Is Boewulf what I need?

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Wed May 17 09:05:29 PDT 2000

On Tue, 16 May 2000, Javi Ortiz wrote:

> Hi,
> I'm new with Beowulf so I would like you help me to know if it is Beowulf
> what I need or another system's kind.
> Our need is no paralelization in the programs but distribution of the
> processes.
> We would like to access to a single system, but to have a lot of CPUs.
> We want that ...:
>         * ... a CPU run only one process while there are free CPUs.
>         * ... users don't need to worry about the distribution of their 
> processes.

You want a cluster, which can be but doesn't have to be a "true
beowulf".  The base software you want to look into is almost certainly
Mosix (  mosix provides just about precisely what you are
looking for.  So much so that it isn't worth giving much of a
description -- its whole reason for existence is to do just what you
need done.

The "cluster", by the way, can be a collection of user desktops (linux
is generally efficient enough to run a background process without
affecting interactive user response, provided only that the process
doesn't fill memory or engage in excessive I/O and block a channel).  If
your departmental or other LAN doesn't contain enough hosts to do all
the work you need done, just set up a pile of stripped, headless nodes
in a room and on the switch with the rest of your department or LAN.
They should probably be configured approximately like a "real beowulf"
except that they need not be isolated (beyond the switch) and of course
it sounds like you don't need PVM, MPI and all that.


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

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