In the Introduction, a simple recipe was given for building a beowulf. In many cases this recipe will work just fine. In others, it will fail miserably and expensively. How can one tell which is which? Better yet, how can one avoid making costly mistakes and design an affordable beowulf that will work efficiently on your particular set of problems?
By learning, of course, from the mistakes and experience and wisdom of others. This is presumably why you are reading this book. Although beowulf design isn't impossibly complex - beowulfs have been built by high school students, hobbyists, scientists and many others without anything like a degree in systems or network engineering - neither is it terribly simple. It is therefore useful to present a brief overview of beowulf design before we get into the nitty-gritty details that make up much of the next three parts.
Let's begin by setting out a more complex recipe for building a beowulf.