Company computer utilization?

Henderson, TL Todd Todd_Henderson at
Wed Jul 17 07:19:03 PDT 2002

Thanks for all the input.  I'm going to try some things on a volunteer basis
that requires some user input, basically a reboot.  That way there is no
problem with an automatic reboot interupting someone.  Instead of logging
off at night, they'll just select restart, and I'm going to provide a Scyld
floppy to be used for the reboot and see how that works out.

Several have mentioned condor.  The problem with that is the code I'm using
is compiled for Linux and all the boxes are windows, so I don't think condor
will do much for me(at least on the fundamental issue of getting the boxes
to linux in the first place) unless I recompile for windows, which is very
low on my options.

Obviously, as someone mentioned, having the whole company use Linux for
their OS would be the easiest, but I don't think there is a chance of that,
even remote unfortunately.

thanks again,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Donald Becker [mailto:becker at]
> Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2002 5:48 PM
> To: Mark Hartner
> Cc: Henderson, TL Todd; 'beowulf at'
> Subject: Re: Company computer utilization?
> On Tue, 16 Jul 2002, Mark Hartner wrote:
> > > this, except I need or at least prefer them to be linux.  
> Therefore, we need
> > > a way to auto reboot the boxes at some time in the 
> evening to linux and then
> > > back to windows in the morning.
> As several postings have pointed out, there is software that 
> handles the
> reboot scheduling and alternating between systems.
> >  One of our IT folks is already working on
> > 
> > You may want to take a look at GRUB. Newer versions of GRUB can do a
> > network boot (for some subset of network cards),
> Not quite.  GRUB has support for the 'netboot/etherboot' 
> system, so the
> you must first have 'netboot' support for the network adapter 
> you are using.
> [[ I don't see a compelling reason to make GRUB and netboot depend on
> each other, but... ]]
> > so you could just put your linux kernel and initrd our on a tftp
> > server and boot into linux without having to install 
> anything local to
> > the PC's.
> Errrm, exactly the same as having a network boot ROM.
> > I have done this before using a floppy.
> Yes, using a floppy is the way to avoid needing a disk partition or
> network boot.
> Our boot floppy accomplishes the same thing.  We use Two Kernel Monte
> ("TKM"), developed here at Scyld, to switch from the kernel on the
> floppy to the final kernel.
> Here are the tradeoffs:
>  Using 'GRUB' and netboot
>    - avoids the need for TKM,
>    - limited choice of network device drivers and
>    - you will encounter the TFTP reliability problems with 
> >20 machines
>      booting at once (a problem with clusters, but not typical TFTP
>  With Scyld Beoboot and TKM
>    - You may need an updated TKM for BIOS and OS changes.
>    - All Linux network device drivers are available
>     (If it's not supported, you won't be able to use it in 
> the cluster anyway)
>    - Choice of protocols to download the stage 2 image.
> > > anyone has any ideas/suggestions, etc. I'd appreciate it. 
>  It has to be
> > > automatic because most of the users would probably not do 
> anything as simple
> > > as reboot their computer when they go home.
> > 
> > Then they probably would not do something as simple as "save their
> > work" before they go home either.
> That's a serious problem for off-hours clustering.  A headless compute
> node is significantly less expensive than one day's lost work.
> -- 
> Donald Becker				becker at
> Scyld Computing Corporation
> 410 Severn Ave. Suite 210		Second Generation 
> Beowulf Clusters
> Annapolis MD 21403			410-990-9993

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