David Bussenschutt d.bussenschutt at
Thu Oct 4 20:02:31 PDT 2001

Slight side-bar here, but I think it relates:

My chain of thought:

1) everyone agrees NIS works (even if it is arguable about the speed, 
reliability, security etc)
2) everyone agrees that it can/cause have problems in some situations - 
especially beowulf speed related ones.
3) the speed has to do with the synchronisation delays inherent in a 
bidirectional on-the-fly network daemon approach like NIS
4) many people prefer the files approach for speed/simplicity (ie to avoid 
problems in 3).
5) In a beowulf cluster, passwords shouldn't be changed on nodes, so a 
server push password system is all that's required -hence the files 
approach in 4).
6) why not have the best of both worlds?   What we need is a little daemon 
on the server that pushes the passwd/shadow/group/etc files to the clients 
over a ssh link whenever the respective file is modified on the server.
7) How I suggest implementing this:

The nieve/simple approach: 
set up the client so that root can ssh to them without a password (I 
suggest a ~/.ssh/authorisedkeys2 file amd a ~/.ssh/known_hosts2 file)
root crontab entries that run the following commands periodically (as 
often as you require - depending on how much password latency you can live 
# first client
/usr/bin/rsync -ae 'ssh -x' --rsync-path='/usr/bin' /etc/passwd 
root at client1
/usr/bin/rsync -ae 'ssh -x' --rsync-path='/usr/bin' /etc/shadow 
root at client1
/usr/bin/rsync -ae 'ssh -x' --rsync-path='/usr/bin' /etc/group 
root at client1
# second client
/usr/bin/rsync -ae 'ssh -x' --rsync-path='/usr/bin' /etc/passwd 
root at client2
/usr/bin/rsync -ae 'ssh -x' --rsync-path='/usr/bin' /etc/shadow 
root at client2
/usr/bin/rsync -ae 'ssh -x' --rsync-path='/usr/bin' /etc/group 
root at client2
# etc

The improved aproach (a perl program i just wrote - tell me what u think?


David Bussenschutt          Email: D.Bussenschutt at
Senior Computing Support Officer & Systems Administrator/Programmer
Location: Griffith University. Information Technology Services
           Brisbane Qld. Aust.  (TEN bldg. rm 1.33) Ph: (07)38757079

Donald Becker <becker at>
Sent by: beowulf-admin at
10/05/01 10:32 AM

        To:     Tim Carlson <tim.carlson at>
        cc:     Greg Lindahl <lindahl at>, beolist 
<beowulf at>
        Subject:        Re: NIS?

On Thu, 4 Oct 2001, Tim Carlson wrote:
> On Thu, 4 Oct 2001, Greg Lindahl wrote:
> > BTW, by slaves, do you mean "slave servers" or "clients"? There's a
> > big difference. Having lots of slave servers means a push takes a
> > while, but queries are uniformly fast.
> I meant clients.
> 1 master, 50 clients.
> The environment on the Sun side wasn't a cluster. 50 desktops.

Completely different cases.
 Workstation clients send a few requests to the NIS server at random 
 Cluster nodes will send a bunch of queries simultaneously.

> Never had complaints about authentication delays. I just haven't seen
> these huge NIS problems that everybody complains about.

The problems are not failures, just dropped and delayed responses.  A
user might not notice an occasional ten second delay.  When even trivial
cluster jobs took ten seconds, you'll notice.

> If you were running
> 1000 small jobs in a couple of minutes I could imagine having problems
> authenticating against any non-local mechanism.

Hmmm, a reasonable goal is running a small cluster-wide job every
second.  I suspect the NIS delays alone take longer than one second with
just a few nodes.

> Our current cluster builds use for clustering
> software. This system uses NIS.  I know it is odd to hear of any other
> system than Scyld on this list,  but we have had good luck with NPACI
> Rocks.

We don't discourage discussions about other _Beowulf_ systems on this
list.  We have thought extensively about the technical challenges
building and running clusters, and are more than willing to share our
experiences and solutions.

Donald Becker becker at
Scyld Computing Corporation                    
410 Severn Ave. Suite 210                                Second Generation 
Beowulf Clusters
Annapolis MD 21403 410-990-9993

Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at
To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: syncfiles
Type: application/octet-stream
Size: 3189 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>

More information about the Beowulf mailing list