A Beowulf Cluster (Con't)

Since building a cluster of Linux XBOXes was something that no one at Microsoft (probably) ever intended, there are some rough edges. The machines do not stack entirely well as the top of each XBOX is slightly curved. It would be asinine to use anything other than duct tape to correct this problem; although, heavy duty double-sided tape would probably make more sense if you were not trying to cover the air intakes on the sides of the XBOX.

Now that all of our machines have hard drive images and have been "installed" in our rack, we restarted dhcpd on the master machine and powered on the cluster. On the master XBOX, we can view the slaves connecting to the master and gaining an IP.

Configuring the cluster to do different things can be a little difficult; obviously, we do not want to log into each machine and execute each command by hand. Instead, we opted to use ssh to launch commands remotely. We wrote a simple script below named cluster_control.sh:

for i in ...; do
   ssh root@$i $@

Since we do not want to enter our password every time we run a command, we wrote another script to set up our public keys and allow each slave machine on the cluster to authenticate via authorized keys instead of a password.

ssh-keygen  - t rsa
for i in ...; do
  scp ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub root@$i:~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Now we can run single line commands via our cluster_control.sh script. Given a little more time, we could create something a little more robust, but we are just trying to launch some benchmarks. You'll notice that we are just logging in as root and ssh'ing around with no regard for what programs we are running as root. Security is not an issue here because our cluster network is physically removed from all other networks. However, if this were a real cluster, we would take more drastic measures of locking the machines down. We have just set up a very basic Beowulf Cluster made out of eight XBOXes.

A Beowulf Cluster Distributed Compiling
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • TimPope - Thursday, May 12, 2005 - link

    not bad information but i would have liked to see some kind of real world performance using openmosix.. a single x box on its own as a pc is slow but stick 2-4 together using open mosix could make a reasonably good machine and still be pretty cheap
  • Halz - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    The rule followed in the article for the -j option, "number of proccessors + 1", overlooked the logical proccessors of the Xeon's Hyperthreading.. -j should have then been something around 5 instead of 3
  • Halz - Wednesday, November 17, 2004 - link

    Simply compiling on the Opteron and Xeon with the same number of threads as the full cluster would have illustraighted a difference.

    More testing should have gone into finding how many threads was the ideal number for the given platforms.
  • artifex - Saturday, November 13, 2004 - link

    Aikouka, can't you just use one of those "HD Loader" type programs WITHOUT a modchip?
    I'd be all for modding my PS/2 if I thought I could actually do something useful with it, like stream audio/video from a PC or a ReplayTV or something.
  • KristopherKubicki - Saturday, November 13, 2004 - link

    Halz: what should it have been?

  • Aikouka - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    23, yes, you can still do just about anything. I know with the software mod that I use, I've been having problems getting the original MS Dash to load up, but I've gotten around that using other programs for the original dashboard's functionality (dvd etc).

    You know, you can also replace the HDD with just a software mod, and it's not that hard. So, if you don't want to hardware mod and want more space, you can still put in a bigger HDD. As much as some people don't like the XBOX, in my opinion, it's probably the best console to mod.

    24, 2) Modchips also allow hdd loading if you have the PS2 HDD (using HDDLoader.) Also, it lets the warez'ers download and play games on the PS2 that they don't really own.
  • artifex - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    1) what we really need is a usb-based tv tuner that actually works. That would be excellent for adding functionality both to XBoxen as cheap PVRs (though I'd still just use XBMC to stream from my ReplayTV, most of the time), but also would be great for iMacs. I'm sure if someone came up with a decent open architecture design, the community would come up with drivers for both types of systems.

    2) what are modchips for PS2s useful for, other than playing import games? Especially with the new PS2s having no drive (is there still a header on the new board style to add one back?)

    3) did I miss the obligatory dnetc test? You gotta do that, you know.
  • Booty - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    I don't even own an Xbox, but reading this article has me reaching for my wallet...

    But first, I want to get this straight - I can mod the Xbox and still use XLink, right? I doubt I'd get a Live subscription anyway, but it'd be nice to have that option possible.

    Ideally I'd like to throw a bigger hard drive in there and then run XBMC, without losing the normal XBox capabilities.

    So if I can do that, I'm goin' to the store this weekend... :)
  • Halz - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

    The compile options for the Opteron and Xeon were starving the CPUs; the number of jobs (-j) was no where near optimal.
  • Halz - Thursday, November 11, 2004 - link

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now