LinuxWorld: After building a number of clusters from the ground up -including one that made it to the Top500 Supercomputer list - I decided to try a service that many vendors now offer - having a system racked and stacked at the factory then shipped to us. Such a service saves a huge amount of time, not to mention my back, not having to build the cluster and cable all the equipment together. I've been a fan of well-cabled systems and have found the quality control to be acceptable. The key component is the pre-build requirements and verification before the system is built. This will ensure the system shipped is what is expected when it arrives at your front door. There can still be a fair amount of cabling that has to be done once it arrives, if you have a multi-rack configuration, but it's usually limited to plugging in the system's power and public network.
Once this is done, the fun begins...
I've tried a few cluster distribution toolkits, and the one that works for me is the Rocks Cluster Distribution from the San Diego Supercomputing Center. I came across the package in a simple Google search in 2002 and was immediately sold on it. I use the term "sold" loosely since it's under an Open Source BSD-style license available for download and supported by a broad range of technical people who answer most questions on the Rocks user list. I've found support on the list to be better than most commercial distributions, but this may be because there are over 500 registered systems on the Rocks Register.
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