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Linux firm promises low-cost clusters

French Linux distributor MandrakeSoft releases a version of the open-source operating system that it says is optimized for creating low-budget supercomputers.

French Linux distributor MandrakeSoft announced the release of a version of the open-source operating system that it says is optimized for creating low-budget supercomputers.

The company's new Clic distribution of Linux focuses on support for clustering, an increasingly popular method for joining multiple PCs together to handle large computational tasks. Companies such as Dell and IBM are promoting clustering as a low-cost way to handle major computing jobs.

One drawback of clustering, though, has been that it often requires the development of custom software to chop up computing tasks and enable PCs to talk to one another. Clic, partly funded by the French government, aims to give Linux users a simple, ready-made approach for setting up clusters.

"The Clic project is designed to answer an important need in the intensive calculation area by providing an extremely efficient, easy-to-use and affordable clustering solution," said MandrakeSoft CEO Jacques Le Marois. "This project should open the door to widespread adoption of high-performance systems in businesses and scientific laboratories throughout the world."

The initial release of Clic has been tested at LPM2C, a French physics research center, on systems running 20 and 40 Advanced Micro Devices processors. The software, released under the General Public License, is available for free from MandrakeSoft.