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Linux Distro turns PCs into Night-time Clusters

CowboyNeal posted about 9 years ago | from the imagine-an-ah-you-know-the-rest dept.

Supercomputing 200

renai42 writes "An Australian security firm is about to launch a clustered Linux distribution based on openMosix that aims to utilise the unused nightly processing power of corporate desktops. Dubbed CHAOS, the distro is able to remotely boot a computer and run it on Linux without affecting the local hard disk. CHAOS is designed to provide dumb node power to a cluster run by existing full-featured clustering distributions such as Quantian and ClusterKnoppix."

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200 comments

Useful? (4, Insightful)

Daxx_61 (828017) | about 9 years ago | (#12173848)

I don't know whether it's just me and my uninformed nature, but it occurs to me that switching off these computers would be saving a hell of a lot of money. Rather than using them for something else - which I notice TFA is not clear on, something about a demonstration - why not just power down?

From the Pure Hacking website - Internal on-site penetration testing gives the business the assurance it needs to conduct safely on the internet and with business partners.
It would make a lot more sense if this was only intended for use in demonstrations and testing though, as I can imagine very few companies would feel a need to use this sort of distro on a nightly basis, but for one off activities it may be useful.

Imagine a beo... oh, wait.

Re:Useful? (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 years ago | (#12173899)

there are already corporations out there that turn part of their desktops into a cluster by night.

they have a need for computation power that they can't satisfy and this gives them that at no extra investment besides electricity.

if you power them down then they're doing nothing, your investment just sitting on there. by using them to calculate stuff for the engineering department they're doing something usefull and the return on investment on them gets better.

Quantum Clusters here I come (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12173964)

Having bought a Dell computer at Wal-Mart, I know enough about clustering to XML my way to the top with the big boys. I have contacted www.top500.org to let them know the correct order of supercomputers listing.

Re:Useful? (1)

jessecurry (820286) | about 9 years ago | (#12173978)

Although the power savings are something that the world could probably benefit from most large corporations probably have computing tasks that take up a large amount of CPU time, or if they do not could probably profit by providing some CPU time to other companies.
An idea like this definitely makes sense to the corporate world, much like the idea of the 3rd shift in the industrial world. You might as well make use of your down time. I know a lot of the companies that I have been involved with do automatic book keeping at night, I'm sure that using spare CPU time could greatly speed up this process and possibly eliminate the need for powerful and expensive servers.

Re:Useful? (1)

KiroDude (853510) | about 9 years ago | (#12174029)

Well, Where I'm currently working now, a large Telco in Belgium, they request users to logoff when they leave but NEVER turn off the machines.. They do all their maintenance stuff during the night, like upgardes and backups and so on...

Re:Useful? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174094)

I work at Taco Bell too, and I let the computer running at night so our anti-virus can prevent robbers from stealing it.

Taco Bell?? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174129)

Oh! I see is the biggest Telco of Mexico. isn't it?

Re:Useful? (1)

elgatozorbas (783538) | about 9 years ago | (#12174225)

it occurs to me that switching off these computers would be

Where I work (ehm...) at the univ all PCs are on at night such that others can log in remotely if they need to do distribute their load. And then there are some dedicated number crunching machines. I am not sure if it is appreciated to run SETI-at-home-stuff etc.

The weirdest thing just happened! (-1, Offtopic)

rhennigan (833589) | about 9 years ago | (#12173854)

A mysterious link appeared above my slashdot proclaiming a free day pass. I click and behold! The mysterious future appears before my eyes! Now I don't know what to do with this infinite wisdom.

Re:The weirdest thing just happened! (-1, Troll)

tqft (619476) | about 9 years ago | (#12173885)

Go buy whichever product it advertised.

I don't know what it was.

adblock killed it

I had to click two or three times before I got into the future.

Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (2, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | about 9 years ago | (#12173857)

If it needs to have a Knoppix image installed every night, does that mean I need to leave the Knoppix CD in the drive before I head home? Sounds like the plan would work except for all the lazy people in the office leaving their Mark Knopfler CDs in the drive instead of Linux.

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (5, Informative)

Soko (17987) | about 9 years ago | (#12173866)

No.

Most entreprise level desktops have Wake On LAN and PXE boot capability. You send a magic packet to each desktop to wakr it up, and then tell the PXE BIOS to boot ClusterKNoppix via TFTP.

It's not that hard to do, even for lazy sysadmins.

Soko

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (2, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | about 9 years ago | (#12174027)

Most entreprise level desktops have Wake On LAN and PXE boot capability. You send a magic packet to each desktop to wakr it up, and then tell the PXE BIOS to boot ClusterKNoppix via TFTP.

It doesn't sound like you've tried this. W.O.L. doesn't power-up the system when it's been shut-off, so it's really not of any use in this situation.

PXE should be almost all you need... Set the machines to boot from the NIC first, and HDD second, but leave the Bootp and TFTP server off during the day... At night, turn on the netboot servers, and just reboot all the machines. You could either reboot them remotely, set them to automatically reset at a certain time, or just have employees hit the reset button at the end of the day.

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174080)

WOL can definitely remote-start ATX machines that have been shut down. Requires support from LAN card/chip and motherboard, but most corporate desktops support the feature.

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174115)

Look for the little header labeled WOL on the motherboard. I've never seen a motherboard/network card combination that actually worked, but since the motherboard makers are putting the connectors on, there should be a reason.

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174098)

We have a lot of Windows workstations that we could use for computational purposes. This is probably a dumb question, but how would allow for remotely rebooting a Windows system (without creating security problems, preferably)? (This is a serious question, I am interested in doing this).

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174154)

look in the windows resource kit for the 'shutdown' tool. That ought to get you underway... :)

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (1)

ykardia (645087) | about 9 years ago | (#12174191)

Ah, thanks, found it:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb; en-us;317371 [microsoft.com]
Looks a bit weird - can you shutdown/ restart computers without authenticating? Is there some way to do this from Unix? Maybe Samba? Wine?

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (3, Informative)

Hast (24833) | about 9 years ago | (#12174484)

It isn't a software thing. It's done in hardware.

You need a network card which supports it as well as a mainboard which supports it (or with built in networking, that usually supports it).

To start it up you send a "magic" package to the NIC which tells it to boot. AFAIK it's just MAC level package with all FF in the data field or something like that. The NIC will then boot the computer just as if you had pressed the power key.

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (3, Informative)

pe1chl (90186) | about 9 years ago | (#12174143)

W.O.L. doesn't power-up the system when it's been shut-off, so it's really not of any use in this situation.

It doesn't sound like you've tried this.
When configured correctly, it works. We do weekly maintenance and nightly installations of software that way. In some scheduled job, all systems get a wake-on-lan packet and they start, and run some install. The users are never bothered with it, unless their systems are offline at that time (e.g. laptops).

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174147)

I beg your pardon. I am currently working on a project that turns back on after it has been shut down using the WOL pins on the motherboard and a little home made circuit board.

Check your bios settings again mate ;)

WOL: yes it does (1)

RMH101 (636144) | about 9 years ago | (#12174241)

I use this daily to wake up my machines on the LAN from a wireless laptop. I've yet to see a machine that doesn't respond to this - of course I'm tending to use integrated NICs which don't require a separate jumper, but most BIOSes will wake on PCI events too...

New to Admining ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174330)

Wake On LAN???? What exactly does Wake do? PCs are not truely powered down (if on atx power supplies). They provide 5 volts of pwoer to ethernets/modems to enable them to recieve wol/wor commands.

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (5, Funny)

boron boy (858013) | about 9 years ago | (#12174033)

It's not that hard to do, even for lazy sysadmins
I think you underestimate my degree of laziness.

