Over at Admin Magazine, Dell’s Jeff Layton has written a wide-ranging primer on Getting Started with HPC Clusters. And while he covers the bases with traditional beowulf topics, Layton says that using virtualization is a great path to understanding.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to really get started is to use virtualization, which is sort of the antithesis of HPC: Virtualization takes a single system and makes it appear to be several separate systems; HPC tries to take several systems and make them appear to be a single system. You can use your laptop or desktop to run a number of VMs and then use them to learn about HPC applications or administering clusters. In doing so, you not only learn about HPC, you learn about virtualization for Linux, which is not a bad skill to have.
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