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README

$Id: README,v 1.11 2008/02/27 19:35:46 garbled Exp $

Welcome to clusterit-2.5 !

This is a collection of clustering tools, to turn your ordinary
everyday pile of UNIX workstations into a speedy parallel beast.

To get started quickly, please read the file INSTALL.

Initially this work was based on the work of IBM's PSSP, and copied
heavily from the ideas there.  Its also lightly based on the work
pioneered in GLUnix.  I've decided to simplify, and complexify it
however:

Glunix is a monstrosity.  It allows better control over the
individual nodes, and much better load sharing.  However I'm convinced
alot of the speed advantages of having a parallel cluster are lost with
the incredible overhead of running the glunix master and daemon services
on a host.  Glunix does however offer a real paralell programming
environment.  Something which is totally beyond the scope of this package.

PSSP is also a very powerful set of tools.  Not much more than a bunch
of staples written in perl, they provide an incredible tool for tying
an unwieldy number of UNIX machines into one fast demon of an MPP.

The advantages of both systems are central control of a large number of
machines.  Unfortunately, they all have dwarbacks.. as does my solution.

What my solution provides:

*Fast* parallel execution of remote commands.
	C vs. Perl.  You do the math.

Heterogenous cluster makeup.
	This makes it very easy to administer a large number of machines,
of varying architectures, and operating systems.  The fact that my tools are
completely architecture independent, make it possible to dsh commands out
to machines that aren't even running the same OS!  This can be useful for a
variety of mass administration tasks an admin may have to undertake.

Choice of authentication.
	IBM forces you to use kerberos 4 for authentication on the SP's.
This is actually fine for a closed environment like an SP, but for something
to be run on just a stack of otherwise useful boxes, you need more freedom.
This suite allows you to do whatever you like.. ssh, kerberos, .rhosts.
Whatever suits your security and speed requirements best.

Sequential node, and random node execution
	The idea here is that these dsh-like programs allow you to do something
akin to load balanced scripting.  For example one could set up an NFS shared
build directory, and issue the command
make -j4 CC='seq gcc'
Which would execute a build in paralell, on 4 nodes in your cluster, assigning
processes to each node in sequence.   The run command is equivilent to saying:
"I dont care where you run, just run and tell me how things turned out."

Job Scheduled Shell:

The jsd/jsh pair of programs was specifically designed for parallel 
compiling.  The idea is that the user sets up a benchmark program of some 
sort, which is executed by the jsd program.  This benchmark then ranks 
the machines in the cluster by performance.  When the jsh command is run, 
the fastest machine will be given the command to execute.  At the same 
time, jsd keeps track of the node being in use, and refuses to give other 
commands to it, until it completes.  In this way, you can avoid the 
problem where a single slower machine tends to accumulate much work 
because it isn't finishing quickly enough.  It also tends to favor the 
fastest machine in a cluster, giving it most of the work in a parallel 
compile.

Barrier sync for shell scripting.
	This is a new idea.  The barrier mechanism consists of a daemon run on
a host, and a client which can be used to barrier sync with.  An example of use
would be:

#!/bin/sh
do something
barrier -h host -k token -s 5
do something else

Then, you would dsh the execution of this script to your hosts.  The barrier
makes sure that all hosts have completed the first "something" before the
continue on to the next something.  The -s, is the level of paralellism for
the script, ie: how many processes to wait for before continuing.

dvt:

This is a parallel interactive execution environment.  The user is given 
windows for each host in the cluster, and a central management window.  
Keystrokes typed on the central management window, will be relayed to all 
of the subordinate windows. This allows the user to vi a file on 20 
machines simultaneously, for example.  You can also select a window, and 
use it like a normal xterm, to perform actions on just that host.

What my solution does not provide:

A parallel programming API
	Use MPI, or PVM, or whatever for that.. thats outside the scope of
this suite.

Please visit the ClusterIt homepage for more information
http://clusterit.sourceforge.net/
Tim Rightnour <root@garbled.net>
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