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triviawiz425 05-14-2007 08:02 PM

Best Way to Cluster with Debian?
I have about six Pentium IIIs sitting around at my house, and I can't think of anything better to do with them than cluster and have them fold.

Herein lies the problem: I have no idea how. I found the Debian Cluster Components page, but there are no source downloads, and the .deb packages in their repositories don't work with Etch.

Can someone point me to a good clustering guide or give me some help?


Dutch Master 05-15-2007 01:10 PM

Just a few links I've found googling: debian clustering howto Google found 1,240,000 hits in 0.11 sec. ;)

IsaacKuo 05-15-2007 01:42 PM

If all you want to do with the is Folding@Home, then you don't need to do anything special to them to "cluster" them. Just do a bunch of normal Debian installs and install Folding@Home on each of them.

On the other hand, you have a great opportunity to learn how to do all sorts of "cool" stuff with the spare computers, ranging from X terminals to diskless netbooting to silent computing.

A Pentium III will make for a really slick X terminal, and it's easy to try it out. On a fast computer, just use gdm's GUI configuration to allow remote logins (i.e. set the remote login theme to "same as local"). You'll need to restart gdm to get the remote login server to "take". Then, on the slow Pentium III, select the remote XDMCP chooser from gdm. Voila! You get to log in remotely to the fast computer.

So what good is an X terminal? Well, you can turn it into a silent computer by removing the CPU fan and rewiring the PSU fan to be undervolted at 5v. Get rid of the hard drive by learning how to do diskless netbooting, and you can use your computer in blissful peace and quiet. My experience with simply removing those noisy CPU fans on Pentium III's has been entirely positive. You get rid of a LOT of noise. With six systems to play with, you'll probably be more willing to risk doing crazy things with your hardware.

Another fun thing to play around with is multihead and multiseat. Do you know what kind of video cards are in those computers, if any? If they have PCI video cards, then you can put several of them in one computer for a multi-monitor configuration. With USB keyboards and USB or serial mice, you can even set up a multi-seat computer (it looks and feels like multiple computers, but all the keyboards, mice, and monitors are attached to just one computer).

I found figuring out diskless netbooting to be a rewarding experience. It was NOT trivial, but it wasn't frustratingly impossible either. With Pentium III computers, you'll probably need a PXE boot floppy. Not all boot floppies are Linux compatable. The ROM-O-MATIC ones are NOT. The second web site I tried had a working "universal" boot floppy.

ErrorBound 05-16-2007 09:55 PM

OpenMosix is a good project, and you don't need to recompile software specially to run on it. It will automatically migrate processes across the network to the least-utilised node. You'll have to use a 2.4 series kernel though, as the 2.6 series patches have been "almost beta" for about three eternities now.

cecilia53 03-16-2008 03:33 PM

Debian Walkthrough
This reply is late but in case others are also looking for help... There is a Debian cluster walkthrough at It covers how to set up the initial network - so NFS, LDAP, DHCP, DNS and all that - and also how to install clustering software from source. So far, there are tutorials on NAMD, Torque/MAUI, and MPICH. Monitoring tutorials include Nagios and Ganglia. The site has a definite Debian slant with a preference towards apt-get packages when they are up-to-date and viable options.

Again, it's

dominant 02-07-2009 07:39 AM


I would like to ask if it is possible to clone the worker
to the nodes using pxe boot? If the nodes are not similar to each other?
what is going on?

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