[Beowulf] Setting up First Beowulf System: Recommendations re racking, linux flavour, and up to date books

Prentice Bisbal prentice at ias.edu
Thu Dec 11 07:00:45 PST 2008

arjuna wrote:

> I have four PCS that were cutting edge in their time over the past 5
> years. I am thinking of mounting them on a rack, connecting them with
> ethernet cables.
> I would summon your wide and deep experiences on the following:
> 1) Rack ideas, materials and warnings
> 2) Upto date classic Beowulfery books for  4 to 16 nodes
> 3) The right uptodate books on parrallel programming
> 4) Which flavour of linux is well adapted for beowulfery and has all the
> required tools standardly?
> Any online resources on getting the hardware aspect of it going, ie from
> the box to the rack...

3) There are two aspects to parallel programming: The concepts of
parallel programming, and using an actual programming language.

Personally, I recommend starting with the "why" and learning the theory
of parallel programming. It will make designing effective parallel
programs easier. I have these two parallel computing texbooks on my

Parallel Programming: Techniques and Applications Using Networked
Workstations and Parallel Computers (2nd Edition)
by Barry Wilkinson and Michael Allen

Introduction to Parallel Computing (2nd Edition) (Hardcover)
by Ananth Grama, George Karypis, Vipin Kumar,  Anshul Gupta

I haven't read either one cover to cover, but I have read portions, an
both are relatively easy to read. Most parallel programming is done
using MPI, so you might want to start there for actually writing
parallel programs. For that, this is a good book:

Parallel Programming With MPI (Paperback)
by Peter Pacheco

Again, I haven't read this one in it's entirety, more of a reference for
me, since I hardly actually do MPI programming as an admin. It's looks
very easy to read. I'd go so far as to say it's the "gold standard" on
this topic, since I've seen it recommended over and over again.

4) Any major Linux distro (Red Hat, SUSE, Debian, Ubuntu) will work
well. I use a rebuild of RHEL. Not sure which distros have all you need
right out of the box.


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