Sixteen years ago at SC99 in Portland OR, a group of individuals met in a room on Monday night after the opening gala. The affair was not fancy — some chips, pretzels, wine, and of course, beer. There were two strange things about the event. Many of the people had never met before, and several vendors help foot the bill for what was easily the most low-key and low budget event at the show.
In total, about one hundred people showed up that night. You could hear things like “We finally get to meet in person,” or “So you guys make the compiler, wow, I have a question.” There was a lot of conversation about these things called Beowulf Clusters. And thus, the Beowulf Bash was born.
Each year the Bash grew in size because the conversation and interest in Beowulf clustering was rapidly expanding. Today the event is probably one of the largest (and most fun) happenings at Supercomputing. There is another interesting fact about the Beowulf Bash. Just as a cluster is built from many component vendors, so is the Beowulf Bash. The Bash as it stands today would probably not be possible if one vendor was the sole sponsor. The fact that the biggest cluster computing party in the world mirrors some of the biggest computational clusters in the world is no accident.
At its core the Beowulf Bash is about community. The original ’99 Bash began with an invitation sent over the Beowulf Mailing list. There were many people on the mailing list that had never met and yet a common interest brought them to the beer and pretzels that night. There were also several vendors who provided products to this community who were willing to help fund the event. The genesis of the Bash began as a conversation that strengthened a community where both users and vendors could grow and be successful.
Beowulf clustering grew from users and vendors that understood the open source mantra of “give a little, get a lot.” This single idea has helped the Beowulf community move the HPC market to where it is today. So this year as you watch your friends flop around on a mechanical bull or dance the night away at the Beowulf Bash, remember that the Bash is about community. And remember that some of the conversations you overhear may well be about a new idea that helps push us all forward.
— Doug Eadline, Beowulf Bash Co-Organizer and Original Bash Attendee