[Beowulf] Windows cluster

Mark Hahn hahn at physics.mcmaster.ca
Fri Sep 9 21:04:17 PDT 2005

> Not wanting to get into the definition of what HPC is, we are looking to run
> both Linux and windows environments. The linux environments for our heavy
> HPC users and the Windows environment to try and encourage some of the other
> users to run applications on systems other than their desktop. In this way
> we would hope that they will then look at larger models and may then
> eventually migrate to the larger systems.

not to criticize, but I believe this is a serious mistake.
here, at least, we have tons of money for hardware, and damned little
for hiring people.  the idea of supporting two completely opposing 
environments would be a non-starter, just based on support effort.
especially since windows requires profoundly greater hand-holding.
not to mention that windows will cost something noticable in software 
licensing fees.

I'd recommend (and indeed, it's what I'm doing) instead basing the cluster
on linux and using web/samba/etc to make windows users more comfortable.

further, I think it's mistaken to "encourage" people off their desktops.
if they *can* stay on their desktop machines, EVERYONE is better off if 
they do.  remember, it's damn cheap to upgrade a desktop if it's a little
too slow.  if it's a lot too slow, people need to make a seriously big jump,
and they are much better doing it in an effective environment like *nix.
we want our users to think big - not some piddly ~4 times faster/bigger/finer
than their desktop, but multiple orders of magnitude.

regards, mark hahn.

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