[Beowulf] RE: portable clusters

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Thu Dec 1 06:53:58 PST 2005

Why not flip this around.  Run linux everywhere, including the laptop. 
Run vmware for windows, put the windows portion in its own VM.  Solves 
most of the problems, unless you have dedicated hardware access 
(specific hardware drivers that must go through windows, and will not 
work with linux/vmware).  Then you could do the warewulf on the tiny 
computer units, though you will want enough ram.  Wouldn't need to load 
OSes, so you wouldn't need per node disks.  Just the laptop.

Would this work?

Robert G. Brown wrote:
> On Wed, 30 Nov 2005, Jim Lux wrote:
>> At 12:40 PM 11/30/2005, David Mathog wrote:
>>> Since you have to reboot the laptops by hand anyway how much more
>>> work would it be to slap a CD in each drive at the same time?
>> I think you've misunderstood the desired overall configuration.
>> There's only one laptop in the system, as I envision it.  The cluster 
>> is a sealed box, connected by a "wire" (e.g. a network cable) to the 
>> one laptop, which runs Windows XP.  There's one "Big red switch" on 
>> the cluster box that turns it on and off.   (well.. you might want a 
>> few switches.. one for power, and one for reset, although, with 
>> diskless nodes, it's not clear that power cycling isn't as good a way 
>> as any to reset the nodes)
> So run the server addition of Windows XP, presuming that it exists, or
> Win2K server if not, on the laptop.  Microsoft does not make it easy, or
> even possible, to run a desktop OS as a server as that would keep them
> from making the extra $500 or so they get for a server license.
> To REALLY appreciate the turn of this screw you have to read about the
> 20 or so systems they claim one can support per server before
> performance degrades, and about the "client access licenses" one has to
> buy.
> Two final alternatives (browsing the MS Server sites, including their
> simply lovely collection of white papers "proving" that Windows servers
> are more secure and have lower TCO than linux server:-) is this:
> http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/evaluation/vsoverview.mspx 
> This is basically vmware AFAICT on the Windows side -- you can run linux
> as a task under Windows.  MAYBE you can give linux control over dhcp and
> tftp, in which case you're done on any laptop with about 10 GB free
> space for linux itself and a warewulf image.  Performance might suck if
> the nodes are constantly whonking on the server for pages, but if they
> are memory rich they'll probably load up cache and go for many/most
> jobs that fit.
> Then there is the other way around -- boot linux.  Run Win XP in vmware.
> The linux side can DEFINITELY support the pxe booting of a warewulf
> image; vmware can almost certainly support your WinXP session at a
> performance level adequate to manage an interactive session.  If you
> want to CONTROL the cluster from the WinXX side, well, you'll probably
> have to do some coding, but that's only to be expected given that this
> whole thing is more than a bit of a hack (it is a whole lot easier and
> saner to just run linux on the laptop to boot AND run the cluster and
> not run Windows at all).  SOMEWHERE you'll have to provide glue and
> migration to WinXX if a design criterion really is to eventually put
> stuff into WinXX file formats or onto Windows boxes for processing with
> its "advanced" tools.  You can still choose whether or not to make this
> translation occur before or after the laptop.  It is trivial to make the
> laptop a Windows server (samba) so that the DATA space it provides to
> the nodes is also exported to a WinXX network.  vmware will likely
> permit that space to be hermaphroditically remounted within the laptop
> itself in separate interactive sessions.
> Both of these solutions will cost money, of course, but hey, tanstaafl.
>    rgb
>> i.e. there's no CD ROM drive on the cluster nodes.. they boot off the 
>> net.
>> James Lux, P.E.
>> Spacecraft Radio Frequency Subsystems Group
>> Flight Communications Systems Section
>> Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mail Stop 161-213
>> 4800 Oak Grove Drive
>> Pasadena CA 91109
>> tel: (818)354-2075
>> fax: (818)393-6875
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Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423
fax  : +1 734 786 8452
cell : +1 734 612 4615

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