Beowulf Clusters

A beowulf cluster is formed using normal computers that are identical. These are arranged into a small local area network (LAN). There are programs that allow these computers to share processing among them.So beowulf clusters form a parallel processing unit using common personal computers.

An image that displays the first beowulf cluster at Barcelona Supercomputing Center is as follows −

Image Credit − By Vcarceler [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Features of Beowulf Clusters

Some important features of beowulf clusters are as follows −

  • Beowulf clusters are formed using normal computers. There is no software that denoted a cluster as a beowulf cluster.
  • A unix like operating system is normally used for beowulf clusters such as BSD, Linux or Solaris. Most of the operating systems used are free open source software
  • The parallel processing libraries used in beowulf clusters include message passing interface (MPI), parallel virtual machine (PVM) etc.
  • The name beowulf in beowulf clusters came from a computer built by Thomas Sterling and Donald Becker at NASA in 1994. Before that, the name was borrowed from an english poem of the same name.
  • The primary use of beowulf clusters in modern times is for scientific computing.

Operating Systems for Beowulf Clusters

Some operating systems that are used for beowulf clusters are −


This is a proprietary distributed operating system whose early versions were based on Unix systems. Now MOSIX focuses on Linux grids and clusters.


This is an open source software project. The Kerrighed project started at the The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control but was later adopted by the company We Cluster, Inc.


This is a Linux distribution and uses the openMosix kernel. ClusterKnoppix is quite useful as it reduces the work required for clustered computing.