[Beowulf] help a newbie

Geoff Jacobs gdjacobs at gmail.com
Mon Jul 18 21:56:16 PDT 2005

rupinder bhangu wrote:

> hi
> I am Rupinder.I am a final year student.I have planned to work on the
> topic of Beowulf clusters during my six months training.I have also
> gone through some of the sites & the other stuff on the Internet to
> gather the basic info regarding beowulfs, because I had to convince my
> teachers for allowing me to work on this topic.Having done that job
> successfully, I would now like to have the help from the people who
> are experienced in this field. I am really a newbie in this field, but
> I want to do it. Could you please tell me where to start, how to work
> & the related help that you think would be useful for me?Could you
> also tell that whether a period of 6 months is adequate for a person
> like me to build a cluster with 3-4 nodes successfully?
> Thanks
> Rupinder Kaur
>Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at beowulf.org
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Depending on your skill level, you can possibly do this in a matter of
days. Your task involves three elements.

1) Hardware
Gather together, test, configure any hardware you need (including
2) System Software
OS installation, network shares configuration, passwordless ssh/rsh
configuration, any libraries you need for intercommunication (MPI, PVM,
OpenMosix patched kernel), routing, Batch system (not likely with a
small setup).
3) User Software
Learning API for intercommunication, building non-trivial program to
prove you are a cool parallel programmer (this is hard). Browny points
if you build a program relevant to the people evaluating you.

You can skip this step if you are working in genomics, or meteorology
(lots of free software in these areas), or can use pre-canned libraries
like ScaLAPACK, or if you have scads of money to buy Gaussian licenses
(and you like chemistry), etc. You get the idea. Lots of ifs.

Using something like ROCKS will simplify 2), and you can often trip
someone into helping you with 1). Unfortunately, 3) is something you
usually have to do yourself.

Geoffrey D. Jacobs

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