[Beowulf] recommendations on ARM distro?

John Hearns John.Hearns at xma.co.uk
Mon May 16 18:11:13 PDT 2016

Glasgow University have a raspberry pi cluster in the Comp Sci department


Seems to be one at Southampton also:

From: Beowulf [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On Behalf Of Lux, Jim (337C)
Sent: 16 May 2016 18:43
To: Jonathan Aquilina <jaquilina at eagleeyet.net>; Carlos Linares Lopez <clinares at inf.uc3m.es>
Cc: beowulf at beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] recommendations on ARM distro?

Someone has done a fairly large (64 nodes) cluster of raspis.
Computationally, it’s not a great solution in a GFLOPS/Watt or GFLOPS/money sense.
OTOH, if you wanted to have a class assemble toy clusters, the hardware cost is fairly low.
I might choose a BeagleBone Black instead of a raspi, but that’s purely a personal preference – it took me less time to get my BBB up and running (<1 hr from opening the box) than the raspi (half a day, mostly trying to get a bootable image together in a Windows environment).

I think there is some significant pedagogical value in actually bringing up a cluster from scratch and dealing with sysadmin issues like assigning IP addresses, how you push software to the nodes, etc.

One problem with the “cheap and cheerful” boards is that the boards are easy, but you need power supplies, some sort of way to manage the hardware (although “spread out on the table top” is fine at first, but, please, get an ESD mat and wear a wrist strap…)

The other problem is getting visible output – you could spend more on displays, cables, KVM, than on the computers.

If you could find inexpensive $100 laptops, that might be a better starting point.  They have a keyboard, a display, a power supply, etc.  You can get recertified HP laptops for <$90 from newegg.

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you could use WiFi for the networking..

Jim Lux
(818)354-2075 (office)
(818)395-2714 (cell)

From: Beowulf [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On Behalf Of Jonathan Aquilina
Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2016 11:45 PM
To: Carlos Linares Lopez <clinares at inf.uc3m.es<mailto:clinares at inf.uc3m.es>>
Cc: beowulf at beowulf.org<mailto:beowulf at beowulf.org>
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] recommendations on ARM distro?

What is everyone's thoughts on raspi's for a cluster?

On 2016-05-12 21:58, Carlos Linares Lopez wrote:
My first e-mail in the list, ...something I finally understand! :)

I have a small cluster of 3 odroid u3 running Unbuntu 14.04 LTS (I do
have to update it these days to 16.04). I use condor and it works very

You can see a short demo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4QPX50u4rg

El 12/5/16 a las 21:09, C Bergström escribió:
On Fri, May 13, 2016 at 2:59 AM, Mark Hahn <hahn at mcmaster.ca<mailto:hahn at mcmaster.ca>> wrote:
Hi all,
we have a (tiny) experimental ARM box - based on Cavium ThunderX, but have
run into basic issues with distros (ie, ARM+ldap+ubuntu=fail).

If you're using ARM (on something bigger than a RPi), what distro are you
I don't have 1st hand experience with the combination you're
referencing above, but peanut gallery comments

1) I'd encourage you to retry the default Cavium provided OS - I
realize that the package manager may not be fun, but they have thus
far been good about software support for our needs

2) Fedora has put quite a bit of effort into their AArch64 distro
I'm happy to connect you to people @ARM or @Cavium which is likely a
better support channel for critical software like this.
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