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174103)

I'm so lazy I...

ObSimps (1)

Dave_M_26 (773236) | about 9 years ago | (#12174181)

"Oh, I always wanted to be a Sys Admin. So lazy and surly... mind if I relax next to you?"

<yawn, stretch>

Dave

Re:Do I lose the use of my CD drive? (1)

Terrasque (796014) | about 9 years ago | (#12174322)

It's not that hard to do, even for lazy sysadmins.

Ooh, great! Could you do a quick howto, or even better, an automated shell script?



;-p

Think Lusers. (5, Funny)

Soko (17987) | about 9 years ago | (#12173860)

CHAOS is designed to provide dumb node power to a cluster

Hell, my nodes are occupied by the dumb during the day, too. Have we found an actual productive use for lusers?

Soko

DDOS here we come (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12173861)

Hope it will be secure enough.
If somebody runs a patched on version on his local machine it can take over the whole cluster.

Might be some problems... (-1, Redundant)

Masq666 (861213) | about 9 years ago | (#12173867)

If you need to let some CD in your drive when you leave work, I think there will be some problems. Workers will not remember to do this every day, maybe just half of them.

Re:Might be some problems... (2, Informative)

Jessta (666101) | about 9 years ago | (#12173953)

We call the solution PXE booting. Never trust users to do anything.

Good thing! (2, Interesting)

sachins (833763) | about 9 years ago | (#12173870)

Now I hope that SETI and those other protein folding projects can really get a boost. Who knows? A company which is carrying out its own research may actually be helping its competitor giving it the processing power in the nighttime! And what about i/p stuff, if someone makes a new finding will it be credited to the computer or to the whole cluster ? I think these have to be sorted out first. These issues have not come up partly because SETI and others have not found out anything significant yet. But who knows. that day might just be tomorrow!

Re:Good thing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174179)

Repeat afer me "Not all clusters are based on projects like SETI, this is likly to be used with distcc to do large compiles at night or even CG projects"

This has been posted by the aiding the stupid to make atleast semi-informed views corporation.

Re:Good thing! (2, Interesting)

De Lemming (227104) | about 9 years ago | (#12174506)

Projects like Folding@Home [stanford.edu] already have generated usable results [stanford.edu]. Their FAQ [stanford.edu] answers the question "Who "owns" the results? What will happen to them?":

Unlike other distributed computing projects, Folding@home is run by an academic institution (specifically the Pande Group, at Stanford University's Chemistry Department), which is a nonprofit institution dedicated to science research and education. We will not sell the data or make any money off of it.

Moreover, we will make the data available for others to use. In particular, the results from Folding@home will be made available on several levels. Most importantly, analysis of the simulations will be submitted to scientific journals for publication, and these journal articles will be posted on the web page after publication. Next, after publication of these scientific articles which analyze the data, the raw data of the folding runs will be available for everyone, including other researchers, here on this web site.

Seriously?? (0, Troll)

Spudley (171066) | about 9 years ago | (#12173881)

Are they serious? They expect corporation to agree to allow their PCs to be booted remotely and used for a task outside their control, and which doesn't make them any money.

I honestly can't see anyone willingly agreeing to install it.

Re:Seriously?? (5, Insightful)

sstrick (137546) | about 9 years ago | (#12173901)

No, but I can see companies that need to crunch large datasets installing this to do their own processing at night.

Re:Seriously?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174118)

The last time I tried to crunch processors at night, the computers never rebooted the next day. Good thing my boss never knew I was responsible for this.

Re:Seriously?? (5, Insightful)

Ersatz Chickenweed (868568) | about 9 years ago | (#12173920)

Seems to me that what TFA is suggesting is that organizations can use this to gain part-time Beowulf capabilities on machines that could be running Windoze or whatever during normal office hours -- they wouldn't just be giving the processing time away to some random project over the Internet (although that could easily be done too), but using it for in-house projects where an outside connection probably wouldn't even be needed in most cases.

