[Beowulf] Hypothetical Situation

John Hearns john.hearns at clustervision.com
Thu Jan 22 12:30:21 EST 2004

On Thu, 22 Jan 2004, Brent M. Clements wrote:

> We have a request by some of our research scientists to form a beowulf
> cluster that provides the following abilities:
> 1. It must be part of a shared computing facility controlled by a batch
> queuing system.
> 2. A normal user must be able to compile a customized kernel, then submit
> a job with a variable pointing to that kernel. The batch queuing system
> must then load that kernel onto the allocated nodes and reboot the nodes
> allocated.
> 2a. If the node doesn't come back up after rebooting, the job must be
> canceled and the node rebuilt automatically with a stable kernel/image.
> 3. When the job is finished, the node must be rebuilt automatically using
> a stable kernel/image.
> The admin's here have come up with a name for this:  "user
> provisioned os imaging". Our gut feeling is that this can be done but it
> will be a highly customized system. What is everyone's thoughts,
> experiences, etc etc concerning doing something like this?

I've always wondered if there is a place for UML (User Mode Linux) in
cluster or grid computing.
This might be an interesting area to apply it - though I admit  it would 
take effort.
If you are not familiar with the concept, UML allows Linux to be run in a 
virtual machine. SO the real machine can be running the standard distro.
The users get their own machine, and run it under their control.
So what they would have to do is cmpile up their own kernel, and UML 

On a more conventional Beowulf setup, what you would have to do is make a 
software image with the custom kernel. Reboot the machine, install that 
image. Run the job, change the image which should be installed on that 
node then reboot.
We support per-node chhsing of the software image to be installed,
and I'm sure lots of others do also.

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