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Re: Debian on Supercomputer

On Wed, May 28, 2008 at 03:37:39PM +0200, Carsten Aulbert wrote:
> Hi Andre Felipe (et al.)
> Andre Felipe Machado wrote:
> > - Could the web pages for the people involved/cited (you [13] and
> > Henning [14]) be linked or are there others?
> Right now these are all we have. We are about to migrate to a new
> webserver for our group. There we might have new pages if time allows
> and we try to link to those from the links you gave.
> > - When the Merlin (july 2003) was migrated to Debian? 
> 2004? I need to ask the admin there who is on the LinuxTag in Berlin today.

2004, indeed. I remember giving a talk about the preparations to switch
to Debian during a meeting in April, and have certainly used Debian Sarge
long before it became officially stable. (Some of the initial FAI logs
have been since lost, making it impossible to name an exact date.)

Merlin (installed from December 2002 to the 1st half of 2003) originally
ran RedHat 7.2/7.3 but after RH had changed their licensing model we had
looked for alternatives. Debian, and FAI with it, offered what we had
looked for (and a bit more).

I have found a few traces that in autumn 2004 I had worked on porting FAI
to ALPHA architecture (we still have about a dozen of Compaq XP1000s), 
actually, the nfsroot must have been built in September 2004.
Since this must have happened when the situation had yet relaxed a bit
(the first "real" machine I had converted to pre-Sarge was the webserver
of the project) I'd guess it must have been in August 2004, after a long
time of intensive testing with two old boxes (Pentium-II and some ~400-
MHz AMD). The fai config tree, and some of the early homegrown packages,
seem to support this theory ;)

> > - Did Morgane launched in 2006?
> Launch was early 2007 IIRC, but I'll ask the admin also.

Morgane was delivered in a couple of stages, first installations I can
track are from early November when a few test nodes were delivered.
Another batch arrived in mid-December 2006, and the cluster was complete
in early February 2007.
The "official launch" actually never happened. We just moved smoothly
from commissioning to production mode, due to users' requests.

> > - Do you know about Debian backports site [11]? could it solve your
> > needs?
> We do use them from time to time, so yes, we now it (and congrats for
> the 5th birthday) and it solves a few problems. But a few packages are
> missing and usually these are too specific for backports.org, e.g.
> newwer version of ipmitool among others.

Basically I'm using some of backports.org's source packages and re-build
them for amd64. This has grown historically and may be obsolete by now,
but there were times when bpo packages were only available for i386.

> > - Do you know about the available debian tools for massive scale
> > deployments and management (p1, p2, p3) [12]? Could those help?
> Only about a few. We ruled out preseeding very early into the game
> because it lacked flexibility. FAI we are using (which uses cfengine in
> turn). The others I need to look into. But in principle ease of
> installation was not a problem at all (after some initial testing).

Actually, with RH and its anaconda kickstart installer, for different
types of machines (hardware and functionality-wise) I had one single
master kickstart file that would have been run through cpp with proper
defines set, to produce the actual kickstart file for a specific setup.
While this allowed to maintain a single copy of install code, FAI with
its class model was a major breakthrough, in readability, functionality,
and maintainability. There's no way back now :)


Steffen Grunewald * MPI Grav.Phys.(AEI) * Am Mühlenberg 1, D-14476 Potsdam
Cluster Admin * http://pandora.aei.mpg.de/merlin/ * http://www.aei.mpg.de/
* e-mail: steffen.grunewald(*)aei.mpg.de * +49-331-567-{fon:7233,fax:7298}
No Word/PPT mails - http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html

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