[Beowulf] SC13 wrapup, please post your own

Adam DeConinck ajdecon at ajdecon.org
Sat Nov 23 12:44:51 PST 2013

Hash: SHA512

> 14) Quality of talks/BOFs: I've heard from many sources that the talks 
> and BOFs were great.  I miss having time to attend them, but will push 
> for this next year.  The admin BOFs seem to be strongly in demand.

There were definitely a few really good admin-oriented BOFs, though I'd
love to see more love for admin topics at the conference in general. A
few of my favorite sessions included:

* "Getting Scientific Software Installed: Tools & Best Practices"

BoF web page:

This BoF covered a few tools for building and managing software on
compute clusters, including Robert McLay's excellent Lmod tool [0] (a
better implementation of environment modules), EasyBuild [1] (automates
software builds and auto-generates Modulefiles), and Hashdist [2] which
also automates software builds and seems more oriented to dev
workstations than clusters.

The BoF also included a live survey of the Bof participants on 
software management practices on clusters (results [3]), which I 
thought was very interesting.

[0] Lmod: https://github.com/TACC/Lmod
[1] EasyBuild: https://github.com/hpcugent/easybuild
[2] Hashdist: https://github.com/hashdist/hashdist
[3] Software management survey:

* "Trends in Small HPC Center Management"

This is one of my favorite BoFs every year, as you get to see what the
campus-scale and other "small" HPC sites are doing on a variety of
topics. They send out a survey to past years' participants every year
and show the results at the BoF; this year can be found at [4]. The
discussion was also a lot of fun, with a lot of discussion of job
schedulers and all the pain they cause...

[4] Small-HPC 2013 survey results deck: http://bit.ly/18xhFoc

* "HPC Systems Engineering and Administration"

This felt like the flagship sysadmin BoF to me. Unfortunately I ended up 
distracted during the second half due to some unhappy user emails from back 
home, but I remember some very interesting discussion about monitoring 
systems, provisioning, and configuration management. I've got a long new
list of software to play with when I get some spare time... ;-)

There was also some good discussion of the fact that we need more
system administration and engineering coverage at Supercomputing, and
about how hard it is to find talent (!) and connect with others in the
field. There's a new "sc-admin" mailing list [5] which was collecting
signups, and while there isn't anything there yet, it might also be of
interest to folks on this list.

[5] http://isaac.lsu.edu/mailman/listinfo/sc-admin

Those were some of the highlights I remember, but I recognized some
other Beowulfers at these and other BoFs. Anyone else want to chime in,
or tell me about something I missed? :)


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