The purpose of this book is to help you understand the Beowulf approach to parallel computing. We describe here how to select the hardware components of computers and networks, how to configure and install the necessary system software, how to write parallel programs to take advantage of your new machine, and how to manage it for use by others.
This book concentrates on the concepts of Beowulf computing, since computing changes too fast for any detailed "Beowulf manual" to stay up to date for long. Many concepts are common to multiple generations of systems, and provide the basic for understanding the changing details of assembling, configuring, using, and managing a cluster.
We don't take a purely abstract approach, however. We give detailed examples drawn from current systems, which will be immediately useful. This book can thus serve as a practical guide to the current state of Beowulf computing as well as a map to the central issues, an understanding of which will have long-lasting value.