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Debian at GSI

Dear debian-science community,

I'm sorry for this rather long post, but in the spirit of the "Debian at ESRF" post I'd like to give some information about the Debian-based computing infrastructure at GSI [1], a German non-profit research lab that runs a heavy ion accelarator and is part of the Helmholtz association [2].

We are running a more-or-less Debian-only Linux "farm" with more than 1000 nodes. We used the Debian distro for our Linux boxes since the last millennium (maybe 1997?).

We recently put on a 10 000 core compute cluster and 1.5 PB Lustre
storage with Infiniband-only networking running Debian Squeeze and managed by GridEngine - on top of our existing ~ 5000 CPU core cluster with more than 2 PB Lustre storage.

Apart from our compute cluster we also provide some hundred desktops,
servers for data acquisition, central IT services (DNS, DHCP, Radius, MTAs, ...) and collaboration web services (Wikis, Subversion, ...) with Debian.

Our accelerator controls unfortunately moves from VMS to Red Hat for
the shiny care-less all-inclusive support - but at least it's Linux ...

Our Debian installation is actually not particularly "scientific". The big
packages like ROOT and Cernlib are installed from source as our
scientists need dozens of customized versions installed at the same
time and don't really honor (maybe understand?) the merits of proper package

Nevertheless we profit a lot from the 2000+ packages we pull from the
standard Debian repositories for our default desktop installation.

In the high energy physics community we are quite alien as everybody
else uses "Scientific Linux" that has been created by CERN and Fermilab
when Red Hat changed its licensing. At that time we already were happy
with Debian and promoted it as an alternative but unfortunately the big
sites were too scared to make that move (different packaging system, no
commercial support, the usual complaints).

BTW: We currently have an open position in our HPC group [3]. The job offer is in German only unfortunately m(. Basically the job description covers all our tasks from high-level configuration management with Chef to fiddling with broken hardware in case of an urgent emergency (this became more and more seldom during the years). The new position will probably focus a lot on monitoring, which did not grow fast enough with the growth of the farm during the last years.
Please contact me if you have any questions and don't hesitate to send any applications in English.


[2] http://www.helmholtz.de/en
[3] http://gsi.de/informationen/internal/vw/pa/1920-12.50.html

Christopher Huhn
Linux therapist

GSI Helmholtzzentrum fuer Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Planckstr. 1
64291 Darmstadt

Gesellschaft mit beschraenkter Haftung

Sitz der Gesellschaft / Registered Office:                    Darmstadt
Handelsregister       / Commercial Register:
                                        Amtsgericht Darmstadt, HRB 1528

Geschaeftsfuehrung    / Managing Directors:
                                 Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Horst Stoecker,
                                                   Dr. Hartmut Eickhoff
Vorsitzende des Aufsichtsrates / Supervisory Board Chair:
                                           Dr. Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph
Stellvertreter        / Deputy Chair:                 Dr. Rolf Bernhard

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