[Beowulf] query: aggregate cluster performance monitoring without multicast

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Fri Jan 9 14:58:01 EST 2004

On Fri, 9 Jan 2004, Lombard, David N wrote:

> By timescale, I assume you mean display time?  That's where the
> abstractions come in to play, and, for the all-at-once method, better
> output preparation, i.e., a single bit image over multiple images.  So,
> I'd suggest that the only thing you lose is live-update, which can be an
> issue, to be sure.

I don't think that we disagree, really.  I freely admit there are times
where a web view of a cluster is adequate and they certainly tend to be
very easy to understand.  It is really the quintessential Macintoad
tradeoff, epitomized in the epigrammatic "You can learn to use a Mac in
a day, then pay for that knowledge for the rest of your life" (anon).
Really, this applies to GUIs in general, not just Macs -- there are
certain things for which a GUI abstraction are really good for, but
often at the expense of speed, or power, or complexity.  

A command line interface and Unix itself are described as being "expert
friendly" -- difficult to learn, complex, but SO powerful once you do
learn them.  A GUI browser is very lovely for certain kids of browsing,
but if you want to move all the files in a directory with the glob
foo*.bar.?arian-[0-9]* into the trash, gimme a command line every time,
especially if there are a few thousand of them.  Still, try EXPLAINING
how to do that to a thirteen year old compared to saying "pick up the
file with the mouse and drag it into the trash, silly" and the virtue of
GUIs as well becomes clear.  Each has its place.

xmlsysd is designed to support both -- it is divorced from the display
mechanism entirely.  Connect to it, talk to it, ask it nicely, it spits
out xml-tagged anonymous data you might be interested in monitoring.  Do
whatever you like with this data -- present it via TTY, pipe it to a
file, graph it, whatever.  I invested my time in the tty interface THIS
time because I made the mistake of building a GUI interface first LAST
time with procstatd (xmlsysd's predecessor) and spent a year or two
later kicking myself for a variety of reasons.  The tty interface is
fast and information-dense, but has flaws as well (it is a pain to
rearrange and customize, for example).

If I ever have time, as I said, I'll write a better interface (and maybe
even two or three).  In the meantime, anyone who wants them sooner can
play through -- it is really pretty simple;-)


> -- 
> David N. Lombard   Sr. Staff Software Engineer   1.949.567.4843
> Parallel & Distributed Processing Division, Intel Corporation
> My comments represent my opinions, not those of Intel Corporation.

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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