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Portable openFOAM on Windows (7) school network

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Old   January 23, 2013, 18:42
Default Portable openFOAM on Windows (7) school network
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Peter Fagg
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Hi everyone, just joined as you seem so helpful!

I have used various CFD programs before, including a version of openFOAM I managed to get working on my windows XP machine (not that it does any more ). However, I have a slightly unusual request for help.

I run the engineering side of a racing team within a school, in the UK's Greenpower F24 and F24+ racing series. We're hoping to design a new car using a proper CFD package rather than the "eye-ometer" I use at the moment. The school has >100 dual core networked computers so I want to make use of their extensive parallelism. We also want to make it usable over the internet so we can work remotely.

However, IT support is not great and the first comment I got back after proposing openFOAM was "but it's a Linux program!". I envisage the second comment being "but we're not going to install it on every computer". Therefore, I need a portable version of openFOAM (including snappyhexmesh and paraview) that I can place on a network drive that can be run using html. To give them their credit, I believe they can do the html coding.

We're cash limited but could afford blueCFD - if I can guarantee that it will work in the way I need it to.

Thanks in advance everyone...
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Old   January 23, 2013, 19:36
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Bruno Santos
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Greetings Peter and welcome to the forum!

Disclaimer: I'm the guy responsible for the development of blueCFD .

The blueCFD installer is designed to work for both administrative installations and for non-administrative installations. Which should mean that you can install it without the IT people stepping in. And once you've installed on one machine, you can easily copy to a USB drive and then to the other machines. You can test this feature with blueCFD-SingleCore:
Note: although the blueCFD installers are web-installers per-se, they provide download lists when the download fails, so that you can download the necessary files yourself, then run the installer a second time.

But the first problem you'll reach, when trying to run on all machines cooperatively, is the Windows firewall or whichever firewall the machines have installed. When that time comes, you'll need the IT people to give firewall permissions for the specific OpenFOAM applications that will require parallel permissions. If they can give you those permissions, then you'll also be able to tell them how to set-up said firewalls, because blueCFD provides instructions on how to set it up.

As for scalability, even if you do have 100 computers, it will only be worth using them all if:
  • they are physically close enough to each other;
  • are on the same network (same subnet, to be specific);
  • have at least a gigabit connection between them all;
  • and you run pretty big cases.
If not, 4 to 6 machines is more than enough for your cases; anything beyond that will probably just stall the run.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Best regards,
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Old   January 24, 2013, 04:28
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To expand on what Bruno said about the connection: I believe even with Gigabit ethernet, you will not benefit from running on more than a couple workstations. Why? Because even though Gigabit has high bandwidth, it also has high latency. HPC interconnect technologies like Infiniband have 2x or 4x the bandwidth, but they outdo ethernet on latency by an order of magnitude.
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