The Basic Scenario

I have a 32 bit laptop currently running Ubuntu 15.04 32 bit. Its getting a bit old and outdated now so I plan to buy a cheap second hand server.
I plan to buy something like an Intel Xeon 64 bit based server which will run Ubuntu 15.04 64 bit (as it runs very nicely on the Xeon).
I like the usability, comfort and screen of my laptop, and I cannot afford a new laptop so a used server is a bargain aand suited well to the kind of application I need.

How would I implement the following set up?

The Plan:

Create a system which is something like a 2 node cluster/file server/network (with the possibility to add as many more nodes as may be wanted). Use the 32 bit laptop as the main unit but allow it to utilize the 64 bit CPU and larger RAM for intensive applications.

  • Master Node

    • Intel Celeron 1.6Ghz
    • 32 bit CPU
    • 2GB RAM
    • Ubuntu 15.04 32 bit
    • Good for non intensive processes
    • Reasonable GPU and 3D hardware acceleration
  • Slave Node

    • Intel Xeon Dual Core 3.06Ghz
    • 64 bit CPU
    • 8GB RAM
    • Ubuntu 15.04 64 bit
    • Good for CPU intensive applications

Diagram  of set up

What I need to know

I am not looking for a guide or tutorial, but a simple outline of how this set up would be implemented.

  1. Is it possible to either cluster or run 32 bit and 64 bit architecture in this way?
  2. What specific software would be ideal to run a system such as this?
  3. What would be the best way to set this up to use all the power of both machines?
  1. Is it possible to cluster 32 bit and 64 bit architecture?

It all depends on the software you want to cluster-enable. Some will work if the underlying architecture changes, some will not.

I plan to run several websites, with an Apache2 server.

Apache won't mind if it is run in a cluster with nodes having different architectures.

But then again if these are really just static sites with Apache and nothing else you probably don't need to configure them as a cluster in the first place: you can just run multiple identical instances of Apache on the various servers and use something like a load balancer or DNS load balancing or VRRP to select the "active" instance. In other words, no shared storage is required.

If the web sites are running applications that maintain internal state, such as databases, that's where you may run into trouble. I believe that not many database have on-disk formats that are compatible between 32 bit and 64 bit. But, again, this will completely depend on the specific applications.

But also need the extra CPU and RAM for applications such as Blender and DVDStyler.

These are interactive applications, aren't they? I'm not sure it makes any sense at all to cluster those. Just run the application on either one node or the other node? Maybe you'll want file sharing between the two nodes?

What software would be ideal to run a system such as this?

The usual cluster management software is Pacemaker. Usually you will also need some kind of shared storage too, typically a storage cluster like Ceph or DRBD or iSCSI.

N.B.: I do get the strong impression from your question that a cluster may not be what you are actually looking for. Nevertheless, I have answered as though it is.

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  • Thank you for your clear answer. I use cluster in, shall we say a loose term, I would like to be able to use the power of the server but use my laptop as a master node. File sharing would not allow me to issue particular processes to particular nodes, would it? – jamiejackherer Sep 14 '15 at 21:53
  • No it would not, but it will allow you to open files in applications using either of the two computers interchangeably. – Celada Sep 14 '15 at 22:00
  • If you edit your answer to include this i will mark as answered, great info thanks – jamiejackherer Sep 14 '15 at 22:18

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