[Beowulf] Any Experiences of dealing with Red Hat Technical support for RHEL on Clusters

Andrew M.A. Cater amacater at galactic.demon.co.uk
Wed Jun 29 12:15:01 PDT 2005

On Wed, Jun 29, 2005 at 02:15:30PM -0400, Andrew D. Fant wrote:
> Afternoon all,
>     I am under a certain amount of pressure to redesign a cluster I have
> built using a free Linux distribution to be based upon Red Hat
> Enterprise Linux.  One of the major drivers for this is supposedly
> having the Red Hat Technical Support to deal with problems.  I am
> curious if anyone on the list has built a cluster on top of RHEL (either
> using the "official" Red Hat way or layering their own tools) and if
> they would be willing to share their experiences of dealing with Red Hat
> Technical Support.  In particular, were they competent and helpful, or
> did they keep echoing back "I'm sorry, that is not a supported
> configuration. Do it our way" and make you fix whatever problem you had
> yourself.  I realize that commercial vendors need some degree of
> consistency in their configurations to make support viable, but I have
> also known entirely too many vendors who use it as an easy way to avoid
> actually providing service.

My experience is with IBM and Red Hat. They are supplying a dedicated
RH employee to help train sysadmins and sort out initial cluster
problems on a (small) prototype/trouble shooting cluster. Although a
very nice chap, he'd never heard of this list - he's their expert :(

Very definitely unimpressed by the breadth of libraries and applications
available in RH EL WS for clusters - lots of "developer" libraries just 
aren't there. The (large) cluster being planned should shake out a lot
:)  Thankfully, the developer and research community we have is very smart
and can adapt to anything. RH have "back ported" a GCC 3.4.3 compiler 
from RH ES 4 to RH ES 3 for us - they will do some work of this sort but 
apparently won't support patched kernels if we patch them without
first sending the patch to RH to supply back to us :(

RH 4 is O.K.'ish - DON'T USE THE GCC 4 it's a pre-alpha release snapshot
from 20041212.

Your mileage may very much vary - I'd stick with Debian myself, but I
may be a lone voice on this list. Certainly, I can get better and
quicker support on the Debian mailing lists from people I know than I 
can from RH. This list is the key support resource, however - the thread
on "how many admins to support a 1024 node cluster" has been most
instructive, for example.

Andy [Cater]
> Thanks,
> 	Andy
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