Beowoof: a Beowulf Cluster with Power Mac 6100s running Yellow Dog Linux






Installing Linux





Completed or Deferred Tasks

  • Gathered hardware, verified that the machines all work.
  • Physically configured login node and verified that its systems, including the ethernet card, work. (With Mac OS 7.5, have the nodes log into a PowerBook temporarily connected to the Beowulf network. The Asante card seems tobe flustered by the 100mbps autosensing switch, so it connects to the Beowulf network. The built-in ethernet interface is fine with the autosensing switch, so that’s the outside connection.)
  • Set up reliable external CD-ROM drive. (Apple CD-Rom.)
  • Build Beowoof, the Login node. (Mac OS 7.5 as boot OS, Linux 2.4 as real OS. IP address assigned on inside network; work nodes have their ip address range assigned as well.)
  • Set up simple repeatable instructions for installing Linux and required services on work nodes. (Done.)
  • Install system software on the work nodes. (Done. Mac OS 7.5 on 25MB partition as boot system; Linux 2.4 as OS.)
  • Researching source for my special kernel so I can rebuild it to support firewall functionality. (Done. Takashi Oe’s kernel supports additional NuBus Ethernet card.)
  • Rebuild kernel on login node so it supports firewall services.(Deferred. Not necessary. Beowoof’s DNS server lets all the machines on the Beowulf network talk to each other; Beowoof’s peers can talk to it on the Infernosoft inside network. There’s no need for the work nodes to talk to the Internet.)
  • Install appropriate multiprogramming development tools. MPICH is installed and configured on the main node.
  • Even though they appear to be identically configured, I can ssh intoB2 as root without giving a password but when I want to ssh into b3 as root I have to give the root password. This happened because I changed the ID of the B1 node, and Be thereafter demanded a password from B1. I reased the keys on B1, B2, and B3 and generated them anew. Then I copied the public keys back to the work nodes. Now it works.
  • I can only ssh in as root; I cannot ssh in as a user. After I regenerated every node’s keys, I copied the beowoof public keys to the work nodes. Now I can log into them.

Tasks in Progress

  • Install ssh so Beowoof can log in via ssh to work nodes and so that clients (potentially you) can log in to Beowoof. I’ve successfully installed ssh on two work nodes, b2 and b3. This is a finicky utility: Everything has to be just right or it won’t work. File-by-file I verified that b3 and b2 are identical ... and now it works.
  • Install Mpich demo and run it wth b1, b2, b3. Mpich by default uses rsh, so you have to configure it manually to use ssh. YDL Linux 1.2 does not support rsh because it's not secure. That's why I have to use ssh. But ssh is slow to connect. What a pain.


  • ssh is tricky to install. I can’t seem to reliably install it and give it the keys from the worldly node in such a way that the worldly noce can connect without a password challenge. I have identical installations on two nodes, yet one of them always asks for password while the other allows direct login.

Remaining Critical Tasks

  • Build and execute the MPICH demo application.(Blocked on getting ssh to work.)
  • Set up ssh on the remaining work nodes and show that they all work.
  • Move Beowoof from the inside network to its own outside ip address.
  • Test Beowoof and work nodes to verify that firewall works and that permissions are set up properly. A user connected via ssh to Beowoof should be able to get the MPICH demo app to run on the work nodes.
  • Post the results of that demo app here and declare Infernosoft Beowoof operational.
  • Configure Beowoof and work nodes for appropriate permissions and users. (Want an account? E-mail me.) Set up users with accounts.

Other Tasks

  • Fix B8 so that it is really, not
  • Diagnose B9’s hard drive. No big deal if it’s hosed.
  • Write a real multiprocessing application for Beowoof.
  • See what existing Beowulf administration tools there are, what is needed, and write some.
  • Update my resume with this new information.
  • Get PG&E to sell me power at a discounted industrial rate.
  • During the winter, vent the air from the server room to the furnace intake-air duct.
  • Run a length of dryer-hose from the backyard to the server room to keep it cool.
  Beowoof: a Beowulf Cluster with Power Mac 6100s and Yellow Dog Linux. Updated 20020402.
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contact the author: Michael Roeder