[Beowulf] What can a HS student do with a small Beowulf?

Geoff Jacobs gdjacobs at gmail.com
Sun May 21 21:02:34 PDT 2006

sNAAPS eLYK wrote:
> Hello, I'm Kyle Spaans, finishing my last year of highschool in Northern
> Ontario, Canada, and I'm a budding Linux user. Also being a computer
> geek I've got lots of computers lying around my house. Since I'll soon
> have the summer ahead of me before heading off to Post-Secondary
> [uWaterloo], I've got one quick question.
> Hypothetically speaking, I manage to get a small number of computers
> together in a working cluster, but now what can I do with it?
> Folding at Home is my main computing hobby, but I already know what it
> won't take advantage in a cluster. I also don't do any kind of rendering
> or any large scale content creation, nor is writing computer programs a
> skill that I have.
I don't know about Folding at Home, but there are third party programs
which queue multiple work units for SETI*. You could write a simple
script to start multiple SETI runs on different machines, each working
on a stripe of work units, or use MOSIX** to do the dispatching for you.

> So, as far as I can see, hosting game servers or a few other kinds of
> servers [ventrilo, web, ftp, streaming media], and having a sense of
> pride in accomplishment are the only things that I'll get by building a
> beowulf cluster. Is this more or less true, or am I missing something?
Strictly speaking, a cluster hosting http is less a beowulf and more an
HA cluster. The actual architecture is often quite different.

> PS - if there is info about this that I obviously failed to find in my
> searches, please tell me so!
> Thanks for your time!
It looks like Waterloo is heavy on Java and Scheme in the first year of
CS. If that's your major (or minor), learning a bit of Java probably
wouldn't hurt. Java also has quite a bit of stuff for HPC if you get


Geoffrey D. Jacobs

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