Debian Powers 512 Node Cluster into Book of Records

December 11th, 1998

Over 512 computers were assembled for the CLOWN (CLuster Of Working Nodes) system that ran on the night of December 5-6. This cluster used a modified version of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution (reduced in size to a mere 16 MB, and boot script modifications) to run a combination of PVM (Parallel Virtual Machine) and several application programs. These programs included povray (a ray tracing program used to calculate frames for a film), Cactus, a program that solves the Einstein Equations, which are ten non-linear joint hyperbolic-elliptical partial differential equations. These are used to describe Black Holes, Neutron Stars, etc. and are among the most complex in the field of mathematical Physics.

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