How to get started . . .

Andrew Shewmaker shewa at
Thu Jun 5 12:45:54 EDT 2003

Mat Harris wrote:
> hi, I am in the same boat. what is a good idea for a simple trial task?
> I am a 'beginner' c programmer so nothing to complex. I don't really know what i
> can do to test the small collection of machines I have.

Why, "hello world", of course =-)

The Ohio Super Computer Center [1] has some good online courses and you 
should read Robert G. Brown's book on his site [2].


> Will I have to program a certain way to get the 'cluster' effect?

First, make sure you read as much as you can of the available material
on the web.  It sounds to me like you are still trying to understand
what a beowulf cluster is.  You are probably not distinguishing between
high performance clusters running parallelized codes and High
Availability (HA) clusters, which are concerned with failover and load 
balancing.  The beowulf FAQ explains things like this (see and has links to information about all 
types of clusters.

Beowulf clusters must be programmed in a certain way.  They don't 
automatically make an application run faster.  However, there are 
projects that are attempting to make a cluster of computers look more 
like one Single System Image.  OpenMosix ( and SSI for
Linux ( are two projects that are working on providing 
a single process space, distributed shared memory, and more.
Both of these are more on the HA end of things, but you can still run
parallel codes on them.  Some of their features might increase the 
overhead and lower the performance of parallel applications.  These 
systems may also have difficulty scaling up to several hundreds or 
thousands of nodes.

Bproc ( was designed to create a second generation of 
beowulf clusters although first generation clusters, using rsh or ssh to 
start processes remotely, are still more common.  Bproc provides a 
single process space for the cluster and scales up to at least 1024 
nodes...Pink ( is the largest one I know of. 
  Only the master node has a full Linux installation while the slave nodes
are totally dependent on the master.  Scyld ( and 
Clustermatic ( can help you set up a bproc based


Andrew Shewmaker, Associate Engineer
Phone: 1-208-526-1276
Idaho National Eng. and Environmental Lab.
P.0. Box 1625, M.S. 3605
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415-3605

Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at
To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit

More information about the Beowulf mailing list