The Bootable Cluster CD (BCCD) project provides a platform for scientific computing and high-performance computing education, and turn-key computational cluster administration. The project's purpose is to allow anyone with a computer to drop the BCCD into a computer and begin to do scientific computing in the minimum possible amount of time and effort. Once booted, the BCCD provides a suite of applications that draw upon many different disciplines, including chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics. The BCCD includes toolchains to support shared memory, distributed memory, and GPGPU parallelism.
The BCCD is now in its third revision, and continues to be developed. The largest change over the second revision is moving from a platform based on the Bootable Business Card platform to a platform based on Debian. This move makes the different BCCD states (live CD and liberation) easier to implement, and also allows us to leverage pre-built Debian packages in many cases. Improvements to the user interface and additional software have also been added, but as much as possible has been done to make the third revision compatible with the second revision.
The third version continues to support multiple operating modes to accommodate different usage scenarios. The initial BCCD state is to run as a live CD, which can be run on a computer without disrupting any existing operating system installation. This is often useful in a computer lab, where a cluster can be setup and torn down quickly. All the software is completely functional, although the amount of data storage is limited by the amount of system RAM.
Support for copying the BCCD to a hard drive ("liberating") is now officially supported. With a single command, the BCCD will format a hard drive, install a boot loader, and copy the current state of the live CD to the hard drive. Any changes made to the live CD since boot-up will be copied over. Since the liberation provides the same filesystem structure as the live CD, no changes to software are required. Aside from providing more data storage, the liberation also provides a diskless cluster environment. The liberated BCCD system can act as a cluster head node, and boot other systems on the network to the BCCD. Using AUFS, the nodes share the master node's root filesystem but each maintain a copy of changes to that filesystem. This makes software updates across the cluster trivial and reduces the amount of customization needed for the diskless nodes.