Re:Seriously?? (2, Informative)

benjamindees (441808) | about 9 years ago | (#12174018)

allow their PCs to be booted remotely

The actual booting could be controlled locally.

used for a task outside their control

Yeah, I'd want to see some security measures in place, like running it in User Mode Linux or something. A dedicated client program like SETI@Home is one thing. A full OS with the capability to fsck with your hardware is another.

which doesn't make them any money.

But it could help save them money. Lots of OSS users have no viable way to contribute back to their favorite projects. Lots of projects could be helped by a vast pool of computing power "on tap". Surely somebody could come up with some interesting applications for a ridiculous amount of free CPU time?

Precursor to the Grid? (5, Interesting)

kyle90 (827345) | about 9 years ago | (#12173887)

I remember hearing about how in the future, we would be able to plug in to the internet and not only access information but also spare processing power. It would be really handy; most of the time you are only using a fraction of the power of your computer (for example, my usage is hovering at around 8%, and I have a movie playing as well as several other applications running), but when you need more processing power, you could get it on demand. Of course, the lag would make it too slow for video games and such, but for some computationally-intensive stuff (video editing, ray-tracing, etc.) it would be perfect.

Re:Precursor to the Grid? (2, Informative)

davedx (861162) | about 9 years ago | (#12173957)

Not sure what kind of distributed computing you can really do over latency measured in milliseconds. One of the big bottlenecks for today's supercomputers is bus/shared memory access time. I can't really see this being useful for much more than we already do - SETI@Home and so on, where you send packets to be processed and after a few hours the node sends them back.

So yeah not sure if we could ever have a true supercomputer distributed over the net (as it is now, with the light speed as it is!) that's parallel in real time.

Re:Precursor to the Grid? (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 9 years ago | (#12173971)

I was just thinking this today as I was watching my desktop grind to a halt as my CPU became maxed out with all the audio encoding I was doing. My file server and a few clients are just sitting around wasting cycled while I could be using them for one off tasks like encoding 20 gigs of wav files along with rendering and such. My desktop is a Windows 2000 machine, and as far as I know, there isn't a way to distribute tasks across the network on such an OS, but, imagine if you could. I know you could whip up some distributed linux stuff, but any box around here running linux is busy doing something as it is and the programs I mostly use on the client end are all windows based...... For example you could queue up a bunch of tasks and leave it for the network to process. Gentoo offers something similar with distcc, where you can do your compiling across multiple machines. Neat. Considering how long it took me to compile a Gentoo system from scratch the last time, I'd say this might be a necessary tool for some people. Especially developers constantly working with large builds. While I think parallel processors and more RAM may be in the not so distant future for me, it would still be super cool to find ways to maximize idle processors connected to my network. I don't know about sharing the CPU with the rest of the world as in a "the net is the computer" scheme, but if I could just some tasks offloaded from my main workstation it would be a great benefit. You are pretty right about the 8% cpu usage. Right now I have a couple of machines pretty much idling away, while I'm still waiting for these ogg files to encode at 3x realtime on a 1ghz machine.

Re:Precursor to the Grid? (1)

BigJim.fr (40893) | about 9 years ago | (#12174057)

> I was just thinking this today as I was watching > my desktop grind to a halt as my CPU became maxed > out with all the audio encoding I was doing. You definitely want to take a look at Openmosix !

Spare trusted processing power? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 9 years ago | (#12174157)

I remember hearing about how in the future, we would be able to plug in to the internet and not only access information but also spare processing power. (...) for some computationally-intensive stuff (video editing, ray-tracing, etc.) it would be perfect.

It's easy enough for SETI which will verify results, and most would be simply discarded. Same with cracking crypto challenges and a few other. But what about video editing, ray-tracing? Someone could just insert junk into it, and you'd never know until you saw it. I'd take reliability over that extra power any day.

