Best Linux distro for crunching?

Phil
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Topic 197609

Ok, so, I've been at this for about 2 weeks now, torn apart the forums, experimented with different OS's, and just generally had a ton of fun.

Now it's time to look at building some boxes dedicated to crunching.

I know at this point I want to run Linux on the boxes, and unless someone convinces me otherwise, I'll be running Intel i7 processors.

Without getting more detailed, what is the best Linux distro for crunching for Einstein@Home? These machines will be dedicated to crunching, no other work will be performed on them.

Thanks in advance for the advice.

Phil

archae86
archae86
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Best Linux distro for crunching?

Quote:
unless someone convinces me otherwise, I'll be running Intel i7 processors


I won't contest the i7, but you don't mention using a GPU.

Unless you don't like the selection of Einstein applications using GPU, you will almost certainly find you get higher Einstein output per system watt, and higher Einstein output per dollar of system purchase cost, for a system employing a decent GPU than not.

Power cost, both as an ongoing consumption item, and as a need for a higher capability PSU is a material component of cost for systems employing GPUs for Einstein computation, but my claim applies including full consideration of power costs.

Gary Roberts
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RE: I know at this point I

Quote:
I know at this point I want to run Linux on the boxes


Absolutely the best choice :-).

Quote:
and unless someone convinces me otherwise, I'll be running Intel i7 processors.


Unless you intend supporting 'CPU app only' projects you would be much better off designing for a decent external GPU and then working out a suitable (and cheaper) CPU to support it. In the relatively near future, all sub-projects at Einstein will have GPU apps that way out-perform the equivalent CPU apps.

Quote:
what is the best Linux distro for crunching for Einstein@Home?


There is probably no such beast. I suspect that most mainstream distros would be equally fine. You just have to work out what style suits you best. The only time you'll need the UI really, is for installation and upgrading since it's easy to monitor and control a group of headless machines from a centralised location. Most of the time your machines could run with just a network cable and a power cable attached.

The most important aspects are probably to do with package availability and management, particularly for things like graphics drivers. You want a distro that makes it easy to play with these. I very much like the 'rolling release' model for keeping things up to date without having to reinstall at regular intervals. Keeping a local up-to-date repository on a USB hard drive or a file share means that keeping current is quick and simple.

I personally own around 80 machines all running Linux. The distro I use is PCLinuxOS. I've tried others but this one really suits me the best so far. I started crunching on Linux in 2006 and for several years, ran both Linux and Windows. If I had to go back to Windows, I'd give away crunching completely.

I started with 32 bit PCLinuxOS - they didn't have a 64 bit version and the apps were all 32 bit anyway. A 64 bit version was finally released about a year ago and seeing as Einstein has recently started providing 64 bit apps (and the 64 bit OS had matured) I decided recently to start using the 64 bit version. I'm getting a small performance improvement and the conversion is relatively quick and painless so I've converted about 60 hosts so far, mostly in the last week or two.

Good luck with whatever you choose to run.

Cheers,
Gary.

Phil
Phil
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Hi everyone. Thanks for the

Hi everyone. Thanks for the replies so far. A good start to the discussion.

Some background. I've been around computers for 30 plus years, but know mostly Windows (grr) and am about 5 years behind the current times knowledge-wise. I have decided to never again purchase any form of Windows whatsoever. So...

I do intend to run a high end GPU, one or more, on each box. I just wanted to find out if my choice of Linux in general was good. That has been confirmed. I have not tried PCLinuxOS yet, I will have to do so. The intent was to find a stripped down version of Linux, or a version that I could strip down, for the reduction of cpu overhead (ala Windows). Sounds like to me that is not going to be a problem.

By stripped down I mean removing all services not necessary for basic operation (will still keep a GUI tho) and number crunching. Even going so far as to remove things like dynamic IP and assigning static IP's.

Also, the idea is to take as many processors (assuming a quad core 8 processor cpu) as necessary to feed the GPU/s and use the rest to crunch cpu wu's on the side so to speak.

I know I have left out a lot of info, but this thread is about choice of OS. I am firmly convinced from just the 2 replies so far that I made the right choice.

Any additional thoughts about a favored distro of Linux would be nice to have here. Since content stays around so long on the boards, having fresh info for us new crunchers would be much appreciated.

When I am ready I'll start a new thread on the actual hardware and we can "duke it out" here on the boards.

Happy Crunching!

Phil

Mike Hewson
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Welcome Phil.

Welcome Phil. :-)

Quote:
I've been around computers for 30 plus years, but know mostly Windows (grr) and am about 5 years behind the current times knowledge-wise. I have decided to never again purchase any form of Windows whatsoever. So...


