Buying a Beowulf Cluster (Help)

Mike Snitzer msnitzer at
Thu May 29 14:09:02 EDT 2003

On Tue, May 27 2003 at 15:04,
Alvin Oga <alvin at> wrote:

> > On Sat, 24 May 2003, Shashank Khanvilkar wrote:
> > 
> > > 1. Opinions on the OS to be installed on the cluster: We have decided on REd
> > > Hat 7.3, however suggestions are welcome. (We are not going for RH 8/9
> > > because of some known compiler (Intel and portland) problems.. If anyone has
> > > knowledge abt this, please let me know).
> gcc problems will be across the board .. 
> 	- old gcc on new hw or new gcc on new hw 
> 	- old gcc on old hw or new gcc on old hw
> 	- you will have problems ( glibc + gcc-x.y problems )
> 	- there's probably more open source support for new gcc w/ new hw

Upgrading rh7.3 to gcc 3.2 (e.g. get rh8.0's gcc 3.2-7 to work under
rh7.3) is not hard.  RH7.3 is known to be quite stable; any issues that
rh7.3 does have can be worked around.

> i think to build new boxes based on old distro is a bad idea,
> since it'd run into old known bugs that has since been fixed
> in the newer distro
> - given known bugs and features requirements, i'd build on the
>   latest/greatest stuff

A well maintained Redhat7.3, with a custom kernel and updates/fixes, is
very well suited for production clusters.  The same cannot be said of
rh8.0 or rh9.0 (even though it is possible, it requires more effort and
there are more HPC software incompatibilities). 

> - yes, you might get the new bugs in the new systems/distro ..
>   but you will also get old bugs in old distro and a lot smaller
>   group of open source folks addressing those older issues

This is true for specific packages; but in the case of rh9.0 there are
some serious issues associated with the transition to NPTL.  Given
RedHat's new policy on the standard redhat linux (bleeding edge churn);
standard RH will continue to be a source of varying degrees of instability
(by design; RH wants the $$$ for RHEL).  Not to mention the extremely
short window of time RedHat will support the standard RH.  SO all that
said; something needs to give: either you stay current with the RedHat
churn or you get creative with a different Linux solution.  For a do it
yourself cluster guru sticking with the RH churn may be acceptable, but
for a production cluster that isn't _really_ an option. 


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