[Beowulf] Which distro for the cluster?

Andrew M.A. Cater amacater at galactic.demon.co.uk
Thu Dec 28 08:40:10 PST 2006

On Wed, Dec 27, 2006 at 06:46:25PM +0100, Chetoo Valux wrote:
> Dear all,
> As a Linux user I've worked with several distros as RedHat, SuSE, Debian and
> derivatives, and recently Gentoo.
> Now I face the challenge of building a HPC for scientific calculations, and
> I wonder which distro would suit me best. As a Gentoo user, I've recognised
> the power of customisation, optimisation and lightweight system, for
> instance my 4 years old laptop flies like a youngster, and some desktops
> too. So I thought about building the HPC nodes (8+1 master) with Gentoo ....

Don't use Gentoo unless you've a full, fast connection to the internet 
_AND_ you're prepared for your cluster to be internet connected while 
you build it. This IMHO.

Scientific calculations: Quantian? Debian. Debian for the number of math 
and other packages and the ease of install. Over 8 nodes, it should be 
relatively easy to set up. But it depends what you want to do, what 
other users want to do etc. etc. 

> But then it comes the administration and maintenance burden, which for me it
> should be the less, since my main task here is research ... so browsing the
> net I found Rocks Linux with plenty of clustering docs and administration
> tools & guidelines. I feel this should be the choice in my case, even if I
> sacrifice some computation efficiency.

Rocks / Warewulf perhaps. If you just want something you can 
build/update/maintain in your sleep, I'd still suggest Debian - if only 
because a _minimal_ install on the nodes is as small as you want it to 
be - and because it's fairly consistent. Your cluster - your choice but 
you may have to justify it to your co-workers.

> Any advice on this will be appreciated.
> Chetoo.

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