[Beowulf] Can Beowulf with Linux run all the desktop applications

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Tue Feb 24 08:14:29 PST 2009

On Tue, 24 Feb 2009, Rajib Bandopadhyay wrote:

> Dear friends,
> Can Beowulf with Linux run all the desktop applications? Will they run
> faster?

Let's invert the question.  A linux user with a beowulf can run all the
desktop applications -- on their desktop, where they belong.  The
desktop in question might or might not reasonably be part of a cluster
computer, beowulf style or not, depending on what that cluster is doing
and intended/designed to do.

In general, however, they will not run faster.  In order for an
application to run faster, it has to be written to run in parallel, and
most desktop applications are not.

One exception to this is that in one very weak sense any SMP (multicore)
system is a "beowulf" or more generic cluster.  Multiple processors can
speed up desktop apps in one way -- by reducing contention for the CPU.
So if you are usually running several programs at once (including many
desktop programs) and they are blocking one another, running them on
many processors "can" speed them up.  But this almost never happens.


> Regards,
> Rajib Bandopadhyay

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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