[Beowulf] Gentoo in the HPC environment

Gavin W. Burris bug at wharton.upenn.edu
Wed Jun 25 09:18:13 PDT 2014

On Wed 06/25/14 11:30AM -0400, Joe Landman wrote:
> More often than not, commercial and closed source
> applications are built and qualified (for support and guarantee of
> functionality) against several very specific OS and library versions.  It is
> rare, in my experience with this, that any of these are up-to-date versions
> of Red Hat or Red Hat derived distributions.

In my experience, Red Hat is often the first, if not the only, supported
OS for a commercial Linux application.  This is due to the
aforementioned lifecycle support and predictable ABI/API.

> one unsupported platform is as good as the other, with the caveat that one
> needs to pay attention to the ease of management as well as other things.

Walking the well trodden path provides ease of management.  I don't want
to deploy a custom OS stack and have to throw my hands in the air when I
hit a difficult bug that brings operations to a halt.  I like hardware
support.  I like talking to the systems engineers.  I have support on
both Red Hat and CentOS (SL too).  Deploying things like InfiniBand and
pNFS is easy and commercially supported with RHEL.

> This is why stateless machines, booting an instance with a particular OS for
> a particular job, is a *far* more reasonable and workable approach than

Stateless is cool, but I choose my battles.  Supporting multiple OS
platforms is not a reasonable use of my time.  If the other-OS
application really is the end-all-be-all, then maybe, in a VM.  I do
have to check out Docker.

> Err ... no.  The center of mass of the market has moved on to the faster

I'm saying that you shouldn't change the base OS and its APIs, but _do_
install the latest languages and applications in a modular way.
Win-win.  Programmers get to choose the latest tools, with a solid base
for those software builds, plus hardware support.

Gavin W. Burris
Senior Project Leader for Research Computing
The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania

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