Frequently Asked Questions

Here, some questions on where the BCCD originated are answered. Take a look at this FAQ if you're having problems actually running the BCCD.


What is the BCCD?

The BCCD is a bootable CD image that boots up into a pre-configured distributed computing environment. It was built and motivated by the BBC project at LinuxCare, which has subsequently spawned off into the lnx-bbc project.



How is BCCD different from other clusters?

The BCCD does share similarities with a few diskless solutions for clustering, such as the Warewulf project, the thin-OSCAR approach, Cluster Knoppix (only an openMosix system, no MPI/LAM/PVM build tools, ...), and so on. This is definitely the trend in HPC. But the main differences are that the BCCD will always fit in your pocket, be highly customizable for specific institutions' needs, and will always be geared toward education and not dedicated clusters.

The BCCD is also distinctly different from NPACI-Rocks, OSCAR, or other types of mass-imaging clustering project for two reasons:

  1. It's a non-destructive overlay on top of the current hardware. Once a system is rebooted, it reverts back to its original state. It is intended to be booted "over top" of a currently-configured Windows/Linux/BSD/etc. system.
  2. It's focus in on educational aspects of High-Performance Computing (HPC) instead of the HPC core. Students will have a much better appreciation and understanding of how to tweak an MTU setting or wire the topology across a cluster if they understand how a distributed computation is laid out! Emphasis is placed upon building, configuring, and running distributed applications.


How do I use the BCCD?

Based upon the motivations above, the intended use of the BCCD is to be able to walk into an open laboratory of Pentium-based computer systems, boot up the CD, and instantly have a pre-configured distributed computing laboratory.

Instructions:

  1. Burn it to a CD
  2. Put it in your CD tray
  3. Reboot
  4. Follow on-screen instructions
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for all machines that you'd like to have in your lab or cluster.

This image boots up into a self-contained, "non-destructive" environment that allows the user to build virtual machines from other systems that are similarly booted, not to mention build and run all types of pvm programs. A DHCP server eases the task of setting up a network, and a working DNS is needed to have the clustering environments to run right. (What's that you say? You don't have a DNS server or a DHCP server? No Problem! The BCCD has both to help you out.)



What are the prerequisites to run the BCCD image?

A wide breadth of hardware is supported at this time. More hardware is being added periodically. To see if your hardware is supported, see the requirements text at the boot-up screen.

Another requirement is either to be an instructor or to have an instructor at your disposal to guide you once you're running the distributed computing environment. If you don't know what to do once it's booted up, you'll need someone to walk you through how to bootstrap a virtual machine, how to compile MPI and PVM programs, how to introduce jobs to the system -- basically all of the things that were motivations for building the image.



Where can I get the CD?

Check out our Download page for links to the CD images.