[Beowulf] noob understanding

Mark Hahn hahn at physics.mcmaster.ca
Fri May 19 12:28:16 PDT 2006

> 1. Is my understanding that you can process windows processes on a linux
> cluster correct? 

as others have said, sort-of/not-really/does-not-compute.

Linux is an OS; windows is another, largely incompatible OS.
Linux can, in some cases, emulate windows (wine, dosemu),
but this emulation is not universal or rock-solid because 
when the application makes a Windows OS call, the wine software
has to figure out a way to accomplish it using Linux OS calls.
since Windows is neither Open-Source nor well-documented,
there are lots of obscure behaviors which don't work right 
(where "right" means "as Windows does it").

however, this kind of native emulation is not the only way:
you can emulate the whole machine.  the benefit of this is that 
an OS's interface to the hardware is, in many ways, easier to 
get right than the application-OS interface.  VmWare and Xen are
examples of this approach.  inside the virtual machine, for instance,
VmWare runs a real (licensed) copy of Windows, and thus you can 
expect more complete/solid Windows behavior.

> enormously beneficial.  I think I understand that this is possible, and am
> interested more specifically in the scripting method to dump the job into
> the cluster from windows. 

I don't see why this wouldn't work fine:
	- you treat each render as a single job to the queueing
	system of your choice.
	- the job starts wine/xen/vmware with your windows rendering
	application inside.
	- you provide a decent cluster interconnect, mainly for file
	access, since all your jobs are serial.

I would start by trying to get your windows app to run as desired
as a single process inside wine/vmware/etc on a linux workstation.
doing a cluster of those with a scheduler is pretty easy.

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