Building a somewhat large cluster. Can FOG help?

  • Hello guys,

    As you can tell I’m new here (new in the networking world as a whole sadly) so excuse my ignorance on some probably basic matters. I’ll try to explain my situation briefly and hopefully FOG will be the one stop software I need.

    I have access to a few thousand PCs and I’m considering a small endeavor into crypto. At this point in time the vast majority of my PCs have no HDD/SSD. In the past I have thought about two routes. Either buying HDDs for all PCs and booting off of them (OS probably Ubuntu, no need to pay a few thousand windows licenses, btw all PCs are of the same type so a single image would do the job copied on all HDDs) or buying USB flash drives and basically doing the same but on USB sticks (although I have big reservations due to what I’ve read with USB sticks dying quite fast when presented with this kind of work).Obviously going the USB route is cheaper but has it’s disadvantages. Just recently I got introduced to the idea of using “network booting” and verified that my LAN adapters have PXE support (although with a bit further reading I think that’s not actually required nova days, might be wrong though). I’d presume it will be connected with some additional investment into hardware and not just getting a few of the PCs and running them as FOG servers (even if that’s 50-100 PCs, depending on how many a FOG server can boot with multicast at a time).

    Anyway in my head a best case scenario looks like this -> I get a few PCs out of my inventory that I make into FOG servers to multicast boot those other thousands of PCs.
    2nd best scenario currently looks like this -> I have to get real servers + some other networking hardware to network boot all those PCs (hopefully the investment is in the HDD/USB stick range but a better overall solution). Obviously it’s a pain doing a few thousand HDD image copies and with the fog server I need to worry about a single image copied on 5-10-50 (the number of fog servers I’d need for everything to load in a decent amount of time) places.

    To be fair I’m not really sure if FOG can boot a system without a hard drive (although I know some other PXE + tftp solutions do this) but I really liked it as it has a pretty big community and active development (unlike most other products in the sector I’ve came across).

    What do you guys think? Will I be able to solve my troubles with network booting or should I just go the HDD/USB route?


  • Moderator

    First let me say I have no clue about crypto currency. But after reading this thread and having a general understanding of the setup here is what I would do.

    Use buildroot to create a custom linux kernel, much like FOG’s FOS operating system. If one was ingenious, they could reverse engineer FOS and then possibly load the program needed for the crypto mining into the init.zx and also reconfigure the master fog script in FOS to call the crypto mining program. FOS boots and runs out of memory, no hard drive is needed.

    Now the cleaner way would be to use buildroot to create your own custom linux OS with all of the required applications. Once you have your bzImage and init.zx you can launch with FOG by creating a custom iPXE menu.

    You could use some of the concepts here:

    and here:

    with the custom linux OS.

    Or you could either create or use an existing live OS and pxe boot it using FOG.

    There are a number of ways to get a live boot linux OS running on a diskless workstation.

  • @tnotmotnotgwcrf You can network boot a PC without a disk.

    I know a bit about mining concurrency - I hope you realize you’d run a negative ledger just in electricity bills alone if you tried to mine bitcoin or bitcoin cash or litecoin. The only one you even have a chance at with a conventional CPU right now is ripple.

    That said, you must first create a script of some sort that does the mining you want and sends results to where you want. Once this is developed, you’d make that into either a postdownloadscript or a postimaging script. George wrote a pretty good tutorial on those here:

    Since this forum is focused on FOG and imaging, you’ll need to develop the scripts on your own unless someone here is willing to assist. Once you have that working, we can help you use postdownloadscripts or postimagingscripts.

  • Developer

    @tnotmotnotgwcrf this isn’t what fog is made for, but should actually be really easy with a single fog server. in fact, we used to have a “donate” task built in that was made for mining cryptocurrency and donating it to fogproject (it was completely opt-in only, disabled by default, but some people didn’t seem to like it existing)