[Beowulf] portable clusters

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Mon Nov 28 01:02:04 EST 2005


Hi Jim:

   Have a look at warewulf.  I wonder if you could build some vnfs's 
into cygwin, and host the PXE server, and a dhcp server.  You might be 
able to use it to export file systems (set up warewulf to mount CIFS 
rather than NFS).  If that fails, I have a working bit with dnsmasq for 
PXE serving that works really well.  Haven't tried it under windows.

   Note also that the windows firewall might get in the way.

   The CF stuff might be best though.  There are some adapters out there 
that map IDE drive cables into flash drives.  Makes putting down a boot 
drive pretty simple.  You would need a compact distribution though, or 
one that had specific core components on the CF, and mounted the rest.

   You can go to 2-4 GB CF/SD these days.  I have whittled SuSE down to 
about 900 M install .  Could do the same for RH and others.  If you can 
live with older kernels, look at DSL (Damn Small Linux).

Joe

Jim Lux wrote:
> Has anyone done a diskless cluster (i.e. boot the nodes off the network) 
> where the nodes run Linux but the headnode/server is a WinXP/Win2K box?
> 
> Think in terms of booting off the drive in a laptop.
> 
> The application is one where the raw data that's being processed is 
> collected by peculiar hardware for which only windows drivers are 
> available.
> 
> I suppose one can run some form of Windows server that does the DHCP and 
> PXE stuff (after all, it must get done in a "pure windows" environment 
> somehow), but is it sufficiently generalized that I can take a Linux 
> bootable image to shove out to the nodes.  I did find some stuff on 
> booting XP(embedded) via PXE, and some stuff on what MS calls Remote 
> Installation Service using PXE.
> 
> There's "Services for Unix" but I dont' see a dhcpd in there anywhere.  
> SFU does provide a NFS server and client, so at least the nodes could 
> conceivably mount the laptop disk.
> 
> Perhaps one "hack" would be to have something like one of those network 
> firewall appliances that does DHCP, but able to spit out the right stuff 
> to respond to the PXE sequence.  Obviously, the run of the mill 
> Linksys/D-Link/etc widgets may not do this, but maybe there is one?
> 
> Or, don't rely on PXE, but use a flash RAM (USB stick/Compact Flash/etc) 
> image to get things going and then use the laptop for NFS?
> 
> 
> James Lux, P.E.
> Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
> Flight Communications Systems 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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-- 
Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
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