[Beowulf] Re: MS Cray

Tim Cutts tjrc at sanger.ac.uk
Thu Sep 18 01:42:21 PDT 2008

On 17 Sep 2008, at 9:27 pm, Lux, James P wrote:
> I think part of the problem in the Windows world is the incredible  
> diversity of applications (by which I include websites with  
> significant client side processing) that wind up being run on them.  
> Rich growth medium, lots of spontaneous mutations.
> When you get to large desktop rollouts, Windows can have fairly low  
> admin overhead, but it's done by restricting flexibility (e.g. SMS,  
> boot from the network, etc.) to reduce the nutritional value of the  
> growth medium.  If everyone boots the same image from the net,  
> applying a patch to 10,000 computers is trivial.  While such an  
> environment would probably make everyone on this list exceedingly  
> unhappy (I could guarantee there's no compiler of any kind in  
> it..you might get a JRE, and edit your source code in MSWord), it  
> would (and does) serve a huge number of folks in the business world  
> perfectly well.
> Windows in a development intensive, HPC environment, is going to be  
> admin expensive.

LanDESK allows us some considerable flexibility (although it's  
expensive software).  You can associate particular software packages  
with particular users (so that if they log into a machine which  
doesn't have that software installed, it happens automatically).  You  
can set up a self-service portal so that users can install particular  
packages which the sysadmin can support centrally, but which don't  
have to be installed everywhere.

Admittedly, this does mean that a sysadmin has to package up the  
various bits and pieces of software, but this isn't terribly difficult  
in most cases.  Coupled with the extra benefits that LanDESK provides  
(automatic application of security patches to both Windows and many  
common Windows applications, reporting of machines which are out of  
date, remote control for helping users, etc etc) it's quite a powerful  

It does cost, though.  We're maintaining about 800 Windows PC's and  
about 200 Macs with LanDESK, with one full time admin responsible for  

OB Beowulf:  LanDESK can also manage SLES and RHAS Linux boxes,  
Solaris boxes and AIX, amongst others, although I don't really see the  
point - it's fairly easy to automate administration of UNIX systems  


 The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is operated by Genome Research 
 Limited, a charity registered in England with number 1021457 and a 
 company registered in England with number 2742969, whose registered 
 office is 215 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE. 

More information about the Beowulf mailing list