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Re: Advice on Linux for a newbie

On Wed, 2002-02-20 at 14:05, PsychoSphere2K wrote:
> Hello all,
> I am looking to install a customizable Linux distribution on a 24-node
> cluster. It will run a highly modified kernel on AMD Athlon XP (1500+)
> processors, with 512MB RAM each. These machines will act as servers for
> an experimental university network.
> The Linux distribution need not provide all of the software, just the
> essentials, to build the kernel, and run it. We will compile and install
> the server software. It must include an X server, and a lightweight
> window manager (WindowMaker comes to mind). In addition, it must be
> small, under 500MB.
> Ideally, it will not contain any of the clutter that tends to be found
> in the "one-size-fits-all" distributions like RedHat.
> Does Debian satisfy the criteria? If not, can anybody suggest a
> distribution that does?

I recently did a project very similar to this.  I made a 20 node mosix
cluster by first creating the master node to my liking.  This consisted
of a basic debian installation and then adding things to make the system
run.  You're going to need a dhcp/bootp server and apache most likely on
the master node.  After creating a custom kernel for the system and
custom modules as well as a local mirror using apt-cache I set about the
next phase.

I then created a chroot installation to create the client nodes.  I
tweaked that to my liking.  I also installed within the chroot the
custom client kernels and whatever else was needed after the base
packages.  After tarring the whole thing up I began booting the nodes
from a netcard enabled floppy with dhcp assigned ip's and root nfs (of
the client chroot on the master node), partitioned drives and other pre
install issues, finally untarring a tar.gz of the chroot system to
install into the client.  I then rebooted each in turn to a working
mosix cluster.

I made the clients get their packages from the local mirror to save time
and bandwidth.  When you update the master node (if you update the
master node) you can run something like dancer's shell to upgrade all
the systems after you apt-move the new packages into the local mirror.

Hard coding the ip was easy since I created my own subnet.

Get all your config files set up in the chroot before you start doing
clients, it's easy to get it right once instead of fixing it 25 times in
your case.

I think this approach will suit your project well.  You can do this even
easier with FAI so I'm told but I was in a hurry and didn't have the
luxury of time to learn it well.


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