[Beowulf] newbie

Andrew M.A. Cater amacater at galactic.demon.co.uk
Tue Apr 21 00:08:54 PDT 2009

On Mon, Apr 20, 2009 at 03:53:18PM +0200, Tomislav Maric wrote:

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Welcome :)

Please try setting your mailer to send plain text rather than HTML 
formatted mail.

Otherwise the sort of thing you see above happens :)

Start small: be prepared for your electricity bills to rise sharply.
Pick up two or three of the cheapest second hand computers you can find 
- the sort of thing that your friends would throw out as too old. So 
long as they have Ethernet cards, they'll be fine. Buy a cheap four port 
Ethernet switch. Total expenditure: probably less than Euro 400.

[If you have money to spend: get four moderately expensive computers at 
750 - 1000 Euro each: they'll have fairly fast processors, RAM and 
gigabit network cards - ignore sound cards, graphics processors and so 
on :) Add Euro 250 worth of RAM to each one. You can always sell them 
again when you've finished.]

Install Linux on each computer: try and install the minimum necessary. 
Teach yourself the basics of networking, fault finding. Get it to the point 
where the machines can communicate with each other, you have 
passwordless login between them using SSH and that sort of thing.

Be prepared to reinstall Linux a few times: be prepared to start again 
if what you've done doesn't work - you'll waste time but you'll be 
learning valuable skills, not least because you'll be your own system 

Grab a notebook, read the list archives. When you come across something 
you need, note it down. Write a toy problem or two if it helps then run 
them on your "Beowulf".

Then look at what you really want and work towards it. Ask questions 
here - the regulars on the list are friendly, technically expert and the 
signal-noise ratio is high. In general, don't ask the list to do your 
college homework / first steps in programming / "I have an 
assignment on computer clusters: can you tell me all about 
Beowulfs and what they are good for" without 
showing some work first - though someone will probably step in and help 
with good grace anyway because its that sort of friendly list.

Have fun,


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