[Beowulf] Security issues

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Fri Oct 24 10:09:29 EDT 2008

Carsten Aulbert wrote:
> Hi Jon
> Jon Aquilina wrote:
>> but why waste time sifting through all 26,000+ pkgs in the repos when u
>> can have a distro with repos focused on clustering pkgs?
> Because you might/will save time later when you hit user requests which
> want packages which are not pre-packaged in your cluster distro.

Allow me to expand on this.

Some distro packaged stuff is garbage, and broken.  Perl in RHEL4 and 
RHEL5 is notoriously bad (long discussions on this on a few other lists 
I lurk on).  The rational for keeping it bad is compatibility.  Which 
curiously leads to many developers building their own base tools trees.

Like the Rocks team does.

You can only trust the distro supplied tools so far.  Apache2 has 
greatly improved in RHEL, and Debian/Ubuntu as compared to Apache in 
RHEL.  Php is ancient, as is mysql, postgresql, etc.  On the HPC side, 
tools such as mount are so old you have to pull down the latest sources 
to get anything close to NFS over RDMA capability even in the mount 
command.  Of course the kernel in RHEL is a (sad) story unto its own.

The issue is that any cluster distribution based upon and base 
distribution inherits all of the underlying issues of the base.  And 
some of those issues are really pretty annoying.  In some cases, they 
are broken.

This is why we tend to prefer underlying-OS insensitive systems.  As 
long as the underlying OS works, we don't care what it is.  When it 
doesn't work, this is when we care, and have to figure out if the cost 
of making it work is worth the effort.  The cost is time in this case.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423 x121
fax  : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615
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