SuperComputing '23: A Mile High Recap

Table of Contents

This post is very image heavy. I’ve shrank them a bit, if you’re on limited data, beware.

Denver Bound

It started out at 3AM eastern on Saturday, November 11. I didn’t sleep well because I was excited and nervous as always to fly to another exciting SuperComputing conference. I was the first one in line at our small airport’s TSA checkpoint and waited for the gates to open so I could board the planes that would eventually put me two hours behind my friends, family, and everything I know and start a week of nerds, computers, and booth duty.

Will someone just let him in already?!

Ah! There is a Big Blue Bear looking into the conference center! We must be in Denver which is, in my opinion, the BEST spot for SC to be hosted! The last time I was in Denver, I was in the process of being divorced so I made it a point to enjoy myself more this go-round. I decided to stay in the same hotel as last time as well because of the awesome accomidations but let me tell you, 4 years make a WORLD of difference… I’ll be staying elsewhere in ‘27 if we are back in Denver.

Show Floor and Questions

From Left to Right: Sandford, David Halstead, and Andy Murtland

While we got setup and all that jazz, I snagged a few pictures of the NRAO crew. This year, I was joined by David Halstead, Sandford George (I think?), Andy Murtland, Peter Otero, and of course Zhon Butcher. We (and by ‘we’ I mean David mostly) took the science questions that we inevitably get and the rest of us answered the 3-4 computer questions we received. Our favorite question is always, “Have you all found any aliens yet?” and our most asked question this year was, “Why are you all here?!”. To answer the first, it’s classified and we’ve signed NDA’s (or so we will make you believe) so I can’t say yes or no. I can say that some of our telescopes do work with the SETI Institute so you should probably assume that we’re at the very least looking for intelligent life, but have we found any? That verdict is still out.

Zhon is not having any of my bullshit

As to why are we at SC, we have two small clusters that are used by our scientific staff to process the radio telemetry. We also have our corralators which are specialized HPC’s that take the raw input from the universe on our telescopes, process the signals and transport them back to our storage systems for the staff to process. We’re mostly at SC to network and talk with the world of nerd culture to find the best ways to do things but also make cool connections like I did with the AlamLinux folks!

AlmaLinux and OpenHPC

OpenHPC had the coolest swag!

Last year, I attended a talk by OpenHPC where they talked about running (you guessed it) OpenHPC utilizing Rocky Linux and Warewulf to create a clustered computing environment. You can find that current documentation here. Before this year’s SC, I was in the process of setting up our DMZ cluster back home to allow our external observers a cluster of their own so they wouldn’t have to fight our staff for resources as well as protect our staff from potential… cough… issues from the outside. Rocky had been installed on the headnode, configured, and was about to have the first bootable image built but something fabulous happened. I met benny Vasquez and Jonathan Wright from AlmaLinux at their booth and it changed the trajectory of our DMZ cluster entirely. I have now converted our headnode to AlmaLinux from Rocky utilizing the almalinux-deploy script and even migrated my home Debian system to AlmaLinux because of how both benny and Jonathan spoke of AlmaLinux as well as being so inviting to their community! I can’t wait to hopefully get our ALMA Observatory onboard to run AlmaLinux at ALMA! Hopefully, I can start that process by the beginning of 2024 once I can prove that the OpenHPC AlmaLinux cluster works beautifully as I’m sure it will!

Side note: I have been invited to write a blog post for the AlmaLinux blog once I complete the cluster! I’ll link that here once I have it written up!

And that’s a wrap!

Cool looking restaurant

The entire week at SC was fun but I was ready to get home. Back to my kiddo, back to girlfriend, and back to Virginia. I love being away for a bit, but I love coming back home. I have a whole bunch of cool things to do and try out. Last year, I came back and started my Mastodon instance and this year, I started this blog! I’m gonna stay on this one this time, I promise. Keep coming back for updates and new postings throughout the year and I hope to see some of you at SC in the future!

  • Caleb