I paid my very last Microsoft license fee about 16 months ago.

Quote:

I do intend to run a high end GPU, one or more, on each box. I just wanted to find out if my choice of Linux in general was good. That has been confirmed. I have not tried PCLinuxOS yet, I will have to do so. The intent was to find a stripped down version of Linux, or a version that I could strip down, for the reduction of cpu overhead (ala Windows). Sounds like to me that is not going to be a problem.

By stripped down I mean removing all services not necessary for basic operation (will still keep a GUI tho) and number crunching. Even going so far as to remove things like dynamic IP and assigning static IP's.

Also, the idea is to take as many processors (assuming a quad core 8 processor cpu) as necessary to feed the GPU/s and use the rest to crunch cpu wu's on the side so to speak.

I know I have left out a lot of info, but this thread is about choice of OS. I am firmly convinced from just the 2 replies so far that I made the right choice.

Any additional thoughts about a favored distro of Linux would be nice to have here. Since content stays around so long on the boards, having fresh info for us new crunchers would be much appreciated.


Aside, FWIW : my colleagues and friends have dabbled with SSD hardware. While it's understood that they may fail, their experience ( ie. anecdote ) is that they don't do so 'gracefully'. I've avoided SSD's on their advice.

Quote:
When I am ready I'll start a new thread on the actual hardware and we can "duke it out" here on the boards.


Cruncher's Corner is for precisely that purpose !

Cheers, Mike.

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter. Blaise Pascal

Phil
Phil
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Some Linux experience from a

Some Linux experience from a new guy. Keep in mind my own inexperience with Linux at this date might skew my perceptions of usability. Distros tried were the latest stable releases.

These are only first impressions, the idea being for someone like me, a new Linux user, to easily migrate from the Windows platform.

Note: All three distros I tried were easy to install and very stable.

To date I have tried:

LUbuntu. Maybe it's too light, but just didn't work for me.

Ubuntu full version. This was revolution, not evolution. Couldn't wrap my head around it. Major learning curve just to find where things are. Don't get me wrong, it's a VERY nice distro of Linux.

LinuxMint. For a first step from Windows, I hit the jackpot. Ok so it has a definite Windows flavor on the desktop, so fire me, but I like it. A new Linux user looking to migrate from Windows should take a look at this distro.

Mike Hewson
Mike Hewson
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I use Fedora ( ie. RedHat )

I use Fedora ( ie. RedHat ) but not for crunching. I gave up on Ubuntu ( LT, 13.04, 13.10 ) because of unexplained BSOD's ....

Cheers, Mike.

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter. Blaise Pascal

robl
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I am a bit strapped for time

I am a bit strapped for time so this will be short.

I would agree with your choice of OS (Linux) for crunching. I had tried Windows once but had a bad experience and now only have one "billy box" in my house, the rest are linux.

Over the years I have tried just about all of the "major" distros and for the most part they are equal. The mmi (desktop) is different but that is just icing.

I currently run Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Why? I want a distro that is going to be around for awhile and that guarantees Long Term Support. Ubuntu provides this. Their LTS releases have been/are supported for about 4+ years. I had tried Fedora and it is fine, but Fedora for me was a distro that had too much churn.

Everyone has their favorite and I have mine. You have to pick the one that you are comfortable with.

As for GPUs I have mostly NVIDIA on Ubuntu with one box running an AMD GPU. If I were starting out I would go with AMD on Ubuntu. The AMD GPU I have is performing quite well and I am extremely satisfied with this product. It also seemed easier to manage from a driver perspective. Again my experience and not necessarily the experience of others.

I employ SSD drives on my Linux boxes and boot time on a kernel upgrade is about 20 seconds. I don't think you will ever see this on Windows.

mikey
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RE: I am a bit strapped for

Quote:

I am a bit strapped for time so this will be short.

I would agree with your choice of OS (Linux) for crunching. I had tried Windows once but had a bad experience and now only have one "billy box" in my house, the rest are linux.

Over the years I have tried just about all of the "major" distros and for the most part they are equal. The mmi (desktop) is different but that is just icing.

I currently run Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Why? I want a distro that is going to be around for awhile and that guarantees Long Term Support. Ubuntu provides this. Their LTS releases have been/are supported for about 4+ years. I had tried Fedora and it is fine, but Fedora for me was a distro that had too much churn.

Everyone has their favorite and I have mine. You have to pick the one that you are comfortable with.

