[Beowulf] cluster building advice?

Justin YUAN SHI shi at temple.edu
Mon Sep 17 07:37:12 PDT 2012

Hi Jeff:

In our experience, the answer should come from your users. They must
have some preferred systems that they do not even know they need. For
many scientists they typically start using some packages running on
Windows. If you build a Linux cluster, it would NOT help them much.
Even for people started with a Linux package, there are many
dependencies that can make your head spin :)

Maintaining these images can drive you crazy... This is not a threat,
it is for real.

One solution we have tried is to build a HPC cloud. The user is then
empowered to install and run whatever they want.

The drawback is that they have to be in charge of that VM. To some, it
is a challenge. But to many young researchers, they actually find that
fun. If any VM is not behaving, you can simply shut it down.

You can take a look at what we have done at

Hope this helps.


On Sun, Sep 16, 2012 at 5:52 PM, Jeffrey Rossiter
<jr082176 at scots.edinboro.edu> wrote:
> Hello everyone!
> I am getting started on a cluster building project at my university. We just
> replaced all of our lab machines so I am going to be using the old machines
> to rebuild our cluster. The intention is for the system to be used for
> scientific computation. I am trying to decide on a linux distribution to
> use. Does it matter all that much? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
> Book suggestions would help too. I am waiting to receive Building Clustered
> Linux Systems by Robert W. Lucke but my advisor for the project is concerned
> that it may be out of date for what we are doing. Please share your ideas.
> Thanks!
> -Jeffrey Rossiter
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