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desm

Clustering a laptop and a pc

4 posts in this topic

General seemed the best place for this, even if it's not security related.

I have recently aquired an old pc and an old laptop. I would like to cluster them, possibly using linux pmi (the site is down right now), so as they pool their resources, and share the laptop screen and keyboard. I know it's possible, but I'm not entirely sure how to go about it.

If anyone has any links, tutorials, advice, tips, etc. I would appreciate them greatly! I'll use any distro, but I want GUI support as I'd like it to serve as a functional desktop pc.

I've searched a lot, but haven't come up with anything really substantial yet. So, links, tips, tuts, advice, anything!

Thanks!

Edited by desm
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I'm not convinced that you mean to 'cluster', what application(s) are you hoping to improve the processing power of? Clustered system usually have a specific task in mind, such as agressive computation, etc.

Linux, by default, give you the power the run remote applications (where application is running on machine and displaying on another). A more 'co-ordinated' version of this is the LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project). LTSP can also be configured to run some applications which would require a lot of X bandwidth locally.

If you simple want to play with Linux PMI just because you can.... then good luck, let us know how it pans outl!

Cheers,

Mungewell.

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"Clustering" is something you really need to have a reason for. A cluster is for number crunching on a task that's easily parallelized. If you don't have such a task, a cluster (even transparent clustering software like PMI or OpenMosix) won't really help you. You can't simply stick two computers together with some virtual duct tape and have them work as one fast computer.

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As mungewell mentioned, clustering doesn't seem to be what you're looking for, especially in regards to "sharing" the laptop screen and keyboard. Clustering, or distributed computing, gets employed in such things as generating or processing huge quantities of data based on an algorithm -- think Rainbow Tables or scientific computing applications. While it's a really cool way to make use of lower-cost everyday equipment to do work that used to require supercomputers, it's not very practical for day-to-day applications. One home application that comes to mind, though, is distributed gcc compiling for certain tasks.

If you're looking to use the laptop as sort of a "terminal" to access the resources of the faster, more powerful desktop, then you certainly don't want clustering. Fortunately, Linux makes that task easy too. You can use something like VNC to allow remote clients to access your desktop machine and use its resources, while only really acting as "displays" for the desktop. You can also take advantage of the Xorg client/server model, and use your laptop as a X client, connecting to the X server on the desktop and using the desktop's power to run applications under X (this is how a lot of video terminals you see in stores [Lowes comes to mind] work -- low-cost, low-power terminals talking over the network to a big server in the back).

You can also "netboot" your laptop as a diskless workstation, if the laptop supports it. This involves setting the desktop up as a netboot server, and there are several ways to do that. Whichever way you manage to netboot it (this usually depends on the laptop's network card, as far as preferred methods of netbooting), what you're essentially doing is using the desktop's hard disk as a network-based hard disk for the laptop -- that is, none of the applications are stored on the laptop, but the laptop does all of the processing. This is usually not a good idea for laptops, or underpowered machines in general. Also, it does not allow the laptop to function as a standalone system without the network, unless there's another OS installed on its hard disk.

Out of all those options, and judging from your original post, I'd guess you're more interested in using the laptop as an X client. LTSP is a good place to start reading about it, but that's certainly not the only way you can implement that particular setup. What you end up doing will probably depend a lot on the hardware you have. What sort of specs do these two machines have?

Edited by systems_glitch
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