I always wanted to build a cluster and now that I have a few projects that could make use of a cluster, I've started the process.

Naming Convention

Half the fun is being clever with hostnames, right?

The domain for my network is vay8, but the clusters will get their own subdomain, zodiac.vay8.

Each node will be named for an animal from the Chinese zodiac.


“Real” nodes are Octa-core AMD systems, housed in nice HTPC cases. Spare nodes are setup using whatever can boot the cluster OS.


The nodes are diskless and boot via PXE. For root, at boot a compressed ram disk (using the zram module) is setup then a tarball is transferred via http and extracted to the compressed ram disk.


  • Will utilize MOSIX for automated process load balancng: http://www.mosix.cs.huji.ac.il/ Can't get MOSIX to work after a dozen too many hoops
  • SSH keys will let each cluster run arbitrary commands to other bits of the cluster
  • NFS, via autofs, will provide shared, common storage (may be problematic as the NAS is pretty low-performance)
  • Infiniband will provide PtP Ethernet connections between nodes