Kjella

This is bound to help the cause... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12173889)

Corporate Linux Fundamentalist 1: There's this new product that uses all our PC's overnight to harness their power for the greater good. It runs on Linux. It would be a good way for us to become more Linux friendly in the workplace.
IT Director: Um, sure, OK, what's it called?
Corporate Linux Fundamentalist: Um, Chaos?

Could they not of thought of a better name, how about .Grid or something else Microsoftie, well at least it wasn't called KAy05

Re:This is bound to help the cause... (2, Funny)

ggvaidya (747058) | about 9 years ago | (#12174000)

It's not Chaos, it's CHAOS!

Nothing puts executives on edge like the word CHAOS in big, bold letters :p

Re:This is bound to help the cause... (1)

michaeldot (751590) | about 9 years ago | (#12174282)

Nothing puts executives on edge like the word CHAOS in big, bold letters

Which is why they need a guide with "Don't Panic" in large, friendly letters.

Ah Hitchhikers... I'm looking forward to the movie far more than Star Wars Revenge of the Sith.

Re:This is bound to help the cause... (1)

Terrasque (796014) | about 9 years ago | (#12174296)

Of course you do, HHGTTG have a chance of not being a disappointment, while with SW:RotS is pretty much guaranteed that it will be.

Won't be the first or the last time. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 9 years ago | (#12174224)

Just thinking of Satan and how it was renamed to Santa. Sheesh.

Hummmmm. Maybe Satan and Choas go together. :)

huh? (1)

edrugtrader (442064) | about 9 years ago | (#12173890)

Dubbed CHAOS, the distro is able to remotely boot a computer and run it on Linux without affecting the local hard disk


huh? i'm sure they mean without affecting ANY DATA on the local hard disk... surely this distro USES (and thus affects) the local hard disk.

CHAOS: Groovy Name (4, Funny)

AhaIndia (725879) | about 9 years ago | (#12173937)

"We were just looking for a groovy name that would stick out in a world of groovy names,"


Actually their first choice was "Mandriva" but somebody had recently taken that "groovy" name... Aahhh, just missed!



How long... (1)

sp3tt (856121) | about 9 years ago | (#12173980)

How long before this starts to take over peoples' computers and do evil stuff, such as spamming and such?
Can this be a disguise for a new zombie technology?

Quality (5, Funny)

Indy Media Watch (823624) | about 9 years ago | (#12173984)

From the press-release [purehacking.com]

What is CHAOS - the supercomupter for your wallet?

The most significant change to the project, as far as the open source community will be conerned, is the quality of the distribution

As they are concerned about quality, any chance they could put all that unused computing power towards a Goddamned spell-checker?

Re:Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174004)

The open source community will be cornered by the supercommuter and get their wallet stolen.

uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174024)

In Australian Russia, security firm runs computer on Linux!

Turning off/on (0, Redundant)

corevps (871362) | about 9 years ago | (#12174035)

So who is going to go around and reboot all the PCs into Linux and night and first thing in the morning. What about people who leave their PC's on to "save" their work? Rus

Go DownUnder! (0, Flamebait)

bogaboga (793279) | about 9 years ago | (#12174049)

An innovation from DownUnder! Are there any other innovations from the Aussies to speak of? I must admit I never took them that serious before. This changes my mind for sure.

Re:Go DownUnder! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174145)

"Australian inventions from all decades of the twentieth century are included. Many are well known -- like the Ute (1934), the Hills Hoist (1948), the IVF freeze-thaw method for storing embryos (1983), the Triton portable multipurpose workbench (1976), the Wiltshire Staysharp knife (1970), and anti-counterfeiting technology for banknotes (1992)."

"Other Australian inventions are more surprising. Almost every office in the country has a wall-mounted Miniboil (1981), aeroplanes worldwide carry black box flight recorders (1961), and the concept of Racecam TV sport coverage was also developed here (1979)."


