WinNT/Linux hybrids?

Jag agrajag at
Mon Feb 26 10:38:21 PST 2001

On Mon, 26 Feb 2001, Jim Lux wrote:

> What would be the possibility of building a cluster using WinNT workstation
> (or NT server) on the head/worldly node and Linux on the (diskless) cluster
> nodes.  You'd use one of the many NT ssh or Xwindows servers to talk to the
> nodes.  Is it possible to netboot Linux from a NT server (what has to be
> running on NT to make this work)?

Hmm.. that's kinda impractical.  If you want to use something like MPI,
you need a binary that will run on all the slave nodes AND the head
node, and I don't see that happening with an NT/Linux combo.  I'm sure
that just about all of the beowulf solutions for getting processes to
communicate will have problems when NT is thrown into the mix.

> Why would one want to do this?  There is a huge installed base for
> powerpoint, excel and word, and eventually you have to get your  results
> into that form.  Also, you could start your cluster grinding on a lengthy
> task, effectively in the background, and continue using all the
> "institutionally supported" software (i.e. Office, Outlook, Project, etc.)
> in the foreground.

Ok, I think you're going in the wrong direction here.  A beowulf cluster
isn't meant to run things like office/outlook/etc.  What you want to do
is give the person an NT workstation that they can run those programs
on, then also give them a /seperate/ beowulf cluster.  They can then use
the ssh/etc tools you mentioned earlier for NT to communicate with the
head node.

A beowulf cluster is designed to be a compute powerhouse, and that NT
workstation is intended to do user interaction.  When you try to
combine those two, it takes away the effectiveness from both ends.

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