[Beowulf] portable clusters

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Mon Nov 28 07:20:50 PST 2005

At 10:02 PM 11/27/2005, Joe Landman wrote:
>Hi Jim:
>   Have a look at warewulf.  I wonder if you could build some vnfs's into 
> cygwin, and host the PXE server, and a dhcp server.  You might be able to 
> use it to export file systems (set up warewulf to mount CIFS rather than 
> NFS).  If that fails, I have a working bit with dnsmasq for PXE serving 
> that works really well.  Haven't tried it under windows.

Hmm.. hadn't thought about cygwin and its ilk.

>   Note also that the windows firewall might get in the way.

That's turned off.. it's an isolated system

>   The CF stuff might be best though.  There are some adapters out there 
> that map IDE drive cables into flash drives.  Makes putting down a boot 
> drive pretty simple.  You would need a compact distribution though, or 
> one that had specific core components on the CF, and mounted the rest.
The CF approach is what I have been doing, but it does have some 
configuration management issues (i.e. when you want to roll out new 
software, you've got to make sure it's propagated to all the CFs.. right 
now, we do it with "sneaker net", but I suppose it could be done over the 
network after booting)

>   You can go to 2-4 GB CF/SD these days.  I have whittled SuSE down to 
> about 900 M install .  Could do the same for RH and others.  If you can 
> live with older kernels, look at DSL (Damn Small Linux).

Rafts of small Linuxes out there.. The one we're using was intended for 
embedded applications and uses busybox for the shell commands.

It's really the configuration  management thing I'm trying to get away 
from.  That, and having the cluster in a figurative "sealed box".

Actually, maybe the way to do it is to actually build the equivalent of a 
appliance firewall (but a bit smarter) into the cluster box.  A small mobo 
with CF that does the talking to the outside, manages the DHCP, etc. It 
might even manage the power for the rest of the cluster. 

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