[Beowulf] "Part-time" beowulf clusters

Chris Dagdigian dag at sonsorol.org
Thu Sep 22 09:58:18 PDT 2005

The concept you mention has already been implemented as you guessed.

I'm most familiar with how this is done using grid engine - grid  
engine has "calendar" based scheduling features such that you could  
control access to a machine, workstation or server based on time of  
day, day of week etc. This would allow you to make use of a computer  
lab after hours for instance. Grid Engine also understands the  
concept of "idle" machines and can disallow access to a workstation  
if it becomes apparent that it is "in use" by someone already.  Very  
easy to do if the machines are Linux or Apple OS X.

All of the common distributed resource management software suites  
(Platform LSF, Grid Engine, PBS, Torque, etc.) can do this easily if  
the machines are unix based and sitting on the same subnet. Things  
get more complicated as the network architecture gets more involved,  
particularly if you have to jump firewalls or other administrative  
domains.  Some people even have desktop machines running windows  
during the day that are configured to reboot into Linux overnight for  
use as cluster resources.

In Windows environments where you are able to code to a special API  
there are software grid infrastructure products from companies like  

I've read about people using condor to get true "spare cycle  
harvesting" from desktops scattered all over the place but I don't  
recall ever seeing condor used outside of an academic or university  
setting and my personal experience is more with LSF and Grid Engine.

If you develop your concept further regarding the machines you have  
available, what OS they run and how they are connected from a network  
perspective there are people on this list who can give you excellent  
advice about software tools and techniques to consider.


On Sep 21, 2005, at 6:02 PM, Paulo Ferreira de Sousa wrote:

> Hello all,
> I would like to know information about "part-time" clusters (I don't
> know if there's a specific name for it).
> The concept I'm thinking, and that I'm sure is implemented already
> somewhere, is to use PC's that only are used during daytime, to run
> code during night time. A good example is to use the PC's from a
> computer lab at any school, connect them to a switch, and use them as
> a cluster when they're idle.
> Thank you very much in advance.
> Paulo
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