Beowulf & VMWare

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Wed Oct 30 14:17:55 PST 2002

On Wed, 30 Oct 2002, Donald Becker wrote:

> On Wed, 30 Oct 2002, Marquardt, Paul wrote:
> > The organization I work for has been toying with the idea of server
> > consolidation. 
> > 
> > One of the scenarios presented by the group was to build a Beowulf cluster
> > and use VMWare GSX Server to partition it. 
> Paul, I hope you read the list -- my direct email to you failed.
> > This solution seems to offer endless ideas of distributed processing and the
> > ability to run multiple operating systems on a large clustered platform.
> We've done that to a limited extent. The VM license was the main
> limit, and we didn't have a customer requirement spend more time on it.
> A more common thing to do is to run virtual cluster node in a VM-Ware
> virtual machine, which works very well.

There are two other things worth noting.  One is that grub provides a
limited, but much cheaper way of "toggling" a system between different
operating systems according to, say, a schedule (beowulf node by night,
windows workstation by day).  Similar grub-skills plus kickstart permit
remote automated node or WS reinstallations, so they are worth learning.

The second is that there are at least some people working on other GPL
solutions to this sort of problem (multiple use of compute resources).
One is a gradulate student here, Justin Moore, who has been working on a
very interesting OS loader variant that might one day form a very
elegant solution indeed to this sort of problem, to the extent that you
could authorize nighttime use of a desktop system by an arbitrary user
who could remotely boot to an arbitrary OS and mount or transfer
arbitrary file resources, all in a sandbox that isolates the local disk
and computer from the remote user and restores EXACTLY the usual desktop
environment when the remote usage terminates.

Pretty challenging, but basically clever software.  It should be
interesting to see what comes of these efforts.


> -- 
> Donald Becker				becker at
> Scyld Computing Corporation
> 410 Severn Ave. Suite 210		Scyld Beowulf cluster system
> Annapolis MD 21403			410-990-9993
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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

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