[Beowulf] Personal Introduction & First Beowulf Cluster Question

Steve Herborn herborn at usna.edu
Mon Dec 8 08:12:15 PST 2008

Good day to the group.  I would like to make a brief introduction to myself
and raise my first question to the forum.


My name is Steve Herborn and I am a new employee at the United States Naval
Academy in the Advanced Research Computing group which supports the IT
systems used for faculty research.  Part of my responsibilities will be the
care & feeding of our Beowulf Cluster which is a commercially procured
Cluster from Aspen Systems.  It purchased & installed about four or five
years ago.  As delivered the system was originally configured with two Head
nodes each with 32 compute nodes.  One head node was running SUSE 9.x and
the other Head Node was running Scyld (version unknown) also with 32 compute
nodes.  While I don't know all of the history, apparently this system was
not very actively maintain and had numerous hardware & software issues, to
include losing the array on which Scyld was installed.  Prior to my arrival
a decision was made to reconfigure the system from having two different head
nodes running two different OS Distributions to one Head Node controlling
all 64 Compute Nodes.  In addition SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (10SP2)
(X86-64) was selected as the OS for all of the nodes.  


Now on to my question which will more then likely be the first of many.  In
the collective group wisdom what would be the most efficient & effective way
to "push" the SLES OS out to all of the compute nodes once it is fully
installed & configured on the Head Node.  In my research I've read about
various Cluster packages/distributions that have that capability built in,
such as ROCKS & OSCAR which appear to have the innate capability to do this
as well as some additional tools that would be very nice to use in managing
the system.  However, from my current research in appears that they do not
support SLES 10sp2 for the AMD 64-bit Architecture (although since I am so
new at this I could be wrong).  Are there any other "free" (money is always
an issue) products or methodologies I should be looking at to push the OS
out & help me manage the system?  It appears that a commercial product Moab
Cluster Builder will do everything I need & more, but I do not have the
funds to purchase a solution.  I also certainly do not want to perform a
manual OS install on all 64 Compute Nodes.


Thanks in advance for any & all help, advice, guidance, or pearls of wisdom
that you can provide this Neophyte.   Oh and please don't ask why SLES
10sp2, I've already been through that one with management.  It is what I
have been provided & will make work.



Steven A. Herborn

U.S. Naval Academy

Advanced Research Computing

410-293-6480 (Desk)

757-418-0505 (Cell)

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