ]
> Commercial compiler support for Debian (e.g.
> Intel, Absoft, et al) is largely non-existant as far as I know (please
> do correct me if I am wrong).
Compaq Alpha compilers work on the Alpha port or can be tweaked to IIRC.
I have no current expertise on big commercial compilers, however.
> Few if any commercial applications are certified to work on Debian
> (Oracle, Legato, ....) and again, please correct me if I am wrong.
Many of these will run fine without formal certification from the
Few, if any, current commercial apps run on Red Hat 4.2 / 5.0 - and
current Red Hat 7.x/8.x/9.x is now as commercially relevant. The big
commercial apps will have to retrench their markets, potentially, to
(one/both) of Novell / RH Enterprise Linux at ??$ per licence. Unless
it says RH/Novell on the box, they won't certify on something "less but
Libre" based on RH. But this is Linux - a commercial Linux app. will run
on other distributions with a little thought / planning. I'm not sure
they'll run Oracle on Scyld / ROCKS, for example.
> I simply don't see this as a universally viable alternative. Debian
> does indeed have lots of nice technical things going for it. Maybe I am
> missing some obvious point here. I do know some people have built
> clusters using it, but a few clusters does not a clustering distribution
> make. I believe someone at Cornell built Windows 2000 into a cluster.
> Doesn't make Win2k a clustering OS though.
If the HPC on Linux community wants to build a clustering distribution
on their terms they can within Debian. A thousand coders worldwide who
have more than a passing interest in fun stuff can work wonders if they
see the motivation in quality and good code - a character trait I'm sure
they have in common with many cluster folk, academics and researchers :)
> The distribution matters less than the overall support for what you want
> to do with it. I believe that it might be possible to build a Gentoo
> based cluster, though I would be concerned about the length of time for
> an OS load, among other things. One of the hardest parts of a cluster
> is getting the OS on.
Getting Debian nodes up is no harder than anything else on any other
distribution - provided its not your first ever experience of Linux :)
The minimal Debian install really is fairly minimal, if that's what you
want - you can readily build from there. Want a full featured X Windows
System - apt-get install x-windows-system. Want vi ?? Apt-get install vi
/ elvis / vim / nvi ... :)
> ROCKS, BioBrew (and I understand Warewulf) make
> this ridiculously easy. Increasing the setup/management time, or making
> your life harder in general, doesn't make much sense. There is a
> Knoppix variant that does clustering (OpenMosix style). Not sure it is
> the best solution, but I would like to hear from anyone using it.
This is fun if you want an ad-hoc StoneSouperComputer - the 512 node
machine built in a night on a German TV show or the four node proof
of concept idea for a show and tell in someone's office - but I'm
not entirely sure I'd trust my most valuable data to it. But hey, like
most things KNOPPIX based its an ultra cool demo :)
Have fun - at 0015 or so Zulu time, I'd better get some rest :)
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