Rocks in a Box: Virtual Rocks Cluster with Oracle’s VirtualBox


I had the idea for this article while trying to create a virtual cluster using a distribution of Linux (CentOS) that is modified for parallel computing. There is some documentation out there on how to do this, but I had to piece together multiple documents to be able to get my “Rocks in a Box” running, so I’ve documented my steps here which will hopefully have all the steps required to get your parallel virtual machine up and running.


1. Downloading Oracle VirtualBox

Downloads for VirtualBox for Linux, Windows, OS X, and Solaris can be found at the following site:

2. Downloading Rocks Operating System

I downloaded Rocks from at the following address:

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3. Creating the Front-End Node

After installing the virtualization software and downloading the operating system .iso file, we are ready to create the virtual machines that will make up the virtual cluster.

4. Creating the Compute Nodes

Setting up the virtual machines for the compute nodes is very similar so I will just add the screenshots of the individual dialog’s so that you can copy the settings if need be.

5. Rocks on an Actual Cluster

Although I haven’t experimented with setting up Rocks on an actual cluster, I imagine these instructions could be used there as well. Of course, you will not be setting up virtual machines, will likely be booting (the front-end) from a USB, and configuring an actual network. In the future, If I can round up enough used PCs, I might add another tutorial on setting up an actual cluster using rocks. That being said, creating a compute cluster with any Linux OS is pretty simple, here is a quick post on another of my sites outlining how to do this on Raspberry Pi’s using the Raspbian OS.

Useful Resources

Another Rocks tutorial, not in VirtualBox:

I am a professional software engineer and an amateur mathematician. My main interests are programming, machine learning, fluid dynamics, and a few others.

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