Now, the next step is to choose your favorite Linux Distribution to install on the cluster.
There are several live CD distributions that came out in the early years of clustering to set up a Linux cluster by simply booting the CD! Some of these include
http://idea.uab.es/mcreel/ParallelKnoppix/ (recently renamed Pelican HPC)
The cluster we setup last year was based on the QUANTIAN DVD and used the openMOSIX Linux kernel for load balancing jobs. In fact, we installed this DVD to a Linux partition on every node. In this way, the classroom could be used by teachers that needed Windows and those that needed Linux as each PC was setup to dual boot. A nice bonus to using this distribution is that it included Octave and R.
We were unable to use the PVM or MPI libraries as we set up a second Linux network (each PC has 2 ethernet cards) that’s supposed to be isolated from the rest of the school. However, to date, the tech dept has not been able to adequately isolate my room from conflicting DHCP servers. Not the mention that we had several PXE server conflicts when we tried Parallel Knoppix. The idea with Parallel Knoppix is to boot one CD on the master node, then all the workers PXE boot from there.
We used openMOSIX to good effect for several years. For example, last year we made several plots of Mandelbrot fractals using code inspired by http://nullprogram.com/blog/2007/10 (see BCCD) and http://nullprogram.com/blog/2007/10 (see Mandelbrot Set).
This year we had a problem. First, the openMOSIX project closed. Second, we suddenly found ourselves with new 64 bit CPUs! So, we had to start from scratch! More on that next time.