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The Qlustar Platform

Our Mission

The Qlustar development and engineering team has the simple principle to make Qlustar the optimal software platform for HPC, Storage and Cloud clusters. We achieve this by:

  • Scalable and forward-thinking system and software designs.
  • Excellence in implementation using GIT version control throughout.
  • Constant innovation and improvement.
  • Strict quality assurance (release when ready).

The Qlustar Platform

Core/Edge Platforms

Qlustar consists of a single Core and multiple Edge platforms. By platform, we mean a specific Linux distribution, possibly for multiple CPU architectures.

The core platform provides all Qlustar components/packages including the installer. It is currently (and will be in the foreseeable future) based on Ubuntu LTS releases. On the other hand, edge platforms are not meant to be run on head-nodes and lack certain software components or packages (head- / service-node functionality).

While the head-nodes are bound to the core platform, all other nodes are free to run any of the supported edge platforms. Mixing of different edge platforms on different nodes within a single cluster is fully supported. E.g., you will be able to run any mix of Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS in a single cluster, once all the mentioned platforms will be released.

Servers that are installed on disk and serve exclusively as head-/service nodes will always run the core platform. Among the software components that are supported only in core are:

  • High-availability configurations
  • Lustre or BeeGFS servers
  • OStack virtualization infrastructure

In general, any component, for which the platform does not matter and only the provided service is relevant, will be provided only in core.

The rationale to distinguish between a core and edge platforms is led by the idea that the nature of the components exclusively provided by the core platform is service-centric. Therefore, the choice of a Linux distribution doesn't matter for this part of the architecture. Think of the head-nodes as being a black-box providing certain functionality.

In contrast, Qlustar offers choice, where it's needed: To select one or multiple edge platforms, that will satisfy the specific requirements (e.g. Linux distribution type and version, libraries) of applications/programs to be run by end users. Obviously this is needed mostly in HPC environments.

Supported CPU Architectures

Currently, the only supported CPU architecture is x86_64. A port to arm64 is on the agenda. The date when it will be available, depends on the size of the market share this architecture will be able to grab in the clustering field.

Central Software Components

Qlustar's central software components are the juice of the distribution. They deliver the core functionality for the type of systems Qlustar is designed for (HPC / Storage / Cloud clusters) and are divided into the different Qlustar stack groups (HPC, Data, HA, …).

Some of these components are not part of the base Linux distribution. Qlustar provides all central components / packages with up-to-date versions (in most cases much more recent than the base distributions), with the best possible quality and configuration for clusters. For some components, Qlustar provides packages with multiple versions that sometimes are also installable in parallel. Examples: OpenMPI (multiple versions, installable in parallel) Lustre (multiple versions not installable in parallel). There is a list of the central software components for each release together with the corresponding versions.

The highlight of Qlustar is the management framework QluMan. It is responsible for managing and operating Qlustar clusters and is exclusively available in the Qlustar Cluster OS.

Software/Package Repositories

The Qlustar software package repository for a particular platform is a merge of the repository provided by the base (upstream) distribution and the packages provided by Qlustar.

Software/Package Version Policy

Qlustar software packages carry a version appendix string indicating the Qlustar package version as well as the base distribution codename.
Example: Package libslurmdb26_2.6.4-ql.3+precise_amd64.deb
Upstream version (SLURM) 2.6.4, Qlustar package version ql.3 for Ubuntu precise / architecture amd64.

Whenever possible/necessary, the versions of central software components will be the same in all platforms for a given Qlustar release. E.g. the SLURM version will be the same in all platforms of Qlustar 8.1.3. This ensures that all central edge platform components (running on compute nodes) work flawlessly with the corresponding core platform components (on the head-/service-nodes).

The Qlustar Platform
The Qlustar Platform

Qlustar Releases

There are 3 types of releases: Major, feature, and maintenance. Apart from major releases, the release dates are more or less independent of the base distributions release dates.

Major Releases

Since Ubuntu LTS is our current core platform, we will target a new major release, whenever there is a new LTS release.

Feature Releases

Feature releases have a typical cycle of 9-12 months. They feature major new versions of some of the central software components like Lustre, OpenMPI, OStack, etc. Mostly, the cycle depends on the release dates of these upstream versions.

Maintenance Releases

Maintenance releases provide minor package updates (security/bug fixes). Most of the time, QluMan will add some new features as well. Changes in a maintenance release are such that compatibility to a previous release is given.

Version Numbering

Qlustar versions are composed of three digits characterizing the major, feature and maintenance release numbers + an appendix indicating the upstream (Ubuntu, Debian, etc.) codename.
Example: 8.1.2/precise
Major release 8, feature release 1, maintenance release 2 based on Ubuntu 12.04 (codename precise).
Note: Version naming/numbering for Qlustar releases is based on the scheme that was used for previous non-public releases. Hence, the first public release started at 8.0.0.

Support Period of Qlustar Releases

Overall Support Period

The support length of a Qlustar platform release is equivalent to the support length for the release of the underlying distribution.
Example: Support for the Qlustar platform Debian Wheezy will end, once Debian ends support for Wheezy.

Qlustar Feature Maintenance Period

New features for any platform will only be added to new Qlustar releases. There won't be any backports of new features to old releases.

Example: Current Qlustar release is 9.0.3. Upcoming release is 9.1.0.
While the Debian Wheezy platform will receive new feature updates in 9.1.0 and any additional 9.1.x release, there won't be any new features in the 9.0.x series. As soon as 9.1.0 is out, 9.0.x and any previous release are entering maintenance mode which restricts updates to critical bug and security fixes.

Note: While a new Qlustar major release always implies a different version of the core platform (Qlustar 8 / Ubuntu 12.04 versus Qlustar 9 / Ubuntu 14.04), the version of edge platforms can remain the same (8.1.x/wheezy becomes 9.0.0/wheezy).

The Qlustar Platform
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