WinNT/Linux hybrids?

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Mon Feb 26 12:01:20 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)?
> 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.
> Sure, it's far from optimal, but then, what separates theory from practice
> is that practice has all these warts and impracticalities but it does useful
> work.

<constructive comment>
It would be far, far simpler to just export a "results" directory to an
NT workstation on an outside network than to run NT on the head node
native and hybridize the cluster.

It would also be far cheaper -- human time is the most expensive single
resource and it would take a lot of it to make a true NT head node work
transparently with linux slave nodes without flakes.  Debugging problems
across two operating systems and subroutine library sets and TCP stacks
is not something I'd undertake lightly.
</constructive comment>


Finally, one does NOT have to get one's results into powerpoint, excel,
or word form.  I've managed for years to make do without any of the
three and published and presented all sorts of scientific work in the
meantime.  After all, Physical Review accepts latex submissions, for
good reason.

Itemizing, spreadsheets are a dime a dozen -- linux has some very good
ones.  I personally detest word processors in general for technical work
-- latex is far better -- and I REALLY hate Word.  WYSIWYG document
processors unleash an author's creativity to the point where they
produce terribly formatted documents because they didn't pay attention
back in 8th grade where they were supposed to learn all the rules for
correctly formatting documents.  Latex is designed so that you don't
HAVE to know how to format a document and you'll get correct and
consistent formatting every time.  You do have to learn latex, of
course...;-) Power Point shares some of the problems of word, some of
the problems of Excel -- if it is adequate for what you want to do with
it, fine, but I find that latex is also superior for laying out talks
and transparencies unless one is in marketing and sales and need cute
little colored triangles jotting across one's text.



Robert G. Brown	             
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at

More information about the Beowulf mailing list