[Beowulf] Resources for starting a Beowulf Cluster (NFS Setup?)

Geoff Jacobs gdjacobs at gmail.com
Sat Jun 30 19:30:22 PDT 2007

Robert G. Brown wrote:
> On Wed, 20 Jun 2007, A Lenzo wrote:
>> Hello all,
>> I am new to Linux and need help with the setup of my Beowulf Cluster. 
>> Can
>> anyone suggest a few good resources?
>> Here is a description of my current hurdle: I have 1 master node and 2
>> slave
>> nodes.  For starters, I would like to be able to create a user account on
>> the master node and have it appear on the slave nodes.  I've figured out
>> that the first step is to copy over several files as follows:
>> /etc/group
>> /etc/passwd
>> /etc/shadow
>> And this lets me now log into any node with a given password, but the
>> home
>> directory of that given user does not carry over.
> I'd suggest getting a good book on Unix/Linux systems administration at
> your local friendly bookstore.  Most of this is standard stuff for
> managing any LAN, and the one by Nemeth, Snyder and Hein (Linux
> Administration Handbook) is likely as good as any.
> You want to:
>   a) NFS export your home directory from the master.  Basically this
> involves making an entry in /etc/exports (with PRECISELY the right
> format, sorry, RTMP) and doing chkconfig nfs on, /etc/init.d/nfs start.
> God willing and the crick don't rise, and after you turn off selinux
> completely and drive a stake through its heart and use
> system-config-security to enable at least NFS in addition to ssh, then
> with luck you'll be able to go to a node/client and do:
>   mount -t nfs master:/home /home
> (and add a suitable line to /etc/fstab to make this automagical on boot)
> and have it "just work".
>   b) There are two ways to handle the user account, password,
> /etc/hosts, and other system db synchronization.  For a tiny cluster
> with one or two users they are pretty much break even.  One is to do
> what you've done -- create e.g. /etc/[passwd,group,shadow,hosts] on the
> master and then rsync them to the nodes as root, taking care not to
> break them or you'll be booting them single user to clean them up or
> reinstalling them altogether!  When a new account is added, rerun the
> rsyncs.  You can even write a tiny script that will rsync exactly what
> is needed.  Or, you can learn to use NIS, which scales to a much larger
> (department/organization sized) enterprise and cluster with dozens or
> hundreds of user accounts.
> For that you'll NEED the systems administration book or one like it --
> NIS is not for the faint of heart.  I've done NIS management before, and
> know how to use it, but elect to go the other way for my home
> LAN/cluster because even 8-10 systems and 4-5 users are about break even
> compared to a judicious and infrequent set of rsyncs, and a cluster is
> even simpler in this regard.  FWIW, local (non-NIS) dbs are somewhat
> faster for certain classes of parallel operation although this is not
> generally a major issue for most code.
> Hope this helps,
>    rgb

What about integrating rsync into the password scripts? Fundamentally, I
don't trust NIS.

Geoffrey D. Jacobs

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