Hostnames  //  Monday, August 25, 2008

I have decided that, in addition to the canonical grid1, grid2, ..., gridN host names that have traditionally assigned to the Grid nodes, I will also give each node a common name. The machines will be available by either name, and it will make no difference which you use to reach them. Names will be synonymous with "distribute," a nod to the intended function of the nodes. My projected name list is as follows:
grid1 disseminate.cs.elon.edu
grid2 circulate.cs.elon.edu
grid3 dispense.cs.elon.edu
grid4 dole.cs.elon.edu
grid5 issue.cs.elon.edu
grid6 mete.cs.elon.edu
grid7 share.cs.elon.edu
grid8 apportion.cs.elon.edu

If anyone has suggestions for alternates, let me know. A Thesaurus only goes so far...

-CF

posted by Christian @ 8:39 AM
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grid1 Online?  //  Thursday, August 21, 2008

Okay, so I've made a bit of progress. I've gotten the operating system installed on the first of my text boxes. This is not going to be the final, for-real install. I'm just using it for testing, to work out which packages I'll need, and to road-map any snags I'll hit along the way.

The operating system I chose for the test install was Ubuntu 8.04.1 LTS (Hardy Heron) Server Edition. Stupidly, I installed the 32-bit edition, so I'm going to need to wipe it fairly soon to have a realistic test environment.

I have, however, already run across two issues. The first was the installation of the development environment on Ubuntu Server. Compilers, development libraries, kernel headers et cetera are not installed by default on the Server edition for security reasons. So, finding the things I need for all of that is going to be a pain, especially since I will need to install each package individually from the command line. At least APT will streamline the process. The installation of the sun-java6-jdk package (Canonical's packaging of the Sun Java SE 6 Java Development Kit) was fairly painless, except that the sun-java6-doc package requests that you go download the documentation files yourself halfway through the install, and fails if you don't. How this makes sense is beyond me.

The second issue I hit was a networking issue, and is probably my fault. The grid will exist in a subnet dedicated purely to this purpose. IP addresses and associated FQDNs are already set up in DNS from the previous incarnation of the grid, but when I attempted to set the static IP of the new host, I lost connectivity. I will probably end up having to involve the networking department to make sure I get everything right, and it may be that I need the machines jacked in at their final location before I can assign the real IPs. That would be a huge bummer when I start doing final configurations, but for now I can survive. Also, it's never a good idea to set a new IP via SSH if there's even the slightest chance it won't take.

I will probably throw the 64-bit operating system on my test box early next week. Not expecting any problems, but inevitably there will be some.

Cheers 'til then,

-CF

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posted by Christian @ 8:57 AM
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Getting Started  //  Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beginning in September 2008, I have been tasked with rebuilding the Grid for the Elon University Department of Computing Sciences. The Grid will be a collection of consumer hardware in the form of Dell desktops. Eight of these machines will serve as the horsepower for the Grid, while a single Dell server tower will function as the scheduler and filesystem host.

Over the course of the coming months, I will share my experiences in developing this grid, all of my research into current best-practices, and any snags I hit along the way. My goal is to develop the best possible system for my buck (where my is defined as Elon University), and to hopefully learn something of distributed system design and Linux systems administration.

Moving away from the goals and overview, I will delve into some of the more technical (and thereby interesting) aspects of my project. I already stated that I will be using consumer hardware of the Dell variety, but here are some more specific details of each grid component:

  • 1 Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
  • 2GB 667MHz RAM
  • 160GB HDD
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet Port
I have managed to forget the exact model of machine, but will update as soon as I can make it back to the lab to check. I also do not have any technical specifications for the scheduler, but to quote my professor, "it's a beast." It has something on the order of 1TB storage, but beyond that, all I know is that it's big, loud, and a Dell.

Among other things, I know this about the software:

Again, more to come as I know it. Suggestions are welcome, but I will be making the final decisions based on feedback from my supervisor. Also, I hope to try and get some pictures of my efforts online as things start taking shape.

Cheers 'til then,

-CF

Update: The machines are Dell Optiplex 755. Lots of USB ports, and really quiet!

posted by Christian @ 7:02 AM
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