[Beowulf] [AMD64] Gentoo or Fedora

Michael Jinks mjinks at uchicago.edu
Mon Aug 27 12:13:52 PDT 2007

On Fri, Aug 24, 2007 at 10:10:43AM -0500, Juan Camilo Hernandez wrote:
> I want to ask what kind of experiencies do you has in the
> implementation of a beowulf cluster (using Gentoo or Fedora in AMD64
> architectures) for metheorological applications and wich one of the
> distros do you recommend me.

I can't say anything about meteorological applications specifically, but
we run a lot of Gentoo machines, and I wanted to respond to the common
"Gentoo takes too long to build" perception.

It was very helpful for me to read -- in an article that I can no longer
track down -- that it's not precisely correct to think of Gentoo as a
distribution.  Rather, it's a set of tools and a software index which
provide the opportunity to create one's own distribution.  The article
I can't find used the expresson "meta-distribution".  When you install
a system built from Gentoo, whether you realize it or not, you create a
"fork" of the main distribution, with your local decisions about
build-time options, package choices, and so forth.  Once your first
system is built, you have the option of distributing its built packages
to (potentially very many) similar systems.  For some large networks,
the advantages that Gentoo allows in terms of control and system usage
outweigh by far the up-front costs of compiling packages.

I'm not evangelizing; Gentoo might not be the right tool for you.  But
on a list like this, where we tend to think in terms of large networks
of similarly-configured machines, the "source-only" aspect of Gentoo is,
I think, a pretty minor point to base the choice on.


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