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1. Introduction

This document describes step by step instructions on building a Beowulf cluster. After seeing all of the documentation that was available, I felt there were enough gaps and omissions that my own document, which I believe accurately describes how to build a Beowulf cluster, would be beneficial.

I first saw Thomas Sterling’s article in Scientific American, and immediately got the book, because its title was “How to Build a Beowulf”. No doubt, it was a valuable reference, but it does not walk you through instructions on exactly what to do.

What follows is a description of what I got to work. It is only one example - my example. You may choose a different message passing interface; you may choose a different Linux distribution. You may also spend as much time as I did researching and experimenting, and learn on your own.

1.1. Copyright and License

This document, The Beowulf HOWTO, is copyrighted (c) 2004 by Kurt Swendson. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is available at

Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.

1.2. Disclaimer

No liability for the contents of this document can be accepted. Use the concepts, examples and information at your own risk. There may be errors and inaccuracies which could damage to your system. Though this is highly unlikely, proceed with caution. The author(s) do not accept responsibility for your actions.

All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark. Naming of particular products or brands should not be seen as endorsements.

1.3. Credits / Contributors

Thanks to Thomas Johnson for all of his support and encouragement and, of course, for the hardware without which I would not have been able to even start.

Thanks to my lovely wife Sharron for her understanding and patience during my many hours spent with "the wolves".

1.4. Feedback

Send your additions, comments and criticisms to .