[Beowulf] portable clusters

DGS dgs at gs.washington.edu
Tue Nov 29 22:36:08 PST 2005

On Tue, Nov 29, 2005 at 09:43:19PM -0800, Jim Lux wrote:
> At 09:26 PM 11/29/2005, Mark Hahn wrote:
> >> The goal here is to have a credible concept to improve the "system"
> >> performance by adding on a computatational element to an existing 
> >portable
> >> system that is Windows based without requiring any hardware changes to 
> >the
> >> windows system, or without requiring significant software mods to the
> >> windows system (i.e. running some new program is ok, running a windows
> >> emulator is not).
> >
> >this seems fairly quixotic to me, since you also seem to be planning on
> >some sort of small cluster of token (via, etc) processors.  it's rather
> >easy to imagine cases where a decent ruggedized 4x2 linux box would easily
> >outperform a 16x via cluster.
> Yep.. but you're still faced with the network boot issue, cluster or 
> no.  Actually, it appears that the real challenge isn't the "cluster" per 
> se, but the whole "diskless linux boot from Windows laptop" process.

How about a custom live CD with Warewulf?  Boot your laptop from the CD,
boot up your nodes, re-boot into Windows, and off you go.  The nodes need
DHCP, PXE, and "warewulfd" (modified HTTP server) at boot-up, but can 
stand-alone after that.  You'd probably have to make a new CD if you
want to modify the cluster.  After you've done that once, it shouldn't be
too hard to do again.

David S.

> >but in any case, what's the problem?  you know you can run dhcp and tftp
> >from windows,
> Actually, it's not real clear that one CAN run the dhcp server and tftp 
> server from regular old WinXP...
> >and it's not as if a PXE-booted linux box requires a "unixy"
> >root disk.
> Indeed, but when I asked the original question, it wasn't clear whether 
> there was an "easy" way to support the minimal functionality need to 
> respond to PXE in the laptop windows context. Still isn't clear that there 
> IS an *easy* way to do this.. Running DHCPD and TFTPD under VMWare, for 
> instance, isn't necessarily "easy", nor is running those under cygwin.  In 
> the latter case, I can see all sorts of peculiar interactions with the 
> other MS internet services running.
> >  with initrd, you don't need kernel nfs-root support, and could
> >certainly get by mounting a cifs share from the windows box.  heck, with a
> >specialized enough system, you could probably put _everything_ you need in
> >the initrd - no one says you have to do the normal init process, 
> >/etc/rc.d, etc.
> James Lux, P.E.
> Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
> Flight Communications Systems Section
> Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
> 4800 Oak Grove Drive
> Pasadena CA 91109
> tel: (818)354-2075
> fax: (818)393-6875
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