Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math
Teaching & Learning Math & Science with Technology:
Graphing Calculators, Numerical Methods, Computer Algebra Systems & Linux Clusters
Why Shadowfax? Our cluster is so fast that we named it after the Lord Of The Rings character!
Website once known as http://CalcPage.tripod.com (1988 – 2008)
Sidebars are my own work.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
So many Linux distros, so little time! Fedora, CentOS, Ubuntu, oh my!
This has been a crazy couple of years! We've been looking for a good 64bit Linux distribution that would fit the needs of the Computer Science and Mathematics classrooms as well as the needs of our cluster.
My Computing Independent Study (cistheta) students would like to put together a high performance cluster (HPC) to do some number crunching, fractals, openGL, ray tracing and animation. We've had good experience in the past using PVM, MPI and openMOSIX with C++ and povray. We've even used clusterKNOPPIX, parallelKNOPPIX, BCCD, QUANTIAN and pelicanHPC. But, that was in the world of 32bit....
Welcome to the 64bit universe! We fell heir to 25 dual-core AMD Athlons plus 2 quad-core Intel Xeons and have been banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out what do do with all this. Two years ago, we tried to scatter and gather jobs using bash scripts to run povray and C++ jobs to good effect. This year we tried parallelJava and openMPI over Fedora and CentOS but didn't get anywhere. We even tried Rocks.
We finally have 64bit Ubuntu 10.04 installed on all nodes and like how rock solid it is and how easy it is to maintain. We are wondering what kind of clustering environment we could install over this. Would OSCAR be a good fit?
We still have a dual boot system, but the default partition is the Linux one. We are starting a new curriculum in Computer Math (intro to programming and discrete math) and Calculus Research Lab based on SAGE. So, I set up the lab to be as user friendly as possible for our new kids and teachers next year. The "Ubuntu Way" is not to have a super user or root account. The only way to have root access is with the sudo command line and the "root" password is the same as the user password! So, I setup each PC to boot the Linux partition, then login to the desktop without any user interaction (ie no password needed, so the students don't need to know it). In addition to all this, Firefox is now one of the startup apps and I set the default homepage to https://clemix.clemson.edu:34567 Not only are we running Ubuntu Linux all day, every day, we also have a SAGE lab running 24x7!
I also got the Teacher Station to run my "Youtube Recording Studio" in Linux and in Windows using the exact same hardware and apps. I cheated a bit in that Smart Notebook for Linux only comes in a 32bit version. So, the Teacher Station was installed with the 32bit Ubuntu 10.04 CD. BTW, the Ubuntu users mailing list is full of lots of helpful peeps! My abundant thanx go to them, I would never have figured all this stuff out in the short amount of time I had without them! FYI, the only reason I have time to do this at all is because its Finals Week at good ol' Baldwin High!
Teacher Station with Windows XP
(1) Smart AirLiner Tablet or Wacom Graphire BlueTooth 6x8 Tablet
test firefox with about:plugins as the url to see that the jre was plugged in!
another alternate Step 5 - if no proxy available) download the *.deb files from my ftp site ftp://centauri.baldwinschools.net and follow instructions there.
install optional software like VLC, handbrake, xournal via aptitude+proxy or Smart Notebook from http://www.smarttech.com or games from http://packages.ubuntu.com Actually, I don't recommend Smart Notebook as its very complicated to install and maintain. That's why I installed xournal....
Servers need: vsftp and openssh-server
Teacher Station needs: jre, flash, wine, VLC, handbrake and xournal