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My (small) company uses an out-of-date linux (centos) software stack to run a proprietary software on a small cluster. Understandingly, IT is reluctant to upgrade since everything works now.

I'd like to do some performance tests on these machines and plan to install a lot of software that shouldn't interfere with the production root. It also includes compiling scientific packages and therefor I need up-to-date libraries. One possiblity is to install an entire up-to-date root in a different location and chroot into it.

My question is: How will this impact the performance of the tools running inside the chroot? Are there any benchmark references available? Is this technique widespread/disadvantegous/dangerous? Other ideas? See also my related question.

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Only root can use chroot. If you can become root, then this is a good approach. –  Gilles Apr 2 '12 at 23:20
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

A chroot should not impact performance. I haven't heard of any benchmark on it because it's really just a mapping between two spaces.

Anyway, for your problem, maybe it should be better to use something like LXC. Instead of moving somethings working, you can simply create a LXC and do your stuff inside this LXC. LXC is far better than chroot and has really less drawback.

You can see it like a chroot v2.0. As far as I know, it should works well on CentOS 5.X.

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Instead of chrooting, why don't you take advantage of environment modules (something you'll see on nearly every linux cluster these days), and install the software to an alternative location?

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