[Beowulf] A Good Linux Distribution to Start with?

Andrew M.A. Cater amacater at galactic.demon.co.uk
Sat Sep 18 02:19:39 PDT 2004

On Fri, Sep 17, 2004 at 12:20:12PM -0400, Camm Maguire wrote:
> Greetings!
> Tilman Koschnick <til at belleville.ch> writes:
> > 
> > Hi Richard,
> > 
> > I'm running Debian and Redhat on clusters, and much prefer Debian. I'd
> Ditto.  We've been using Debian on our commercial proprietary cluster
> for over five years and wouldn't run anything else.
Not to mention that the Debian Linux maintainers care about the stuff
they package and eat their own dog food.  Camm packages atlas and
other packages for Debian - I also owe him a debt of gratitude because
he took over LAM from me and packaged it properly so that it played
nicely with MPI :) There were long threads on this a few months back -
the bottom line is that (some of) the commercial distributions may
not include all the apps/libraries you need - so you'll end up hand
compiling/relying on someone's unofficial repository. (Some of) the
commercial distributions cost high licensing fees per node / have 
upgrade hell.


If you need a turnkey solution to run out of the box from a major vendor
like IBM/HP or you have a need for something right now and your needs
are well defined and met by a pre-existing package, you need to go with
what the vendor will support.  As noted elsewhere in the thread, some
vendors may be more flexible.  I run a (very) toy cluster at work on
Debian because it's a prototype for someone else already running Debian. 
The big cluster coming soon to a building near me will be a commercial 
off the shelf product running a different Linux - because it's
supported. I can support Debian on any size of cluster they want - but
they don't want it dependent on one employee, which is sad but sort of
understandable :)


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