Rocks is a modified CentOS Linux distribution specifically made for high performance cluster computing from San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). I don’t know of a good reason *NOT* to run Rocks if you have a cluster. Your tax dollars pay the Rocks people to build and maintain the Rocks cluster Linux software distribution. They do a good job. Most common cluster tools and software packages come already included. You can literally get a multinode cluster completely loaded and online in a couple of hours.
It was time for ravel.csc.calpoly.edu to get a facelift. It was running an older version of Rocks, and has been getting cranky recently. I loaded the latest stable Rocks 5.3 on it. No real issues, like usual, Rocks is easy to load. The only issue I had is that the built in DHCP service tried to assign the IP address of the interconnect switch to a compute node. That was my fault, because I didn’t tell Rocks that the switch was using that address like the install doc told me to.
The Rocks Avalanche scalable installer uses peer to peer technology to help load compute nodes, so the more nodes you have, the faster they load. Really. Nodes that have already started their loads help out new nodes, unburdening the head node from sole loading duty. It takes maybe thirty minutes to load all of my compute nodes. Even if I had hundreds or thousands, reloading them all from scratch would just take a couple of hours.