Cluster Poll Results (tangent into OS choices)

Joe Landman landman at
Tue Nov 4 17:50:57 EST 2003

Andrew M.A. Cater wrote:

>There is a problem here: the sky is falling, and no-one is listening to 
>us :)

And I thought it was just a business sea change :0


>There may be an alternative which will guarantee you code freedom,
>won't charge for licenses in any event, won't bow to "commercial" 
>pressure and won't restrict your code use/re-use/modification/distribution.
>If you want an ultra stable platform to which you can freely contribute 
>code and which you can use for any purpose - try Debian "stable".  

There are interesting bits in debian.  I am not sure it is necessarily 
the right choice for clusters due to the specific lack of commercial 
support for cluster specific items such as Myrinet, and the other high 
speed interconnects.  Commercial compiler support for Debian (e.g. 
Intel, Absoft, et al) is largely non-existant as far as I know (please 
do correct me if I am wrong).  Few if any commercial applications are 
certified to work on Debian (Oracle, Legato, ....) and again, please 
correct me if I am wrong.

I simply don't see this as a universally viable alternative.  Debian 
does indeed have lots of nice technical things going for it.  Maybe I am 
missing some obvious point here.  I do know some people have built 
clusters using it, but a few clusters does not a clustering distribution 
make.  I believe someone at Cornell built Windows 2000 into a cluster.  
Doesn't make Win2k a clustering OS though.

The distribution matters less than the overall support for what you want 
to do with it.  I believe that it might be possible to build a Gentoo 
based cluster, though I would be concerned about the length of time for 
an OS load, among other things.  One of the hardest parts of a cluster 
is getting the OS on.  ROCKS, BioBrew (and I understand Warewulf) make 
this ridiculously easy.  Increasing the setup/management time, or making 
your life harder in general, doesn't make much sense.   There is a 
Knoppix variant that does clustering (OpenMosix style).  Not sure it is 
the best solution, but I would like to hear from anyone using it.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at
web  :
phone: +1 734 612 4615

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