Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CIS(theta) 2011-2012 - Introductory Meeting - Meeting I

What was discussed:
We've been building clusters for some time now! We used PVM in the late 1990s. Until recently we were using openMOSIX, but that project closed. Lately we've been trying to get openMPI to work with out new multi-core 64bit hardware.

Once we got a cluster running, we have done some Large Integer number crunching (Beal, Mersenne) as well as graphics applications such as Fractals vs Ray Tracing (povray). This year, we may try our hand at animation (blender). We decorated the room and a display case with some framed zazzle prints of fractals and ray tracings.

What was accomplished:
All my computers were replaced last week. School started this week. We didn't have a lot of time to install anything. So, here's a minimal install for my students to get some work done! We tried the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) every Linux box. So, we didn't install SAGE/JRE or WINE/VTI on the Student Stations. I may add VTI if they need it. We are running SAGE online.
(1a) Installed 32bit Ubuntu Desktop 10.10 on all 24 Student Stations (KISS plain vanilla install)
(1b) Installed 32bit Ubuntu Desktop 10.10 on both Servers (password login enabled)
(1c) Installed 32bit Ubuntu Desktop 10.10 on the Teacher Station (password login enabled)
(2) Dissabled the ScreenSaver and enabled Ethernet (,,, + Printing on all stations (

(3) Servers also got:
(3a) vsFTP 
(3b) openSSH

(4) Teacher Station also got (in addition to configuring a slow mouse and bluetooth for my tablet):
(4a) Flash to watch YouTubes
(4b) Chrome for eSchool (only need VLC for HandBrake and DVDlib, Chrome plays *.mp4s )
(4c) Xournal pen app for tablet (will add SmartNotebook later)
(4d) WINE to run Virtual TI (VTI)
(4e) didn't have time for JRE (3D graphs in SAGE + screencast-o-matic) but we will...

(1) I tried Xournal on the Teacher Station for a while as a pen app but using the tablet it was really hard to see the pointer! My SmartBoard is still down, I couldn't use Xournal on there. So, I went to http://www.smarttech.com and tried http://express.smarttech.com which is an online SmartNotebook. This solution has the opposite problem. You get a pen and a mouse pointer at the same time! That's too cumbersome to use. So, I broke down and installed the Linux version of SmartNotebook 10.2 which comes as a *.gz file. I extracted that file and found a pile of *.debs to install in a directory called dists/stable/multiverse. All is well with the world of SmartNotebook!
(2) I installed JRE 1.6.0_27 in Firefox and it automagically works in Chrome as well. This way I can do animated 3D graphs in SAGE with viewer='jmol' which is the default in show(). The Student Stations can do 3D graphs in SAGE but they need to use .show(viewer='tachyon') and they don't get to animate the graphs. So, I have JRE joy!
(3) I tried also installed JRE so as to get http://screencast-o-matic.com (SOM) working. SOM captures the video of my screencast and renders *.mp4s for YouTube.
(4) for more detailed installation instructions please see, http://shadowfaxrant.blogspot.com/2011/05/2-so-many-hard-drives-so-little-time.html

What we are researching (look what this school did in the 80s and 90s): 

Today's Topic: 
CIS(theta) 2011-2012 - Introductory Meeting - Meeting I

Today's Attendance: 
CIS(theta) 2011-2012: GeorgeA, GrahamS, KennyK, LucasE

Today's Reading:
Chapter 1 Building Parallel Programs (BPP) using clusters and parallelJava

Well, that's enough food for thought, enjoy!

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