[Beowulf] Gentoo in the HPC environment

Kilian Cavalotti kilian.cavalotti.work at gmail.com
Wed Jun 25 12:08:48 PDT 2014

On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 10:29 AM, Andrew M.A. Cater
<amacater at galactic.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> RHEL doesn't cut it for these people: they know that they want later
> GCC / different commercial compilers / hand written assembly -  a later
> kernel with a smarter scheduler ...
> SCL really doesn't work - it's stil not up to it.

One way to deal with this is to separate user applications from the
OS, as much as possible. And compilers could be considered as user
You can just use a very minimal OS on your compute nodes, then compile
and install all the user facing bits in a shared location. You hand an
environment modules system to the users and off they go. Systems such
as EasyBuild (https://hpcugent.github.io/easybuild/) aim to facilitate
this by allowing easy compilation and installation of scientific
software (based on descriptive specification files, à la Gentoo
ebuilds), including dependencies, and by automatically generating
environment modules.

This way, you don't really care what the underlying OS is. You can
have as many versions of GCC, Python, R, Perl, Ruby or anything
installed alongside each other with no side effect, as long as you
load the right module before running your job. It's like a
distro-agnostic ebuild system.

You can keep the distro the hardware vendor recommends to retain
support (for interconnect drivers, parallel filesystems and such)
while making your users happy with the newest versions of the software
they need^Wwant.


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