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Hardware Thread, Great Big Linux Cluster Thingy... in Technical; I have been thinking for a while that it would be fun to set up a big linux cluster server ...
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    Batman's Avatar
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    Great Big Linux Cluster Thingy...

    I have been thinking for a while that it would be fun to set up a big linux cluster server using a stack of obsolete base units (400 - 1000 Mhz K6-2s or P2/3 for example) to shove in a cupboard in my house. I figured it would be the kind of thing schools/corporates throw away when upgrading computer suites, offices etc.

    The thing is... it seems that even ebay is a little thin on the ground for this sort of thing, and rather than being a fun low/no cost experiment it could turn out quite expensive. Naturally I was disappointed to have missed this post, but that was a few years ago.

    Has anyone ever tried this out? Does anyone know where I could get this sort of old stuff?

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    ...why?? (it would be cool, yes, but for what purpose?)

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    I may have several suitable units though they may need sorting out. Free to a good home but you'd need to collect - PM me

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    ...why?? (it would be cool, yes, but for what purpose?)
    You can do serious maths with it - this is an article describing some maths done here on a similar system.

    The system doesn't actually use scrap machines; it uses "current" equipment which is just left running when the building is closed and booted into FreeBSD. The current incarnation uses 36 x quad core machines, 36 x dual core machines and 10 x 8 core machines.

    If you want to know more about the maths that uses such a system then look at [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Carlo_method"]Monte Carlo method[/ame].

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    it would be cool
    I hate to disagree, but I think warm would be a better word.

    Have a look at this.

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    I'm aware of the practical advantages, but I'm being a bit more specific: what exactly where the plans for such a machine in this case? Seems an awful lot of effort (and a big electrticity bill) for not very much practical gain.

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    Last edited by K.C.Leblanc; 17th April 2009 at 10:30 AM.

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Reason most people don't do this sort of thing is the cost of electricity!

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    Clustering is cool, I've always wanted to give it a go but since I gave up on SETI etc years ago - I've had nothing to run on it!

    To be honest though in this day and age you would probably get more "cluster Processing power" out of one or two modern Dual Quad Core servers than you would out of 30 or 40 old Celeron 1Ghz's that you've been given. I guess the question is - Over the next three years of running your cluuster - will the initial investment savings of your 40 free celerons actually be overtaken by the cost of the electricity bill and increased technical support it requires?

    Butuz

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    I'm thinking the reasoning behind doing it is the same as why any of us do anything more than necessary to our home networks 1. for the novelty factor of it and more importantly 2. for the learning experience and 3. For testing.

    I personally would love to set up a cluster server, however the electricity bill would put me off.
    Last edited by _Bat_; 17th April 2009 at 12:54 PM.

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batman View Post
    Does anyone know where I could get this sort of old stuff?
    Sorry, we've just turfed out a skip-load of PCs, the skip actually went first thing this morning. You could always try local charity shops or town skips, they'll often have old bits of hardware around. Otherwise, try a second-hand or WEEE-registered scrap dealer, they'll be the people who clear out schools and so on and recycle the old PCs, I'm sure someone would sell you a job lot of assorted motherboards at a low cost. If you have a bunch of PCs that you're in charge of at your school, though, I think you'd get more mileage using those - partition the harddrives in to two, have each one dual-boot with Windows and Linux, have them reboot into Linux overnight to do clustering type stuff of some kind. Or write yourself an application that works like one of these botnets and sits on a Windows PC doing tasks you can dish out to it.

    --
    David Hicks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    To be honest though in this day and age you would probably get more "cluster Processing power" out of one or two modern Dual Quad Core servers than you would out of 30 or 40 old Celeron 1Ghz's that you've been given.
    It depends on what you're doing. Some code will work nicely on multi-core processors; some doesn't. Problems can occur with memory bandwidth - FSB speed on a quad core Xeon is much bigger than (say) a 1GHz Celeron but it may not be big enough.

    If you want to do this seriously, take a look at Torque and Maui (and probably others!) - these are open source pieces of software to do resource scheduling so that you can make full use of your clustered machines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by _Bat_ View Post
    I'm thinking the reasoning behind doing it is the same as why any of us do anything more than necessary to our home networks 1. for the novelty factor of it and more importantly 2. for the learning experience and 3. For testing.

    I personally would love to set up a cluster server, however the electricity bill would put me off.
    You've got it exactly right... I don't need to set up a cluster at all. I just want to... it would be fun, and a good way to impress my friends (the computer enthusiast ones anyway) "hey, look in my cupboard" and there's my humongous mega server I've build out of old stuff.

    I like the idea that old stuff can be made useful again; I currently have a webserver in my house which is an old AT AMD K6-2 machine running Debian. It's ok for testing. Wouldn't be quick enough for a busy website... but the thing I love is the fact I've found a use for something that would otherwise be wasted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UKDarkstar View Post
    I may have several suitable units though they may need sorting out. Free to a good home but you'd need to collect - PM me
    I'll let you know if I'm interested, Dorset's a bit of a trek though!

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    could possibly have around 60 PCs to go soon, will let you know when I know whats what in my school.

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