FW: [Beowulf] Which distro for the cluster?

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Tue Jan 2 18:32:09 EST 2007


On Thu, 28 Dec 2006, Cunningham, Dave wrote:

> I notice that Scyld is notable by it's absence from this discussion.  Is
> that due to cost, or bad/no experience, or other factors?  There is a
> lot of interest in it around my company lately.

Scyld is a fine choice for a cluster, but not usually for a first time
learning cluster for non-professionals.  This is in part because it
costs money, and in part because it is designed to encapsulate a lot of
what one has to do to "make a cluster" to the point where it is nearly
entirely hidden from the user/administrator.  This is desireable from a
corporate point of view (although I personally think that one needs a
certain amount of actual cluster experience to get the most out of even
Scyld) but not so good for poor people seeking to learn.  It also limits
you at least somewhat to the particular parallel computing model that
Scyld itself embraces.

A good friend of mine at Duke uses Scyld for his biochemistry cluster,
and although he's been doing cluster computing for a rather long time
(close to 10 years at a guess, maybe even more) and COULD and HAS IN THE
PAST done it all himself, he really likes Scyld's general cluster
administration and encapsulation features.  Of course the grants that
fund the research are deep-pocketed enough to afford it, as well.  That
isn't always the case in academe, and it really isn't the case at home.

However, Don Becker is on the list and you've given him an open
invitation to present Scyld, who it is really designed and intended for,
and maybe even an overview of how it (currently) works.  Don?

    rgb

>
>  Dave Cunningham
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org]
> On Behalf Of Andrew M.A. Cater
> Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2006 8:40 AM
> To: beowulf at beowulf.org
> Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Which distro for the cluster?
>
> On Wed, Dec 27, 2006 at 06:46:25PM +0100, Chetoo Valux wrote:
>> Dear all,
>>
>> As a Linux user I've worked with several distros as RedHat, SuSE,
> Debian and
>> derivatives, and recently Gentoo.
>>
>> Now I face the challenge of building a HPC for scientific
> calculations, and
>> I wonder which distro would suit me best. As a Gentoo user, I've
> recognised
>> the power of customisation, optimisation and lightweight system, for
>> instance my 4 years old laptop flies like a youngster, and some
> desktops
>> too. So I thought about building the HPC nodes (8+1 master) with
> Gentoo ....
>>
>
> Don't use Gentoo unless you've a full, fast connection to the internet
> _AND_ you're prepared for your cluster to be internet connected while
> you build it. This IMHO.
>
> Scientific calculations: Quantian? Debian. Debian for the number of math
>
> and other packages and the ease of install. Over 8 nodes, it should be
> relatively easy to set up. But it depends what you want to do, what
> other users want to do etc. etc.
>
>> 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.
>
> Rocks / Warewulf perhaps. If you just want something you can
> build/update/maintain in your sleep, I'd still suggest Debian - if only
> because a _minimal_ install on the nodes is as small as you want it to
> be - and because it's fairly consistent. Your cluster - your choice but
> you may have to justify it to your co-workers.
>
> Andy
>>
>> Any advice on this will be appreciated.
>>
>> Chetoo.
>
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-- 
Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu


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