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From: Ralph Castain (rhc_at_[hidden])
Date: 2007-07-24 16:11:48

Yo all

More thoughts on hostfile usage - I'm sure you are all sitting on
pins-and-needles awaiting more discussion on this exciting topic!

I'm continuing to try and work through the use-cases here so we can get this
fixed. It continues to be an issue for users on the list, as well as our own
developers. The problem is that we use "hostfile" and "-host" for dual
purposes, which means there is an opening for confusion over what should

Let's consider two major use-cases.

Use-case 1: hostfile and/or -host, no managed environment
I believe there is an expected and consistent behavior for the case where we
are not in a managed environment, but the user specifies a hostfile and/or
-host. In these cases, we use the hostfile (if provided) to completely
describe the available hosts, and any -host is used to specify which hosts
in that hostfile are to be used for the initial application.

At issue, however, is what happens with comm_spawn - is the child job
restricted to the -host list, or is it free to use any of the hosts in the
hostfile? I have heard it both ways from users, so I believe we are free to
decide here. Does anyone have an opinion? Do we need an option to indicate
that all child jobs are restricted to the specified -host list?

Use-case 2: managed environment, hostfile and/or -host provided
You will find a lengthy discourse in Ticket #1018 about how to deal with
this use-case - it is messy, with multiple definitions running around. I
believe we have hit upon a reasonable path forward in that discussion
regarding how to parse a node list from this use-case.

However, it left open the question of who has access to the resulting node
list. As I tried to indicate in my prior note, the question revolves again
around comm_spawn: does the child job have access to all nodes in the
original allocation; those nodes in the original allocation that are also
listed in a hostfile; those nodes in the original allocation that are also
in the -host list; or...?

Obviously, as someone primarily focused on the RTE, I couldn't possibly care
less which of these modes you select. However, I *do* need to know how you
want Open MPI to operate so I can build the system to meet those

I hope this - in combination with the prior note - will help you to
understand the question. Any direction would be appreciated as we are kinda
stuck until I know how you want the system to behave.

Oh yeah - in case you were wondering, prior MPI's like LA-MPI and LAM-MPI
avoided these issues (e.g., by ignoring hostfiles in use case 2). So we are
kind of charting new territory here - I think our users will be fine either
way if we just tell them "this is how it works".