March 2002, BLUG Meet

Theme of the month - CLUSTERING.

Starting with this month most of the monthly BLUG meets would be based on a theme ( the BLUG is open to suggestions about topics for the meets to follow. If you have any, please mail your ideas to the non-tech list ). The theme for the March 2002 was "CLUSTERING". The meet was organized at the terrace of Federal Technologies (Fed Tec), Building.

And here's the minutes of the meet:

This month's theme seemed to have generated a lot of interest. More and more people kept walking in. The final tally of the attendance was 80.

Following the customary tradition, (even) this month the BLUG meet started late, by half an hour ( did I hear you say that's early ). With Mahendra calling the socializing members to order, we began the proceedings for the evening.

The first speaker Shankar Balan ( Shanu ), gave us an insight into the "Clustering Concepts", the basics, the jargon, the applications and the LVS-Linux Virtual Server.

He also presented us with overview of MPI ( Message Passing Interface ) and PVM ( Parallel Virtual Machines ) platforms. This was followed, or should I say backed, by a demo, of using POVRAY to render an image, on a single machine then on a cluster, thus demonstrating the advantage of a cluster ( which unfortunately was not fully efficient due to the usage of a hub ). Thanks to this talk I can now do a bit more than just nod my head the next time someone is talking about clusters.

The next speaker Jagan Shankaranarayanan, who spoke on "Versateam-A coarse level Linux cluster". He demonstrated the simplicity of clustering using a simple N-Queen program, and running it on a cluster. He also demonstrated the following

  1. Basic IPC mechanism that can implement CRITICAL Section, Message Passing and Point to point synchronization. The most interesting part is the implementation of a snooping cache and serialization of the WRITE and READ

  2. Commands to these caches.

  3. Process Migration Module.

  4. Scheduling Algorithm.

  5. Choosing Target Machines for Load Transfer.

The last speaker Balaji, gave a talk on "Cluster File Systems". He started off with an introduction to MOSIX file system, NFS, AFS, Coda File system etc., a brief view of how load is shared amongst nodes in a clusters etc,. A cameo of a talk as it was brief and delivered with optimum efficiency.??

Now that we were done which the proposed agenda, it was time to head for FOOD....but wait.........

Mahendra got Atul to fill in, for the food was yet to arrive ( groan!! ). The actual reason was that Mahendra and Hanish had not imagined that the attendance for the meet would shoot up to 80. The original expectation was 50. So, the delay in getting more food for the BLUG members.

Atul's talk was based on the "Business aspects of Clusters". He spoke about the true potential of clustering and its cost effectiveness, its simplicity, and what it could do for developing and developed countries ,etc.,etc.,. After Atul's talk, Super Computers sounded like some obsolete, outrageously expensive and garish technology. He also highlighted the wide scale opportunities available in "Cluster development", and the vast support it commands. He very aptly winded his talk by saying "The concept of a single computer could be compared to someone's quote that 640KB of memory is all one would need" ( No prizes for guessing who said that ). He also commented that in 5 years, clusters would be used in applications like gaming, where a cluster would be essential to play Quake. The future IS on clusters.

In the meantime, food arrived. Mahendra wound up the meet. The speaker's position is closest to the food table, so he managed to be the first in the queue for food. ( Advantage of being the co-ordinator ). Shanu tried to break into the line, but was booed out by the hungry BLUG-ers.

Food time restarted the interrupted socializing.

So Until next time . . .
Signing off,
Raghav Thammaiah

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