Using the most advanced installation techniques available (and there are a number of distinct approaches one can take in all the different distributions) it is possible to definitely automate node installation in Red Hat and Debian and probably all the rest as well but I haven't tried them or gotten explicit instructions from somebody who has. In addition, there are at least two distinct ``beowulf in a box'' open source projects out there as of the instant I'm writing this (one more ``open'' than the other, but both valuable).
This chapter is organized into three sections. The first one covers what you need to do after you've more or less determined your beowulf architecture and scale but before you actually purchase the components. The second one covers the assembly of the components, and includes a few clever tricks and ideas that have been contributed over the years on the linux list, as well as a few gotchas. The third section covers how to take care of the beowulf once it is built and running. It is pretty boring, as once it is properly installed linux is boringly stable; most of the required maintenance is just standard Unix maintenance of the server(s) (backing them up and so forth), fixing hardware if and as it breaks, and possibly helping and educating users.