[Beowulf] Definition of HPC

Max R. Dechantsreiter max at performancejones.com
Thu Apr 18 09:35:03 PDT 2013

On Thu, 18 Apr 2013, Nicholas M Glykos wrote:

> <snip>
>>> Running as root?  Yeah, its that bad.  Just say no.
>> Are you setting yourself up as arbiter of who should and
>> who should not run as root?  Please - respect those of us
>> who have the capabilities, experience, and juice to do so
>> (when cirumstances demand it).
> </snip>
> I think that what both Joe and Jim indirectly said is that capabilities
> and experience may not (and should not) suffice for granting root access
> to general users of a central facility shared by many people and
> departments. And to my mind this is good and healthy professionalism.
> The only people that should ever have the (unforgettable) experience of
> making mistakes as root with central facilities should be the appointed
> administrators, no one else. In the same way you wouldn't allow a general


> user to override the safety interlocks of an X-ray generator, you
> shouldn't allow root access to the general users of a shared computing
> facility.

I run my X-ray generator with all safety interlocks off -
personal responsibility are my watchwords.

Look, this is a malleable question whose answer depends on
formulation.  You posited "a central facility shared by
many people and departments" - sure, in that case it would
be a bad idea to hand out root password.  Still, there are
situations when actions requiring root privilege (I did not
say root password) might be required, and those on short
notice.  Most facilities run 24/7, but their sysadmins do
not; and in any event, they are either lacking in
understanding (or competence) or not comfortable acting
without first engaging in a formal meeting ("CYA").

It seems that some who decry the "nanny state" feel less
libertarian when it comes to cluster management and use.


> My twocents,
> Nicholas
> -- 
>            Nicholas M. Glykos, Department of Molecular Biology
>     and Genetics, Democritus University of Thrace, University Campus,
>  Dragana, 68100 Alexandroupolis, Greece, Tel/Fax (office) +302551030620,
>    Ext.77620, Tel (lab) +302551030615, http://utopia.duth.gr/~glykos/

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