some informations to beginner in cluster

Jason Bacon jwbacon at
Sat Jan 30 17:05:32 UTC 2010

I would guess you've already found these links, but if not:

A few things I would add:

At its core, I think FreeBSD is an ideal OS for clusters.  It's faster  
and more stable than any other OS I've worked with.

In my past life I managed about 30 Linux workstations using a wide  
variety of hardware and several large servers for fMRI research.   The  
expected uptime of the Linux workstations varied from about a week to  
infinity.  We experienced frequent dropped connections on long-running  
file transfers.   The Linux NFS servers frequently froze up under  
heavy load.   I reproduced all these problems over several different  
Linux distributions running kernels from 2.2 through early 2.6.

I decided to try FreeBSD on the servers, and they never crashed  
again.  In the several years I remained there, they only went down for  
upgrades and power outages.  I eventually rolled FreeBSD out to the  
workstations, and most of them never crashed again (unless there was a  
hardware problem, someone force-ejected a DVDRAM, etc.)

This is not to put Linux down, it's just pointing out that FreeBSD  
worked better for us in an environment where maximum stability was  
critical.  We had researchers routinely running analysis jobs for  
weeks or months, and moving datasets of 20 or 30 gigabytes to and from  
the fileservers.  FreeBSD's stability made all this run smoothly and  
prevented a lot of setbacks in the research.  Based on this  
experience, I would have a lot of confidence in FreeBSD as a cluster  

That said, Linux has its place as well.  If I were going to fill a  
school computer lab with general-use desktop machines for development,  
Internet, etc., I would lean toward Ubuntu at this point for ease of  
setup and maintenance.  Having to reboot them once a month isn't going  
to pose a problem in that environment.

The "obvious" advantage of Linux for clusters is availability of more  
applications, although FreeBSD can run most Linux applications.  I've  
run Matlab versions 6.5, 7.3, and now 7.7 for Linux on FreeBSD.  I've  
seen reports of people running Mathematica and other apps.  Matlab  
7.7.0 works very well on FreeBSD 8.0, Java desktop and all.  I have a  
mostly functional port for it at 
~jwbacon.  There's also a port called "cluster-installer" under  
development to help automate the setup of a FreeBSD cluster.  You  
should be able to use it to set up a small FreeBSD cluster in about  
half a day.  ( Note that there's a bug in the Ganglia port for which I  
have submitted a PR. Check it out before attempting to set up  
Ganglia. )  I've started working on ports for DL_POLY and Lava  
(although the latter is low priority given that Sun Grid Engine and  
Torque are already in the ports tree).

Good luck,


On Jan 29, 2010, at 10:05 PM, Nilton Jose Rizzo wrote:

>   Hi all,
>      I`m work with FreeBSD some year, on servers ( http, smtp,smb  
> and other
>  thinks), now I`ll work with cluster to parallel computing.  My  
> BigBoss should
>  be install Linux, but I would like to install FreeBSD, but I not  
> have idea
>  or correct point to start.  I look for in google, and some  
> references talk
>  about Beowulf cluster. Is this only struct?  Have differents about  
> perfomance
>  with work diskless struct and non-diskless?  Is FreeBSD ready to  
> work with
>  parallel computing?
>     Please, send me links to white pappers or posts or one start  
> point.
>     TIA,
> -- 
> Nilton José Rizzo
> _______________________________________________
> freebsd-cluster at mailing list
> To unsubscribe, send any mail to "freebsd-cluster-unsubscribe at 
> "

Jason Bacon
Systems Programmer / Instructor
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
bacon at

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