cluster fs

Walter B. Ligon III walt at
Thu Jul 13 08:59:28 PDT 2000


There is no such thing as "the best file system for clusters."  It depends
significantly on what you want to do with the file system.  There have been
a number of meetings aimed at identifying the "heavenly" file system that
does everything for everyone, and the result of those meetings is it does
not exist, and probably never will (due to highly conflicting requirements
from different user communities).

Without knowing what it is you are trying to do with your file system, anyone
giving you such advise is blowing smoke up your ass.  For you, the BEST file
system may be something as simple as NFS or may be something much, much more

So here are a few things to consider (NOT an exaustive list):

is this for permanent storage or for short to medium term temp storage?
is performance the overiding concern?
is availability the overiding concern?
is flexibility the overiding concern?
is security the overiding concern?
is protection from data loss the overiding concern?
is ease of implementation/management/update the overiding concern?
how many nodes are you trying to support?
how many users are you trying to support?
is this a Beowulf, or some other kind of cluster (is the network private,
	are the nodes dedicated, is it used primarily for parallel computing)?
are you free to select any hardware you want, or are you constrained?
is cost an overiding concern?
what kind of applications do you expect to be running and what kind of
	file access patterns will they exhibit?

Quite frankly a small cluster with a small number of users that run apps
that don't do alot of I/O and you want to use cheap (IDE) disks and you
don't want to spend a lot of time installing and maintaining the thing
might get away with using NFS just fine.  "Balls to the walls" performance
is probably PVFS (thought I AM biased on that).  Issues of availability and
protection against loss and multi-user file access and stuff probably would
lean toward a number of other approaches.

So, I'm sure this is NOT what you wanted to hear, but this is as close to the
truth as I can give you.  Hope it helps!


> Hello!
> Could you advice me - what is the best file system for clusters?
> If this cluster is homogeneous (Linux).
> Thank you
> Alexander
> _______________________________________________
> Beowulf mailing list
> Beowulf at

Dr. Walter B. Ligon III
Associate Professor
ECE Department
Clemson University

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