Change of plans
Sometimes, it's just no use pushing on in the same direction. Time for a detour!

Change of plans

So… Remember the test environment setup I was working on last time? I had to drop it last week. The PCOCC installation took me some time and a lot of patience, but it did run through at the end. Unfortunately, I was already a bit behind my schedule when that happened, and when I couldn’t start up a cluster of virtual machines with it within a few days, it definitely threw me out of my time window. Time to find a new approach…

As frustrating as dropping everything I had worked on for 3 weeks might be, these things can happen. It’s holiday season, a lot of people are out of the office, and everyone who stays behind is busy because they have to deal with the work left by those on leave. In my case, there was only very few colleagues with the technical knowledge about PCOCC and all the tools beneath it required for my setup, the documentation linked by PCOCC is a bit outdated and it doesn’t seem to have a big user base (no really, when you google “PCOCC”, the fifth result is my project description). I also didn’t have access to the SURFsara documentation about their PCOCC setup and only a regular user account on Cartesius, so I couldn’t look at all the configuration details there either. And that is how it came that I spent half a day doing git-diffs on different versions of SLURM to find out which would be compatible with a plugin needed. At the end, due to the narrow time frame of this project, it didn’t make sense to continue working on the test environment for more then half of my time here.

Luckily, my mentor returned from holiday last Wednesday so we could talk it through and he proposed I instead set up a virtual machine with KVM, the Linux hypervisor, and libvirt, a virtualization API, and add an encrypted disk to it. This will act as a proof of concept for HPC with encrypted disks and as a basis for some benchmarking. If you’re interested in some technical details, I’ll describe those in another blog post!

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Hey everyone, I’m Kara, studying Computer Science in Bonn, Germany. While at university I mostly lean towards courses on IT Security topics, I am excited to work in HPC this summer. This summer, I will be in Amsterdam figuring out how to add encryption to PCOCC, the private cloud tool they have running on their supercomputer. When I’m not studying, I am normally checking on the beautiful balcony/mini-garden my boyfriend and I have (there’s always so much to do!) or fumbling with a telegram bot for planning board game nights a friend and I started programming. I love playing board games and Pen and Paper, also reading and playing music.

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