[Beowulf] Windows cluster

rrankin r.rankin at qub.ac.uk
Mon Sep 12 01:15:18 PDT 2005

Mark, Brian,

Thanks for these contributions

We are indeed attempting to establish a campus grid and it makes a lot of
sense to consider the tools that are already in use


Ricky Rankin
Principal Analyst
Information Services
Queen's University Belfast
Tel: 02890 974824
Fax: 02890 335073
email: r.rankin at qub.ac.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian R Smith [mailto:brian at cypher.acomp.usf.edu] 
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2005 7:49 PM
To: Mark Hahn
Cc: rrankin; 'beowulf'
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Windows cluster

Mark is right to an extent, but I'd like to shamelessly plug our success
story for supporting multiple platforms.

All of our HPC equipment is linux-based or in some cases, Solaris based. 
Outside of that, we have established a grid for exactly the same purposes as
the starter of this thread using Condor and a large number of open-use lab
machines for a High-throughput solution. We've installed all of the typical
desktop apps like Maple, Matlab, Mathematica to the image maintained by the
lab director. After that, our responsibility in the matter is moot. We
manage the condor master host, which is a linux machine and the Windows lab
director manages all of the nodes. This prevents us from having to hire
windows administrators, as per Mark's argument, and allows us to fully
utilize those lab machines when they lie idle at night.

Cooperation between multiple groups can, at times, be very rewarding. 
Windows may be a no-go in the typical beowulf paradigm, but for a grid
solution to harvest unused cpu cycles, it happens to work quite well.

Perhaps Mr. Rankin could arrange something similar?


Mark Hahn wrote:

>>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
>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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