From

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s421099 .htm [abc.net.au]

Re:Go DownUnder! (1)

RikF (864471) | about 9 years ago | (#12174223)

The only one outside of the techie arena that I can think of is the rotary washing line. I kid you not! RikF

Re:Go DownUnder! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174317)

openssl, pygtk, samba, portable openssh, rsync, gnu parted, parts of kde. A couple of more general ones: the refrigerator, much of IVF and bulk production of penicillin.

pity the current crop of luddites in government are gutting the universities, so don't expect this to continue.

WakeOnLan and NetBoot (3, Informative)

Gollum (35049) | about 9 years ago | (#12174054)

Here is a suggestion that would allow computers that are not in use to be "co-opted" for use in the cluster.

Identify the PC's that COULD theoretically be used, and collect their MAC addresses. Also, configure them to try netboot first, then fall back to booting from the hard drive.

When you want to perform computations, send a WakeOnLAN packet targeted to each of these computers. Wait for netboot solicitations, then, if you have recently sent a WOL packet to that computer, respond with an appropriate netboot directive, booting the PC into a cluster node configuration, with all details loaded from the cluster director.

Otherwise, allow the netboot solicitation to time out, and the computer will boot into its normal configuration.

Not sure how OpenMosix handles nodes that simply vanish, but users could simply reboot the PC when they arrive in the morning, if the computation is still ongoing. Otherwise, the cluster director could remote shutdown/reboot each node prior to the user arriving at work.

Unused PC's would not consume power, cluster node PC's could be instructed to immediately drop the monitor into Power-save mode, etc.

The cluster director could decide how many nodes to start, or the location of the nodes, to optimise the comms between it and the servers.

An idea with potential, I think!

wow ... (0, Redundant)

btnheazy03 (829328) | about 9 years ago | (#12174069)

this has "security hazard" written all over it. they better know their linux down to the very 1's and 0's, otherwise, a security breach would be disastrous for the image of not just THEIR distro, but for all linux distros

almost too complex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174072)

This CHAOS distribution sounds neat, but with all those machines booting up different OSes at different times it seems a bit complex, possibly almost too complex to CONTROL. (Ah, the old boot Linux on machines over the network but only in the middle of the night trick.)

How Old is This? (2, Insightful)

soniCron88 (870042) | about 9 years ago | (#12174095)

"An Australian security firm is about to launch a clustered Linux distribution based on openMosix..."

You're kidding me, right? CHAOS has been out for some 2 years (at least). Unless I'm misunderstanding, or another Australian organization is doing this...:

CHAOS Distro [mq.edu.au]

But what do I know.

Usage? (1)

Libor Vanek (248963) | about 9 years ago | (#12174101)

Does anybody have some example of real (non-scientific nor SETI) example of usage of such a cluster? I want say - what kind of job can such a machine do, especially if generaly network latency/throuhput sucks (standard is still 100 Mbit).

Re:Usage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174355)

In my departament we have to run some programs that last hours at least 30 times for statistical pourposes. It can be nice to be able to easily launch all this tests in parallel without having to log into any machine in the department.

Why just at night? (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 9 years ago | (#12174160)

All my "corporate desktops" are running as a cluster [openssi.org] 24/7.

Initialy the idea was just to simplify maintenance, but doing a make -j 128 kernel_image is quite fun.

Inferno (1)

dodell (83471) | about 9 years ago | (#12174170)

This seems quite similar to the concept of Inferno (http://www.vitanuova.com/ [vitanuova.com] from Vita Nuova Limited, except Inferno runs hosted on the operating system (it can run natively). Similar concept, different implementation. I'll stick with Plan 9, though :)

Swap? (1)

elgatozorbas (783538) | about 9 years ago | (#12174237)

run it on Linux without affecting the local hard disk.

Does this also mean: no swap?

