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Re: clusters, infrastructures, and package tools

"Bud P. Bruegger" wrote:
[I'm currently not on the list; please cc replies to <bud@sistema.it>]

I'm interested in the administration of clusters and infrastructures (i.e.,
very large, dishomogeneous installations) and in related debian package and
administration tools.  I searched on debian-devel and found some mention of
the need to create a dedicated list/project, but couldn't find anything.
Is there such a discussion group?  (I found some interesting issues on

I think most of the required software is already available, you just need to tailor
them to debian. Though *packages* that do it would be nice.

In case there isn't yet, are enough people interested in this issue to
justify the creation of such a list?

Err, a heterogeneous cluster is not that different from a lab network or a company's
intranet. So we vould view it as a cluster software setup/maintenance problem
Some issues that come to mind that may be relevant include the following:
* debian's stability and well-done package tools are great for professional
use--but the package system is too much geared towards single machines.  It
would be a petty not to add cluster features to make Debian more used in
larger environments!
Okay, but let's not try to mod dpkg, it's already pretty loaded :) There were a few
tools which did part of that. Though a common configuration environment suitable
for master/slave roles would be all right, and which does away with problems that
stem for different architectures (by being conservative, and managing arch-specific
* Administration of large clusters or infrastructures usually brings the
need for techniques that work for multiple kinds of platform (Debian,
Solaris, AIX, etc.)  The only homogenous clusters out there are possibly
Ooops, the larger a beowulf, the more likely that you'll have different archs.
Even "expanding" a beowulf, say by "merging" two homogenous beowulf
clusters is problematic. (So, it might be cheesy to add support for cluster of clusters)
* I've seen considerable interest and activity to port Debian tools to
other platforms (See debian-scala HOWTO and some reports on ports of
package tools to different architectures).  This seems to fit well on a
cluster/infrastructure list.
I think beowulf is kind of there. :) And probably Progeny Linux will be crying out
*loud* for some of the stuff you ask. :) [Or they might find flawless automation
contrary to profitability concerns :) ]
* I believe that the debian package system and tools can be made more
modular and flexible in order to adapt to situation different from single
machine installation.  Some of my ideas are reported at
http://www.sistema.it/univSrcPkg/.  While this is not written for Debian,
the Debian source package would be a great starting point.  The essence of
the idea is that a single source package supports the creation of various
binary packages/installation methods for different purposes:  single
machine installation, installation on non-debian platforms w/ debian tools,
cluster installation with central configuration management, and even
creation of non-debian packages from debian source packages.  The
difference to current source packages would be a consistent use of APIs
that encapsulate OS, platform, and configuration management specific issues.
Err, so you want debian clusters to contain non-debian nodes? Why? :) But I think
it could be supported. For instance, you could make a server for a lab with both linux
and solaris machines.
* There has been significant work on infrastructures management.  A lot of
it is reported on www.infrastructures.org that also has an interesting
mailing list. There is the "founding paper" of the infrastructures site by
Steve Traugott that is a great introduction.  I've started to collect
interesting links at
http://www.sistema.it/twiki/bin/view/Main/infrastructures.  These and some
discussion papers on (Debian) infrastructures can be found at my site:
Well, by infrastructure do you imply corporate stuff? If deb had good support for
such systems, it could gain some popularity in the eyes of managers, considering
the cost of such services supplied by proprietary software. Business boffins are
gonna love it! ;)
Anyways, these are just some ideas to make the issue more concrete.

hope this is of interest

Surely, I'm building a deb cluster at the moment. Homogeneous, but it still needs the basic
functionality which you mention.

| Bud P. Bruegger, Ph.D.  |  mailto:bud@sistema.it                       |
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  ++++-+++-+++-++-++-++--+---+----+----- ---  --  -  - 
 +  Eray "eXa" Ozkural                   .      .   .  . . .
 +  CS, Bilkent University, Ankara             ^  .  o   .      .
 |  mail: erayo@cs.bilkent.edu.tr                .  ^  .   .
org:Bilkent University;CS
title:senior student
adr;quoted-printable:;;Simsek Sok. No:6/2=0D=0AMeltem Apt. Asagi Ayranci	;Ankara;;06540;Turkey
fn:Eray Ozkural

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