[Beowulf] portable clusters

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Wed Nov 30 10:27:45 PST 2005

On Wed, 30 Nov 2005, Jim Lux wrote:

> At 05:26 AM 11/30/2005, Jonathan J Smith wrote:
>> Maybe I'm missing something here. But TFTP and DHCP from windows is a 
>> fairly
>> simple task.
> In theory, yes, but go try searching the MS Knowledgebase for useful 
> information.  I'm sure it's there somewhere, but I haven't found it.  As rgb 
> pointed out, MS tends to hide the mechanics of remote boot beneath a handy 
> GUI.

I found decent information in books -- advanced books on running Win2K
server, in particular, that I got because I found myself in the position
of "having" to run a WinXX server for a brief while.  I have tried hard
to forget what I learned but it involved something like making entries
into ldap registries that were used as the basis for dhcp and associated
disk image entries.  Most of the "work" done setting it up was with the
high end server management tools for manipulating ldap.  There might
have been some aspects of it that were also associated with manipulating
registry entries (pretty dark and dangerous magic on a WinXX system) but
I'm not certain any more.  This is also distinct from MAKING a suitable
preloadable image and setting it up to be farmed out.

> It's also partly because the MS worldview puts functionality like this in the 
> hands of a "server", so it's not clear that XP or XPPro, for instance, would 
> have the functionality in a useful way.  The services/applications might 
> exist, they might even run (XP and Win2000 and W2003 aren't all that 
> different under the hood), but you might also need ten tons of other server 
> management dreck that's all comingled, and not possible for a mere mortal to 
> copy into the XP widget piecemeal.

No, you'd have to buy WinXX (current) server, almost certainly.  The
standalone versions do not have the components required to manage ldap,
the ldap-driven hooks into dhcp, the "tftp" part that provides the
images.  The real question is whether or not the process can be used to
provide an ARBITRARY bootable image or if the image "has to be Windows".
I confess I'm clueless about this, although if I haven't dumped my Win2K
server book in the garbage yet (I might have:-) I can look if you like.

IIRC ldap contains the data we would put into e.g. /etc/hosts, where it
is also used to drive dhcp.  Beyond that I'm hazy -- I didn't actually
DO this, only read about it long enough to realize that a) I "could" do
it, amazing dancing bears and all that; b) I really, really didn't want

>>  If that is all you need to support booting diskless compute
>> nodes then this should be a fairly trivial task.
> Indeed.. and if you know where MS hides dhcpd and tftpd (or their functions), 
> I'd love to know.

ldap, I'm pretty sure.  Or rather, in tools in the server edition
(Only! Get out that checkbook!) that use specific ldap tables to control
what they do with whom, as well as GUI tools that control the tools
themselves (e.g. turn them on or off) and do non-LDAP related

> Actually, having poked a bit at the other end of the problem (the "windows 
> only hardware interface") something else that comes up is Linux support for 
> USB controlled printer ports and the like, but that's a whole 'nother can of 
> worms.


Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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