[Beowulf] Which distro for the cluster?

Geoff Jacobs gdjacobs at gmail.com
Fri Dec 29 02:05:40 PST 2006

Chris Samuel wrote:
> On Friday 29 December 2006 04:24, Robert G. Brown wrote:
>> I'd be interested in comments to the contrary, but I suspect that Gentoo
>> is pretty close to the worst possible choice for a cluster base. Maybe
>> slackware is worse, I don't know.
> But think of the speed you could emerge applications with a large cluster, 
> distcc and ccache! :-)
> Then add on the hours of fun trying to track down a problem that's unique to 
> your cluster due to combinations of compiler quirks, library versions, kernel 
> bugs and application odditites..
>> I personally would suggest that you go with one of the mainstream,
>> reasonably well supported, package based distributions.  Centos, FC, RH,
>> SuSE, Debian/Ubuntu.
> I'd have to agree there.
>> I myself favor RH derived, rpm-based, 
>> yum-supported distros that can be installed by PXE/DHCP, kickstart, yum
>> from a repository server.  Installation of such a cluster on diskful
>> systems proceeds as follows:
> What I'd really like is for a kickstart compatible Debian/Ubuntu (but with 
> mixed 64/32 bit support for AMD64 systems). I know the Ubuntu folks started 
> on this [1], but I don't think they managed to get very far.
Here's a bare bones kickstart method (not Kickstart[tm] per se):

Regarding kickstart, among choices for pre-scripted installers it is one
of many. I personally favor the likes of SystemImager, even though it's
not quite in the same category (FAI is though, IMO). Even dd with netcat
is pretty powerful for homogeneous nodes.

Once you've chosen your distro based on experience/need, there are
usually a few ways to put it on your spindles.

> The sad fact of the matter is that often it's the ISV's and cluster management 
> tools that determine what choice of distro you have. :-(
> Yes, I know all about LSB but there are a grand total of 0 applications 
> certified for the current version (3.x) [2] and a grand total of 1 certified 
> application (though on 3 platforms) [3] over the total life of the LSB 
> standards. [4]
> To paraphrase the Blues Brothers:
>   ISV Vendor: Oh we got both kinds of Linux here, RHEL and SLES!
Here, here. Sometimes I feel like going after these clowns with a

> Bah humbug. :-)
> Chris

Geoffrey D. Jacobs

More information about the Beowulf mailing list