6.7 Other Important Toolkits

6.7 Other Important Toolkits

There are a number of other toolkits that might be used. In this section, we give a non-exhaustive description of some of the more popular kits

6.7.1 SCore

SCore is a single system image abstraction that has traditionally focused on extreme performance. SCore was initially designed as system for high-performance systems research and the well-known PM messaging layer is one of it's key technologies. PM works on Myrinet and other low-latency networks (some of which are being developed by the Japanese Consortium that now maintains and advances SCore). SCore uses a multicast-based image installer to put software onto each of the nodes. Multicast is used to improve the speed of installation by broadcasting the image to a number of clients. The installer is itself a custom piece of software and must manage making the multicast transport reliable

6.7.2 LCFG

LFCG is a description-based installer. It differs from Rocks in that inheritance is supported in LCFG through file inclusion (e.g., #include). LCFG also employs a proprietary configuration language for their source files and they provide a custom profile compiler to combine the source files into single XML profile. LCFG doesn't use kickstart to install the operating environment. Rather it uses its own boot environment to configure the machine (e.g., to detect the hardware, partition the disk, install RPMs).

6.7.3 XCat

XCat uses descriptions to create Kickstart files and just recently has added limited support for SuSE Linux YaST. XCat is quasi open-source and its specific license is limited for use only on IBM hardware. The generation of descriptions must be generated beforehand by the system administrator and each node must have it's own install file. XCat provides some structure in creating the description files, but there is quite a bit of scripting needed to define different node types, add resources and the like. XCat's strength lies in its integration with IBM's proprietary management processor—allowing administrators to handles BIOS updates, remote power cycling, and more through remote console access and custom scripts.

6.7.4 Chiba City Toolkit

Chiba City Toolkit is an unsupported collection of tools from Argonne National Laboratory. Chiba, described more fully in Chapter 20, uses an image-based installer and was designed to help US Department Energy researchers investigate systems problems. The model of operation for system developers is that complete (serial) console access is available to a user so they can install any operating system image—including Windows. They have developed an image-based installer and a set of tools to interact with each serial console to tell each node how to boot (e.g. from local hard drive or to download a particular image). Like the SIS suite included in OSCAR, administrators can edit an image on a server and then push out changes or entire images to a node. Like all image-based systems, the variation of hardware that the installer supports is limited.

Part III: Managing Clusters