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

Nathan Moore nmoore at winona.edu
Tue May 23 13:04:24 PDT 2006


Just building a beowulf is in itself is a challenge - I'm impressed  
that you're thinking about getting one together.  As others have  
said, Beowulfs are only useful if you have a tough problem to work on  
(which also interests you).

My advice (as a physicist) is to find some problems that interest you  
and then try to tackle them with your Beowulf.  One way to do this is  
to see if your local library has either "Duelling Idiots" (P Nahin,  
ISBN 0691102864 ) or "The Computational Beauty of Nature" (G Flake,  
ISBN 0262561271).  Both are excellent introductions to computational  

I may get flamed for saying this - but computers will never take over  
the world - its the people who program the computers who might.   
Learn fortran90 (it'll take you 2 hours) and then get started in  

best of luck

Nathan Moore, PhD
Assistant Professor, Physics
Winona State University
nmoore at winona.edu

On May 23, 2006, at 2:06 PM, Jess Cannata wrote:

> Beowulf clusters (computational clusters) are much more useful if  
> you have a problem that needs a lot of processing power/time and  
> that can be broken apart either as a distributed or parallel job.  
> Molecular modeling, rendering, and protein/gene searching are some  
> good examples of this type of problem. There are other types of  
> clusters such as, high-availability web and database clusters that  
> serve different purposes than Beowulf clusters.
> Of course, I think that there is educational value to building a  
> test cluster even if you have no computationally intensive jobs to  
> run on it. It can definitely help you to better understand Linux  
> and its associated packages. And who knows, it might even get you  
> interested in parallel programming.
> Jess
> 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.
>> 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?
>> PS - if there is info about this that I obviously failed to find  
>> in my searches, please tell me so!
>> Thanks for your time!
>> --------------------------------------------------------------------- 
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