[Beowulf] Hypothetical Situation

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Thu Jan 22 12:25:31 EST 2004


At 09:29 AM 1/22/2004 -0600, Brent M. Clements wrote:
>We have a request by some of our research scientists to form a beowulf
>cluster that provides the following abilities:
>
>1. It must be part of a shared computing facility controlled by a batch
>queuing system.
>2. A normal user must be able to compile a customized kernel, then submit
>a job with a variable pointing to that kernel. The batch queuing system
>must then load that kernel onto the allocated nodes and reboot the nodes
>allocated.
>2a. If the node doesn't come back up after rebooting, the job must be
>canceled and the node rebuilt automatically with a stable kernel/image.
>3. When the job is finished, the node must be rebuilt automatically using
>a stable kernel/image.
>
>The admin's here have come up with a name for this:  "user
>provisioned os imaging". Our gut feeling is that this can be done but it
>will be a highly customized system. What is everyone's thoughts,
>experiences, etc etc concerning doing something like this?

I think this cries out for diskless nodes!! The only moderately tricky part 
will be the mangement of the cluster so that you can feed off the right 
images when the node reboots and asks for its image. Some fairly simple 
database table of MAC, Node ID, image, etc. would probably take care of it. 
Obviously, you'll need some sort of remote controlled booting (power 
cycle?). Possibly, you might want to have centrally managed network 
switches so you can isolate the subclusters, in case someone builds a 
kernel that runs amok.


You'll need to spend a few work weeks/months building some nice quasi 
automated scripts and documentation to help the folks build their kernels 
and put them into an appropriate form.



James Lux, P.E.
Spacecraft Telecommunications Section
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
tel: (818)354-2075
fax: (818)393-6875

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