[Beowulf] why we need cheap, open learning clusters

Skylar Thompson skylar.thompson at gmail.com
Sun May 12 11:50:04 PDT 2013

On 05/12/2013 10:55 AM, Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
> This is why I think things like ArduWulf or, more particularly 
> LittleFE, are valuable.  And it's also why nobody should start 
> packaging LittleFE clusters in an enclosure. Once all those mobos are 
> in a box with walls, it starts to discourage random and rapid 
> experimentation. If you put a littleFE in a sealed box with an 
> inventory tag and a "breaking this seal voids warranty" and the only 
> interface is the network jack or keyboard/monitor,  you might as well 
> put a modern multicore mobo in there and spin up VM instances.  In 
> this case, it's the very "assembled in a garage" kind of look that 
> prompts the willingness of someone to go in and make some unauthorized 
> changes, from which comes learning.

This is heartening to hear. As an aside, you might be interested to know 
that the original LittleFe actually wasn't an open-frame chassis. We hit 
upon the open-frame idea originally to reduce weight to the point where 
we weren't paying surcharges for overweight checked baggage. It so 
happens, though, that it's also an excellent educational tool, and 
engages non-CS people far more than the clusters that are behind thick 
glass windows or, even worse, aren't visible to the public at all.


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