Clusters Anyone?

HI There!

So I am in the mood of possibly clustering my two old i3 laptops I got together. Ideally on windows, as I would prefer to run some servers on the them that run on windows and I am not really in the mood for installing more Linux than I already have in the past month. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone out there has done something like this, tell some stories, tips, tricks etc. I would also like to know what the performance would be like, As I know it most likely won't be double, due to the fact it is outside the system, and cross system things like that don't often work as fast as in-system.


What exactly are you hoping to achieve with the windows cluster? Most windows clusters are used to provide high availability, rather than splitting a workload.

Having said that active/active clusters are now common for SQL Server, Hyper-V and SharePoint etc. But again they are used to provide resiliency and only scale out multiple processes rather than bring twice the compute power to bear against a single process.

That is not to say you cannot shard some processes and have separate windows server nodes tackle a unit of work each, but this isn't typically how windows clusters get used for in most enterprises.

Another things to bear in mine if clustering two separate laptops is; do you have any shared storage? If not that will limit the kind of clusters you can build e.g many active/passive clusters share a NAS or SAN.

The simplest kind of cluster I can think of that you might find useful would be to run IIS to host a website across your two laptops. These typically serve traffic in a round robin fashion to take it in turns to serve requests and usually sit behind a network load balancer, which can be done in software with NLBS services.

Yeah right but what if I do it on Linux? Would it still be the same as windows?

It really depends what application you want to cluster, and why you want to cluster it :-)

Many Microsoft Server products can be clustered, but only on Windows. There are obviously open-source products that can be clustered on Windows or Linux.

Using an example I am more familiar with; MySQL and SQL Server are two common relational database products that are commonly clustered. But how they are clustered and the benefits of the type of clustering give differ.

You can have:
Fail-over clustering - You have a redundant secondary server that the workload moves to if the primary server fails.
Scale-out clustering - Each server holds a replica of the database and serve traffic to independent requests. If one server fails the other picks up the workload until the other one is available again.

SQL Server being a Microsoft product is only available on Windows and utilises Windows clustering services, MySQL (or the MariaDB fork) is open-source and can be clustered on Linux or Windows. The principles are similar but how you create the cluster can vary - Whilst the windows clustering services are relatively easy to set up MySQL does not not necessarily need to use them and has its own clustering services which it can use on Windows or Linux.

My advice is think about the type of cluster you want, then look at the applications that provide it, and what OS they are available for and the hardware required to set it up. E.g. do you want a database, web hosting or file-server cluster?

Also, don't be put off by Windows being a licensed product - you can download the evaluation versions of Server 2012 R2 rather than taking your chances with cracked media.

One last thing - if you have a powerful gaming PC you might find you are better off just clustering some VM's on it using Hyper-V, Oracle Virtual Box, VMware Workstation or KVM/QEMU rather than trying to cluster two laptops that are completely different specs and have only one NIC each.

I have only done a two node Proxmox cluster before, but I can tell you that works great. It allowed me to run virtual machines just like I would on something like ESXi or another hypervisor, but I could migrate them seamlessly between physical machines. You could run your Windows Server installs as a VM on that, and then cluster those but still have room to add more VMs of just about any OS.

But don't take MY word for it...

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Good call on Proxmox; Enterprise level features, a decent GUI, Open-source and a great way to learn the basics of building a private cloud.

@Burrito, I'd give this ago before worrying about clustering applications. You can always build a guest VM cluster on top of the Proxmox cluster to deepen your knowledge on clustering individual applications.

alrighty, thanks alot guys, you're all really helpful!

So I don't really mind windows, I have installed Linux on them anyway, and my main gaming / workstation rig is Linux, so that isn't really a problem. One thought that came to mind was what if I used my gaming rig as the main computer, with the other two the nodes, in order to make a three-way cluster. Would there be any decreases in performance, drawbacks, etc? would I still be able to use it as regular linux and do all my programs (does this aplly to the laptops as well)?