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Re: Linking Machines

On Tue, 8 Dec 1998, Mitch Blevins wrote:

> Sean P. Mason wrote:
> > I was wondering. . . I have a bunch of old machines, and I was wondering
> > if it was possible to link them all together to act as a single machine
> > under Linux.  I can't seem to find any information elsewhere thus far.
> > I have six 386 Sx-16s with a meg of RAM and 40 megs of space each, and one
> > machine around a 486 Dx with 8 megs ram and 200 megs of a hard drive.

 Take a look at:


 These are a pair of articles from the Linux Gazzette, an online magazine
about Linux. They're about CHAOS, the CHeap Array of Obsolete Systems,
sort of a poor-man's Beowulf. If you want to learn about parallel and
distributed processing, this may be for you. The author has hardware very
similar to yours.

 A couple of problems: an extremely specialized Linux can be forced to
boot in 1MB of RAM. It will *not* be able to do anything even remotely
useful after that, though. 2MB is the absolute bare minimum needed to
approach usability. When you get to 4MB, it's tight but you can start
doing useful things, though perhaps not graphics. If you can get 6-8MB of
RAM into them you'll be happy. Hopefully these 386's take SIMMS; you
should be able to get a few used 1MB SIMMs pretty cheap these days.

 A 40MB hard drive is just about sufficient. I've installed on a 386
with 6MB of RAM and two 40MB hard drives without too much trouble. One of
the nice things about Linux is you can set up NFS. The 386's can have just
the bare minimum installed on their drives, and then mount disk space from
the 486 with whatever other software you want. The other nice thing about
Linux is that you don't need keyboards and monitors for all the 386's
after the initial install. You can log into them remotely and do
everything you could do with a direct keyboard and screen.

> GNU/Linux wont really make several machines act as one.  Most of the
> clustering capabilities come from the software, which is able to divide
> it's work up and distribute it over several machines.  This is specialized
> (mostly scientific) software that is not going to speed up your
> (for instance) web browsing.

 That's right. If you write your own programs to take advantage of the
network of 386's, you'll benefit, but otherwise you're probably best to
stick with just the 486. You'd be surprised what you can do with a 486 and


 Ray Ingles        (248) 377-7735        ray.ingles@fanucrobotics.com

 "Is knowledge knowable? If not, how do we know this?" -- Woody Allen

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