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To facilitate the Grid Course we created a virtual machine image that the participants can run on their own computer. The usage of such a virtual machine addresses two concerns:

  • Security: Giving remote shell access to (pseudo-)anonymous users on a Grid UI machine not an option.
  • Scaling: With a massive number of participants (the M in MOOC), a single UI machine will not work.

Choices w.r.t. basic software

  • OS: Linux
  • Distribution: CentOS 6 (because some grid software requires an Enterprise Linux variant)
  • Desktop: XFCE (to minimize disk usage, as participants must download the image)

We used the tools and expertise of the Grid site maintainers of SURFsara.

Software needed for the course

  • Cluster scheduler: torque (torque-server, torque-scheduler, torque-client)
  • Grid: emi-ui (emi-ui, ca-nl-e-infra-zero)
  • Pilot job framework: picas (couchdb, couchdb-python)
  • Web portal: WS-PGRADE