[Beowulf] Windows cluster

Brian R Smith brian at cypher.acomp.usf.edu
Sat Sep 10 14:48:38 EDT 2005


Mark is right to an extent, but I'd like to shamelessly plug our success 
story for supporting multiple platforms.

All of our HPC equipment is linux-based or in some cases, Solaris based. 
Outside of that, we have established a grid for exactly the same 
purposes as the starter of this thread using Condor and a large number 
of open-use lab machines for a High-throughput solution. We've installed 
all of the typical desktop apps like Maple, Matlab, Mathematica to the 
image maintained by the lab director. After that, our responsibility in 
the matter is moot. We manage the condor master host, which is a linux 
machine and the Windows lab director manages all of the nodes. This 
prevents us from having to hire windows administrators, as per Mark's 
argument, and allows us to fully utilize those lab machines when they 
lie idle at night.

Cooperation between multiple groups can, at times, be very rewarding. 
Windows may be a no-go in the typical beowulf paradigm, but for a grid 
solution to harvest unused cpu cycles, it happens to work quite well.

Perhaps Mr. Rankin could arrange something similar?


-Brian

Mark Hahn wrote:

>>Not wanting to get into the definition of what HPC is, we are looking to run
>>both Linux and windows environments. The linux environments for our heavy
>>HPC users and the Windows environment to try and encourage some of the other
>>users to run applications on systems other than their desktop. In this way
>>we would hope that they will then look at larger models and may then
>>eventually migrate to the larger systems.
>>    
>>
>
>not to criticize, but I believe this is a serious mistake.
>here, at least, we have tons of money for hardware, and damned little
>for hiring people.  the idea of supporting two completely opposing 
>environments would be a non-starter, just based on support effort.
>especially since windows requires profoundly greater hand-holding.
>not to mention that windows will cost something noticable in software 
>licensing fees.
>
>I'd recommend (and indeed, it's what I'm doing) instead basing the cluster
>on linux and using web/samba/etc to make windows users more comfortable.
>
>further, I think it's mistaken to "encourage" people off their desktops.
>if they *can* stay on their desktop machines, EVERYONE is better off if 
>they do.  remember, it's damn cheap to upgrade a desktop if it's a little
>too slow.  if it's a lot too slow, people need to make a seriously big jump,
>and they are much better doing it in an effective environment like *nix.
>we want our users to think big - not some piddly ~4 times faster/bigger/finer
>than their desktop, but multiple orders of magnitude.
>
>regards, mark hahn.
>
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