[Beowulf] Which distro for the cluster?

John Hearns john.hearns at streamline-computing.com
Fri Dec 29 04:50:45 EST 2006


Chetoo Valux wrote:
>
> 
> But then it comes the administration and maintenance burden, which for 
> me it
> should be the less, since my main task here is research ... so browsing the
> net I found Rocks Linux with plenty of clustering docs and administration
> tools & guidelines. I feel this should be the choice in my case, even if I
> sacrifice some computation efficiency.



You are thinking well here.
Choose a 'mainstream' distro - Rocks, Redhat based distro (Scientific 
Linux?) or SuSE.
An HPC cluster exists to run applications - you should look at the 
applications and which distro they will run under, and which are supported.
By this I mean - are your applications written in-house? If so, ask your 
users which compilers and libraries they need.
If you run commercial codes, you need to find out which distros are 
supported. Again, usually SuSE or Redhat.
So, being a little harsh at this time of year, Gentoo is unlikely to be 
your first choice in terms of getting support.

Also "sacrificing computational efficiency" is a red herring.
In HPC, there is a very unusual work pattern on machines - which I think 
people who think only in terms of web servers, general use machines etc. 
are caught out by.
IF you get your HPC cluster right - and you should try to as they cost 
$$$$, then 99% of CPU time is spent in applications.
You should then substitute "Gentoo for efficiency" by "Which compiler 
for efficiency".
Get your applications together, and download the one-month trial 
versions of Pathscale, Portland and Intel. And try them out.



-- 
      John Hearns
      Senior HPC Engineer
      Streamline Computing,
      The Innovation Centre, Warwick Technology Park,
      Gallows Hill, Warwick CV34 6UW
      Office: 01926 623130 Mobile: 07841 231235
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