[Beowulf] OS for 64 bit AMD

Chris Dagdigian dag at sonsorol.org
Thu Mar 31 15:35:33 EST 2005

Hi Jamie,

Leaving all distro related politics aside, the main reason for the 
widespread use of 'bloated' or commercial Linux distributions in 
clusters is the following:

(1) ISV support for commercial end user applications. In some industries 
it is not uncommon to have scientific or engineering application 
licenses that cost more than the cluster itself. These applications are 
often extremely powerful and extremely complex and place tremendous 
demands on the host system. In order to get the best, most useful, help 
out of the software vendor's product engineers one must usually be 
running on a limited subset of OS distributions supported by the vendor.

(2) Reducing the finger pointing loop when things go wrong in complex IT 
configurations. This has only happened to me once or twice but as an 
example: If I have to connect a cluster I/O node to an enterprise SAN 
fabric I'd rather my linux host OS be something that the SAN/FC switch 
vendor officially certifies and has qualified. The cost of the 
commercial Linux disto license is going to be far cheaper than the 
time/effort it would take to teach myself low level fibre channel 
transport and fabric debugging should things go wrong.

Again, just my $.02 -- it totally depends what kind of work you are 
doing on your cluster(s).


Jamie Rollins wrote:
> Any decent distro should support kernel 2.6 with amd64.  But can some one
> give me one good reason why you would use anything other than a
> streamlined distro like Debian?  Why pay for all the blote in something
> like redhat when your nodes are probably going to be running a single
> process anyway?
> jamie.
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