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New York Times [Front page]: Hey, Gang, Let's Make Our Own Supercomputer

C|Net: Reprint of nytimes.com article

San Jose Business Journal: Supercomputer flashmob planned for SF

Slashdot: Discussion

NPR: Radio Interview Archive

UK PC Pro: Flash mob to create super computer

USF News: Supercomputing in a Flash

Press release

To set up a briefing or to obtain media credential for the FlashMob I event, contact Gary McDonald at 415-422-2699.

FlashMob Downloads

(May 7, 2004) USF_FlashMob_RC_4.iso (230 MB) is a bug fix release (download). This contains updates that we made to the server code the night before flashmob day. This will allow power users to run larger flashmobs and configure individual nodes with different processor types. In addition we have released the source code for USF_FlashMob_RC_4 (source). See the README for more information.

FlashMob Release Candidate 3: This is a large ISO image because it includes the complete set of MPI implementations and HPL binaries that we will use in FlashMob I. No docs yet for FM_RC_3.

FM_RC_3.iso (229 MB)

This is a scaled down version of the actual ISO we will use for the real FlashMob I. However, the software installed on this CD will allow anyone to run their own FlashMob supercomputer and run the HPL (LINPACK) benchmark. You can find out the Gigaflop rating of your own computers. Please try out the CD on your own computers, especially the computers you plan to bring on FlashMob day (April 3). You DO NOT NEED to install software on to your hard disk. You can use just one computer or as many as you have. All you need to do is burn as many copies of the CD as you have computers, then boot one as a SERVER, and the rest as COMPUTE nodes.

A preliminary version of the FlashMob ISO (to burn to CD) is now available:

FM_ALPHA_3_20040322.iso (63 MB)


Documentation needs work, but everything we used on the big day is there.
See the README for more information.
You may want to print these instructions out before you boot into the FlashMob.

Single Computer on Network or Unplugged

If you are running on a single computer, reboot with this CD in your drive.  If you boot back to Windows, do not panic. On some older computers, you may need to hold down a special key (e.g., "C" or "F12") to force booting from the CD.   If all else fails, you can reset the boot order in your BIOS.

When the computer boots up, you will come to the "GRUB" menu which lists possible ways to boot.  For a single computer, just choose the "Standalone" option.  This will bring your computer up as a FlashMob server, set its IP to, and configure its environment.  At this point, just enter

% fm_enchilada

This program will walk you through configuration, testing, and finally running LINPACK. Simply press Enter at the prompts.   The fm_enchilada program checks the configuration and tries to run a 1 processor LINPACK benchmark. The actual run of Linpack can take a while to run.   It should report back that your GFlop (giga-flop = billions of floating point operations per second) is somewhere between .5 and 1.5 GFlops.

Multiple Computers on an Existing Network

If you want to run a real minimob, then pick one computer to be the "server" or master node.  Boot with one copy of the CD.  When the GRUB menu comes up, choose "SERVER node on existing network."  This will start up the server, but it will not start a dhcp daemon to assign IP addresses to other computers in the network.  Here, we assume you have a gateway or router or some other device to assign IP addresses.  If the machine comes up as, then DHCP has failed.  Try the DHCP option in the next section.

After the server comes up, boot up 1 or more CLIENT nodes.  Here, you can just put in the CD and let it boot.  At the GRUB menu, just take the default option (or wait 10 seconds and it will boot to the default).  Boot as many as you want.  If any come up with IP of then check network connections and reboot.  If the problem persists, please contact us as you may have a non-standard network card that we will want to accommodate.

When all the clients are up, you run the big enchilada as above:

% fm_enchilada

This will configure and run assuming 200 megabytes of free RAM per node.  These runs take longer than the single processor run.  Expect 1.5 GFlop or so with a couple of computers and maybe 3 GFlop or so with 4 computers (assuming 2.0GHz P4).

If you want to add new computers, boot them as clients and, back on the server, enter:

% fm_clean
% fm_enchilada

Mulitple Computers on a Disconnected Network

If you want to unplug your computers from the network, that is fine.  Connect all the computers through a standard switch or hub.  This is similar to the run on April 3rd where we will not be connected to the Internet.    Now, however, we must provide a DHCP server to assign IPs on the network.  Again, boot the server machine first.  When the GRUB menu comes up, choose the "FlashMob SERVER on an isolated network" option.  Wait for the server to come up, then boot all the clients as above.  Once again, use the big enchilada run to shake things out:

% fm_enchilada

Send in Problems and GFlop Rates

After it runs, send us your GFlop rate and computer setup (e.g. four 2.0GHz Celerons = 3.1 GFlop).  If you have problems, please contact us so we can resolve it quickly!    The contact us at info@flashmobcomputing.org

Last modified Thursday May 14, 2009
Department of Computer Science, University of San Francisco
Please e-mail webmaster at cs dot usfca dot edu with comments or problems