As for GPUs I have mostly NVIDIA on Ubuntu with one box running an AMD GPU. If I were starting out I would go with AMD on Ubuntu. The AMD GPU I have is performing quite well and I am extremely satisfied with this product. It also seemed easier to manage from a driver perspective. Again my experience and not necessarily the experience of others.

I employ SSD drives on my Linux boxes and boot time on a kernel upgrade is about 20 seconds. I don't think you will ever see this on Windows.

I am NOT a Linux guy but have been thru over half a dozen distros looking to replace my Windows OS on my Boinc only machines, for me Ubuntu is the easiest and most intuitive one, but the newest 14.04 is not as easy, for me, as the earlier ones. I just put it on a dial core Dell laptop and it runs just fine, it is the only OS on it, the machine has 4 gb of ram and a 160gb sata hard drive. Ubuntu found and setup the built in wireless network adapter, it even found a network printer and printed to it whereas my Dell laptop running Win7 WILL NOT!! I can honestly say it is easy to use, except the software center is 'different' then the older versions, which takes some getting used too. I have run Ubuntu on lots of desktop boxes too over the years and finding a gpu has always been easy, I always used an Nvidia gpu in the machines though. In the end I always came back to Windows though as I grew up with it and it's 'easy'. I will NOT go to Win8 though, tiles really, on a non touch screen machine, TILES? And YES I know Win9 has TILES too!!!

robl
robl
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RE: RE: I am a bit

Quote:
Quote:

I am a bit strapped for time so this will be short.

I would agree with your choice of OS (Linux) for crunching. I had tried Windows once but had a bad experience and now only have one "billy box" in my house, the rest are linux.

Over the years I have tried just about all of the "major" distros and for the most part they are equal. The mmi (desktop) is different but that is just icing.

I currently run Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Why? I want a distro that is going to be around for awhile and that guarantees Long Term Support. Ubuntu provides this. Their LTS releases have been/are supported for about 4+ years. I had tried Fedora and it is fine, but Fedora for me was a distro that had too much churn.

Everyone has their favorite and I have mine. You have to pick the one that you are comfortable with.

As for GPUs I have mostly NVIDIA on Ubuntu with one box running an AMD GPU. If I were starting out I would go with AMD on Ubuntu. The AMD GPU I have is performing quite well and I am extremely satisfied with this product. It also seemed easier to manage from a driver perspective. Again my experience and not necessarily the experience of others.

I employ SSD drives on my Linux boxes and boot time on a kernel upgrade is about 20 seconds. I don't think you will ever see this on Windows.

I am NOT a Linux guy but have been thru over half a dozen distros looking to replace my Windows OS on my Boinc only machines, for me Ubuntu is the easiest and most intuitive one, but the newest 14.04 is not as easy, for me, as the earlier ones. I just put it on a dial core Dell laptop and it runs just fine, it is the only OS on it, the machine has 4 gb of ram and a 160gb sata hard drive. Ubuntu found and setup the built in wireless network adapter, it even found a network printer and printed to it whereas my Dell laptop running Win7 WILL NOT!! I can honestly say it is easy to use, except the software center is 'different' then the older versions,


I went from Ubuntu 12.04 to Ubuntu 14.04 and did not notice any changes in the "software center" except for the icon - it is now a suitcase with the letter "A" imposed ontop of the "suitcase". The "software updater" changed slightly with a new icon - a "circled A". It offers some more visibility into what it is doing if you "click on details". Other than these minor changes I did not notice any major change in either tool.

One of the major changes in Ubu 14 is the ability to now use LVM during initial installation. This had been missing in earlier releases but offered in other distros like Fedora. This is a major improvement for those who understand LVM. I noticed the option during installation but did not use it since the box was used for crunching and LVM would not have offered any advantage.

Quote:

which takes some getting used too. I have run Ubuntu on lots of desktop boxes too over the years and finding a gpu has always been easy, I always used an Nvidia gpu in the machines though. In the end I always came back to Windows though as I grew up with it and it's 'easy'. I will NOT go to Win8 though, tiles really, on a non touch screen machine, TILES? And YES I know Win9 has TILES too!!!
robl
robl
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RE: I use Fedora ( ie.

Quote:
I use Fedora ( ie. RedHat ) but not for crunching. I gave up on Ubuntu ( LT, 13.04, 13.10 ) because of unexplained BSOD's ....


I have never experienced a BSOD (blue screen of death) on a Linux distro, and I have swapped graphics cards in and out w/o an issue. Having said this though I have never run Ubu 13. I stayed away from it because it did seem to have issues. It also seemed like it was an interim release to solve some ongoing issues.

Quote:

Cheers, Mike.


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