[Beowulf] Is Beowulf a standard?

Douglas Eadline deadline at eadline.org
Thu Mar 15 06:08:07 PDT 2007

Interesting question. The following is my opinion and may not
be shared by everyone. I think the best working definition was
given in the original book "How to Build a Beowulf" by Sterling,
Becker et al: (brackets are my additions)

 ".. a collection of personal computers [or servers] interconnected
  by widely available networking technology running anyone of several
  open source Unix-like operating systems [most likely Linux]. "

Beowulf is more of a concept than a project. And after hearing Tom
Sterling compare Open Source software to public utility standards,
I became convinced more than ever that there will never be a
"standard Beowulf" because everybody's needs are different. Beowulf
components are connected using publicly available open standards.
The concept has worked amazingly well and as I like to think has
created a paradigm shift where we are now designing machines around
problems and not fitting problems to machines.

Think of building a home without public electrical, plumbing
standards etc. It would be quite an expensive endeavor. Now
think at the other extreme if there was a standard home design
we all had to follow (like a standard Beowulf specification).
Beowulf is in the middle, we can build our homes (clusters)
to suite our needs. Certainly there are "reference
designs" and similar needs for clusters as there are for homes.
But, like all homes, clusters seem to evolve to the needs of
the owners.

You can read more about the history of Beowulf clusters at
following links.

historical perspective at Linux Magazine (reg required):
On-line Magazine:

And the collective wisdom of this list is always
ready to serve you -- just don't ask about programming
languages for at least 6 months :)


> Hi there,
> As as a newbie I have a question, "Is Beowulf a clustering standard?" if
> yes
> "What makes Beowulf a standard"
> As I read about Beowulf, it appeared to me as a method for starting Linux
> clustering, but some people call it a standard, I couldn't understand that
> what makes Beowulf a standard, so your help is appreciated
> thank you all
> !DSPAM:45f87298129171409419350!
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