Some questions about network rendering

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  04 April 2013
Some questions about network rendering

Hi, I have some questions about a problem i have come across.
I just added some computers to my homemade renderfarm,
and when i try rendering now, the 10th computer does not read the texture files from the network drive. So the render, with backburner starts, but the 10th computer does not read the maps right.

I read this could have to do with the limit on connections at the same time with a non- server version of windows 7.
So I was wondering how people usually work.

At the moment I load all maps from a network drive, and render to the same network drive.
Is it smarter to let every computer get the texture files from it's own harddrive, and render to its own harddrive?
It would be a workaround for me, but then how do I get the texture files synchronised, i would rather not copy them 10 times every time i need to make a change.

Any advise on how to set this up?

  04 April 2013
Reading files from server is the simplest you can get. We use a mix of CentOS and QNAP as our file server here.

Copying files to local drives is definitely an option. Depending on the tools you have, it may or may not be a lot of work. Project management software such as Project Overlord can do this for you.

Last edited by Panupat : 04 April 2013 at 01:36 PM.
  04 April 2013
You've got the right idea in using shared network storage for the render nodes. However this only works with non-server versions of Windows if you have less than 10 clients like you've discovered. I would look at setting up a different operating system for the file server that doesn't have a silly client limit (like Linux). Even if you have the render nodes cache the files to their local drive there will still be problems with the limit of 10 clients on the Windows machine because at some point they will all be connecting to sync their cache and one of them won't be able to.
  04 April 2013
I thought the 10 machine limit is only for the windows workgroup file sharing? ie. if you host the files on a linux NAS, then this limit never comes into it.
Matthew O'Neill
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by imashination: ...if you host the files on a linux NAS, then this limit never comes into it.

Exactly. Maybe my previous post wasn't clear? The 10 client limit on non-server versions of Windows is an artificial limit imposted by licensing. By hosting the files on something else (like Linux) there's no problem with having more than 10 clients accessing files.

When I said there would still be a problem even if caching the files to a local disk, I meant if the file server still has a non-server version of Windows there will still likely be issues because all 10 clients have to sync file eventually and if the other 9 are still connected one of them won't be able to sync.

Again, if using a different operating system (like Linux) for the file server this whole problem completely goes away.
  04 April 2013
I think win7 pro has a 20 connection limit

Vista and earlier have a 10 connection limit

Windows server of course has no limit, but costs a bit of money

Linux doesn't have a limit either, but could cost time learning the basics of setting up shares and mounts etc
  04 April 2013
Originally Posted by sentry66: I think win7 pro has a 20 connection limit

That's cool, I wasn't aware of that.

Originally Posted by sentry66: Windows server of course has no limit, but costs a bit of money

Most editions of Windows Server have limits but additional licenses can be purchased (client access license, or CAL). Though this is pretty much a waste for a home render farm.

Originally Posted by sentry66: Linux doesn't have a limit either, but could cost time learning the basics of setting up shares and mounts etc

It's pretty straight forward. Someone who has never used Linux before could get a basic file server up in an hour. Or there are specialized distributions that are just for file serving like FreeNAS or Openfiler (some are BSD instead of Linux, but similar idea).
  04 April 2013
Thank you for all the advise. I guess I have some reading to do, never used linux before.
Will let you know how it works out.

  04 April 2013
yeah depends on the version of linux. I think mint or ubuntu are probably the easiest right now for beginners.

Some like centOS make you jump through a couple hoops with sharing an additional hard drive that isn't the boot drive with SElinux's security. Of course you can just disable SElinux, but my point is things like that can crop up in different versions. It'll drive you nuts when something you have no knowledge of is impacting what you're doing and you have no idea why the simple task you're trying to do won't work.

Other versions of linux - like Mint, work almost just like windows. Just right click a folder, select share, enter some info and done. There's no need to get your hands dirty with Samba and its large text file.

Some things are more involved though like setting the server to have a static IP, or have the computer/host name show up correctly everywhere. Windows makes it easy - just go to one place to set it. Linux has several scattered text files you have to set since you can have different host names for different scenarios, connections, or networking protocols.

then there's setting basic permissions from the command line and learning the lingo and basic binary code stuff to understand what permission code to enter in.

But you'll run into other little things as you try out other linuxe distros, like finding out Debian based linux's don't allow user names that start with a capital letter. It's a huge pain when you're on a workgroup where everyone already has a unified or common login that starts with a capital letter. I've found ways to force it, but the OS won't work correctly when you log into the GUI as that user - no icons, no buttons, etc (this was on Mint)

They all have their quirks, but regardless you'll have to learn how linux thinks with its basic structure, text files, and a few commands.

Last edited by sentry66 : 04 April 2013 at 02:25 AM.
  04 April 2013
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