Swarthmore College Department of Computer Science

server and client machines

The CS Labs contain about 50 Linux workstations, which we sometimes refer to as clients, client machines, or client spices (e.g., ginger, sage, etc). We also have a machine room which houses allspice and our other server machines.

Allspice acts as a disk server -- some of its disks are shared to the client machines. For example, your home directory is really located on one of allspice's disks, and is exported or shared to each of the clients. This means, no matter which client machine you use, you will always see the same files of your home directory when you log in.

Since allspice is our disk (and email) server, it is already doing a lot. You should never need to log in to allspice, and certainly never run jobs on allspice. Running a program on a workstation uses that workstation's CPU and memory. The clients are faster (have faster CPUs), and have a smaller load on them, so your job will run faster on the clients. Additionally, if you run your jobs from one of the /local directories on the clients, then you can avoid the slower network disk access to allspice.

See our machine specs page to figure out which client machines have the most memory or fastest cpus, or try the following commands on a specific client:

  • cat /proc/cpuinfo
  • cat /proc/meminfo
  • uptime (or top)
  • df -h -t ext3