Re:Swap? (1)

dario_moreno (263767) | about 9 years ago | (#12174326)

you don't want swap whenyou perform hours-long scientific computations : if the program ever swaps, the perfomance goes down, and since the computer is unattended, the hard disks burns downs in a few hours (happened to me). Many Beowulf clusters are diskless and headless for cost and maintenance reasons anyways.

Finally...my pretties will fly. (1)

stimpleton (732392) | about 9 years ago | (#12174258)


Converting my old MPEG2 encoded porno movie collection into DivX could really benefit from this.

My ol' PII 300 takes a night per movie basically.

Been going for 60 nights now, only 300 to go.

Could this be a way to get the hole shebang done in a night?

What a wonderous time we live in.

Really (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | about 9 years ago | (#12174261)

This is approximately how desktop systems should work... As standard in the daytime.

The typical user only makes use of around 1-5% of the power of their machine. That's 95% of your investment sitting doing sweet FA.

So, your OS should have network load balancing built in and when you start a process or sub process it should run on the fastest kit available.

It's very simple to tack this kind of functionality on to Unix (including Linux here). Mozix does it in a rather nicely integrated fashion, but you can add something like SGE and some wrappers to make any network of Unix boxes act as a coherent system with *very* serious horsepower, or Wattage since we're in the 21st century.

Re:Really (1)

billysara (264) | about 9 years ago | (#12174374)

There is a package called Condor [wisc.edu] which runs as a job-schedular under windows or linux. It can either run on dedicated machines or as a seti-at-home screensaver type idea to use idle machines. Works very nicely and can really harvest a lot of idle PC's across companies or campuses...

Sure, leave your entire network wide open... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174295)

Most clustering software provides little or no security -- its not like OpenMOSIX is going to switch to an AES network protocol at the cost of a 90% performance hit. So now imagine every workstation on your network, from HR to the executive staff, completely accessible to remote jobs, and each of these "jobs" could easily access the drive in the standard fashion. You might as well share out the system partition read/write to the network...

woof! (2, Funny)

spurious cowherd (104353) | about 9 years ago | (#12174352)

Linux Distro turns PCs into Night-time Clusters

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "zombie process"

Re:woof! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174403)

Linux Distro turns PCs into Night-mare Clusters.

Re:woof! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174412)

Oh wait!
Linux Distro turns PCs into Night-mare for users.

Been done before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12174392)

This has been done before. [microsoft.com]

Oh, voluntarily? Never mind.

Well I'll be a... (1)

Queer Boy (451309) | about 9 years ago | (#12174432)

the distro is able to remotely boot a computer and run it on Linux without affecting the local hard disk.

In Soviet Russia, Linux runs you!

I had this sort of idea (2, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | about 9 years ago | (#12174486)

I was thinking about "cheaper than free" software -- a Linux distro that turned your broadband-equipped computer into a cluster node while idle -- a couple of years ago. All that computing power going to waste ..... But I couldn't find a way to build a business model around it -- it was just too hit-and-miss for any task I could think of. What data is there that can be batch-processed in a completely non-time-critical fashion, and is so non-security-critical that it can potentially be shown to thousands of strangers?

You could encrypt everything {and that would go some way to prevent tampering with the returned results}; but then, if you're going to process encrypted input and return encrypted results, that will eat a lot of your processing power. It's a bit like putting a V8 engine through a three-speed automatic transmission ..... in the end, it won't really do anything an old transverse four and man-tran can't, apart from drink fuel and leave you wondering why you bothered.

There is a possibility of "inter-cycling" in certain, limited settings {using corporate desktop machines which typically have only a few gigs of apps and data for RAID-like backups of servers springs immediately to mind}. But outside of these circumstances, switching off when not in use and recycling when done with are the best ways of avoiding waste. There is often plenty of life in a used machine if it doesn't have to run a bloated graphical desktop environment and numerous accessories {wanted and otherwise}. And at least used PCs are something you can store up till you have enough of them to do the task you want to do ..... remote CPU time and bandwidth are only available for fleeting moments.
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