[Bioclusters] Any issues porting applications to OS X?

Chris Dagdigian bioclusters@bioinformatics.org
Fri, 05 Mar 2004 12:01:24 -0500

Tim Cutts wrote:
>> As far as management features you can't beat osx server.
> I'd like to hear more, because I don't believe it.  Can you power cycle 
> a crashed node remotely?  What sort of remote console do you have?  Can 
> you do everything you need to through a command line as well as a GUI?  
> I know GUIs are friendly, but when your cluster gets large you get tired 
> of clicking buttons *really* quickly.  Your requirements are probably 
> different from mine, though.
>>   Everything is so easy to do you don't need a bunch of IT people to 
>> do it for you.  I am a microbiologist and I admin our cluster.
> As I said, I guess this depends on scale.  I'm part of a team of four 
> that run a cluster of over 1200 machines.   They're physically located 
> in a building 500 metres from my office - I really need to be able to do 
> almost anything to them remotely, short of having to physically remove 
> them to change parts, and without having to use a mouse.

I can actually answer Tim's question somewhat although my partner Bill 
knows best -- I've seen him make apple clusters thousands of miles away 
jump through hoops with nothing but a text based ssh connection. heh.

When it comes to the real hands-off management that Tim and people like 
his group need (lots of hardware, physically located elsewhere, no GUI 
access desired, etc) this is what I have personally seen:

1. Anything that can be done via a GUI on OS X can now be done via a 
command-line or via automated scripting. The inclusion of a serial port 
on the rackmount version of Apple's hardware means you can do this via a 
standard getty attached to a cyclades terminal server or equiv box.

The only time I ran into a "only possible via GUI and mouse" problem was 
back in the day when we were working on one of the first Xserve G4 
clusters. We wanted to sofware-mirror a pair of disk drives in the 
xserve and the commandline diskutil application did not support this.

This was fixed many OS versions ago and I don't think we've run into a 
similar showstopper problem since although some things have been a bit 
tricky to figure out.

2. remote power on a dead/crashed apple system is only possible with out 
of band power devices like smart powerstrips from APC or Baytech

I know that some X86 servers have out of band power, IPMI, 
serial-over-lan stuff and in general the big hardware folks have slick 
but proprietary management options for their systems.

I'd chalk this up as "possible but requires pre-purchase thought" for an 
Apple cluster

The fact is though, regardlesss of Apple vs X68 I'd still probably be 
using a Digicom or Cyclades terminal server as well as a nice network 
addressable powerstrip. This gives me remote console access and remote 
power control (very desirable for most clusters, absolute requirement 
for large systems) without having to rely on any sort of technolgy from 
the server vendor.