Beowulf Cluster Computing with Linux, Second Edition

by Michael Boerner

MIT Press, 2003

ISBN: 0-262-69292-9

$40 US

Beowulf Cluster Computing with Linux provides a well-balanced discussion that covers the basic design and construction of a Beowulf cluster, as well as how to manage and effectively use one. The breadth of the discussion is the book's only weakness—a lack of depth. The book touches on several topics from networking to programming, but you're going to need other sources on each subject for in-depth discussions. This book can help you define what other resources you need, though.

This book is valuable for three audiences: management, system administrators and developers. For management, it provides enough information to become familiar with the concept of a Beowulf cluster and determine whether the effort and cost of a cluster is worthwhile. It provides you with enough information to evaluate vendor proposals, and it should provide enough information to assist in making the build/buy/lease decision.

System administrators can learn what is needed to build a cluster, as well as what is available for administering and maintaining it. The book has enough solid information to assist you in designing the right kind of cluster for your organization. It also can help you “right-size” your cluster as well as design a good evolution plan that allows your management to be confident in both your initial cost proposal and your ability to estimate the ongoing costs.

Developers can learn what tools and skills they need to make effective use of a cluster. The book offers a good foundation on how to develop applications that effectively use such a powerful tool. A lot of effort is required to develop a good application that effectively can use the potential of a cluster. This book provides you with enough information to determine whether your application is a good fit and how to move forward with the effort if it is. The book also contains basic information on the principle tools for developing for Linux clusters, as well as example code and guidance on application design.

Overall, this is an excellent book. Beowulf Cluster Computing with Linux was written for a broad audience and is well worth the money, even if you simply want to learn about Beowulf clusters. On the down side, Beowulf Cluster Computing with Linux is not the only volume you will need to buy to take full advantage of your new cluster.

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