[Beowulf] Is Beowulf the right solution for my problem ?

John Bushnell bushnell at chem.ucsb.edu
Fri Apr 22 16:09:52 PDT 2005

On Fri, 22 Apr 2005, Robert G. Brown wrote:

> On Fri, 22 Apr 2005, Nicolas GUIOT wrote:


>> So the question is : is beowulf adapted to my needs, and if it's not,
>> do you know any available (free) solution for me ? (I've already heard
>> about Sun Grid Engine, but for "political" reasons....)
> What's political about SGE?  It's open source, and while it is also a
> bit of a PITA to build because of the way they package and distribute it
> it is in widespread usage in grid environments.  RPM packagings of it
> exist, as well (see e.g.
>  http://www.linux.duke.edu/~agrajag/RPMS/
> and maybe look at warewulf as well).  Other things to look into include
> Condor and OpenPBS.  PBS (in my mind) has more "politics" associated
> with it, as it has a really sucky license that requires "registration"

   But aren't most people really installing Torque (probably along with
the Maui scheduler) rather than OpenPBS these days?  No registration
required, and a much more active community than OpenPBS seemed to

> Condor, also, has a fairly sucky license and primary distribution site,
> but perhaps less so, as they no longer limit distribution (although they
> still require "registration").  Sun, on the other hand, just makes you
> read their license and click "accept", and even that's only for binaries
> -- the sources are in publically accessible CVS.

   SGE seems worthy of consideration from the brief playing around that
I've done with it.  We use Torque now because, well, it most closely
resembles OpenPBS, and NQS before that.

> But anyway, to address your other remarks yes, it sounds like you are de
> facto running a more generic compute cluster than a "beowulf" per se --
> something closer to a distributed parallel computer or Grid.  This may
> or may not matter -- a beowulf can run SGE (or other batch system) on a
> front end as easily as a NOW/COW cluster.  It's just a matter of which
> one is easiest for you to set up and administer. These days, with PXE
> and various automated linux install tools for both rpm and deb based
> linuces, installing a LAN-style cluster is very, very easy if you know
> what you're doing, and there is a lot of documentation to learn from if
> you don't.  OTOH things like Scyld reduce the level of expertise
> required to get going still further and provide human support -- for a
> fee.

   I like the "not matter" part :-)  I think people just like to say
"Beowulf" sometimes.  Figure out what you need and do that.

            - John


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