[Beowulf] SLC3

Tim Mattox tmattox at gmail.com
Thu Jun 17 20:49:26 PDT 2004

On Thu, 17 Jun 2004 04:50:54 +0300, Eray Ozkural <exa at kablonet.com.tr> wrote:
> Which beowulf software solution makes it easiest to install a node from
> scratch? (Using magic floppy or netboot...) This is our most important
> criterion for a modest research cluster we will be soon building.

Have you considered using Warewulf?  http://warewulf-cluster.org/

It allows you to do what you ask, without actually installing a linux distro
on each node.  The nodes netboot (PXE or Etherboot) from a fresh RAM
disk image, supplied by a boot server.  It is easy to update the software
packages that are on the nodes by simply installing them on the boot server
in a chroot that we call a VNFS (Virtual Node File System).  After updating
the VNFS, a simple command rebuilds the RAM disk image, and then you
can reboot your cluster into the new version.

Warewulf is fairly agnostic as far as the underlying Linux distro that is used.
It is designed for distro's that use RPM and that have support for yum.
I know of successful installs of Warewulf on cAos-1, CentOS 3.1,
Mandrake 9.2, RedHat 7/8/9/Enterprise, and I'm sure there are others,
and I would presume it should work for SLC3.

As far as I know, Warewulf won't work for Debian or Gentoo at this time,
but it could be made to work.  It's fairly flexible.  On the other hand, we
know it would be harder to make Warewulf work with Slackware, due
to Slackware's older init-script setup, but I digress.

> Ideally, we want nodes that will be used for parallel programming research.
> And if we want to upgrade the software (like MPI libs, c libs, etc.), we want
> to do it real fast.
> What's the best bet?

I do parallel programming and systems research, and I'm switching all our
clusters to Warewulf whenever they need an upgrade.  I've updated a
package on the VNFS for our KASY0 cluster (128 nodes), rebooted the
cluster and was ready to go again in about 5 minutes.

Disclaimer:  I liked Warewulf so much I became a co-developer on the
project. :-)
Tim Mattox - tmattox at gmail dot com - http://homepage.mac.com/tmattox/

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