shall we write our own? Re: [Beowulf] O'Reilly Clusters Book Review

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Fri Feb 25 16:25:37 PST 2005

On Fri, 25 Feb 2005, Ryan Sweet wrote:

> Glenn,
> I have also had a look at the new ORA cluster book, hoping that they had 
> learned their lesson, and had a similar reaction.  While I don't wish to 
> discredit M. Sloan, as writing any sort of book is always going to be a lot of 
> work and filled with compromise, I felt from the very beginning that the 
> community can do better.  After reading over your review, which, while 
> scathing, was entirely accurate, I feel resolved that the beowulf community 
> _should_ do better.
> Here's what I propose: let's make a " Guide to Linux Clustering", 
> or whatever the heck else you want to call it.   Let us outline, review, 
> improve, and comment on it here on this mailing list.  Here's the hard part - 
> lets also set a deadline, with realistic goals, and try to stick to it.  Lets 
> assign any publishing rights or other "details" like that to the FSF or Linux 
> Documentation Project.
> Robert Brown has already done a lot of work on such a book, and generously 
> made it freely available.  Maybe he is amenable to this being a starting 
> point?

Sure.  I periodically solicit help for such a project on the list --
this is the first time somebody has solicited me:-)

My experience is that it is really pretty difficult to get people to
actually contribute content.  However, I've already got a very decent
start going, I think, and as always if anybody wants to contribute
content (under the OPL it is published under) I will cheerily include
it, with attribution.

Based on Glenn's comments, I was actually feeling (once again) like I
ought to try to shake free enough time to do another full pass through
the content to bring it up to date and see if I can finish off some of
the missing chapters and -- possibly -- seek a paper publisher.  I want
to keep it online/free either way (and there are publishers out there
that are comfortable with this) but a lot of people want to own a paper
copy of stuff like this.  I get a lot of requests for a printable PDF
from people all over who found the html with google but missed the
online pdf images right next door...

> In any case, I would gladly provide hosting for something like this, and 
> coordinate the project, as well as edit or write content.
> There are many questions that arise:
>  	Most importantly - What should go in the book?
>  	In what order should these topics be covered?
>  	Should there be an attempt to have a common style?
>  	How (and how often) should it be revised?
>  	Does the book target new beowulf admins, seasoned experts, or both and 
> some in-between?
>  	Should mentioning vendors be allowed? What are the guidelines?
> and so on.
> Firstly, now that I've proposed the idea, I'll also start by volunteering to 
> write a chapter on diskless clustering.
> Second, please take this opportunity to tell me why this is a bad idea, and 
> while your at it send your comments on the questions above.

It isn't a bad idea, but I've had open requests for content on the list
for years now, so don't hold your breath.  My personal experience is
that if you want something written, you gotta write it yourself;-)


> regards,
> -Ryan

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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