Is that a Cluster in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

BCCD is one great clustering solution

High Performance Computing (HPC) is equal in coolness as your friends seeing you growlin' and prowlin' on a raked and piped out Harley on a summer day. To prepare for my CodeCave Spring cleaning session, I started looking at which servers/workstations I can put into my ever growing Beowulf cluster which has been named "Domo-kun" by my kids because it looks like a turd with teeth It certainly looks totally homemade because I pull out the motherboards and have them suspended on a steel rods in my server rack with the power supplies on one shelf and disks on another with ribbon cable all over. I put a laserpod behind it and wired it in so when I turn the cluster on it fires up as well. Non IT folks believe that alone adds 1000 more teraflops plus ups my weird neighbor factor by approx 34%. I fell in love with clustering in my early VAX/VMS "Members Only" jacket days. I was just amazed at the incredible durability of those clusters. Needless to say the Windows and *Nix HPC clustering options is like eating a plate boogers covered in warm mayo to a VAX/VMS geek. The Windows stuff still blows and is really more of a clusterf@$% then anything else. Linux has breathed life into clustering with Beowulf since the early 2000's. If you are looking to build out a Beowulf cluster, there are some books out there but honestly, they suck worse then a beer-less, football-less Tofu Thanksgiving Supper with your in-laws. Your best resource is an article wrote by Robert Brown in 2004. save your cash for new fishin' baits. There have been a few times in my career while I was huffing and puffing all over God's world that a cluster would come in handy on the road. Sometimes to showoff and other times to crack password files before rainbow tables really started getting good. By the way, check out these new improvements in rainbow table speed (YOWZA!) Sure I could ftp files up to my home system and kick off a process, but how fun is that? A cluster on the fly is what I need here. In walks a fantastic solution called; Bootable Cluster CD (BCCD) BCCD is simply what it says. It is a bootable ISO that is preconfig'ed HPC clustering software. It clocks in at around 700Meg, has a solid community behind it and is updated regularly. The code jockey's at BCC wanted to be able to walk into ANY department with Intel based machines and have a parallel, distributed compute grid up and going. Simplicity is the key here. - Put in the CD - Boot the system - Follow the simple on screen menu option - Remove CD - Go to next machine, lather, rinse, repeat... Now the really cool thing about this is that since it is an ISO, it allows me to build out a non-destructive cluster right on the spot without trashing out the machine. I have built BCCD clusters with both PC, Mac's and even laptops with VMware without any problem at all...well, I did have issues with machines that had i810 video chipsets in the early versions based on GAR but now with version 3.0 based on Debian, I have not those issues any longer. You do need a DNS server and DHCP server up and going. BCCD can provide these services, but I find it works faster and saves RAM resources if you have an external one up and ready to go. But it's your call. Like any good ISO, you do have the option of installing BCCD on your hard drive and running a diskless cluster environment. Many network admins like this option since you are limited by RAM size as to how much data you can store in LiveCD mode. No problem with a few software packages, but they add up fast once you realize the serious honkin' horsepower at your fingertips. Once installed, the BCCD system will be the cluster head node, and boot other systems on the network to BCCD. Like Knoppix and Slax; BCCD uses the stable AUFS file system, which I believe is also faster then other FS options. Cluster nodes share the master node's root file system but each maintain a copy of changes to that file system as well. BCCD works great! It is about a turn key as you can get to firing up a HPC in your lab or anywhere on the spot. I have a friend (really, I do!) that works at a chemical lab and was going to get rid of a few older machines. I showed him how to use BCCD to build an HPC in his house to run his modeling sims based on PVM (parallel virtual machines) and he was floored at his gains and computing power. If your a hobbyist, educator, engineer or whatever and want to build out a cluster, you can certainly use Beowulf, OSCAR, Rocks, ClusterKnoppix hey even VMS folks find pure BLISS at I think if you give BCCD a try you'll be as hooked as the fish I hope to catch this year...Hmmmm...I wonder if I can code up a parallel app to help me catch more Bass... Jimmy Ray Purser Trivia File Transfer Protocol The calmest place on Earth is on top of an icy plateau in Antarctica known as Ridge A, several hundred miles from the South Pole. It is so still that stars do not twinkle in the sky because there is no turbulence in the atmosphere to distort the light.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022