Rocks "Mamba" release unites CentOS 5 and 6 code base
The developers of the Rocks Cluster Distribution have released versions 5.5 and 6.0 of their Linux distribution designed for creating high-performance computing clusters. The release, which is code-named "Mamba", includes several new features such as support for the standard CentOS yum repositories and a common code base for the two versions of the distribution.
Rocks now creates the CentOS 5 and 6 branches of the distribution from a common code base. The only caveat to this change is that "Rolls" are not interchangeable between the two versions of the distribution. Rocks uses so-called Rolls CDs to customise the software packages when installing a version of the distribution. This enables users to easily modify the distribution for their needs while retaining the ability to install many nodes of a cluster separately in a short amount of time.
Changes in Mamba include a switch from Xen to KVM for virtualisation. This is because Xen is no longer supported in version 6 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and CentOS. KVM is only available on 64-bit machines with processors that support hardware virtualisation. The developers also changed the way Rocks handles the standard CentOS repositories. These sources are now no longer removed, just disabled by default. This allows users to enable these repositories and install software packages from them, should they wish to do so. Other features in this release include support for BIOS-named Ethernet devices, the ability to automatically configure the network interface if only one physical device is available, and several other features and bug fixes. More details on all features in this device are available in the release notes.
Rocks Cluster Distribution is designed to enable users to easily and cheaply build high-performance computing clusters. The software will help users network the installed machines together and the system can be administered, including the assignment of workloads, from any machine in the cluster and via a web interface. Rocks is used extensively in academia, with the biggest recorded cluster being operated by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology with, currently, 16,384 CPUs.