gentoo cluster

Karl Podesta kpodesta at
Thu Jul 10 05:17:34 EDT 2003

On Wed, Jul 09, 2003 at 11:14:31PM -0400, P. Aaron Lott wrote:
> Hi,
> Our group is interested in building a beowulf cluster using gentoo 
> linux as the OS. Has anyone on the list had experience with this or 
> know anyone who has experience with this? We're trying to figure out 
> the best way to spawn nodes once we have configured one machine 
> properly. Any suggestions such as pseudo kickstart methods would be 
> greatly appreciated.
> Thanks,
> Aaron

Not gentoo-specific, but there was a thread a few weeks back where
people posted up various (mostly similar) methods they use to clone 
nodes etc. 

On an old 23-node beowulf we have, we use a few small homegrown 
collected perl scripts written by the university networking society.

Once configuring a machine, we make an image of it (simple gzip/tar, 
stores itself on the head node, takes 2 mins), then register the other
nodes to 'clone' from this image we've just made, reboot the nodes from 
a floppy, and they clone themselves from the network at about 2 minutes 
a piece, takes about 5-10 mins maybe to clone all 23 nodes! Surprisingly 
quick for a simple ftp/un-tgz over standard ethernet from a single head node. 

We use the etherboot package to create a boot floppy which we use to 
boot the nodes, and our scripts modify the DHCP conf file to say which 
nodes should then be subsequently picked up and which linux kernel 
they should use to load up. The startup scripts that load after
the linux kernel ftp the node image down from the head node, un-gzip
the image, and un-tar it onto the machine. Hey presto, etc.

You could probably write something small yourself using etherboot/DHCP/targz
and some alteration of config files, or you could use cloning software 
like g4u (which I found really slow? It took like 30 minutes to clone
a node compared to 2 for our own scripts?), or you could use cluster
software like ROCKS. Depends on your time and/or inclination!

I'm not sure that simple tar'ing of a filesystem is the completely correct
way to go about it, but we don't have many actively live users (at least
not when I decide I'm going to clone nodes...), plus it's fast and dirty. 
So works for us, for now.. Something more 'proper' might require a dd'ing
of the disk, or something?

Karl Podesta
+ School of Computing, Dublin City University, Ireland
+ National Institute for Cellular Biotechnology, Ireland
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