Getting Started (draft)

So there you are: you are a partner in this ambitious Grid project called "the Virtual Laboratory for eScience", a brand new computer system has just been delivered to your office, you're dying to get going but you don't know what to do next?

You've come to the right place.
This page provides you with all the information currently available for the VL-e project.

Getting connected

Being connected to the Grid is a very hard to define concept. Basically, there are as many definitions as there are research groups working on the subject. Here we will assume that you will want to use the capabilities provided by the different partners in the VL-e project. But even then; your requirements will depend on your activities within the projects - are you an end-user or a developer?

Much of the software developed within the VL-e project is built upon the Globus Toolkit, so that will be something you need. Globus is used primarily on Unix operating systems, so you will need something like that as well, probably Linux.

Let's start with the latter.

Linux distributions

Within VL-e we have decided to choose one Linux distribution and stick with that for the duration of this project, as much as possible anyway. We looked for a distribution that is modern and stable enough to provide all functionality we need, but that would also be supported in terms of bugfixes and security updates.

Old distributions like RedHat 7.x, 8.x and 9 are no longer supported and are therefore not an option. RedHat now sells a distribution that will be supported until at least 2008 called RedHat Enterprise Level 3 (RHEL3), but for a significant fee.

Fortunately, there is an open-source alternative to RHEL3 which is equally good: CentOS-3.

Installing CentOS-3

The following method can be used if the system is connected to the internet and is easy, fast and has been performed succesfully by the author several times. This creates a fresh CentOS 3 installation (below we are assuming an i386 system; instructions for AMD systems are similar - contact us if you need details):

  1. On another internet-connected computer:

  2. Insert the floppy that contains bootdisk.img in the computer that is to be installed and reboot.

  3. At the prompt, press the Enter key.

  4. Answer the questions about language and keyboard. When asked for
    the Installation Methods, answer "FTP".

  5. You will be asked for a driver disk; take out the floppy, and
    insert the one that contains drvnet.img. Press the Enter key.

  6. Answer the questions about your network configuration. If you
    don't know, accept the default settings.

  7. When asked for the location of the RedHat files, provide the
    following answers:

    FTP download host:
    FTP path: mirror/Linux/centos/3/os/i386/

  8. Answer the questions regarding disk partitions. When asked for the type of installation, select Workstation if you will be using the system from the console or Server if the system will be stored away in a server room.

  9. Accept the defaults on all other questions.

  10. At the end of the installation you will be asked if you want to create a boot disk. Answer Yes (it's ok to use one of the two floppy disks you used during installation) and store it away in a safe place.

This installs and configures a barebone Linux installation that can be used to run much of the VL-e software. Please note that this installation process can take several hours, depending on network load and the speed of the system.

Updating CentOS

It is very likely that the system you have just installed is not completely up-to-date. Since its first release, new packages will have been created to fix bugs, close security holes, etc.

It would be a very good idea to immediately update your system with the latest software. Here is how you do that:

Please run the command
yum update
regularly to make sure that your system stays up-to-date!

Installing the Globus software

Installing the PoC environment should be easy now. Look at the PoC Release-1 Manual and Download Page for more guidance.

Accept all default settings, sit back and wait.